December 1, 2017 - 13 Kislev 5778 - Vayishlach
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Pinat HaParasha
Picture Retake Day
Health Screenings
HaKarat HaTov
Grade 4 Principals' Coffee
Next Principals' Coffee
STEM Update
Family Learning
Town Hall Meetings
Mazel Tov!
Basketball Tournament
Spirit Sale
Alumni Newsletter
Lost and Found
Special Movie Screening
ROFEH Toy Drive
Social Time!
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
ES Calendar
Tuesday, Dec. 5
3:00 p.m. Dismissal
Wednesday, Dec. 6
Grade 5 Principals' Coffee
8:00-8:45 a.m.

Friday, Dec. 8
Picture Retake Day

Sunday, Dec. 17
Family Learning

Monday, Dec. 25-Monday, Jan. 2
Winter Vacation
No School
As always, please see the Kol Rambam Weekly for the all-school calendar, events and PTA notes.
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Dear Parents,

We had another great week at school!
Please read on for the latest Elementary School news and information about upcoming events.  
D'var Torah
by Rabbi David Saltzman
In this week's parsha, the Torah relates: "And Yaakov came in peace to the city of Shechem, which is the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-Aram, and he encamped before the city."
וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בְּבֹאוֹ מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם וַיִּחַן אֶת־פְּנֵי הָעִיר׃
The Talmud (Shabbat 33b) states that when Yaakov encamped by Shechem, he instituted something for the welfare of the city. Rav said that he minted coins. Shmuel said that he established markets. Rabbi Yochanan said that he set up bathhouses for the residents of the area. Regardless of the exact details, the Midrash (Bereishit Rabbah 79:6) adds that whenever we benefit from a place, we must show our gratitude by doing something for its welfare.
What Yaakov did was significant. We won't always be able to accomplish so much. But when we think about it, there will often be something we can do. Even if what we do is relatively minor, we are still expressing our gratitude.
Some people think "I'm new in this place," or "I'm not going to be here for very long." This mindset prevents us from considering what we might be able to do. And if we don't think about what we could possibly do for the benefit and welfare of a place, we are unlikely to come up with ideas.
Develop the habit of asking yourself, "What can I possibly do that would be of benefit to others?" When you ask questions, your mind focuses on finding answers. It's amazing how our minds do this! Every individual has unique knowledge. We have all undergone many different experiences in our lives and been to different places, as well as heard and read various ideas. Therefore, it is highly likely that we can think of ideas that others won't necessarily consider.
The way to build up your personal database of things you can do to benefit places is to ask yourself when you visit a different city, neighborhood, institution, or organization, "What positive things do I see that I'm not used to?" This way, you will notice things that you might not have noticed otherwise. Then you can share some of this knowledge when you visit other places.
I related this idea to someone who said to me, "I tend not to notice things. I don't consider myself creative. And I don't think that I will be able to find things to benefit places."
"You might not be able to think of things on your own," I acknowledged. "But here is an easy tool that will help you gain more knowledge about what to suggest. When you meet someone who is new to your area, ask him, 'Can you think of some positive things that they do or have in your city, neighborhood, institution, or organization that you don't see here?' Not everyone will have things to suggest. But some will. And then you will be aware of similar things that you can suggest to others in various places where you will be."
-      from the book Thank You! by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
In class this week, students shared reasons why Yaakov had to show hakarat hatov to the city. The students also discussed how the three things that Yaakov instituted brought benefit to Shechem. We encourage you to ask your children to recall these reasons, and to discuss your own reasons with your family at home.
Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman
The Rav addresses the question of someone who goes to learn and then asks themselves, "How much do I remember a year later? Usually not much. If so, why should I go to the shiur in the first place?"
The Rav answers that even if someone does not remember the shiur, something remains in their head and they are a different person afterwards. The fact that we are learning, sitting in a shiur, hearing a d'var Torah, this in itself uplifts a person and they become a different Jew. In the heart, this experience remains.
Regarding the education of children, the Rav asserts that we must have patience. He compares learning to planting seeds, which for six months looks like a waste of money and time. With patience, though, the seeds sprout and grow. The same is true of education. Each moment of learning affects the heart and soul of a child. We need to continue our mission of providing our children with an excellent Jewish education, and be patient as we wait for the ultimate results.
Pinat HaParasha
Please click here  to view the  Pinat  HaParasha for Parshat Vayishlach. You are encouraged to print the document and use it as a source for discussion at the Shabbat table.
Picture Retake Day is Next Friday
Picture Retake Day will be next Friday, December 8.  If you would like to have your child(ren)s photo(s) retaken, please contact LaShanta in the Elementary School Office (617) 232-4452 x 300 or  You will be asked to send in the old photo on Picture Retake Day.  
If your child was absent on picture day, they are already on the list to have their photo taken.

Please click here to order photo packages.

Health Screenings Next Week
S tudents in various grades will be participating in vision and hearing screenings next week.  Hearing screenings will occur in grades K - 3, and vision screenings will be in grades K - 5. The screenings will take place on Wednesday, December 6 and Thursday, December 7. If your child has glasses, please make sure s/he wears them for the vision screening. 
These are simple screening tests that students usually enjoy.  During a hearing screening, a child is asked to raise their hand to respond to different sounds on a machine.  During vision screening, a student is asked to identify various figures on the wall or in a machine.  These are only  screenings to pick up potential problems, not full testing.  If your child has difficulty with either of these, you will be notified and asked to take your child to your own physician or a specialist for further evaluation.    

We are planning scoliosis  screenings for 5th graders in the spring. 

Please contact Nurse Robin ( with questions or concerns, or if there is anything you would like her to know about your child related to the screenings.

Hakarat Hatov Activity
On the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving we merged giving thanks to Hashem and Thanksgiving in an activity with all 1st - 5th graders.
We started with a video about giving thanks to Hashem for our basic needs. The 5th graders then led the 1st - 4th graders in determining each student's top ten things for which they are thankful. The totals for each group were added together, and each group's top 3 were entered into a Google form. The results were posted for all to see.
Ask your children about the top 10 things for which they have hakarat hatov to Hashem, which we discussed at the activity.
Grade 4 Principals' Coffee
Our fourth grade Principals' Coffee took place Wednesday morning with several parents and younger siblings joining Rabbi David Saltzman and Mrs. Reena Slovin.  The principals were joined by first grade teacher Dani Carrus, Team Leader of our new David Sulman Computer Science Initiative.
Thanks to a generous grant given by Morah Rose-Jane Sulman in memory of her late husband, we have been able to train teachers and create a scope and sequence of computer science and engineering learning, beginning with the 4-year-old Early Childhood classroom and advancing through fifth grade.  At the fourth grade level, students are doing coding using Scratch and . These programs are much more sophisticated than those used in the lower grades, and they use symbols, numbers, and words rather than pictures. The fourth graders begin to learn how to use these tools and develop the component skills during their science classes.  Then their teachers help them to integrate their newly developed computer science skills to create animated presentations which are integrated with the content they are learning in both General and Judaic studies. They will also be using Scratch to program robots to do things such as shake a lulav in the appropriate directions, and even recite the bracha.
In addition, the computer science initiative is coupled with our existing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) science curriculum in grades K-5. The focus of the engineering process is to define a problem, plan a solution, create and then test out a model, make improvements, and repeat the process.  Students are always encouraged to try things out, make improvements, and try again.
Parents were very interested in the advances that Maimonides is making in computer science education in general, and in coding and robotics in particular. Several asked if the students will be able to use any of these programs at home. See the STEM Update below for some recommended resources.
Some parents asked about enrichment opportunities for fourth grade students in the area of mathematics.  While we are no longer offering pull-out math enrichment, Debra Shein-Gerson, our mathematics curriculum coordinator, has prepared many extension activities and materials to be used within the classroom setting for students who require enrichment, and she has coached the teachers in how and when to use them. Debbie herself comes into classrooms frequently and works with groups of students at a variety of levels.  The classroom teacher and assistant also work with individuals and small groups, and often students who have advanced skills are able to work on extension activities with a partner or small group without the need for teacher direction.
Next Principals' Coffee
The next Pr incipals'  Coffee will be for fifth grade parents, and will take  place on Wednesday, December 6 at 8:00 a.m.  in the  library  on the third floor.  Principals' coffees are taking place for parents of students at each grade level on mornings from October through December. The coffees are an opportunity for parents to talk with the principals, ask questions, give i nput, and learn more about different aspects of Maimonides students' life and learning at a particular grade level.

Come and meet other families from your child's class and ask the principals questions about the class, curriculum, or anything else! 
STEM Update
Here are some great ways you can work on coding at home with your child!

ScratchJr - for kids ages 5+, created by MIT Media Lab and Tufts University
       App for Android or iPad

Scratch - for kids ages 9+, created by MIT Media Lab and Tufts University
        On the computer, Android, or iPad

Tynker - for kids ages 8+ 
        On the computer, Android, or iPad

KIBO robotics - for kids ages 4+, created by KinderLab Robotics and Tufts University 

WEDO robotics - for kids ages 7+, created by Lego

Family Learning on Sunday, December 17

Town Hall Meetings 
The Maimonides School Board of Directors
invites parents to a
Town Hall Meeting
Steven Schwartz, Board Chair, and Naty Katz, Head of School, look forward to meeting with you, listening to your suggestions and concerns, and benefiting from this opportunity for open dialogue.

These meetings are intended to focus on the non-academic issues within the purview of the Board such as day school affordability, financial matters, and other topics of interest to the community.     
Town Hall Meetings will take place:
  • Monday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Sharon -  click here to respond
  • Wednesday, January 3 at 7:30 p.m. in Brookline - click here to respond

Please check your e-mail for full details of the meeting locations, or write to for more information.
There will be ample opportunity for questions and discussion during the meetings. To help us prepare, we encourage you to submit questions in advance to
We look forward to an evening of engaging conversation with you.

Mazel Tov!

Mazel tov to Reena Slovin, associate principal, and her husband Saul on the engagement of their daughter Ariella to Daniel Shore. 
Send us your simchas!  Please share your simcha announcement s with us by sending details to

Basketball Tournament Next Weekend 
Maimonides School will be the center of the Jewish basketball universe next weekend, as the school's boys' and girls' teams will host student-athletes from Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York at the annual Maimonides School Invitational Basketball Tournament in Memory of Leland Gelman.
Maimonides teams will compete in Fox Gymnasium Thursday afternoon and evening, Friday morning, Motza'ei Shabbat, and Sunday. The teams will be hosted on Shabbat by the Maimonides Kehillah; Rabbi Steven Weil, senior managing director of the Orthodox Union, will speak here on Friday night. The complete schedule of games and other details can be found at
Another tournament feature will be a silent auction, raising money to offset weekend expenses. Highlights include a pair of New England Patriots opening-game playoff tickets and a baseball signed by both Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. Bidding will begin during the Saturday night game and conclude early Sunday afternoon at the boys' championship game.

Spirit Sale 
The Class of 2018 is sponsoring a Spirit Sale next Tuesday, December 5 from 12:00 - 2:30 p.m. ... just in time for the Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament!  All parents are welcome to come and purchase items for themselves or their students.

Alumni Newsletter Online
The monthly alumni newsletter for November is now online, and can be found here. This issue's articles include:
  • Cousins' Chesed Mission to Tiny Island Nation Gratifying and Humbling
  • Alumna Spearheads Exposition Showcasing Brookline Volunteer Opportunities
  • Recent Graduates Take Model UN Experience to the Next Level in Israel
  • Graduate Discovers and Shares Diversity in a Cup of Coffee

If you would like to receive the alumni newsletter each month, contact Mike Rosenberg at (617) 232-4452 x 405  or
Lost and Found - השבת אבידה
As the cold weather approaches, we have found more and more jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, hats, and gloves left outside at recess and in other public spaces in the building.  We have amassed a large collection of high-quality, fairly new winter clothing, none of them bearing any students' names. 

We request again that you put your child's names on their items so that we can easily return them when found.  Most jackets and coats come with sewn-in labels which only require a Sharpie to write your child's name.

We plan to donate all remaining unclaimed items during the winter break.

Special Movie Screening 
There will be a special screening of the movie My Hero Brother on Sunday, December 10 at 6:00 p.m. at West Newton Cinema, co-sponsored by Maimonides School, Young Israel of Sharon, New England Yachad, and Striar Hebrew Academy.
My Hero Brother tells the remarkable story of a group of young people with Down syndrome who embark on a demanding trek through the Indian Himalayas with their siblings. As they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts come to the surface and heartwarming friendships develop.
Click here to purchase tickets. For more information, contact   

ROFEH Toy Drive 
Please bring a new, unwrapped toy for our ROFEH Toy Drive! Boxes will be placed in front of the Elementary, Middle, and Upper School offices.

Social Time!
There's so much going on here at Maimo! Be sure to check out our social media to get the inside scoop (with lots of great photos) on happenings at school.  
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram

See What's Happening in the Other Divisions
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at what's happening in the other divisions, click to visit the Early Childhood Center, Middle School, or Upper School newsletter pages.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:

!שבת שלום
Rabbi, Reena, and the Maimonides ES Faculty