December 1, 2017                    Parashat VaYishlach                13 Kislev, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Hot Lunches
Eighth-Grade Shabbaton
Eighth-Grade Spanish
Sixth-Grade Tefillah
Mazel Tov!
Town Hall Meetings
Basketball Tournament
Spirit Sale
Alumni Newsletter
Israel Map Updated
Special Movie Screening
ROFEH Toy Drive
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,    
It sounds as though Thanksgiving was a great experience for everyone! We were glad to have your children back at school for a (very) full week of classes and activities.
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
This Shabbat is the 8th grade Shabbaton, with the theme of Leadership. The students do all the cooking, lead davening, give divrei Torah, and lead activities and zmirot. We had the privilege this morning of hearing words of Torah from two of our 8th graders, Michal Berlove and Abby Scharf. Please see below for their d'var Torah
This week's parsha is Parshat VaYishlach, and it teaches us some valuable lessons about leadership, the theme of this weekend's eighth grade Shabbaton.  In order to be a strong leader, a person needs time to prepare and organize their ideas and goals.  
A leader needs to be thoughtful about the decisions they make because those decisions affect the entire community.  A thoughtful leader should consider the needs of others before their own needs.  To do that a person has to realize that he or she is not just representing him or herself, but also many others.  
As Yaakov's family meets Esav, Yaakov's wives approach Esav, followed by their children. However, when it is Rachel's turn to meet Esav, Yosef acts as leader and steps in front of Rachel in order to protect her.  Yosef is endangering his safety in order to protect his mother. This act of protection shows what it takes to be a good leader. He isn't just thinking about himself, but also about his family. He is being proactive by taking action. He didn't wait to see if Rachel will ask him to go in front of her, he just does it automatically.
However, you have to be careful with what actions you take. Later on in the parsha, we see Shimon and Levi going to Shechem to rescue their sister, Deena. Their intentions were good, but the result backfired. Instead of just rescuing Deena, Shimon and Levi also killed almost half the population of Shechem. This act of cruelty was unnecessary. The only people whose killing could be justified were the captors of Deena.
When the text talks about Shimon and Levi while they're trying to save Deena, it refers to them as " אחי דינה ". However, in pasuk gimmel the text refers to them as b'nai Yaakov. This highlights the difference between their behaviour in the two different places. When they are called b'nai Yaakov, their actions are reflecting their father. However, when they are called  אחי דינה their actions are not reflecting their father's actions, because they are parting from Yaakov's reputation.
When you have power, you should take action, but you shouldn't take advantage of your power and do the wrong thing.
Shabbat shalom!
Rav Thoughts
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.

Round 2 of Hot Lunches Begins Monday!
Next Monday, the December-January hot lunch service will begin! If your child has not yet ordered from these forms, they can still order from Taam China or Jerusalem Grill.

The eighth-grade students love serving hot lunches to everyone who has ordered!

Eighth-Grade Shabbaton
The eighth-graders are hard at work preparing for their Shabbaton this weekend! One of the highlights is preparing the Shabbat foods as a group, and getting to eat the "fruits" of their labor tonight and tomorrow.  Many thanks to the parent volunteers who are helping with the preparations!

The students are looking forward to enjoying Shabbat together as a group!

Eighth-Grade Spanish
The Jewish Connection to Spanish: Ladino Comes to Maimonides
Ask American Jews what are the shared historic languages of the Jewish people, and they will immediately say Hebrew, and then perhaps mention Yiddish. Few will mention a Spanish-based language that bound together tens of thousands of Jews for centuries, and is still spoken by nearly 200,000 Jews in Israel, Turkey, and other countries.

This week, students in eighth- and ninth- grade Spanish classes stepped directly into the world of Ladino, learning about the roots of the language in medieval Spain, and then learning and singing two songs in Ladino that are popular today in the growing revival and re-appreciation of Ladino culture in the United States.

The song Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Candles) recalls the traditional Chanukkah celebrations in Sarajevo, Bosnia, during which parents engaged in matchmaking while their sons and daughters sang and danced. Kuando el Rey Nimrod (When King Nimrod), one of the most well-known songs surviving from medieval Jewish Spain, tells in a Ladino sprinkled with Hebrew how Avraham Avinu rivaled the biblical King Nimrod, based on ancient Hebrew sources.

"Learning any language, Spanish included, is a gateway to other cultures. It just seemed appropriate - I'd even say necessary - for Maimo students to make this special connection between Spanish and this less familiar, but important, part of Jewish history and culture," said Gary Abramson, who recalled for the students his own experience meeting with Ladino-speaking leaders of the Jewish community in Istanbul, Turkey. "Along with discovering Latino culture in North and South America, they can now appreciate one more dimension of Spanish-influenced culture, and hopefully engage with it from now on," continued Abramson, who substituted for World Languages chairperson Estefania Torres during her maternity leave this fall.

We are delighted to welcome Ms. Torres back from her leave, and pleased to announce that she will begin teaching her 8th-grade class on Monday afternoon!

Sixth-Grade Tefillah Guest Speaker
Rabbi Peretz Chein, 6th grade parent and Chabad rabbi at Brandeis University, visited our 6th graders today and had lively discussions with them   on a new way of experiencing tefillah. The students responded very well to his novel approach!

Rabbi Chein will also be speaking with 6th grade parents at a special melava malka tomorrow night.

Click here to respond!

Mazel Tov!
Mazel tov to Colette and Michael Bentley on the bat mitzvah of their daughter Elke '23.
Mazel tov to Liliya and Boris Groysberg on the bat mitzvah of their daughter Liana '24. 

Mazel tov to Leat and Marshal Storm on the bar mitzvah of their son Noam '23. Mazel tov as well to sister Maytal '21.
Mazel tov to Rabbi Yaakov Beker, Middle School limudei kodesh teacher, and his wife Leah on the engagement of their son Yehuda to Menucha Freedman.
Send us your simchas!  Please share your simcha announcements with us by sending details to


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.

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

Israel Map Updated
The large map of Israel in Saval Auditorium has been updated to include the 13 seminaries and yeshivot where members of the Class of 2017 are learning this year. The map also indicates the places where more than 300 Maimonides School graduates live with colored pins, including more than 100 alumni in Yerushalayim and other concentrations in Beit Shemesh, Efrat, Modi'in and Ra'anana. The display was dedicated in 2011 to mark the retirement of Rabbi Jon Bloomberg, Upper School limudei kodesh teacher, and Rabbi David Shapiro, principal from 1978 to 1999.

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.

Boy Scout Trip to Israel
Maimonides Boy Scout Troop 54 is organizing a unique trip to Israel in February 2018. This will be a 12-day program during President's week, February 13-25.
The group will explore all over Israel with experts from botany, zoology, ornithology, ecology, and archaeology. 500 million birds begin migrating through Israel! The students will relate this information to the Tanach and Talmud.
Students do not need to be scouts, but they will need to register with the Boy Scouts of America before the trip. Participants may be families, children 12 years and up accompanied by an adult, teens aged 14 and up, and retirees.

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:

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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