October 27, 2017            Parashat Lech Lecha            7 Cheshvan, 5778 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Look Ahead to Upper School
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Sixth-Grade History
Seventh-Grade English
Eighth-Grade Hebrew
Upcoming Events
Boy Scouts
Hot Lunches
Mazel Tov!
Lady M-Cat
Absence Notifications
Social Time!
Division Newsletters
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear Middle School Families,    

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
This week's parsha starts with a command from Hashem to Avram - a seminal moment which changes the course of Jewish history - lech lecha.
Go from your land, from your birthplace, from the house of your father, to the land that I will show you. 
When we see this pasuk at the beginning of the parsha it strikes us as a major course change. The command is shrouded in mystery. Go to some unknown land on an unspecified mission with a vague promise that Hashem will make you a great nation and a source of blessing. 
But when we look at last week's parsha, and we meet Avram for the first time, we learn that his father Terach had picked up the family, uprooted them from their homeland, and set off on a journey. And what was the destination? Eretz Canaan! They were already on their way to Israel! They stopped for many years in Charan and there Terach died. It seems strange, though, that Hashem then comes to Avram with a surprise revelation. Pushing him to embark on a journey -  one which he was already on. 
The message is that it is not the same thing to go to Eretz Canaan as it is to go to Eretz Yisrael. What is the difference? The difference is the mission. Hashem sent Avram el Haaretz - to the land. Haaretz is the way that Eretz Yisrael is referred to in the Torah. It carries with it a deeper meaning. A higher purpose. A connection to Hashem and a responsibility towards mankind. It is not the same thing to go to Eretz Canaan as it is to go to Haaretz
Being a part of this mission, seeing the greater purpose, and striving for meaning in all our life journeys is our responsibility as the children of Avraham and Sarah. Lot, when confronted with this responsibility, was not up for the challenge. The Radak explains that when they realized they had to part ways, Avram and Lot were facing east, looking at the Yarden. Avram tells Lot that if he decides to go left, to Northern Israel, Avram will go right, to Southern Israel, and vice-versa - but at all costs, stay in Haaretz - cleave to the mission!
Instead "Lot raised his eyes and saw the entire plain of the Jordan and it was fully watered." Lot does not bother to look to the right or the left. He just looks at what is directly in front of him. And he sees the grass is greener on the other side of the Yarden. He sees a normal life. He sees an easy way out. And he takes it. His parting was not just from Avram and not just from Eretz Yisrael. He was abandoning the mission. He was trading being a part of the zera Avraham for the fertile pastures of Jordan.
Our challenge is connecting our kids to both these aspects, so that on their life journeys they never take the easier "Lot route," abandoning their calling. And so that their destination is always Haaretz and not Canaan - elevating every moment, infusing everything with purpose and meaning. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
2. How can we find more meaning in our tefillah? In our limudei kodesh classes? Our general studies classes?
3. What are moments in our lives where we are tempted to make a "Lot decision" because that is what everyone else does?
Rav Thoughts
Excerpted from Abraham's Journey by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
We do not know who Melchizedek was. Rashi (14:18) quotes a midrash that he was Shem the son of Noah (Nedarim 32b). We see that when Abraham came with his new philosophy of monotheism, there were other individuals who also knew about it. Melchizedek was the king of justice. "He was the priest of the Most High God" (Gen. 14:18), a servant of the Almighty. His philosophy was identical with that of Abraham. He was a contemporary of Abraham and apparently accepted the same certitudes, the same articles of  faith, the same moral norms Abraham had formulated. Why didn't he join Abraham? Together they would have been much stronger. Not long before, the Torah had called him Avraham ha-Ivri, lonesome Abraham, lonely Abraham: The whole world on one side and he on the opposite side. Where was Melchizedek? Apparently, he was so overwhelmed by Abraham's victory that he had to give expression to his amazement. But after this episode, Melchizedek disappears. We heard nothing of him before and we will not of him after. That is the difference between Abraham and  Melchizedek. Whatever Abraham knew, whatever Abraham treasured and considered precious and worthwhile, he wanted  to share with others.
Abraham later says to the king of Sodom, "I have lifted up my hand to the L-rd, the Most High G-d, the Possessor of heaven and earth" (Gen. 14:22). Interestingly, the phrase E-l Elyon Koneh shamayim va-aretz was coined not by Abraha m but by Melchizedek! And this phrase was incorporated into our Amidah prayer. Melchizedek had beautiful ideas, but he was never able to implement them. Abraham's greatness consisted not only in inventing ideas, in coining beautiful phrases, but in taking ideas and converting them into reality, into facts.
Event for Eighth-Grade Parents!
8th grade parents are invited to "A Look Ahead to Upper School," an evening of conversation with Rabbi Dov Huff and Mr. Scott Mattoon.

There will be two sessions. One will be this coming Monday, October 30, at 7:00 p.m. in Sharon, at the home of Julie and Ezra Galler, 101 Billings Street. The other will be next Wednesday, November 1, at 7:00 p.m. in Newton, at the home of Orit and Hagay Ramati, 270 Upland Road.

Please RSVP with these links:  

Newton session
Sharon session

Parent-Teacher Conferences
Get ready to sign up for Parent- Teacher Conferences!  The registration website will open on Monday, October 30 at 9:00 p.m. and close on Monday, November 6 at 10:00 p.m.

Fall Parent- Teacher Conferences will be taking 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 http://www.maimonides.org/PTC

The registration website can be found here.  Please note that the link will not work until the website opens for conference registration.

Instructions for accessing the website were sent out yesterday.  If you did not receive an e-mail with your student(s) ID and registration information, please contact the division office.

Sixth-Grade History  
by Hal Borkow
We began our study of American history from the very beginning, examining what our country looked like as it took its first steps toward independence.
E ach sixth-grade history class is now experiencing the trials and tribulations of forming the laws of the country as they hold a constitutional convention. Our delegates are discussing, debating, and preparing to vote on how our country should be structured: Should it be a republic? Should it have a president? What type of legislature should there be? What sort of rights should be included in a bill of rights?
The students, in character as delegates and historical figures, are leading the convention debates, and no one knows how the voting will turn out. May the most persuasive arguments win!
Seventh-Grade English
by Jack Fidler

Fall in seventh-grade English is always particularly stimulating because many of the students find S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders to be a favorite book.  It's a thrill for students to realize that a book assigned for school can be something they would read for pleasure on their own! 

As the class hits the midpoint of the book, we are addressing the essential question of whether violence is ever a solution to problems between groups of people.  Because the book is rich in dialogue, it provides a natural lead-in to our grammar lessons in punctuating dialogue, as well as our work on writing focused answers to questions from literature.

Ei ghth-Grade Hebrew
by Chaya Durani

To start this year in Hebrew 8a, we've been discussing honesty and deception. We began by reading some articles about the psychology behind honesty and fiction. We also listened to a song about a defendant in a court case pleading to a judge, making up all sorts of lies that we analyzed. We talked about the lies witnesses might tell in court, and read a story about a sick child whose friend lies to her to encourage her. This led to a fascinating in-class discussion about whether lies of that sort are justified. Lies don't even need to be spoken, as we discovered when considering how different animals "deceive" each other in the wild in order to survive.

In other activities, we spoke about the spies in the Chumash, who reported negatively on the land of Israel to Moshe and Bnei Yisrael; learned about future tenses in binan nifal; and enjoyed looking at graffiti that is designed to look like part of the street.

We've just begun to learn about sports. It was surprisingly hard to define exactly what a sport is! We listened to a song about endurance and not giving up. In the next couple of weeks we will continue to talk about the fans, the competition, and the different aspects of many kinds of sports.

by Barak Cerf

Since the beginning of the year, Hebrew 8b has been learning about a fascinating topic that relates to all of us: the human body.  We have been not only learning the names and functions of human body parts, but also expanding beyond that to all that surrounds our lives: paintings and photographs, "selfie culture," portraits, medical appointments, caricatures, and the reasoning behind folk remedies for various illnesses.
This week we added another aspect to this unit, and a very unique one: Hebrew idioms and modern Hebrew phrases that make use of words for human body parts to deliver a clear or hidden criticism about human behavior. Some of these idioms sound very funny, and almost like slang: ראש גדול, עיניים גדולות, בטן-גב.
O thers describe emotions and relationships: אוכל את הלב, בראש אחד, שם לי רגל.
We will end this unit with a discussion of Rambam's advice about good health.
שבת שלום!
Three Upcoming Events
Thursday evening, November 2 - An Evening in Memory of Rabbi Reuven Cohn z"l
Sunday morning, November 5 - Yom Chesed
Sunday evening, November 5 - Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration
An Evening in Memory of Rabbi Reuven Cohn z"l
Please join us for an evening of learning, tribute, and appreciation in memory of our beloved teacher Rabbi Reuven Zvi Cohn z"l this coming Thursday, November 2 at 6:45 p.m. at Saval Campus, 34 Philbrick Road.
Sign up to learn mishnah in Rabbi Cohn's memory at http://hadranalach.com/419
Yom Chesed Registration Extended!
Yom Chesed is a week from Sunday, on November 5!  Registration will close soon, but we currently have limited availability for some projects.  Our Yom Chesed web page has a complete list of projects as well as an online registration form. 
This schoolwide community service initiative is in its 5th year and is fun for everyone, including students, parents, faculty, grandparents, alumni, and parents of alumni.
In addition to the many hands-on projects that take place in our school buildings and throughout the community, our Saval Auditorium will host two organizations that focus on medical needs. Gift of Life, a  bone marrow and blood stem cell registry, will be on hand to register new donors, and the Hope Time Cure Epilepsy Foundation will be here to share information about its mission to promote epilepsy awareness and provide support to individuals with epilepsy and their families.
Please don't wait to sign up - together we CAN make a difference!
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 (mike@maimonides.org, 617-232-4452 x 405).

Boy Scout Open House on Sunday

Middle School Hot Lunches!
The popular eighth-grade fundraiser continues with lunch from Taam China on Monday, October 30. 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 1.

The eighth-grade students love serving hot lunches on Mondays and Wednesdays to everyone who ordered!

Mazel Tov!
Mazal tov to Israela (Levine) '99 and Mayer Kahan on the Bat Mitzvah of their daughter Maayan '23. Mazal tov as well to brother Tzviel '26 and sister Amira '28.
Send us your simchas!  Please share your simcha announcements with us by sending details to info@maimonides.org.   

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 mike@maimonides.org 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: 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 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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