Maimonides Upper School

Upper School Weekly Update: September 30, 2016     
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Rav Thoughts
Theme of the Year
Back-to-School Night
Adopt-A-Bubbe Club
ERB Mailings
PTA S'chach Sale
2016-17 Calendars
Yom Chesed
Parent Handbook
Maimo on Instagram
Vehicle Policies
Directory Online
Division Newsletters
Next Week
Monday, October 3

(Rosh Hashanah)
School Closed
Tuesday, October 4 
(Rosh Hashanah)
School Closed
 Wednesday, October 5 (Tzom Gedaliah)
3:00 Dismissal

Thursday, October 6
Girls' Soccer vs. Cathedral (3:30)

Boys' Soccer vs. Pope John (TBD)

 Friday, October 7
Regular Schedule
In Two Weeks 

Having a


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D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff
הנהיוםהדין -behold the day of judgment! This proclamation we make in Unetaneh Tokef is a powerful and chilling part of the Rosh Hashanah service. It details the terror seizing the trembling angels as our deeds are inspected by our Creator. We know that כילאיזכולפניךבדין - we will not be vindicated before Him if we are being judged by the measuring stick of din - of justice. What a terrible reality the moment of justice can be. And yet, perhaps Yonah Hanavi found comfort in it.

Rabbi David Fohrman has a unique insight on Sefer Yonah, which we read on Yom Kippur. He grapples with the question, "from what was Yonah running?" His answer is that it was not din that scared him. After all, Yonah Ben Amitai is the son of "emet," the son of truth. He embraces the idea that the world is fueled by the principles of justice, that there are consequences for actions, actions and reactions. Yonah was not running from din, he was running from rachamim - from mercy.

How could Ninveh - the capital of Assyria, destined to wipe out the Northern Kingdom of the Jews, effectively removing them from the Jewish story - have access to teshuva? How can this evil nation be privy to the middah of rachamim, subject to Divine mercy? Rabbi Forman sees this despair in Yonah's response to Hashem's salvation of Ninveh: רחוםוחנוןארךאפיםורבחסדונחםעלהרעה - because I know that You are a G-dWho envokes the attributes of divine mercy. This formula is one we have been saying in selichot this week, but with one major change: Yonah leaves out emet - the divine attribute of truth. Yonah places "forgives evil" in its place.  Because this is not truth, it is not din. Where is the Divine attribute of justice? "This is why I ran," proclaims Yonah! Where has din gone, how has it been replaced by compassion? This is not a world that Yonah wants to live in. The idea terrifies Yonah and makes him run, not necessarily from G-d, but from a world which he felt was no longer just.

And here is where Hashem teaches Yonah the message of compassion. This is the message of the gourd. Hashem provides Yonah with a gourd for shade that he does not need. He does not need it because in the previous pasuk, Yonah has built a hut already, providing him with shade. This miracle gourd represents G-d's compassion. And then a worm of justice comes and destroys it, because that's what the worm does, and because the gourd had no business being there in the first place. The unnatural gourd gets consumed by the worm, who follows natural law. The gesture of compassion is consumed by the harsh reality of truth. This glimpse into a world without compassion upsets Yonah. So Hashem leaves him with the rhetorical question at the end of the sefer - "shall I not then have mercy on Nineveh?" According to Rabbi Fohrman, the message of Sefer Yonah is about the critical role of rachamim operating alongside din.

As we embark on the journey that is the Yamim Noraim, whose destination we pray is repentance, may we be beneficiaries of this middat harachamim. While we try to be worthy of a positive outcome from din alone, we take comfort in the knowledge that Hashem's love and mercy are helping to tip the scale of justice in our favor.

Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. What are other possible reasons that Yonah ran, and what would then be the message of the gourd?
  3. Do you find Rosh Hashanah to be a frightening or a hopeful holiday?

Thoughts of the Rav
by Rabbi David Saltzman 
As we approach the Yamim Noraim, we will use the Rav Thoughts columns for the next three weeks to discuss the difference between kapara and mechila. Rabbi Soloveitchik explains, in Al HaTeshuva, the difference between these two ideas.

One purpose of Yom Kippur is to soften the effects of Hashem's judgment and alleviate the severity of any punishment. The mechanism for this is that on Yom Kippur, G-d's attribute of mercy replaces G-d's attribute of judgment, which in turn lightens the decree.

This is hinted at in the keriah for Rosh HaShanah, where we read that during Akadat Yitzchak:
וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אָמַר לוֹ הָאֱלֹקים וַיִּבֶן שָׁם אַבְרָהָם אֶת הַמִּזְבֵּחַ וַיַּעֲרֹךְ אֶת הָעֵצִים וַיַּעֲקֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתוֹ עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ מִמַּעַל לָעֵצִים:
And they came to the place of which God had spoken to him, and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and he bound Isaac his son and placed him on the altar upon the wood.

The Kabbalists understand this to mean that G-d's attribute of chesed (mercy), represented by Avraham, tied up G-d's attribute of strength (judgment), represented by Yitzchak. This is how mechila occurs on Yom Kippur, and it provides us with a more lenient sentence than we really deserve.

How does this differ from kapara? Tune in next time...

Theme of the Year Lifts Off

Today was the start of something big here at Maimonides! The entire school participated in spectacular breakout festivities for our first-ever schoolwide Theme of the Year... arvut!
First all students, from the Early Childhood Center through 12th grade, learned and discussed the concept of arvut - the critical rabbinic mandate to actively take responsibility for the well-being of others. They then were introduced by video to our new Maimo hire, the esteemed Professor Fluff, who had a somewhat difficult first day! Everyone then gathered together to watch the conclusion to the drama performed live, celebrated when all of our principals officially kicked off our year of arvut, and danced to our very own arvut song and video, which was sung and edited by our students!


This is the beginning of a year of experiential learning about arvut, which will be driven by the students themselves. Different grades will serve as ambassadors over four sequential periods (zmanim) throughout the academic year. During each stage the entire school will focus on a sub-theme, each representing a concentric circle of responsibility expanding outward.
Meet our newly-appointed ambassadors!
  • ECC through 2nd Graders: Our responsibility to each other in school - Arvut b'Beit Sefer
  • 3rd through 5th Graders: Our responsibility to our local community - Arvut b'Kehillah
  • 9th through 12th Graders: Our responsibility to the Jewish people worldwide - Kol Yisrael Areyvim Zeh Lazeh
  • 6th through 8th Graders: Our responsibility to the world at large - Arvut L'Olam
This will be a year during which we combine interdisciplinary lesson plans, art, cutting-edge technology, drama, experiential learning, cross-grade learning, student-driven projects, plenty of surprises, and a lot of love in order to bring the idea of arvut to life in our school and beyond. We can't wait!
Wishing you all a shanah tovah!
Thank You for Attending Back-to-School Night
Many thanks for attending our Back-to-School Night last week!  It was wonderful to see so many of you on campus for the new school year.  We hope you all enjoyed the evening. 

In the parent survey results, a clear and consistent 91% of responses were positive across the following areas:
  • feeling welcome and clear on what to do
  • well-structured, manageable, easy-to-follow schedule
  • valuable information and insight from teacher sessions
  • overall enjoyment of teacher presentations and principals' remarks in the shul
  • overall Back-to-School Night experience
We recognize that this is a very important event for parents, so we pay close attention to designing the evening to be as helpful and as easy to navigate as possible.  We greatly valued the thoughtful suggestions that were offered on this year's surveys, as we are always looking to improve what we do.  

Should you have any further thoughts to share regarding Back-to-School Night, please do not hesitate to be in touch with us at  As always, we take your input and partnership very seriously.

Adopt-a-Bubbe Club
Founded and led by students, the Adopt-A-Bubbe club spreads so much joy around our community!  This week club members spent time with a few of their new friends during lunch at Center Communities of Brookline.


ERB Reports

Please watch your mail for an envelope with information regarding your child's CTP4 scores from the test they took this past spring. It will include a letter from Mr. Scott Mattoon and a paper report of your child's scores.

PTA S'chach Sale

Today is the last day to order fresh-cut cedar s'chach for your Sukkah from the Maimonides School PTA!  For details and to place an order, click here:

Printable and Electronic Calendars Online

The printable school calendar for this year is now online at
The electronic calendar for 2016-17 is also 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.

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 volunteering, please contact one of our parent coordinators -- Risa Gewurz, rzgewurz@gmail.comStef Mishkin,, or Alissa Muzin, -- to learn how to get involved.

Handbook Now Online

The Parent/Student Handbook is now on the Maimo website!  Read it online here.

Username is: maimoparents 
Password is: horim

Follow Maimo on Instagram

expanding our social media network! Please follow us on Instagram at @Maimobrookline. If you're new to our community, note that we're also on Facebook 
(Maimonides School, Maimonides Early Childhood Center) and Twitter (@kolrambam). You'll find all the latest news and activities from school posted on our social media outlets. 

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).

See What's Happening in the Other Divisions

Lots of wonderful things are happening at Maimonides School!

If you'd like to take a peek at the other divisions' newsletters, please click here.

If you would like to contact a specific school office, please use these emails:

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