Maimonides School: Middle School Matters

November 18, 2016                Parashat Vayera              17 Cheshvan, 5777 

Maimonides School
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Power of Words Day
Eighth Grade Visits the Celtics
Sixth-Grade Math
Seventh-Grade Chumash
Eighth-Grade English
Shabbat Project
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Middle School Basketball
Yom Chesed
Collecting for Those in Need
Basketball Tournament
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Absence Notifications
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear Middle School Families,   

We've had a great week, with the Power of Words day and the eighth-grade evening trip to see the Celtics. We're looking forward to seeing some of you on Sunday for the last day of fall Parent-Teacher Conferences!

The year is moving along fast, and Thanksgiving is already upon us. Please note that next week, due to the short week, there will not be a newsletter.  Our best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday!

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

This morning we were privileged to hear a d'var Torah from Rabbi Bier, the Rosh Kollel of the Boston Kollel. Rabbi Bier asked our students what they would do if they were experiencing a revelation from Hashem and suddenly a poor person knocked on their door. Would they interrupt their divine encounter to help out an impoverished person?
Rabbi Bier pointed out that interrupting Hashem is exactly what Avraham did in the beginning of this week's parsha. Hashem appears to him in the first pasuk, and in the second pasuk Avraham notices three disheveled men, who appear to be idol worshipers in need of help. Avraham without hesitation runs to greet them, telling Hashem to wait until he finishes with his guests (see Rashi).
Rabbi Bier wonders how Avraham could justify such an act. He explains that Avraham Avinu was the first to realize that each individual is unique. That we are all created Betzelem E'lokim and have our own special identity and connection to Hashem. Avraham Avinu knew that we are tasked with emulating the G-d who cares about each and every one of us. In this sense, Avraham Avinu was not abandoning and interrupting his revelation, but fulfilling it.
Our lesson is that we must emulate Hashem through acts of chessed towards our fellow man - that we may not ever disregard anyone. No matter how distant they seem from us, we have a responsibility towards all of humanity.
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. Do you ever feel that your own spiritual growth is a value in competition with that of helping others? How do you choose?

Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi Dov Huff  
For the Rav, the religious experience is one which is fundamentally defined by sacrifice. Connecting to the divine requires a total surrender of one's self as we bend our own will in service of our Creator's will.

This is the message of the Akeida: The demand on Avraham to make the ultimate sacrifice. And once Avraham demonstrates his understanding that continual sacrifice is at the core of the religious pursuit, Hashem shows him that at the end of the quest is redemption. What began with the giving of one's self ends with the finding of one's self.
Power of Words Day
During Power of Words Day on Wednesday, we continued our focus on arvut (mutual responsibility) by learning about the tremendous impact of our words. We were privileged to have Dr. Jen Fenster, who originated this program at SAR Academy, here as we learned from each other in mixed-grade settings and our students put their favorite "feel good" words on T-shirts and bracelets. The Middle School students enjoyed becoming teachers as they helped Elementary School students learn about what words can do.

Eighth-Grade Trip

The eighth-grade students got together after school on Thursday for a trip to see the Celtics! They enjoyed a snack at school before heading out to the game, where they watched anxiously to see if the Celtics would pull ahead of the Mavericks. It was a nail-biting game, and everyone cheered to see the Celtics pull ahead and win, 90-83.

Sixth-Grade Math

by Phil Robson

Math 6A has been blending work on fraction and decimal conversions and comparisons with other non-routine work to develop thinking skills. One starter question this week asked students to calculate the following sum without a calculator:
100 - 98 + 96 - 94 + 92 - 90 + ... + 4 - 2.

Students ended up explaining how to work this out in three distinct ways by combining terms in different ways. We're proud of their creativity!

Seventh-Grade Chumash
by Stephanie Samuels

The seventh graders are now presenting the results of their research on Miriam Ha-Neviah (Miriam the Prophetess).  Since Parshat Chukat begins with the death of Miriam, the students researched Miriam through the stories and midrashim in Shemot and Bamidbar, and explored her legacy through other texts in Tanach and other literature as well.  They focused on Miriam's acts of bravery, her relationship with her brothers, and her leadership of the people.

Here are samples of some student presentations on Miriam Ha-Neviah.

Eighth-Grade English

by Dr. Megan Hamilton

All three sections of eighth-grade English spent this week putting the final touches on their vignette books, modeled after our class reading, The House on Mango Street. During the writing process, students have experimented with style and voice, sought to illuminate their assertions with details and description, and carefully refined their ideas and revised their prose. The resultant books - with stories about the magic of reading, the joy of swimming, and the particular quiet that happens when older siblings return to college - are as humorous, thoughtful, and spirited as our eighth graders. We encourage you to ask your eighth grader for a look! 

The Maimonides School Shabbat Project

Thank you to everyone who sent in pictures for the Maimonides School Shabbat Project!  These pictures, along with many others, have been combined into a slideshow which allows us to display our arvut and unity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

This beautiful testament to our community's unbreakable connection to Shabbat and to the Jewish people can be viewed here.

May this Shabbat, kept by so many Jews worldwide, be a harbinger of peace and unity throughout the world.  

Parent-Teacher Conferences in Progress

The last day of Parent-Teacher Conferences will be Sunday, November 20, with meetings from 12:00 - 7:00 p.m.  If you were not able to schedule conferences, please contact your child's teachers to make alternate arrangements.
Middle School Basketball
Middle School basketball tryouts are coming up soon!


Girls' Middle School Basketball Tryouts 
First Tryout - Sun. 11/20, 9:30 am-11:30 am

Second Tryout-  Mon. 11/21, 5:00-6:30 pm

Third Tryout - Tue. 11/22, 5:00-6:30 pm

Boys' Middle School Basketball Tryouts

First Tryout - Sun. 11/20,11:30 pm- 1:00 pm

Second TryoutMon. 11/21, 6:30-8:00 pm

Third Tryout - Tue. 11/22, 6:30-8:00 pm 

We encourage all interested students in grades 6-8 to try out, with the understanding that there are a limited number of roster spots on each team. All prospective student-athletes should plan on attending each tryout. If a student cannot make a tryout date but wants to be considered for a team, that student must email Mr. Borkow directly explaining the circumstance.

Please note: The MIAA (Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association) requires that for a student-athlete to be eligible for participation on a sports team, he or she must have had a physical exam within 13 months of that student's participation in that sport. Compliance with this rule is mandatory; if you know your child wants to play basketball, please be sure to have their physical exam updated as needed.

All student-athletes who make either team will be charged the
per student fee of $150. If anyone with a child on a team has any concerns regarding payment, please contact Arline Tannenbaum (617-232-4452 X 425). Your conversation will be confidential. No student-athlete will be denied the chance to participate for financial reasons.

Tryouts for our Upper SchoolJV and varsity basketball teams will begin after Thanksgiving and will be publicized soon. Please contact Mr. Borkow with any questions.

Don't Wait - Register NOW for Yom Chesed!

Registration for Yom Chesed is going strong, and we're looking forward to seeing so many of you on Sunday, December 4! Though many projects have reached capacity, there is still room for participants in several projects, and we welcome your involvement!

This schoolwide community service initiative, which supports our year-long theme of arvut (mutual responsibility), is in its fourth year and is fun for everyone, including students, parents, faculty, grandparents, alumni, and parents of alumni. 
Our Yom Chesed web page has a complete list of projects, as well as all the information on how to sign up. Please don't wait to sign up, so together we CAN make a difference!


Help those in need with these vital donations!
In conjunction with Yom Chesed, we are collecting items for two local organizations that provide essential items for local families.

Full size toothpaste and deodorant are needed for Hope and Cure, a Newton-based organization that provides hygiene products for adults and children in need.

Family Table, the area's only kosher food pantry, is an organization that Maimonides supports throughout the year with donations of whole wheat crackers and canned salmon.

Collection boxes are located in the Brener (outside the Elementary School office) and Saval (outside the Upper School office) buildings. Your donations will be greatly appreciated!

Invitational Basketball Tournament
The excitement is building for the annual Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton, which is now less than five weeks away. The tournament is scheduled for Thursday-Sunday, December 15-18.

Participating boys' and girls' teams will be from Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas, Melvin Berman Hebrew Academy in Maryland, and Rambam Mesivta and Yeshiva of Flatbush in New York. Games will take place in Fox Gymnasium and around the corner at Brookline High School's Schluntz Gym.

Organizers are recruiting volunteers for a variety of roles and responsibilities. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Ahron Solomont at (914) 548-0365 or

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 Online

The Parent/Student Handbook is available 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 has been distributed, but parents can also 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



MS logo, medium size



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