May 12, 2017                        Parashat Emor                            16 Iyar, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Sixth-Grade Literature Circles
Seventh-Grade Leadership Field Trip
Yom Orchim
Alumni Newsletter
MAImodesty Fashion Show
Middle School Lit Mag
Help Write a Torah
Absence Notifications
Division Newsletters
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
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Dear Middle School Families,   

It's been another great week of learning here in the Middle School! Please read on for a d'var Torah and thoughts from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and some highlights from the week.
Shabbat Shalom!  

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School                        
D'var Torah and Rav Thoughts

by Rabbi Dov Huff

This week's parsha was the source of great controversy in the times of the Mikdash. While the Pharisees (keepers of the oral tradition) understood the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer as starting on the second day of Pesach, the Boethusians (Baitusim), who rejected the oral tradition, insisted that it starts on the Sunday which happens to coincide with Pesach.
Even though the Baitusim were mistaken, the Rav explains their thinking with three pieces of evidence:
1. The paragraph in this week's parsha which describes the mitzvah tells us to perform this mitzvah "when you harvest [the land's] grain." It does not link the mitzvah explicitly to Pesach. In fact, Pesach is not mentioned at all in that paragraph.
2. The phrase used is "mimachorat haShabbat" - literally, the day after Shabbos, which one could understandably interpret as referring to Sunday. 
3. The command is to count seven "complete weeks" - perhaps a complete week means from Sunday to Shabbos. 
While our mesorah has textual answers to all these proofs, the Rav felt that the Baitusim fundamentally misunderstood the Omer, Shavuot, and their connection to Pesach. Shavuot is not only an agricultural chag, as the Baitusim presented it. It is the final part of the redemptive process which began in Mitzrayim. We were not entirely redeemed until we received the Torah. While the first 3 leshonot geulah (vehotsaiti, vehitsalti, vegaalti) had been realized, the final one, velakachti - Hashem taking this nation as his own - did not happen until Matan Torah.
But, the Rav says, while Shavuot and Pesach are linked through the chain of the Omer, there is a difference. While on Sukkot and Pesach we celebrate the grand miraculous revelation of Hashem through His awesome manipulation of nature, Shavuot is our attempt to recognize and connect to Hashem in the course of our everyday lives. There are no big symbolic mitzvot of Shavuot, only limud Torah. On Shavuot we celebrate not the intense moments of inspiration and salvation, but the rest of the time. We need to create the connection with Hashem through our daily experiences, through tefillah, and through talmud Torah.
It is for this reason, says the Rav, that the Torah links Sefirat HaOmer and Shavuot to the agricultural cycle, to the natural units of weeks, and to the regular Shabbos - because the challenge and purpose of Shavuot is to build this organic connection to Hashem as we go through the days, weeks, and seasons of our regular lives. With the Sefirah we take it one day at a time, trying to rise to this challenge. And we ask ourselves as we approach Shavuot how we can find inspiration after the great miracles - mimachorat haShabbat - not on Shabbos but on Sunday, the day after.  
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. In what "unscripted" moments of your life do you find inspiration?
  3. What does it mean to only be redeemed once we have the Torah?
Sixth-Grade Literature Circles
In sixth-grade English, the students have been participating in literature circles. Each student takes on the role of a "Word Wizard," "Illustrator," "Character Educator," or "Discussion Leader," and they spend a class period preparing to share their thoughts on a relevant aspect of the book they've been reading - in this case, The Giver. On the day of the Literature Circle, the students assemble in groups of four or five for an in-depth conversation about the book, allowing each member of the group to share what they've been thinking about.

Small-group work such as this allows each student to share their unique viewpoint and be heard by a small, close gathering of classmates. Some unexpected insights have been shared already!

Seventh-Grade Leadership Field Trip
Next Thursday, May 18, the entire seventh grade will be heading to  Project Adventure for a full day of adventure- based experiential programming. The goals of the trip are for the students to gain communication and collaboration skills, and most importantly, to promote confidence and leadership in anticipation of their upcoming transition to eighth grade. For more information about this exciting day, please read  this program description.

In order for your child to attend, please print and fill out this medical form, and ask your child to return it to Sharona by next Tuesday

For this field trip, we will be outdoors for the entire day. Students should please dress for the weather and bring a lunch. Please see the Project Adventure  clothing and gear list for guidance on what your child should wear and bring on the trip. All students should please come to school in accordance with our dress code, then change after tefillah

In order to optimize the full-day experience, we will be returning to school at 5:00 p.m. Students from Sharon will be taking the late bus home.

We look forward to an amazing day with your children! 

Yom Orchim registration extended until Monday!
There is still time to register a guest for Yom Orchim, which will take place next Friday, May 19!  Please go to our online registration page or contact Ellen Pulda,, 617-232-4452 x423 by Monday, May 15 to register a visitor for Yom Orchim. Remember, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors are welcome to be your child's guest. Please note that online registration will close at the end of the day Monday.
Pizza for lunch next Friday
In honor of Yom Orchim, all students will receive one slice of pizza and two Oreos during lunch next Friday.  Please feel free to send additional food and snacks with your child(ren) to supplement the pizza.


MAImodesty Fashion Show
Lit Mag Submissions Are Open!
Your Magazine, our Middle School showcase of students' artwork and writing, is accepting submissions for its annual publication! Please encourage your child to submit his or her favorite creative work to the Middle School office.

Help Write a Torah
As you may have heard, there is a beautiful and inspiring initiative underway, a joint initiative of The Afikim Foundation and Israel's Ministry for Diaspora Affairs, to write a Global Unity Sefer Torah celebrating the 50th Anniversary of a Reunited Jerusalem. Jews everywhere can inscribe letters in the Torah, NOT with money, but with simple acts of chesed , everyday  
kindnesses that positively impact the lives of others. To see more information about this global initiative, please watch this 
1-minute video !
Since groups may reserve blocks of letters, we've taken the opportunity to reserve 1000 letters  for our Maimonides family.  Let's complete the Maimonides block in the Global Unity Torah and inspire goodness in the world in honor of Jerusalem!  The custom link for our school's block can be accessed by  clicking here.  You may reserve letters for yourself and/or your entire family as a group.  (All blue letters are available.) It only takes a minute. 
A digital file containing the names of everyone who participated and their acts of chesed will remain permanently with the Torah, which will be dedicated in Jerusalem on May 24, Yom Yerushalayim.  (There will also be a drawing for 3 round-trip tickets to attend the dedication!) 
Please challenge yourself to commit and record at least 3 acts of kindness by May 24 - actions that are manageable and within your reach. There is no chesed too small!  
Visit  for more information, or go directly to our block  here .

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:
We are not using the absence hotline this year!
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 .

Division Newsletters
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at the other divisions' newsletters, please click here for the Elementary and Upper Schools, or click here for the Early Childhood Center.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:
On behalf of the entire Middle School:
Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Kasher V'Sameach!
Brian Cohen

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