Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
Nov. 13, 2015        Parashat Toldot      1 Kislev, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Sixth-Grade Field Trip
Seventh-Grade Math
Eighth-Grade Activities
Girls' Basketball Clinic
Middle School Magazine
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Picture Retake Day
Taam China Lunch
School Calendar
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
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Dear MS Families,    

It was a pleasure to see so many of you on our first day of Parent-Teacher Conferences! The conferences are deeply valued as an opportunity to share thoughts about your children's progress. We're looking forward to seeing everyone else next Friday and the following Sunday.

Please read on for a d'var Torah from Rabbi Dov Huff, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and an update on this week in Middle School!
Shabbat Shalom,

Brian Cohen 
Associate Principal, Middle School                  
D'var Torah
by Rabbi Dov Huff

Last week we discussed the striking similarities between the stories of Avraham Avinu and Yitzchak Avinu. This week I want to talk about the differences. The interplay between the two is immediately apparent in the very beginning of this week's parsha.

V'eyla toldot Yitzchak ben Avraham; Avraham holid et Yitzchak - "These are the generations of Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham gave birth to Yitzchak." The odd syntax of this pasuk drives chazal in the midrash to explain that Yitzchak looked exactly like Avraham. But as they aged, Yitzchak developed his own look - the same, but different.

While Avraham Avinu represents chesed, outreach, Yitzchak represents gevurah, inner strength and discipline. This is Yitzchak Avinu who, upon realizing he is being led by his father to the slaughter, responds with heroic, thunderous silence in acceptance of G-d's decree. This silence defines Yitzchak throughout his story, both literally and figuratively. It is the silence of focus and determination, of concentrated internal development. He is purely and entirely devoted to Hashem. In the words of the midrash, he is an olah temima - a sacrifice offered in its totality to G-d. A person so perfected in his middot and spirituality that when Rivka sees him for the first time, as Rashi tells us, she falls off her camel - astounded by his majestic appearance.

As a result, Yitzchak Avinu's phase of Judaism represents yahadut's turning inward. While Avraham Avinu was the ultimate mekarev, travelling around the ancient Middle East spreading monotheism, Yitzchak Avinu marks the beginning of particular monotheism. While Avraham Avinu's focus was outward/universal, Yitzchak Avinu's is inward/particular.

For this reason, when drought seizes the land, as it did in the time of Avraham, Yitzchak Avinu tries to follow in his father's footsteps to Egypt. But unlike with his father, Hashem tells him, "Do not go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land that I will tell you." Stay in Israel, because you, Yitzchak Avinu, are fundamentally different. The olah temima must preserve and nurture his intense kedusha in the holiest land on Earth, fortifying and developing his own kedusha rather than spreading it out. This inward focus sets the stage for the Yaakov Avinu phase, the transformation of Avraham's universal idea into a family religion. A family that, through Yaakov Avinu, would become Yisrael.
Questions for the Shabbos Table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. Are you more of a "spiritual introvert" or "spiritual extrovert"?
  3. How can we develop our inner kedusha? What are the Mitzrayims we must avoid in doing so?

Thoughts of the Rav on the Parasha
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.
Adapted from The Rav Thinking Aloud on the Parsha: Sefer Bereishis by David Holzer, pages 256 - 262
Upcoming Sixth-Grade Trip
by Mrs. Stephanie Samuels  

The sixth grade will be going on a field trip to Congregation Beth Pinchas/ROFEH International ("the Bostoner shul") on Wednesday, Nov. 18. We will be meeting with the Bostoner Rebbe, Rav Naftali Horowitz, and hearing about the history of the Bostoner Chasidic movement, the history of Beth Pinchas, and ROFEH in general. We will get a tour of the facility and do an activity to help those who benefit from ROFEH, an organization that assists people coming to Boston for medical treatment.  
In preparation for the ROFEH activity, we would like the students to bring in items that could go in gift baskets for families coming to stay in Boston. These non-food items can include:
  • soap
  • toothpaste
  • travel-size packets of wipes
  • hairbrushes
  • other toiletries
  • notepads
  • Shabbat candles
  • coffee packets
  • coloring books
  • crayons or markers
Seventh-Grade Math

Mr. Schockett's class has just finished a unit on probability, and will be participating in the AMC8, a math contest organized by the Mathematical Association of America, during a class period next week.

Mr. Rosenstein's and Mrs. Baronofsky's classes have been digging their teeth into power expressions and exponential growth. There are real-life examples of exponential growth all around us, from the compound interest of a CD at the bank to the reproduction of cells in a culture. This is math that will stay with the students forever!


Eighth-Grade Activities
 by Mrs. Dana Bar-Or

In eighth grade, every student is able to participate in the grade's activities by being part of a committee. Each of them is assigned to a committee such as Afterschool Activities, Fundraising, DC Trip, and Eighth-Grade Shabbaton. This is a great opportunity for all of our students to develop their leadership and planning skills. This week, several of those committees met for the first time!

On Monday this week, we began an ongoing program of learning about ways people can volunteer to improve the world throughout their lives. This week we spoke via Skype with an Israeli boy named Aviv. Aviv, who is 14 years old and lives in Raanana, told the eighth-graders about his volunteer work with an amazing organization named Krembo Wings, a social group for people with developmental delays.

Girls Basketball Team Offering Clinic
On Friday, November 20, the girls' varsity basketball team will be offering a skills clinic for girls in grades 6-8 from 10:30 a.m. until noon in Fox Gymnasium. Gatorade and snacks will be provided. The fee for this session is $15 (cash or checks payable to Maimonides School with basketball clinic written in the notation line). For additional info and contact info, please see the flyer.

Middle School Magazine

It's that time again!

Your Magazine, the Middle School literary magazine that was founded last year, is now accepting submissions for its first issue of the 2015-16 school year. Students can submit their stories, photographs, drawings, divrei Torah, poetry, and more!

Students can submit by email or in person directly to Mrs. Vedol or to one of this term's guest editors, Jonah Delman '22, Naomi Epshteyn '21, and Miryam Farren-Greenwood '20.

Submissions are due NEXT FRIDAY, NOV. 20, 2015!

Last year's magazine is available

Parent-Teacher Conferences
Mark your calendars!

The remaining Parent-Teacher Conferences will be taking place:
  • 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.
Picture Retake Day: Dec. 10
Coffee Pond Photography is coming to Maimonides on Thursday, December 10th for any students who missed their class pictures in October. Pictures will be taken from 12:10 - 1:10 p.m.

Parents must call or email the Account Manager, Shannon Dodds, at Coffee Pond Photography to register the student if they want to have pictures taken on this day. 

Phone: 508-907-6633, x120 
Toll free: 800-632-2323, x120
Taam China Lunches!
The popular eighth-grade-run Taam China lunch program will continue on Monday, November 16! 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.
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

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