January 19, 2018                      Parashat Bo                       3 Shevat, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Sixth-Grade Trip
Seventh-Grade Tefilah
Eighth-Grade Spanish
Boy Scout Trip
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,    
It's been another great week here at Maimonides Middle School! 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
There is a theme which permeates the entirety of our Jewish experience. It is embedded in our daily lives and so constant that we sometimes tend to miss it. It is the mitzvah of z echirat yetziyat Mitzrayim. It is, by most counts, one of the 613 mitzvot which we learn from the pasuk in Devarim "In order that you remember the day you left ( Mitzrayim) all the days of your lives." We know from the haggadah that this pasuk is a command to remember the exodus during both day and night. 
Not only is the exodus to be ingrained in our daily awareness, but the phrase "because I took you out of Egypt" is linked to many mitzvot in the Torah. 
And what do we do with this memory? What function does it serve? To answer that, we need look no further than the second pasuk of this week's parsha, which introduces a theme repeated no fewer than five times in Parshat Bo - In order that you tell your sons and your son's sons. This memory is not to lay dormant in each of us, but is to be transmitted to our children. It is part of a national consciousness, drawing us forever back to the seminal moment, the inception of our identity as a nation.
It is our history, the parsha tells us, to which we must connect our children. It is our national story in which they must find meaning and pride. It reminds us of our unique responsibility and the privilege that comes with being a Jew. It reminds us of who we truly are. In the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, "nation needs identity, identity needs memory, and memory is encoded in the stories we tell." 
Our children must know our stories so intimately that they transcend facts and become memory. Our kids must remember our liberation from Egypt and our liberation from Auschwitz. Our exile by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. They must relive the redemptive call for return by Cyrus the Great and the UN General Assembly in November 1948. We must tell them what their parents and grandparents were doing during the Six-Day War and the emotions they felt as the shofar was blown at the kotel for the first time in almost two thousand years. They must be able to tell their own children about the fight for our identity on Chanukah and in the Soviet Union. About the miracles Hashem performed for us in Entebbe and the Yom Kippur War.
And the mitzvot they do should help stimulate this zechira. A national story which they kiss as they pass through our doorposts and recite twice a day in shema. A memory which this parsha commands us to wrap around our arms and display proudly on our heads. The parsha teaches us to surround our kids with memory - to bring them into the national consciousness which cuts to the core of our very identity as Jews. Because as Rabbi Sacks puts it, "Without narrative, there is no memory, and without memory, we have no identity."
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. What is your family's story?
  3. Which moment in Jewish history speaks to you the most?
  4. How is your identity forged by the tragedies and miraculous moments of Jewish history? 
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi Dov Huff   
The Rav points out that in this week's
parsha there are two " bechoras." The first is the bechora that is determined by the father - his firstborn. This bechor earns the right to the inheritance by being his father's "right-hand man." The extra help he provides as his father's oldest son entitles him to the double portion enjoyed by the bechor.
The second type is the bechora determined by the mother. This is the bechor of kedusha, and is the bechor mentioned in this week's parsha when Hashem tells us to "sanctify the firstborn." What is the function of this bechor?
The Rav explains that this is the educator. One cannot compare what a child learns from his parents to what the child learns from their older siblings. In a way the oldest children are the ultimate educators of their younger siblings. They lead by example and show the younger children how to navigate the world in which they all find themselves. This is the kedusha of the bechor from the mother.
Sixth-Grade Trip to "Mars"
The sixth grade had a fantastic time at the Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Center for Integrated Science Learning during their "field trip to Mars"! They learned about the myriad different considerations involved in running a space mission, practiced their skills, and ran a complete simulation, including all the "mission control" positions. They did their best to land their ships safely on Mars, and the complexity of NASA's job is definitely not lost on Maimonides' sixth grade!

Seventh-Grade Tefillah
by Rabbi Raphael Polter
Over the course of seventh grade, every male student takes a " Tefillah for the Amud" group class with me during chugim. We  discuss halachot and the meaning of davening, as well as going over some of the mechanics of being a shaliach tzibbur.

These classes are supplementary to other lessons students take in preparation for becoming bnei mitzvah. During each session we go through two paragraphs of tefillah, discuss lessons or halachot related to these paragraphs or the week's parasha, and consider how to develop our relationships with Hashem

We also take the opportunity to practice reciting berachot in front of each other and being responded to, so we can become accustomed to speaking in public and leading a congregation. Tizku l'mitzvot!

Eighth-Grade Spanish
by Estefania Torres
Next week in Spanish 8, we will begin learning the conjugation s of regular AR verbs in the present tense. Students will be able to converse about their hobbies, likes, and dislikes. By the end of the unit, students will create, write, and present their very first Spanish role-play assignment!
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: 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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