Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
Sept. 25, 2015        Parashat Ha'azinu       12 Tishrei, 5775   

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Sixth-Grade English
Seventh-Grade Talmud
Lulav and Etrog
School Calendar
Yom Chesed
Cradles to Crayons
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear MS Families,    
We hope you all had a meaningful Yom Kippur, and offer best wishes for Sukkot this coming week!

Please read on for a D'var Torah from Rabbi Dov Huff, a run-down on this week's activities, and notes for the upcoming weeks!
Shabbat Shalom
and Chag Sameach,

Brian Cohen 
Associate Principal,
Middle School    

The entire Middle School performed the ritual of Kapparot using coins in the shul 
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff

Several years ago, as I put up my sukkah with my 3-year-old son, I tried to impress upon him how special the sukkah is. How the sukkah reminds us of how Hashem protects us and takes care of us. How after Yom Kippur we find ourselves on a new spiritual high, and the sukkah is an expression of our love for and dependence on Hashem. As I raised the walls and tried to drive home this lofty message to Akiva Shalom, he interrupted me and said, "it also blocks the sun in my eyes."

I think what Akiva was trying to tell me is that the sukkah has a dual nature. It represents not only Bnei Yisroel's spirituality and special relationship with Hashem, but also humanity's reliance on Him in a very practical sense. It is the Chag Haasif - the festival of gathering the crops.  As we reap the benefits of all our hard work in the planting season, we go outside our houses, subject ourselves to the unpredictable weather, and remind ourselves that everyone's agricultural and financial success depends on Hashem. For this reason we find many agricultural and universal references in the korbanot, haftorah readings, and tefillah throughout the chag.

This duality of Sukkot is reflected in a dispute in the Gemara Sukkah (11b):

"That I made the children of Israel to dwell in sukkot" (Vayikra 23:43) - these were the Clouds of Glory, says Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Akiva says: He made real booths for them. 

By going into the sukkah, are we celebrating the miracles that Hashem does for His chosen nation - just as He guided us through the desert into Eretz Yisrael - or are we commemorating man's practical reliance on Hashem, whether it is through booths to protect us from the hardships
of the desert or through the natural and everyday ways that he provides for us?

To phrase it another way, does the sukkah isolate us as a unique people sheltered in our special relationship to Hashem, or does it expose us to the outside world and to nature, connecting us to the rest of mankind under Hashem's universal protection?

Akiva Shalom's message for our students is that the sukkah represents both. That while we shelter ourselves in the protective walls of Maimonides School, we also reach out and integrate with humanity as a whole. We continue growing in our spirituality while reminding ourselves that we, along with everyone else, rely on Hashem in our everyday, mundane pursuits.

Chag sameach!

Discussion for the Shabbos/Yom Tov Table
  • What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  • Find the "Universal" theme in the Neviim we read over Sukkot and in the korbanot we offer. (Come to me with the answer for a Sukkot treat.)
  • Which aspects of the chag strike you as stemming from the Particular/Spiritual theme and which from the Universal/Agricultural theme? Which aspects are both?
Sixth-Grade English Update
by Stephanie Samuels

As part of our exploration of Wonder by R.J. Palacio (our summer reading book), the sixth-grade students are preparing to have a Skype conversation with Gabriel, a Jewish boy who has the same cranio-facial disease as August Pullman, Wonder's main character.  Mrs. Tamar Benjamin, who is a third-grade teacher here at Maimo, is a long-time friend of Gabriel (she was his first babysitter).  He is now in 8th grade.

Mrs. Benjamin came into the sixth grade on Monday to describe her experience knowing Gabriel, and the students were able to ask her questions.  The students then formulated questions for Gabriel, which I will forward to Gabriel, as per his request, prior to our Skype conversation.  We enjoyed Mrs. Benjamin's visit, and we are looking forward to "meeting" Gabriel!

Talmud Update
by Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson

This year in Talmud class, the seventh grade is studying the fourth chapter of Berakhot and the eighth grade is studying the third chapter of Bava Metzia. These chapters are relevant in many ways to the lives of our students. Not only are we developing the skills for lifelong learning, but we are also learning important practical information. 

Berakhot discusses the structure of the Jewish prayer calendar, for one.  But what discussion of a synagogue- based activity is complete without mentioning pizza? Pizza has become a central analogy in the class.  No matter how one "slices up" the Jewish day, there always remains time for talking about food! 

Bava Metzia, meanwhile, provides students with a Jewish perspective on borrowing, lending, and guarding friends' belongings.  This leads to many classroom-based sketches about friends lending out pencils, borrowing coats, and so on.  This is where students learn to be both scholarly and top-rate mentsches!
Eighth-Grade Sukkah Decorating

The eighth-grade students enjoyed a special pre-Sukkot activity today, when they decorated the Saval sukkah
and tried out a Sukkot trivia game with our new shlichot, Einat and Shlomit. We will all appreciate their work next
week, when the sukkah will be full of students at every meal.

Lulav and Etrog Fundraiser
The Maimonides School Class of 2016's arba minim project is in progress! All orders have been received, and the seniors have started distributing the lulav and etrog sets. The final distribution time will be on Sunday, Sept. 27. 
Please contact seniors Nava Katz ( and Ayelet Ehrenkranz ( or staff member Mike Rosenberg (617-232-4452, x405) with any questions. 
The seniors are appreciative of the community's long record of generous support for this milestone year in their lives, and extend thanks and best wishes for a year replete with good health and fulfillment. 

Calendar PDF Now Available!

The 2015-16 academic calendar is now available in PDF form for easy printing. Please click here to access it.


Yom Chesed Registration Opens Soon!

Remember to reserve Sunday, November 1 for our third annual Yom Chesed! Watch your inbox for registration information, which should arrive before the end of Sukkot.
Donations for Cradles to Crayons

In preparation for a Yom Chesed project on November 1, Cradles to Crayons donation bins have been placed in both Brener (on 1st floor outside main office) and Saval (in lunchroom) to collect items for this non-profit organization, which provides essentials to children in low-income and homeless situations.

Cradles to Crayons is looking for new and gently-used clothing, shoes, baby essentials, books, and toys. Click here for a detailed guideline for donations.

On Yom Chesed, families who have pre-registered for the Cradles to Crayons project will travel to the organization's headquarters to sort and pack items for needy children. Stay tuned for Yom Chesed registration information in your email!
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 note:
We will not be 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.

Parent and Student Handbooks Online
This year's Parent-Student Handbooks are all linked to the Maimo website and are password-protected.  

Username: maimoparents 
Password: horim

You can find the handbooks online in two places:

(1) All handbooks are linked to the "Getting Ready for School page.

(2) The handbooks are also linked to each division's section under the "For Parents and Students" menu: 


On behalf of the entire Middle School: Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Sameach!

Brian Cohen

MS logo, medium size