April 13, 2018                        Parashat Shemini               28 Nisan, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Financial Aid
Yom HaShoah
Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut
PTA Lunch
Lunches Next Week
Ayeka Workshop
Alumni Newsletter
Baseball Tournament
M-Cats Sports Camp
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,   
Welcome back! We hope you all had an enriching and rewarding Pesach.
Please enjoy this d'var Torah, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, news about upcoming events, and some pictures and stories from the week.
Shabbat shalom!  
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff        
Every year when we read Parshat Shemini I find myself trying once again to understand what happened with Aharon's two sons Nadav and Avihu, who perished in a divine fire after they brought a "strange" "unauthorized" korban. Were they drunk (as hinted to by the juxtaposition of this event to the prohibition against drinking when performing the service)? Were they overly ambitious in their avodah, forgetting that it can only be done in prescribed ways? Did they somehow disrespect Moshe and Aharon?
The "why" question is only compounded by Moshe Rabbeinu's response to Aharon: "This is what Hashem said, I will be sanctified through those close to me." What does this mean, and when did Hashem say this? Was the taking of the two somehow a sign of their greatness (Rashi)? Was this a criticism, saying that only through proper avodah can Hashem's name be sanctified (Rashbam)?    
As I thought about this yesterday, on Yom Hashoah, it occurred to me that the unanswered question of "why" is one which is a part of living with the reality of great tragedy. And not one which we typically find answers to. As I watched Mrs. Ruth Mermelstein and Mrs. Rita Kessleman recall in vivid and terrible detail their experiences in Auschwitz, bravely recounting the murder of their friends and family, it reminded me of Aharon's response to his brother - "vayidom Aharon" -- "Aharon fell silent."
This same word is used by David Hamelech in Tehillim 37, where he insists that in the face of evildoers, "Dom laHashem vehitcholel lo" - "Be silent towards Hashem and be patient with Him." This is followed by "Al titchar bematzliach darko b'ish oseh mezimot" - "do not fret... because of a man who executes malicious plans."
The silence being employed by Aharon Hakohen and promoted by David Hamelech is anything but a shortage of words or a lack of response. On the contrary, in the face of the unknown "why," it is a thundering, profound, heroic expression of patience and trust in Hashem - a silent surrender to and affirmation of our emunah that Hashem will both help us through tragedy and protect us from those who would execute malicious plans. How powerful and superhuman is Aharon's demonstration of faith! And how inspiring is it for us to witness these two survivors displaying the strength and courage to live through the unthinkable and heroically emerge on the other side with emunah, meaning, and purpose. 
After the tragedy in our parsha the mantle is passed to Aharon's two remaining sons, who are twice referred to as banav hanotarim - the ones who were left - the survivors. Mrs. Mermelstein and Mrs. Kessleman showed us what it means to be the notarim - to carry the responsibility of telling the story despite the pain it brings. They showed us how to have the strength to commit time and resources to Eretz Yisrael and the courage to build committed Jewish families in defiance of the Nazis. To persevere in response to a great tragedy. After two straight presentations Mrs. Kessleman was tired, but when we announced that we would be singing Hatikvah, with renewed strength she stood up with purpose and faced us. With a look of pride and defiant strength in her eyes she joined us in Hatikvah, making every word resonate with new meaning.  
And then they made us realize that we are also the notarim. As the Middle Schoolers lined up to thank Mrs. Kessleman, she hugged them, seeing in us the promise "vehaKadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu miyadam" - that the flame of the Jewish people will not be extinguished. Mrs. Mermelstein left the Upper Schoolers with the thought that we must remember that her generation experienced these tragedies so that we, the next generations, could live as proud Jews. This is our responsibility as their banim and banot hanotarim
May our students learn to have the depth of emunah and commitment to Am Yisrael modelled by these inspirational women. And may they merit to be carriers of the stories and memories of all the kedoshim who perished in the Shoah.  

Rav Thoughts
by Mrs. Stephanie Samuels  
In this week's parsha, we read the story of the untimely and tragic death of Aharon's two oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu. According to the text, there is really only one difference between their actions and the action of their father. While they both brought the same 
ketoret, incense, Aharon's sacrifice was according to G-d's will, while his sons' offering had not been commanded by G-d.
The sin of Nadav and Avihu highlights a dichotomy in our approach to religious observance. On the one hand, our religiosity is very serious and disciplined. At the same time, however, all mitzvot should be experienced through joy. How can we resolve this dichotomy?
The Rav explains that the Jewish approach to religious observance is to live a disciplined life according to G-d's commandments. For example, we pray in accordance with set times, location, and behavior. Prayer is obligatory, an act where we surrender to G-d's will. The hope is that eventually, we can transform that ritual experience into a profound spiritual experience.
In contrast to this, the pagan approach to religious life begins with excitement and fervor and culminates in sin and disillusionment. This is comparable to the experience of using drugs or alcohol to create an artificial feeling of happiness, which masks underlying sadness or disappointment.
According to the Rav, the sin of Nadav and Avihu was that they were overcome by ecstasy, and totally missed the point - that a Jewish life worth living, a joyous life, is one that is imbued with a sense of mitzvah, of obeying G-d's commandments.
Reminder: Financial Aid for 2018-19
If you have filed a financial aid application for the upcoming school year, the deadline for submitting the required 2017 tax documentation is Thursday, April 19.

Please contact Arline Tannenbaum at ext. 425 or atannenbaum@maimonides.org with any questions.

Yom HaShoah
On Yom HaShoah the entire Middle School was privileged to hear the testimony of Holocaust survivor Mrs. Ruth
Mermelstein, great-grandmother of three Maimonides students. Mrs. Mermelstein is the author of Beyond the Tracks, a book which tells the story of her childhood in Munkacs and her experiences in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. Mrs. Mermelstein has spoken all across the country at Jewish day schools, public schools, and synagogues, speaking to different age groups from elementary school through high school and with adult groups as well.

Our eighth-grade students were also privileged to hear parent Tania Gray share the story of her father Nathan Gutman,
z"l, and his survival of the Shoah.
We are deeply grateful to them for sharing their family histories and stories of survival.

Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut
The seventh grade is busily planning and practicing its Daglanut performance for next Thursday! We're looking forward to seeing the results of all their hard work.

Please note that in honor of Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day, we ask all students to wear white shirts on Wednesday, May 18.

In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's Independence Day, we ask all students to wear white shirts on Thursday, May 19. Boys should wear blue pants, and girls should wear blue skirts.

We thank the PTA for sponsoring a special Yom HaAtzmaut lunch on Thursday!

PTA Lunch for All Students on Yom HaAtzmaut
In celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut, the PTA will be providing an Israeli-style lunch to all students on Thursday, April 19.  Parent volunteers will be in each lunchroom to help with distribution. 
Teacher Appreciation Week begins Monday, April 23 and the PTA is excited to recognize our dedicated teachers!  More information will be sent out next week.
Lunches Next Week
Please note that on Monday, April 16, there will be no Taam China lunches and no Rosh Chodesh pizza served due to the Marathon and its associated road closures. 

Rosh Chodesh pizza will be served to the students who ordered it on Tuesday, April 17.

Jerusalem Grill lunches will be served as usual on Wednesday, April 18.

As noted above, there will be a special Yom HaAtzmaut lunch on Thursday, April 19.

Ayeka:  A Special Interactive Workshop on Spirituality and Connection
Join us on Monday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Saval Auditorium for a special program featuring Rabbi Aryeh Ben David, Founder and Director of Ayeka: The Center for Soulful Education. Rabbi Ben David will be sharing his vision of Jewish education that promotes a personal and vibrant relationship with Jewish text, Judaism, G-d, and spirituality.  He will also discuss how we can focus on soulful parenting in today's busy and complicated world.  RSVP to msnyder@maimonides.org

Alumni Newsletter Online
The monthly alumni newsletter for March is now online, and can be found here. This issue's articles include:
  • Graduate's Hospitality Career Thrives in the Hub of Boston's Medical Universe
  • Alumna's New Venture Explores Text, Tradition through Tangible Creating
  • Graduate Finally Finds Income, Spare Time to Pursue Comedy Projects
  • Class Notes 
If you would like to receive the alumni newsletter each month, contact Mike Rosenberg at (617) 232-4452 x 405 or  mrosenberg@maimonides.org.
Ezra Schwartz Memorial Baseball Tournament
Next Weekend
Planning is well underway for the second Ezra Schwartz Memorial Baseball Tournament in Sharon, scheduled for April 19-22 . Visiting teams will be from Frisch School, Yeshivah of Flatbush, and Yeshiva University High School of Los Angeles (YULA). Ezra, זק"ל, a 2015 Maimonides graduate and varsity baseball player, was killed by a terrorist in Israel in November 2015. The tournament was established by family and friends to honor Ezra's passion for baseball and create a fun environment in which to remember him. Other details can be found at

M-Cat Sports Camp
M-Cat Sports Camp is back for its 11th summer, with four weeks of jam-packed fun! Camp is open to students finishing Pre-K through 7th grade. Sessions begin on June 18.

Go to  http://www.maimonides.org/mcatsportscamp for more information and registration! Contact Michal Alge at mcatsportscamp@gmail.com with any questions. 
Absences and Tardy Notifications

We wish that none of our students ever felt ill -- we'd love to have 100% attendance every day -- but we know that germs don't always listen to our desires!

However, we do need to know where our students are.
If your child needs to miss a day of school,
or will be tardy or leave early, please be certain to inform Sharona Vedol in the Middle School office
by email: svedol@maimonides.org

Please remember:
All absence notifications must come in via email. 
We ask that you e-mail the office for safety reasons -- it allows for far more efficient accounting of student absences .

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

Division Newsletters
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, Elementary School, or Upper School newsletter pages.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:
On behalf of the entire Middle School:
Shabbat Shalom!

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