November 3, 2017               Parashat Vayera               14 Cheshvan, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Sixth-Grade Talmud
Seventh-Grade Science
Eighth-Grade Chumash
Sunday Events
Run Around the Res
Hot Lunches
Alumni Newsletter
Lady M-Cat
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,    
It's been another great week in the Middle School! Please enjoy this d'var Torah, 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
"And as the multitudes gathered around (Avraham) asking him about his teachings, he would tell each one according to their understanding until he returned them to the path of truth" (Rambam, Mishna Torah, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 1:3)
The main question we ask ourselves as parents and teachers is: How do we connect our children to yahadut? The Rambam in the Mishna Torah, Hilchot Avodat Kochavim describes the evolution of idolatry and how, at its peak, Avram was able to find G-d. The Rambam details how Avram looked around at the physical world, captivated by the seed of an idea which would blossom into ethical monotheism:
"Though he was a child, he began to think [incessantly] throughout the day and night, wondering: How is it possible for the sphere to continue to revolve without having anyone controlling it? Who is causing it to revolve? Surely, it does not cause itself to revolve."
This rational approach was sharpened by contrast to the irrational, commonplace practices of idol worship. This fundamental concept would flower into a way of life taught to his thousands of followers and passed down to his descendants. The origin story of Avraham Avinu is a very compelling one. And yet, on this topic, the Torah is silent. 
At the end of Parshat Noach we are told that Avram is taken to Charan by his father. Immediately following the brief introduction, we are told that Hashem appears to Avram and says "come with me." What happened in those critical decades in between? Would it not be crucial to tell us in the Torah how Avraham found his connection to G-d? Would that not be the most important thing for us to know, as parents trying to connect our kids to our people and tradition?
Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter explains that the Torah intentionally left out the story of Avraham's spiritual journey because if we were told how Avraham connected to Hashem, we may think that is the only way to connect to Hashem. But in reality, each child is unique and has their own journey. Some connect through rigorous Talmud Torah and some through inspirational Shabbatonim. Some connect through chessed and some through chassidut. Some connect through Eretz Yisrael and some by wanting to emulate the role models they have in their families and teachers.
Rabbi Schacter is telling us that the Torah's message is that there are multiple ways for our students to become Avraham Avinus and Sarah Imeinus. And it is our job to help them get there.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
2. What connects you to Hashem?
3. What is the most important part of your Jewish identity? 
Rav Thoughts
by Rabbi David Saltzman     

In this week's parsha, Avraham is informed by G-d H imself of His plan to destroy Sedom and Amora. Upon hearing this devastating news, Avraham approaches G-d in prayer and supplication on behalf of the two doomed cities. Wha t motivated Avraham to beseech G-d for mercy in an attempt to save these two cities, rooted in evil, from imminent destruction?      
The Rav writes that tefilla creates two communities. First, it forms a community between man and G-d, and second, it creates a community between people. This is reflected in the emphasis on praying with the tzibbur, the congregation, and is the reason that many of the blessings in the Amida are formulated in the plural.
In The Lonely Man of Faith, the Rav writes:
"When disaster strikes, one must not be immersed completely in his own passional destiny, thinking exclusively of himself, being concerned only with himself, and petitioning G-d merely for himself. The foundation of efficacious and noble prayer is human solidarity and sympathy or the covenantal awareness of existential togetherness, of sharing and experiencing the travail and suffering of [others]."     
Upon hearing of the coming destruction, Avraham, being a member of the larger community, was innately moved to pray when he was told about the future suffering of the people. We should react in the same way when we hear of the anguish and agony of others.  

Parent-Teacher Conferences
Remember to sign up for Parent- Teacher Conferences!  The registration website will close this coming Monday, November 6 at 10:00 p.m.

Fall Parent- Teacher Conferences will take place: 
  • Thursday, November 9: Grades K-12 from 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., ECC from 2:00 - 7:00 p.m. (no classes)
  • Friday, November 10: Middle/Upper Schools only, from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (no MS/US classes)
  • Sunday, November 19: Grades K-12 from 12:00 - 7:00 p.m., ECC from 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The conference hours can also be viewed at

The registration website can be found here. If you did not receive an e-mail with your student(s) ID and registration information, please contact the Middle School office.

Sixth-Grade Talmud
by Rabbi Yaakov Beker
The sixth-grade Talmud classes have been learning about the concept of Torah Sh'be'al Peh (the Oral Law) and how it has been passed down throughout the generations.  One of our recent highlights was learning the detailed description in Tractate Eiruvin (quoted in part by Rashi in Shemot 34:32) about how Moshe taught Torah  to  the Jewish people.  The Talmud relates how Moshe would first teach Aharon, then Aharon's two sons, then the elders, and then the rest of the Jewish people. It also discusses many other details about this procedure, some of which have ramifications for how we should study Torah today.   
At the end of the unit, many of the sixth graders were graced with a visit from Moshe Rabbeinu (played by our very own Mr. Werber), who skillfully reenacted parts of this procedure.
Seventh-Grade Science
by Ken Rosenstein

Seventh-grade science has completed its unit on ecosystems, and the students are now using concepts from that unit as we dig deep into one organism.

We began by studying the structure of the atom, then molecules. If all atoms are made of the same things, why are some atoms carbon, while others are gold? What is an element? What is a compound? Come see our atoms and molecules hanging in the classroom!

We now begin our voyage into the cell. Is a cell alive? If so, can it do all the things we expect of a biotic factor in an ecosystem? Does a cell eat? Does it reproduce? Really?! A cell can do all those things?! Stay tuned...

Eighth-Grade Chumash
by Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson

We have now reached what many consider to be the climax of Sefer Shemot: the Aseret Ha-Dibrot (ten commandments)! 

We began the year with the start of Parashat Yitro: Yitro's conversion; Moshe's judicial deliberations; and the people's preparations for accepting the Torah.  Parashat Yitro is best-known, however, for other narrative elements: Matan Torah and the Aseret Ha-Dibrot.  We will examine this central piece of the Torah from many different angles.  We will compare the two tellings of the Aseret Ha-Dibrot; examine the introductory remarks of Nachmanides, Ibn Ezra, Rashi, and others; study Midrashic analyses; and glean from these verses many important halachic and moral lessons.  We see Har Sinai in the distance!
Two Events on Sunday

Yom Chesed is Here!
Yom Chesed is this Sunday starting at 9:00 a.m. All registered participants should have received their project assignments via email. We are looking forward to seeing everyone on Sunday!
Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration
Maimonides School's annual commemoration of the Kristallnacht pogrom is scheduled for Sunday, November 5 at 7:30 p.m. (ma'ariv at 7:15).
The speaker will be Dr. Jonathan Skolnik, assistant professor of German and adjunct assistant professor of history and Judaic and Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Maimonides began this lecture more than 20 years ago, when Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, זצ"ל , described his personal experiences on Kristallnacht - the night of Nov. 9, 1938. Rabbi Wohlgemuth, who joined the Maimonides faculty in 1945, was then a young rabbi in the town of Kitzingen, where a mob attacked his shul. Rabbi Wohlgemuth subsequently was detained at Dachau for several months.
Reservations are not required but would be appreciated (, 617-232-4452 x 405).

Run Around the Res
The Middle and Upper School physical education classes' fall "Run Around the Res" this week was a showcase for a new generation of athletes.
The winner of the girls' race around the reservoir was seventh-grader Natalie Neusner in six minutes, 27 seconds. A sophomore, Itay Nevo, won the boys' race in five minutes, 27 seconds. The distance is a little less than a mile.
Tova Gelb, grade 9, finished second among the girls, four seconds behind the winner. The next three finishers, all in eighth grade, were Yakira Galler, Mira Ganz, and Zahava Fisher-Greisdoff. Sam Herzlinger, Grade 9, came in second among the boys, followed by sophomore Daniel Solouki, eighth grader Yoni Saltzman, and Yossi Picard in Grade 11.

Middle School Hot Lunches!
The popular eighth-grade fundraiser continues with lunch from Taam China on Monday, November 6. Taam China has confirmed that during repairs they are open and available to prepare and deliver the food! Lunch from Jerusalem Grill will be served on Wednesday, November 8.

The eighth-grade students love serving hot lunches on Mondays and Wednesdays to everyone who ordered!
Alumni Newsletter Online
The monthly alumni newsletter for October is now online, and can be found here . This issue's articles include:
  • Recent Alumnus Joins Team Working to Revolutionize Agriculture
  • Couple Expanding Their In-Home Therapy Service to New England
  • Graduate's Virtual Jewish Coffee House Spreading the Spoken Word
  • A Dear Friend Remembers Rabbi Reuven Cohn '65, ז"ל
If you would like to receive the alumni newsletter each month, contact Mike Rosenberg at (617) 232-4452 x 405 or .    

Lady M-Cats Star Returning to Boston

One of Maimonides School's most celebrated student-athletes will compete with her collegiate teammates in Boston on Motza'ei Shabbat, November 18. 
Michal Alge '14 and the Yeshiva University Lady Macs will help open the Emmanuel College Tip-Off Classic with a match against the host school. The game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Jean Yawkey Center on the Emmanuel campus, 400 The Fenway. (Shabbat ends at 5:05 p.m.)  There will be a special presentation by Maimonides to Michal at halftime.
Tickets are $5 each and may be reserved by writing or calling (617) 232-4452, ext. 405. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Maimonides athletics. There will also be a game on Sunday afternoon, November 19.
Last season Michal led the Lady Macs in scoring (almost 25 points per game), rebounding (13), and minutes played, and was tied for steals. She is still part of the Maimonides School landscape as director of the M-Cat Sports Camp each June and July.

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 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!

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