Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
Oct. 2, 2015        Parashat Zot Haberacha       19 Tishrei, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Sixth-Grade Sukkah Visit
Seventh-Grade Scavenger Hunt
Hakhel Celebration
Taam China Lunch
School Calendar
Yom Chesed
Cradles to Crayons
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear MS Families,    
It's been another wonderful, if short, week in Middle School! We packed a lot of learning and activities into the week, as you'll see in the highlights below.

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     

Seventh-graders celebrating at Hakhel with Mr. Fidler 
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff

Since Neilah on Yom Kippur one line has been echoing in my head. As we describe our woeful state, our Mikdash destroyed, our people dispersed, we lament "v'ein shiur rak haTorah hazot" - there is nothing left but this Torah. We are clinging to our last vestige of the Divine after all we have been through, so we study it, we examine it, we leave no stone unturned. It is our link to G-d and its study is our neverending pursuit of closeness to Him. And on Yom Kippur we bemoan the fact that it is all we have left.

Not so on Shemini Atzeret. In two days we celebrate a chag with no identity. The Torah offers us no theme or special mitzvah. In sharp contrast to the holidays of the past 3 weeks - bursting with themes and theatrical, expressive mitzvot - Shemini Atzeret is devoid of props. The contrast is stark. Where is the booming awesome cry of the shofar, the beating chests of confession, the celebratory waving of the lulav, and the divine protection of the sukkah? The 70 oxen on Sukkot are replaced by the one single ox of Shemini Atzeret. The long detailed paragraphs which describe the previous holidays are replaced by the one brief sentence about Shemini Atzeret. Why the silence?

Perhaps the simplicity of Shemini Atzeret is itself the message. As we conclude this season, filled with striking themes and dramatic mitzvot, perhaps Shemini Atzeret is transitioning us back into "real life" - taking the experience and the growth from the last month and trying to make it a constant, a reality in the absence of props. On Shemini Atzeret we cut through the noise and revel in our relationship with Hashem in a very simple, real, and organic way. In this way we can explain why Chazal later anchored Shemini Atzeret to Simchat Torah, the celebration of Torah. After all, once all the fantastic theatrics of the previous holidays have passed, ein shiur rak HaTorah hazot - all we have is this Torah. But this time we say it not in a "krechtz," in a groan, but in comfort and in gratitude. While on Yom Kippur we were grasping, on Shemini Atzeret we are celebrating. Rejoicing in our daily privilege and ability to connect to Hashem through rigorous Torah study. Dancing and singing with the Torah about which David Hamelech wrote "mah ahavti Toratecha kol hayom hi sichati" - how I love Your Torah, all day I speak of it.

We should all have a meaningful conclusion to this chag season in which we truly appreciate the Torah we have, not as a remnant reminding us of what we have lost, but as a gift uniquely and singularly capable of connecting us to the Divine.
Discussion for the Shabbos/Yom Tov Table
  • What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  • In what ways is Shavuot similar to Shemini Atzeret?
  • In your own learning, which topics or styles of Torah learning make you feel the most connected?
Sixth-Grade Sukkah Visit
 by Stephanie Samuels

The sixth grade had a special Sukkot outing on the second day of Chol HaMoed. Mr. Naty Katz, Head of School, invited the entire grade to his sukkah for a treat. He donned a special "Melech" shirt and shared some inspiring words with us about his father, z"l, and his parents' minhag of hosting crowds of people in their sukkah. It was a great privilege for all of us to be there.

Seventh-Grade Sukkot Scavenger Hunt

A new activity was unveiled for our seventh-graders this week: the Sukkot scavenger hunt! The students first demonstrated their knowledge of the school by solving clues that sent them to various teachers and locations, and then demonstrated their knowledge of Sukkot and their creativity by accomplishing various challenges like building a sukkah out of cards. We're proud to report that all eight teams finished the scavenger hunt by arriving at the school sukkah, and they will be celebrating with a special treat.

Hakhel Celebration

Wednesday's heavy rain couldn't dampen our spirits! The Middle and Upper Schools had the merit this week of recreating a mitzvah which occurs once every seven years, at the conclusion of shemitta. The mitzvah is fulfilled in its full form on the second day of Sukkot. It is the 612th mitzvah in the Torah and is commanded in parasha וילך. It is the mitzvah of Hakhel, and is described as follows:
הַקְהֵלאֶת הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁרבִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ אֶתיְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָההַזֹּאת:
Assemble the people: the men, the women, and the children, and your stranger in your cities, in order that they hear, and in order that they learn and fear the Lord, your God, and they will observe to do all the words of this Torah.
Our event followed the structure outlined in the Mishnah. Following the sounding of chatzotzrot (silver trumpets), a tanakh was passed among the school leadership, including Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, Rabbi David Saltzman, Brian Cohen, Rabbi Dov Huff, and Rabbi Gershon Segal, rosh yeshiva. Naty Katz, head of school, then accepted the tanakh and chanted the first portion of Kriat Shema, the verses specified for the Hakhel ceremony. Following the ceremony, students and teachers celebrated with simcha dancing.  
Taam China Lunches Available on Mondays
The popular eighth-grade-run Taam China lunch program will begin for the year on Monday, October 12! Order forms are available to students on the Middle School bulletin board, and you can find an extra copy here.

Please note that the due date for the orders has been moved to Thursday, October 8!

Calendar PDF Online

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.
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