Maimonides School: Middle School Matters
May 20, 2016                      Parashat Emor                     12 Iyyar, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Yom Orchim
Seventh-Grade Science
World Languages
Taam China Lunch
More Than a School
School Calendar
Absence Notifications
Handbook Online
Online Photo Galleries
Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:
Dear MS Families,    

The students have been working hard this week, with the sixth- and seventh-graders taking ERBs and the seventh-graders creating their digestive system murals. Meanwhile, the eighth-graders are studying for their Talmud exam on Monday and preparing for their Aliyah Ceremony, to take place on Wednesday, June 15 from 5:00-7:00 p.m.
Please read on for a d'var Torah from Rabbi Dov Huff, a thought from the works of Rav Soloveitchik, and some highlights from the week.

Shabbat Shalom! 

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School             
D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff

The word Shabbos, as it appears in this week's parsha, was a subject of great disunity and conflict in the time of the gemara, extending to the time of the geonim. When telling us of Sefirat haOmer, the period we find ourselves in now, it says that we should count mimachorat haShabbat - from the day following Shabbos.
The understanding of this term was a point of tension and great controversy.
According to the Prushim, the Pharisees, the keepers of our mesorah and the rabbinic tradition, Shabbos in this context refers to the first day of Pesach, so we start counting on the second day.

According to the tzedukkim, the biblical literalists, the Shabbos here means actual Shabbos, and therefore they would start counting on Sunday
within the holiday of Pesach.

According to the Qumran sect of the Dead Sea Scrolls, another literalist sect several centuries later, it meant after the last day of Pesach, so they would begin counting six days after us.   
In short, the question of what Shabbos means in our parsha was a question of Jewish identity - fundamentally linked to how we view the nature of Shabbos, the role of mesorah, the power of tradition, faith in chazal, the critical role of Torah shebe'al peh, and the divine nature of the Torah.
Rabbi Sacks suggests that perhaps the controversy went deeper as well. He brings evidence to suggest that while the Sadducees viewed the korban omer as representing the mann which fell in the desert, the Pharisees viewed it as marking the end of the mann and the beginning of our self-reliance. It thus represents our maturation and growth of character rather than the ungratefulness, rebelliousness, and immaturity which we demonstrated as we were spoiled by the mann in the desert.
In this sense the korban omer truly is mimachorat haShabbat - after Shabbos. Not the day when we are afforded a double portion and bask in the plentiful gifts Hashem has given us, but the next day. The day we go back to work and earn our keep, when we reap the benefit of our own labor and hard work.
These two messages are appropriate for our amazing Upper School Retreat this Shabbos. The first theme of Jewish identity is the theme of Shabbos - exploring who we are as individuals, as grades, and as a school. The second theme - the value of hard work, independence, and self-reliance - resonates as we sit back, have fun, and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as we look back on a year of hard work and growth. May this Shabbos be one that truly brings us closer together, creating unity and deepening our identities as individuals, as Jews, and as a community.
Thoughts of the Rav
 by Rabbi Huff

We generally think that a key difference between Shabbos and yom tov is that while yom tov is designated by man, through our ability to declare the new moon, Shabbos was designated by Hashem as the recurring day of rest. This difference is highlighted in the phraseology of the brachot we make in kiddush on both days.
Yom tov - "we bless G-d who is mekadesh Yisrael vehazmanim" - He blessed the Jewish people, who in turn sanctify the yom tov.

Shabbos- "we bless G-d who is mekadesh haShabbat" - He Himself sanctifies Shabbos.

The Rav references a Yerushalmi in Pesachim, which has a text of kiddush on Shabbos that includes "Yisrael" in the process of sanctifying Shabbos as well. The Rav concludes that there are two aspects of kedusha in Shabbos: One from Hashem and one from us.

The Rav says that we sanctify Shabbos through the recitation of kiddush, and suggests that it is for this reason that the Shulchan Aruch insists that one make kiddush immediately after returning to the house Friday night, so as not to delay doing our part in the sanctification of Shabbos. The Rav says that it is also this contribution of ours which allows us to do tosefet Shabbos - to extend Shabbos beyond the prescribed time.

Yom Orchim registration extended!
Yom Orchim is next Friday, May 27! There is still time to register a visitor for your child. Remember, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends would make wonderful visitors. Please visit our event web page to register someone, or contact Ellen Pulda at 617-232-4452, x423,, by Tuesday, May 24.

Seventh-Grade Science
by Ken Rosenstein

This week the seventh grade completed our work on the digestive system. Here, students model their understanding of the structure, function, and disorders of the digestive system.


Conversation Starters:
  • Where and when are carbohydrates broken down?
  • Where are they absorbed?
  • What is an ulcer?
  • What is peristalsis?
  • What is a sphincter?
  • What are villi?
  • What happened in school this week? (NEVER accept "I dunno, not much...")
Choosing a World Language

It is once again the time of year when Maimonides students begin to consider signing up for Arabic or Spanish courses. Eighth grade is the most important time to enroll in a third language at Maimonides, as students who do not start Arabic or Spanish in this grade will not be able to start in another grade in the future.  In eighth grade, world language classes meet three times each week, during eighth period (the last class of the day).  
The curriculae in both Spanish and Arabic are rich and varied; they are specifically designed for the students to learn by having fun, but do require some work outside of class (homework and studying for quizzes, for example). Students are exposed to an array of resources and experiences: online, interactive, and paired activities, skits and dramatizations, games and songs, cultural enrichment, and more. In learning a world language, our students also have the opportunity to participate in different national contests during World Language Week, discover new worlds, "get an insider's view" of another culture, and develop a new view of their own. Being proficient in an additional language will help your child live and work in the global economy of the twenty-first century.

Last month, all seventh graders met and ate chips, salsa, hummus pita bread and guacamole as they heard and saw older Arabic and Spanish students present skits and projects, and talk about their language courses. Students also got to meet the language instructors and ask questions about the program here at Maimo.

The time to make world language selections for the 2016-17 academic year is now! Five years of instruction are available, to take each child through their senior year. Please  click the following link to enter your child's name and select the language that they will be taking next year.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Ryan, World Languages Department Chair, at or 617-232-4452 x167.
Taam China Lunch

The popular eighth-grade Taam China lunch program continues next Monday! The eighth-graders are looking forward to serving those students who signed up.

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.

So Much More Than a School!
Maimonides is so much more than a school -- we're a family and a community too! That's why your partnership in our annual campaign is so important.

We hope you will consider supporting Maimonides School with a gift to our 2016 campaign. Our goal is $1.7 million, and every single gift makes a difference. Your participation is essential and allows us to strengthen and improve our programming for all our students.

Please click here to donate now. For questions, please contact Ellen Pulda, Development and PR Officer at x423, or

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:
Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen

MS logo, medium size



Maimonides School | 34 Philbrick Road | Brookline | MA | 02445