Maimonides School: Middle School Matters

Oct. 14, 2016                       Parashat Ha'Azinu                  12 Tishrei, 5777 

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
After-School Program
Eighth-Grade Save the Date
Sixth-Grade Music
Seventh-Grade English
Eighth-Grade Navi
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Absence Notifications
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear MS Families,    

We hope that your Yom Kippur was both easy and meaningful. We are proud of our students, who put tremendous effort into their tefillot and their fasting - some of them fasting for the very first time. Now it's on to Sukkot!

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, and Chag Sameach! 

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School 

D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff

At the end of last week's parsha, Hashem tells Moshe Rabbeinu to pass the song of Ha'azinu down to the future generations of the Jewish people. 
The Tannanim and Amoraim in the gemara in Eruvin see in this command not only the transmission of the message of Ha'azinu in particular, but also a pedagogic strategy for teaching Torah in general. 
Rabbi Akiva asks: From where do we know that one must teach this to his students until the teaching is perfectly arranged in their mouths? As it says, "place it in their mouths." Rabbi Akiva, with his tens of thousands of students, knew that it is not about what the teacher is teaching, but about what the student is learning, and that the teacher must assess each student until they have fully mastered the lesson.
Rav Chisda says: Torah is only acquired through simanim - signs. This play on the word sima teaches us to help students remember the material with effective mnemonic strategies. Using acronyms, stories, songs, and associations can help the lesson stick.
We can also suggest a third lesson about Torah from the word shira. It needs to be a song. It has to move our students and bring them joy. The song of Torah needs to inspire our students.
While these lessons focus on the transmission of Torah, this week's parsha has a powerful message for the recipient. The pasuk says: "My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass."
Here too, Chazal take "my word" as a reference to Torah. The connection between Torah and water is one we are familiar with - both sustain life. The Midrash in the Sifri here takes the metaphor to another level. What is it that rain does?
"Just as rain falls on trees and enables them to produce tasty fruit each one depending on its type, the grape vine as it is, the olive tree as it is, the fig tree as it is... [and] the storm winds fall on vegetation and bring them up - some that are black, some that are green, some that are red and some that are white, so too with words of Torah, they produce teachers, good people, wise people, and righteous people."
The rain strikes everything the same way. But the recipients are different, each one uniquely producing its own beautiful fruit and its own beautiful flower. This is also the case with Torah. It is a catalyst - setting off a reaction which makes us develop into the best versions of ourselves. Just as the effect rain has on an apple tree is not the same one it has on an orange tree or a rosebush, Torah stimulates growth by developing our kochot - our best and unique character traits. 
With the coming of Sukkot, a holiday with a very pronounced water theme, may we have both the economic success which water symbolizes and spiritual success as we immerse ourselves in the waters of Torah and continue to blossom into the beautiful products we are destined to be.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. What are character traits of yours that Torah has helped to develop?
  3. How do these messages fit into the broader message of Parshat Ha'azinu?
Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi David Saltzman

We've been doing a lot of davening over the last few weeks, and there's even more to come! Rabbi Soloveitchik zt"l explains that punishment and affliction in this world are the currency we pay to G-d in order to renew ourselves. Once this "money" is given to G-d, we have bought ourselves back, and now we are cleansed and purified through the teshuva process. In reality, bringing a korban would suffice in place of the punishment, but since we are unable to bring korbanot today, we have to pay the price by receiving a penalty for our actions.
However, the Rav writes, tefilla can accomplish the same outcome. When one has sincere kavana (intention) during prayer, it causes deep internal, spiritual suffering. With the proper intent, this suffering can be in lieu of a korban and accomplish the same cleansing process as physical hardship.
Both physical pain and spiritual suffering take the place of the korban, and either one will suffice. Which will you choose?

Maimonides School Activities Program


Registration for the after-school program's 2016 Fall into Winter semester is in full swing! Many courses are filling up fast! Browse through our wonderful selection here.
Registration closes next Thursday, October 20. Classes begin the week of October 31.

Register by sending in the paper form on the back cover of the brochure to the Brener Office, e-mailing, or filling out our online form.

Questions? Email Deborah Mehl,, or call 617 232 4452 X 305.

Eighth-Grade Parents Save the Date: Let's Talk

Parlor-Style Meetings After the Chagim

Eighth-grade parents will soon receive an invitation to attend one of two parlor-style meetings for an evening of conversation with the Upper School principals. This will be an opportunity to learn more about the Upper School -- what we offer, of course, but at least as important, how and WHY we do what we do.

Wednesday, November 2

7:30-9:00 p.m.

at the home of

  Norah Mazar and Shmuel Weglein

7 Windsor Road


Sunday, November 6
7:00-8:30 p.m.
at the home of

Deena and Avi Traum

26 Ames Court


We hope to see you there!

Sixth-Grade Music

by Andrew Malkin 

In sixth-grade music we have started the year discussing what I call the "big three" classical composers: Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven.  With each composer, we study a little bit about their lives, their compositions, and the instruments they played.  Students have also been learning about compositions such as the concerto, symphony, and canon, as well as how to write them in some form themselves. 

This week we studied Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.  Students were taught the main motif of the symphony and asked to write parodies of the melody on a topic of their choosing. This unit will conclude with a game of Jeopardy as a way of assessing the students' knowledge.  

Another activity we are doing throughout the year is song sharing.  Each week, a student will bring in a song that he or she has been listening to and share it with the class.  We will discuss the style and content of each song, as well as the form and how to analyze it.  My hope is that it will expand the genres of music students listen to and help them appreciate music that they may not have heard otherwise.

As we move forward in sixth-grade music, we will be studying other styles of music such as jazz, blues, and pop.  The goal is to give students a better understanding of where the music they listen to today comes from, as well as letting them better understand the music they listen to today.  

We are also exploring purchasing instruments for the Middle School music class.  Instruments may include ukuleles and percussion instruments that we can use to help further our understanding of different styles of music, as well as allow students to develop skills on instruments they have not previously played.  I look forward to a great year in music with all our Maimonides students.

Seventh-Grade English
by Jack Fidler


Seventh-grade English has launched the New Year along three simultaneous tracks: Reading (The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton), writing (taking a position supported by evidence), and grammar ("The Hardest Grammar Quiz Ever").  Here are questions in each of these three areas that have engaged our students in recent days:

The Outsiders:  "You take up for your buddies, no matter what they do.  When you're in a gang, you stick up for the members."  Do you agree or disagree with this statement of Ponyboy's philosophy?  Why or why not?  Can you support your opinion with examples from your own life?

Writing:  What useful steps do you take when given 30 minutes with a writing prompt to prepare for the process of writing your first draft?

Grammar:  Can you final all the grammar errors in this sentence?  "Last nights speech by president Obama, which lasted forty-five minutes, was mostly about Climate Control, but also included his memories of last year's meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu."

Feel free to use one or more of these questions to engage your seventh grader in conversation.

Eighth-Grade Navi

by Rabbi Jason Strauss

Our Navi classes are off to a great start! We began by studying Perek 24 of 2 Shmuel, and then moved on to Perek 1 of 1 Melachim. The students split into teams to debate which of three punishments King David should choose, wrote journal entries as if they were the characters in Tanach, and drew connections both between stories in Shmuel and Melachim and with other stories.

The students are currently learning about the politics behind the race to the throne between Solomon and his older brother Adoniah.

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.

Handbook Now Online

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

Username is: maimoparents 
Password is: horim

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.

Follow Maimo on Instagram


   We're expanding our social media network! 

   Please follow us on Instagram at

. 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.

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