Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
Dec. 4, 2015        Parashat VaYeshev      22 Kislev, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Geography Bee
Sixth-Grade Science
Seventh-Grade History
Eighth-Grade Talmud
Picture Retake Day
Taam China Lunch
School Calendar
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
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Dear MS Families,    

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

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

Rav Kahana said...the Chanukah candle left above 20 cubits is invalid.
Rav Kahana said..."the pit was empty, it had no water"... this comes to teach us that it had no water, but it did have snakes and scorpions (Shabbat 22a)
What message about the Chanukah candles, and the pit into which Yosef was thrown, is the Gemara trying to convey through this juxtaposition?
The Meshech Chochma explains that the military victory of Chanukah and Yosef's meteoric rise to power, while spectacular, are not necessarily miraculous. It has happened in history that a small army has defeated a larger one. We could read the Yosef story in a history book and attribute it to no more than coincidence. We have a tendency to only perceive events as rational occurrences. We make even spectacular events fit into our box of natural order. This tunnel vision prevents us from seeing the divine intervention in our everyday lives.
To correct this, Hashem gives us the lasting oil of Chanukah, and Yosef's protection from the deadly snakes. These "minor" peripheral miracles give us a different, miraculous perspective on the events surrounding the rest of the stories. A band of priests and educators could not have defeated the Hellenists without the help of Hashem, and Yosef could not have risen to power and overcome the great drought without divine intervention. Thus a message of Chanukah is that we must train ourselves to see the miraculous in the mundane - to see yad Hashem in our everyday lives. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. What things in your life do you take for granted, or label as "natural/rational," that when you step back can seem miraculous?
  3. How does our perspective on the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War change when we see them through the lens of the miraculous?

Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi Dov Huff

When we think about the appropriate place for the laws of Hallel in our sifrei halacha, our books of law, we would likely look towards
hilchot tefilla. Since the recitation of Hallel is done as part of tefilla, it would seem appropriate to place the laws of Hallel in the sections about prayer. This is, in fact, what the Shulchan Aruch does. 
Interestingly, the Rambam does not. In the Mishneh Torah, one can find the halachot pertaining to Hallel right in the middle of Hilchot Chanukah. The Rav explains the reason for this is that the function of Hallel is giving praise to Hashem, and giving praise to Hashem is at the very core of the meaning of Chanukah. The underlying theme, the reason we light candles in the places and at the times that we do, the emphasis on pirsumei nisah - all flow from this idea, which is the very essence of Chanukah. 

Parent-Teacher Conferences Rescheduled
The Parent-Teacher Conferences that were originally planned for Friday, November 20 and Sunday, November 22 have been rescheduled to Friday, December 18 (MS/US) and Sunday, December 20 (K-12). 

All of the previous Friday and Sunday conference times are being transferred to these new dates. It is our hope that most parents will still be able to use their old meeting schedules.  If you will not be able to keep your original meeting schedule on these new dates, please send your schedule requests to Elka Tovah Davidoff ( for assistance.

Rescheduled Parent-Teacher Conferences will be taking place:
  • Friday, December 18: Middle/Upper Schools only, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. (no classes)
  • Sunday, December 20: Grades K-12, 12 - 7 p.m.
The registration website reopened last night and will remain open until next Thursday, December 10 at 10:00 p.m. for any K-12 parents who wish to schedule appointments with additional teachers.  The registration website can be found here:  If you do not have your student(s) ID and registration information, please contact the division office.

Please note that the Early Childhood Center (ECC) will be rescheduling its parent conferences to another day.  If you have a child in the ECC and have not yet had your conference, your child's teachers will be in touch with you to discuss rescheduling.

Geography Bee

The 2015 Maimonides Geography Bee is about to get started! A preliminary round will take place on Thursday, December 10, during X-block. The sign-up sheet is up, and enthusiasm is in the air!
Sixth-Grade Science
by Mrs. Katie Smith
In sixth-grade science, we've been learning about heat transfer through a series of experiments and demonstrations. The students designed their own experiments to discover which earth materials absorb the most heat. They then performed a conduction experiment to see how heat is transferred from hot to cold water through a metal bar. Lastly, they observed the movement of water by convection. 

Seventh-Grade History
by Mr. Hal Borkow

The seventh-grade history classes have just completed a unit on the United States constitution and its amendments. As a final project in this unit, the students are creating writing and art projects examining various amendments and their impact on our society. How would the USA look different if the amendments they're studying did not exist?

Next, the seventh grade will be moving forward and discussing the Civil War. Historical figures will be put on trial as we examine the complex issues involved in American life in the 1800s.

Eighth-Grade Talmud
by Rabbi Eliezer Bercuson

The students in eighth-grade Talmud are learning about the power of speech.  Having already examined the role of oaths in the Jewish legal process, they are now looking more in-depth into whether a verbal pledge can be a payment.  "Is my promise as valuable as my money?"  "If I give someone my word, is he or she required to believe me?"  "In a world that is unfortunately full of dishonesty, why do Jews still value spoken agreements?" 

In the context of guarding, borrowing, and renting a friend's possessions, we are left wondering whether cold, hard cash is all that matters - at least when it comes to personal finances.  This generation will know the value of a dollar!

Picture Retake Day is December 10
Coffee Pond Photography is coming to Maimonides on Thursday, December 10th, for any students who missed their class pictures in October or would like to have a new picture taken. 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 next round of the popular eighth-grade-run Taam China lunch program will begin on Monday, December 7! 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 in the Middle School office.

If your child forgot to place his order for this round, while we can't arrange for a lunch for this Monday, we can add lunches for the other weeks in this round. The order form can be found here.

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!
Chanukah Sameach
Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen

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