Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
Oct. 23, 2015        Parashat Lech Lecha       10 Cheshvan, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Picture Day
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Seventh-Grade Field Trip
Taam China Lunch
Yom Chesed
Admissions Event
Maimonides Alumnus to Speak about IDF Ethics
PTA Hat Show
School Calendar
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear MS Families,    

We hope your week was as successful as ours!

Please read on for a d'var Torah from Rabbi Dov Huff, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and notes for the upcoming weeks.
Shabbat Shalom,

Brian Cohen 
Associate Principal, Middle School
Seventh-graders playing a board game to learn their vocabulary words for Chumash 
Building a Name
by Rabbi Dov Huff

This week we continue building on the discussion of migdal Bavel - the attempt to build a city and a tower in the spirit of
naaseh lanu shem - making ourselves a name. 
By contrast, in Lech Lecha we find another attempt to build in order to develop a name. Avraham Avinu is on a mission. He travels from Ur Casdim to Charan to Shechem to Chevron to Mitzrayim. All the while Avraham Avinu is teaching people about monotheism - that there is one G-d who demands of us to live a moral and ethical life. While in Migdal Bavel they built for the sake of their own name, our parsha tells us about Avraham that vayiven sham mizbeach - vayikra b'shem Hashem - and he built an altar and called out in the name of Hashem.
Avraham Avinu also builds for the sake of a name. In fact, he builds three mizbechot in our parsha. But Avraham Avinu is not interested in developing his own name. He is publicizing the name of Hashem - traveling near and far trying to spread monotheism and unite mankind in their worship of Hashem. 
What we see are two types of unity. In the first, we build walls to keep people out, and in the second, we tear them down to bring people together. The first is a selfish, exclusive unity, a clique, and the second is selfless and inclusive. The first tries to unify people by who they are, by their name, and therefore by definition excludes others. The second reaches out, uniting people around ideas and ideals, common beliefs and ethics - values which can be accessed by anyone. While migdal Bavel was trying to unify through contraction, Avraham Avinu was trying to unify through expansion. And for this reason, Hashem punishes the people of migdal Bavel by mixing their languages and spreading them out - to show them that unity is more than shared language and geographic location, and that the mission of mankind is to call out to others in the name of Hashem. 
This is also what this week's international Shabbos Project is all about: Breaking down the barriers which separate us from our fellow Jews. We need to peek out of our insular communities and follow Avraham Avinu in being korei b'shem Hashem as Am Yisrael in its entirety - to keep us all together.

Questions for the Shabbos table: 
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. When do you find yourself uniting by exclusion, and when by inclusion?
  3. In what ways are the other avot similar to Avraham Avinu, and in what ways are they different?
Thoughts of the Rav on the Parasha
by Rabbi Dov Huff

The Rav highlights the uniqueness of Avraham Avinu in two ways. The first is that Avraham Avinu was the model of 
hispashtus - of outreach. Avraham Avinu traveled the world peddling monotheism, set up his tent, and according to the gemara built an inn to attract travelers and passersby - opening their eyes to a moral and ethical existence. By the time Avraham Avinu and his wife Sarah left Charan, they had already amassed thousands of followers. Contrast this to Noach, who knew Hashem but kept the secret to himself, and did not avail himself of the opportunity to daven for humanity upon learning of the imminent destruction, or plead with them to change their ways. 
The second way is in Avraham's recognition of Hashem. The Rav explains that, as the Rambam details, Shem, Ever, and Noach all knew that there was only one true G-d. What Avraham Avinu was the first to discover was that Hashem is the creator, originator, and legislator of moral law. It is for this reason that Hashem chooses Avraham to be the one "who would command his sons and his household after him, and they will keep the way of Hashem to do righteousness and justice" - to build a nation based on a new mission for humanity, driven by a code of ethics which would ultimately express itself in the Torah.  

Middle and Upper School portraits will be taken next Monday, October 26.

Coffee Pond Photography will be processing the images, and will then send you an email or letter with password information so you can view the images online. You will then be able to order the picture package of your choice.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Get ready to sign up for Parent-Teacher Conferences!  The registration website will open on Wednesday, October 28 at 9:00 p.m. and close on Wednesday, November 4 at 10:00 p.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences will be taking place:
  • Wednesday, November 11: All divisions, 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. (no classes)
  • Friday, November 20: Middle/Upper Schools only, 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (no classes)
  • Sunday, November 22: Grades K-12: 12:00 - 7:00 p.m., ECC: 2:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The registration website can be found here.  Please note that the link will not work until the website opens for conference registration.

If you did not receive a letter with your student(s) ID and registration information, please contact the division office.

Seventh-Grade Field Trip

Next Thursday, the seventh grade will be hopping on the T and taking a good look at our city. They will be visiting the State House, having lunch on Boston Common, and taking a look at all of Boston from the Prudential SkyWalk. Please sign a permission slip for your seventh-grader here.
Taam China Lunches!
The popular eighth-grade-run Taam China lunch program will continue on Monday, October 26! The eighth-graders are looking forward to providing lunches to the students who have ordered them. If you or your child do not remember the dates for which he or she ordered a lunch, a confirmation sheet can be provided at the Middle School office.
Yom Chesed Reaching Capacity - Sign Up NOW!

Thank you to all who have already registered for Yom Chesed! We still have room left in a few projects, so if you have not yet registered, please go to our online registration form and fill it out, and we will assign you to a project based on availability. Projects that have reached capacity and are not accepting new registrants are: Cradles to Crayons, Gittel's Kitchen, Hebrew Senior Life, Lone Soldier, Ohr Shabbat and Yachad. Please note that we will also be writing cards to send to IDF soldiers in Israel to show our support for them. For questions, please contact Ellen Pulda,, 617-232-4452, x423. 
Whether or not you're able to attend Yom Chesed, you can still help out by donating items to our Cradles to Crayons and Family Table projects:  
Cradles to Crayons, an organization which helps children in homeless and low-income situations, is looking for gently used or new clothing, shoes, and books, as well as new art or school supplies and baby supplies. 
Family Table, the largest kosher food pantry in New England, would like canned salmon and whole wheat crackers, as well as canned pumpkin for our Yom Chesed Thanksgiving project. 
There are  collection boxes for both of these organizations outside the Brener and Saval offices. Thanks in advance for your donations to these vital organizations.
Upcoming Admissions Event - Spread the Word

We would love your help in spreading the word about Maimonides School! It's as easy as sharing information about our admissions events with others.
On Tuesday, October 27, we will offer an informational evening for K-12 prospective parents. This event will take place in Steg Library in Brener from 7:00-8:30 p.m. and will offer an overview of our K-12 program, with Q & A and a chance to speak with administrators and faculty, as well as current students and parents.

Maimonides Alumnus to Speak about IDF Ethics

Maimonides alumnus Yitzhak Sokoloff '72, an IDF veteran and Maimonides School graduate who conducts ethical combat workshops for Israeli soldiers, will speak about "The Challenges of Being an Ethical People in an Immoral World" on Monday, October 26, at 7:30 pm in the S. Joseph Solomont Synagogue in Saval. 

Yitzhak, originally from Sharon, taught political science and Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University. He served with the IDF in the Golani Brigade, including combat in Lebanon, and was also stationed in the office of the prime minister. Yitzhak worked with the IDF to initiate a unique educational program, and lectures on maintaining an ethical army and on the culture of political incitement. 

This event is free of charge, but RSVPs would be appreciated.  
Please reply to or 617-232-4452, x405.

PTA Fall Hat Show and Boutique

Calendar PDF Online

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


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:
We'll see you next week!
Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen

MS logo, medium size