Upper School Weekly Update

November 17th, 2017  -  Toldot
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
The Science of Writing
Torah and Archaeology
Veterans Day
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Happy Thanksgiving
ROFEH Toy Drive
Special Movie Screening
Mazel Tov!
Boy Scout Trip
Lady M-Cat
Basketball Tournament
Division Newsletters
Social Media
Next Week
In Two Weeks
Mon., Nov. 27
Yeshiva Visit: Lunch, Yeshivat Ashreinu (interested boys attend)
 
Girls' Varsity Basketball Tryout, 5:15-7:00 pm
 
Boys' Varsity Basketball Tryout, 7:00-8:30 pm 
 
T ues., Nov. 28
Boys' Varsity Basketball Tryout, 5:15-7:00 pm
 
Girls' Varsity Basketball Tryout, 7:00-8:30 pm
 
Wed., Nov. 29
Seminary visit: Nishmat (interviews for interested girls only)
 
Thu., Nov. 30 
Picture Retakes
 
Fri., Dec. 1
 

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D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff

A major theme of the beginning of the Torah is tefillah. The Gemara in Brachot traces the origin of our three-times-a-day tefillah to the narratives of our avot: Shacharit by Avraham in Parshat Vayeira, mincha by Yitzchak in Parshat Chayei Sarah, and maariv by Yaakov in Parshat VaYetzei
 
This week's parsha, situated in the middle of these parshiyot, on the surface accounts for no part of the inception, origin, when, or how of standardized tefillah. But upon looking more closely, we may find that it is Parshat Toldot that teaches us everything about the very essence of tefillah itself.
 
In the beginning of the parsha we see tefillah come up twice. The first is when Yitzchak Avinu cries out to Hashem so that he and Rivka can have a child - vaye'etar Yitzchak el Hashem. What is the nature of this tefillah? It is not a tefillah motivated by the time of day or by routine. It is a dynamic, organic tefillah, born out of desperation and out of hope. It is an unplanned, unchoreographed cry to man's Creator in a moment of deep personal pain. 
 
The second is when Rivka Imeinu davens. Vateilech lidrosh et Hashem - Rivka went to seek Hashem, either because she was in distress (Chizkuni); to find out what was going to happen (Rashi); or to answer the question of why her pregnancy was unique (Ibn Ezra). This tefillah is also not prescribed. It was motivated by her individual experience. Whether she was searching for answers or relief, this tefillah was personal. 
 
The tefillah of Toldot teaches us is that prayer is not relegated only to certain times, ways, and words. It is not limited to what we do in shul three times a day. It is a constant, continuous connection between us and Hashem, which we anchor in and express through our tefillah b'tzibbur every day. 
 
It is this essence of tefillah which is the hardest to pass on to our children, because this aspect of tefillah comes from each individual's experience. It is deeply personal and intimate, such that it cannot be transplanted from parent to child or teacher to student. Most of the mitzvot engage our bodies. Talmud Torah engages our mind. But tefillah engages the heart. And avodah shebalev - worship of the heart - cannot be externally generated.  
 
This constant connection and dialogue is seen again in the unique phrasing of Yitzchak's tefillah:
Vayeetar Yitzchak el Hashem... vayeiater lo Hashem.
 
This is generally translated as: Yitzchak prayed to Hashem... and Hashem answered him. But it is actually the same verb describing the action done by Yitzchak and by G-d. The only difference is the conjugation. One paal and one nifal - one active and one reflexive. What Yitzchak did, Hashem reflected back at him. It is on this phrasing that Rabbi Levi in the Midrash Rabbah gives a mashal:
It is like a son of a king who wants to sneak a measure of gold from his father. And while the son is discretely trying to take the gold, the father is discretely trying to give it to him. While the son pulls on the door, the father is on the other side pushing. 
 
Rabbi Levi is teaching us that while Yitzchak Avinu is grasping, Hashem is reciprocating. While we reach for our personal connection with our Creator, He is subtly drawing us near. While we call out to Hakadosh Baruch Hu with our deepest hopes and dreams, He is actively receiving our tefillot. Vaye'etar Yitzchak - vayeiater lo Hashem. 
 
May we be successful in helping our children find their own meaning in tefillah, and may we guide them to engage in a constant dialogue with and connection to Hashem. 
 
 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. How can we harness this aspect of tefillah to transform the prescribed tefillah we do in shul?
  3. What is the verb used to describe Yitzchak's tefillah in Parshat Chayei Sarah, and how does it impact our understanding of tefillah?
  4. Are there situations in which you find your tefillot to be most meaningful?

Thoughts of the Rav 

by Rabbi David Saltzman
 
When Rivka was having pain from her pregnancy, the pasuk states that she went to seek out G-d. The Rav explains that people sometimes have feelings of religious loneliness, which is a positive experience and part of the religious experience. It's the feeling that one has when they feel as if they were thrown into this world, which has neither regard nor understanding for their singularity and unique role. Rivka, at this time in her life, was feeling this religious loneliness. She understood then that she needed to search out G-d to resolve her inner crisis.
 
According to the Ramban, Rivka went to find Hashem so she could daven to Him. Through tefilla, one can internalize and gain a new understanding about oneself. By initiating a dialogue with G-d through tefilla, she realized that she was not just an insignificant part of the cosmos. Instead, Rivka came to understand her unique and difficult role, and through that new understanding she resolved her crisis.
 
The Science of Writing, The Writing of Science
Last week we discussed how the analytical skills used in an English essay can also be applied to science writing.

This week Ms. Lora Gibbens (English), Dr. Megan Hamilton (English), and Dr. Jennifer Gordon (Science) led a workshop for students to practice these skills so they will become better editors of their work in both disciplines.

The workshop also made connections between an English student's use of an introduction, thesis, and textual evidence, and a science student's use of a hypothesis, purpose statement, and presentation of evidence.

 
Torah and Archaeology Program
The Israeli organization Foundation Stone brought their TOARCH (Torah and archaeology) program to our Middle and Upper School students this week. The goal of the program is to bring Tanach to life by sharing archaeological artifacts from Israel. The presenters used an expansive and interactive map of the Land of Israel, marked with the locations of numerous places in the Tanach, so that our students could gain a more tangible understanding of the texts they are learning in their limudei kodesh classes.
 
 
Veterans Day Program Features Alum
Moshe Bension '05 shared some of his experiences as a U.S. Army officer during an Upper School commemoration of Veterans Day on Monday. Moshe, who is now a law student, said he enlisted following college graduation as a way to give back to his country.
 
 
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Fall Parent - Teacher Conferences will continue: 
  • 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 
 

Happy Thanksgiving
The division newsletters will not be published next week due to the short week and Thanksgiving holiday. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend!
 
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.


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  juliesgaller@gmail.com   


Mazel Tov!
Mazel tov to Chaya Durani, Elementary School Hebrew language coordinator, and Rabbi Avinoam Durani, Upper School Judaic studies teacher and Grade 11 dean, on the birt h of their grandson.
 
Send us your simchas!  Please share your simcha announcements with us by sending details to info@maimonides.org.
   
 
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.

 
Lady M-Cats Star Returning to Boston
One of Maimonides School's most celebrated student-athletes will compete with her collegiate teammates in Boston this coming  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 may be purchased at the door (students receive free admission). 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.
 
Invitational Basketball Tournament
Save the dates! The annual Maimonides School Invitational Basketball Tournament in Memory of Leland Gelman is scheduled for Thursday - Sunday, December 7-10. Visiting teams will be from Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (boys and girls), Joel Braverman High School of Yeshivah of Flatbush (boys and girls), Atlanta Jewish Academy (boys) and Melvin Berman Hebrew Academy (girls). Contact Ahron Solomont ( asolomont@aol.com) for information on serving as a tournament volunteer.
 
See What's Happening in other Divisions
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 Middle School newsletter pages.

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