Maimonides School: Middle School Matters

Sept. 9, 2016                      Parashat Shoftim                     7 Elul, 5776    

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Fabulous First Day!
Theme of the Year
Toast Our PTA
PTA Hat Show
Yom Chesed
2016-17 Calendar
Vehicle Policies
Directory Online
Absence Notifications
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear MS Families,    

Welcome to a new and amazing school year! We're delighted to see your children - meeting some for the first time, and welcoming back others - and to hear about what they've been thinking and doing over the last few months.


We've had a great first few days as the students have gotten to know each other and have settled into their new routines, complete with the new class schedule and the innovative "Wrap-Up" mini-period, which will give them a chance to catch up with their thoughts, review their assignment books, and make sure they've finished up everything they need to do at school that day.

Next Friday we're off on our annual "Yom Gibush" trip, where the entire Middle School will be heading out for a nature walk and bonding experience!

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

Sefer Devarim records Moshe Rabbeinu's final words to the people he has been caring for and guiding through the desert for forty years. But these people are not the ones that left Egypt. They are the next generation. Not the one that received the Torah or witnessed the powerful miracles at the Yam Suf, but a new group. A fresh crop, born in the desert. They have heard the tales but never saw the miracles for themselves. They are a clean slate, not tainted from the hardships of slavery or inspired by the miracles experienced by their parents. They are a young people who need to grow and learn at the feet of the master teacher - Moshe Rabbeinu.
This speech is introduced with the words Eileh hadevarim asher diber Moshe el kol Yisrael - "these are the words that Moshe spoke to all of Bnei Yisrael." Rashi and the Ramban disagree as to the nature of "these words." Rashi says that the words which Moshe shared with the people were words of tochacha - rebuke. "Remember your mistake here, your failure there. Learn from this and improve on that." For Rashi, this is the last opportunity for a Rebbe to offer musar to his students.
The Ramban, on the other hand, says the words were words of mitzvot - of instruction. The Rebbe's final message was about the commandments - what they are and how are they to be performed. What his students should do, and how should they do it. 
My Rebbe, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt"l, said that when one reads Sefer Devarim, one finds both of these aspects. Rav Lichtenstein describes them in different terms: horaa - instruction, narrowly defined as the transmission of information - and chinuch- whole-person education, formation, and development of character. Rav Lichtenstein says that in teaching, both pieces are necessary, and each enhances the other. Refining the character of our students makes them better able to receive the knowledge we are trying to impart. And on the flip side, teaching them the material with passion and care, while role-modelling for them what it means to have a love for learning, develops them as people. In essence, there is a symbiotic relationship between the two pieces of Moshe Rabbeinu's message.         
As we embark on the journey that is this new year, our students arrive with their own clean slates. As they cross the threshold of our classrooms, we begin the noble work of teaching them material they do not yet know, developing skills they have not yet mastered, and nourishing middot they have not yet internalized. At the same time, we are humbly realizing that after shepherding our students through this ten-month journey, they will not be the same people leaving our classes as they are coming in.
This year carries endless possibility and tremendous potential. As we start down this path, we think about what our lessons will be to our talmidim and talmidot. And b'ezrat Hashem, we will take our cues from Moshe Rabbeinu, interweaving moments of horaa and moments of chinuch, moments of instruction and moments of inspiration, moments of teaching curriculum and moments of teaching character.
Thoughts of the Rav

Devekut, Part 1
by Rabbi Dov Huff

As we enter the month of Elul, characterized as a time of ani l'dodi v'dodi li - "I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me" - let us take the opportunity over the next few weeks to explore the philosophy of the Rav as it pertains to devekut, cleaving to Hashem. The Rav describes the experience of devekut as one which starts with with both love and fear, and then transforms to a pure love which overtakes the dread. "The man of G-d begins with duality and ends with unity... he looks with amazed eyes, full of fear and astonishment, until his gaze encounters the smile of the Shekhina."
According to the Rav, the purpose of redemption is "[not to] enslave or frighten man but to redeem him." Next week, we will explore this idea further: that the act of cleaving to G-d and following halacha is in fact liberating, rather than restricting. 
Fabulous First Day!

The new school year 
is off to a  
fabulous start!

Our first day included

a morning assembly

and an Olympics-themed

international breakfast. 

Click here to watch a short video documenting our first day back.

First Day of School 2016-17 -- Maimonides School 
First Day of School 2016-17 -- Maimonides School
Areyvut (Responsibility) Theme of the Year

by Benji Hain
I am incredibly excited to join the Maimonides team as Director of Student Life in the Middle School and with schoolwide (ECC - grade 12) responsibility for experiential learning. This year, a major focus for all of our students will be on our schoolwide theme of the year, "Areyvut," or responsibility - toward each other at school, to our local community, to the Jewish people, and to all humanity.  As the Rav zt"l taught: Just as Hashem
"assumed responsibility for whatever and whomever He created," so must we feel a sense of responsibility for the plight of others.  
We will explore the theme of Areyvut through experiential learning, text-based study, drama, music, art, chesed projects, Shabbatonim, and so much more. Stay tuned!

A toast to our PTA! Thanks for the water bottles!

We're so excited to have new water fountains throughout  Saval campus! The new fountains feature updated filtration systems and water bottle filling stations with sensors, as well as electronic counters that indicate how many disposable water bottles have been saved.

Thank you to our PTA for providing new Maimo water bottles for our students and faculty!

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PTA Fall Hat Show!


Volunteer for Yom Chesed

Yom Chesed is December 4 -- Would you like to get involved?

Our third Yom Chesed is scheduled for Sunday morning, December 4, 2016Yom Chesed is an all-ages community service initiative for our entire Maimonides community.  Our past Yom Chesed events have each involved over 500 participants helping a broad range of community organizations. 

Registration will begin later in the fall, but in the meantime, we are looking for volunteers to help with this event. Even if you can't attend Yom Chesed, we would love your help prior to the event with planning and coordinating activities, shopping for supplies, or making phone calls. 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, please join us on Thursday, September 22 at 8:15 a.m. in the conference room in the Saval building (34 Philbrick Road). 
It is not necessary to attend this meeting to help out with Yom Chesed.  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact one of our parent coordinators -- Risa Gewurz, rzgewurz@gmail.comStef Mishkin,, or Alissa Muzin, -- to learn how to get involved.
2016-17 Calendar Online

The electronic calendar for 2016-17 is online!  You can visit throughout the year for the most up-to-date information on everything that's happening, both throughout the school and in each individual division.

The online calendar can be customized to show only the divisions and events you wish to see.  See for more detailed information on how to use the calendar.

In addition, you will be able to subscribe so that school events and alerts will appear on your personal calendar.  More information will follow soon.

Vehicle Policies and Procedures

Please see this link for current information on the school's parking policies, as well as updated drop-off and pick-up procedures.

Online Access to Directory

We know many of you are eager to connect with each other! The printed Maimonides School 2016-17 Directory is in production, but parents can access the directory information online via MyBackpack.  

In order to locate family or classmate contact information, follow these steps:
  1. Log into My Backpack
  2. To find a single family, search by last name in the Directory box
  3. To generate an entire grade list, click on "Advanced Search Options" and follow these steps:
    • Click on the "Search for Student" tab
    • Select the grade you want and click on "Search"
    • Click on "Detail" to see email address information         
NOTE: In order to return to the entire grade list, do NOT hit the browser back button. Instead, click on the "Back to Search Student/Parent" button, found above the student name (at top left).
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.

On behalf of the entire Middle School:

Shabbat Shalom!

Brian Cohen




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