Barrack’s New Head of School: Rabbi Marshall Lesack -- Up Close and Personal
Updated: Mar 25, 2021
School News Editor
Following the 2020-2021 school year, Mrs. Sharon Levin, Barrack’s beloved Head of School, will step away from her current role, and Rabbi Marshall Lesack, JBHA ‘97, will become the new Barrack leader.
In order to get to know our new Head of School, the Cougar Chronicle interviewed Rabbi Lesack on Wednesday, February 10, via Google Meet. Barrack had already publicized his professional credentials, but we wanted to get to know Rabbi Lesack as a person -- his family, interests, hobbies, and more.
Welcome back Rabbi Lesack!
What was Barrack like when he attended (1993-1997)?
Rabbi Lesack’s student experience at Akiba, now Barrack, was extremely positive, and he notes that “the depth and power of the experience registered even more after [he] had graduated.” Akiba was an open place that allowed young people to express and pursue their passions and think creatively. It was respectful to people of all Jewish backgrounds, challenged students in the classroom, and supported students’ interaction with teachers to develop skills necessary to speak with adults about one’s ideas. Akiba/Barrack was and is unique in the bonds between students and educators.
What does he enjoy doing in his spare time? What are Rabbi Lesack’s hobbies?
Rabbi Lesack’s greatest joy is spending time with his wife, Roseanne, a behavioral psychologist, and his kids. His eldest daughter, Tzofiya, will be a freshman at Barrack next year; Eliora, his middle child, will be a sixth-grader at Barrack next year; and his youngest, Micha, will be a fourth-grader at Perelman. The family also recently welcomed a foster dog as a part of Eliora’s Bat Mitzvah project.
Rabbi Lesack loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, kayaking, etc. He has loved playing basketball since he was a kid, playing for Akiba during his high school years. Go Cougars! He is a big sports fan, especially for the Eagles and college basketball, and has also enjoyed coaching his children’s soccer teams.
What are Rabbi Lesack’s favorite Jewish holidays and why?
One of his favorites is Hanukkah because of the happiness that comes with the opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. It also does not hurt that his birthday falls around the Festival of Lights.
Rabbi Lesack’s other favorite is Purim. At his former school, he started a beautiful tradition of hosting a Purim meal for the whole high school with about twenty-five Holocaust survivors. This event is a special highlight of the year and elevates Purim as a holiday in Rabbi Lesack’s estimation.
What is his greatest accomplishment as an educator at this point in his career?
Rabbi Lesack takes pride in leaving the places where he has worked much better off than when he got there; he makes a positive impact. He also places great importance in the relationships he forges. He builds strong connections in the different organizations he is a part of, whether with students, campers, staff, or community leaders.
What is the role/purpose of a teacher?
The best teachers “are able to inspire a love of learning” in their students while serving as a “role model and mentor for young people.” Rabbi Lesack is dedicated to “supporting those individuals as they mature and develop.”
What are his favorite Jewish foods?
As a vegetarian of around fifteen years, Rabbi Lesack’s favorite Jewish foods are Israeli salads and other Mizrahi/Middle Eastern foods. His wife and children are great bakers so he also enjoys their challah and babka.
Rabbi Lesack is super excited to reenter the Barrack community in his new role. He looks forward to meeting the students, faculty, and community members who care so deeply about the school.
“I want students to also know that I care deeply as an educator about the student experience overall…Everything, the classes, the teachers, the extracurriculars, the schedule, goes into giving [students] the best educational and Jewish experience possible”