Maimonides Elementary School

ES Update
 November 18, 2016 - 17 Heshvan 5777 - Vayera
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Power of Words Day
Shabbat Project
Parent-Teacher Conferences
Family Learning
Principals' Coffee
Upcoming Principals' Coffees
Yom Chesed
Collecting Donations
In the Art Studio
Basketball Tournament
Lost and Found
Hebrew Birthdates
PTA Girls' Clothing
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Online Directory
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
Maimonides LinkedIn Group
Maimo on Instagram
Check us out on Facebook
ES Calendar
Sun, Nov. 20
Family Learning 
10:15-11:30 a.m.

Parent-Teacher Conferences
12:00-7:00 p.m.

Tues, Nov. 22
Grade 3 Principals' Coffee
8:00 a.m.

Wed, Nov. 23
12:00 p.m. Dismissal

Thurs, Nov. 24- 
Fri, Nov. 25
No School

As always, please see the Kol Rambam Weekly for the all-school calendar, events and PTA notes.
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Dear Parents,

We had another wonderful week at school!
Please read on for the latest Elementary School news and information about upcoming events.

Due to the shortened week, there will be no newsletter next week.  Best wishes to everyone for a happy Thanksgiving!

D'var Torah

by Rabbi David Saltzman

This week's parasha is appropriately named וַיֵּרָא, as some form of this word prominently appears at the beginning and end of the parasha in various forms and at numerous times. In the pasuk below, Rashi questions why the word shows up twice in the same verse, as it could have mentioned the word one time and communicated the same idea. See for yourself:
וַיִּשָּׂא עֵינָיו וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה שְׁלשָׁה אֲנָשִׁים נִצָּבִים עָלָיו וַיַּרְא וַיָּרָץ לִקְרָאתָם מִפֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ אָרְצָה:
And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground.
Rashi suggests:
מהו וירא וירא שני פעמים, הראשון כמשמעו והשני לשון הבנה, נסתכל שהיו נצבים במקום אחד והבין שלא היו רוצים להטריחו
Why is וַיַרְא written twice [in this verse?] The first is to be understood according to its apparent meaning [i.e., and he saw], and the second means "understanding." He observed that they were standing in one place, and he understood that they did not wish to burden him.
As Rashi explains, the first time וַיַּרְא communicates that Avraham saw the people in the desert. He saw the situation at face value - there were three men standing and hanging out in the desert heat. No big deal. A regular occurrence, Avraham surmised. But then he looked a little deeper. He noticed something peculiar that he had not realized at first glance. He observed that they were standing still and not moving. Usually travellers, especially in the hot desert sun, would be on the go and heading to their destination. Avraham noticed that these wayfarers were stagnant and stationary. "Something is amiss," Avraham must have thought to himself.
Based on this seemingly odd behavior, he understood that these people needed something. He could tell that they wanted to head over to his tent, but they were reluctant because they did not want to trouble him. Rashi suggests that perhaps they saw that he was in pain, or they did not want to burden Avraham since he was an important person. Either way, Avraham noticed their hesitation and understood that there was more to the situation than he initially thought. Immediately, Avraham ran to the men and invited them to be his guests. Avraham's second look, insight into the situation, and subsequent invitation changed the course of Jewish and world history.
How often do we observe events unfold in front of our very eyes and only perceive the situation on its surface? Or perhaps we witness a behavior and it goes unnoticed. Or we see something and we make judgments based on actions. Do we take the time to take a second look and attempt to understand the motivations behind the conduct? Do we take action and help when we comprehend what is really occurring? Avraham is teaching us that we must take the time and make the effort to take a deeper look at the episodes we witness each and every day. When we see something we think is questionable, before jumping to conclusions or making judgments, we must force ourselves to look again and comprehend the situation more profoundly. Only then will we be able to make informed choices and take action which will be beneficial to the other person.
Cultivating the middah of arvut demands that we completely understand the situation. Taking action with the other person's best interest in mind can only happen when one feels a deep connection by taking time to understand the feelings and situation of the other person.

Thoughts of the Rav on the Parsha
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

This Wednesday, as part of our year-long arvut theme, we experienced a Power of Words Day throughout the school. The purpose of the day was to teach our students the importance of how we use our words through activities which fostered arvut in the school. Grades K - 5 learned with students from grades 6 - 8 and focused on the following points: 
  1. The Power of Words is so important that Hashem Himself teaches us the lessons.
  2. The incredible power that words have - they can create worlds!
  3. Our negative words, even if true, can have a powerful detrimental impact - whether we speak or hear them.
  4. In order to help us not believe the negative words, one strategy is to assume the best about others when confronted with negative information about another person.
  5. Negative words destroy our sense of arvut while positive words help strengthen it.

Through this learning, we built relationships and strengthened our school community while learning important lessons. Other special activities included: 
  • Our kindergartners, first graders, and fifth graders worked together to make bracelets with kind words on them.
  • Our second graders helped the ECC make T-shirts with positive words, and 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders also made their own.
  • Kindergarten students distributed Power of Words/arvut pins to students in all grades.

Our special guest was Dr. Jen Fenster, who created the Power of Words Day as a living testament to her husband, Matt Fenster, 
z"l. He challenged his friends and family to avoid lashon hara as much as possible, and to engage in lashon tov, for the last few months of his life.



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.
Family Learning This Sunday!

Our next Family Learning session will be this Sunday, November 20 from 10:15-11:45 a.m. in the Brener lunchroom. This month we will be taking an in-depth look at the mitzvah of tzedakah.
Bring your family and friends for a morning of learning! There will also be breakfast with bagels, pastries, coffee, juice, and prizes! We hope to see you there!
Grade 2 Principals' Coffee

The second grade Principals' Coffee took place after the Power of Words Day opening program. As she did at previous coffees, Associate Principal Reena Slovin spoke about the collaborative work that the Elementary School faculty has been doing, regularly and systematically reviewing student data in order to better address the needs of all our students.
Grade-level faculty teams meet for an hour weekly to review student data collected in the areas of Hebrew language, English reading and writing, and mathematics. The various sources of data looked at in second grade were reviewed:
English Language Arts
  • Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS)
  • Predictive Assessment of Reading (PAR)
  • Handwriting without Tears Screening Assessment
  • Self-Regulated Strategy Development pre-and post-writing assessments
  • Formative assessments collected during phonics lessons, writing dictations, progress monitoring measures, student work samples, etc.

  • FASTTMath for fact fluency
  • Post Assessments for each unit - paper and pencil and individual interviews
  • Dreambox Learning online ongoing assessments on Common Core Standards for Mathematics at each grade level.  Measures time on, progress, etc.  
  • MaDYK (Mivchan Dinami shel Y'cholot K'riah)
  • Informal assessments of students' letter-sound knowledge and word reading
A sample second grade meeting protocol was shared, and examples of instructional implications were discussed.
Parents then had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments. One parent brought up the topic of Teaching to Mastery, an approach where students work at their own individualized pace and readiness level until they've mastered a skill, and then move on to the next.   We talked about ways that teachers differentiate instruction in the classroom, and how much of the online learning programs such as Lexia and Dreambox are aimed at teaching to mastery.
Another topic that came up in connection to this is how parents and teachers need to send clear messages to students that we're not all expected to do the same thing as long as everyone is doing important work and making an appropriate effort.  Concerns were expressed about students taken out of classroom for extra support and their feeling insecure when they re-enter.  It seems appropriate for the learning specialist to work with classroom teachers to ensure that the student is filled in on missed content learning from the classroom, and is reassured about this.
Some of the second grade parents wondered about the classroom group behavior incentive system, and thought it might not be a good idea for it to ever go backwards (having marbles taken out of the jar) due to the infractions of one or a small group of students. While they liked the positive reinforcement of teachers contacting home for good work and behavior, they also felt that students really enjoy having lunch with the teacher as a reward.

Upcoming Principals' Coffees

The next Principals' Coffee will be for third grade parents, and will take place 
Tuesday, November 22, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. in the library on the third floor. Principals' coffees are taking place for parents of students at each grade level on mornings from November through December. The coffees are an opportunity for parents to talk with the principals, ask questions, give input, and learn more about different aspects of Maimonides student life and learning at a particular grade level.
Come and meet other families from your child's class and ask the principals questions about the class, curriculum, or anything else!        
Upcoming dates:
  • Wednesday, November 30, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. (4th Grade)
  • Wednesday, December 7, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. (5th Grade)
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 with availability, 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! 
In the Art Studio

On Thursday, Kindergarteners celebrated the end of their first unit by showing off their favorite projects that they created so far this year. Students split into groups to examine one artwork at a time. They then gave compliments to the artist and asked questions about how the projects were created. Students rotated through different groups so that they could see all of the finished art. They said later that this process inspired them and validated them as artists.

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  
Lost and Found

Please retrieve your child's belongings. We will be donating all unclaimed items on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  
Hebrew Birthdates

We recognize student birthdays at Monday Morning Assembly each week, and in class on the actual day of each student's birthday. While most of our students celebrate on their English (secular calendar) birthdate, some children celebrate on their Hebrew (Jewish calendar) birthdate.  If your child celebrates their Hebrew birthday exclusively, we would appreciate your sending us their birthdate information, as we don't have a record of Hebrew birthdays in our database.

PTA Partnering with Girls' Clothing Store

The PTA is very excited to announce a new partnership with Maya's Place, a clothing store for women and girls in Great Neck, NY. As we know that many parents struggle to find appropriate skirts for their daughters to wear to school, we have decided to partner with Maya, who offers many great options for women and girls on her website at reasonable prices. So please click on the link below and shop! 5% of all purchases made through this exclusive Maimonides link will go back to our PTA. Be advised that any purchases must be made using this link and not directly through the website or our PTA will not receive credit. If you have any questions, please contact the PTA. 
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 can be found 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.

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 sent home, 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).
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 LinkedIn Group

Maimonides School is rapidly expanding the LinkedIn group called Maimonides School Community. The far-reaching connections through LinkedIn can not only enhance professional opportunities but also serve as a resource for new ideas and conversations.


The link to join is


Follow Maimo on Instagram

   We're expanding our social media network! Please follow us   

   on Instagram at @Maimobrookline
Check us out on Facebook!
Let's be friends... on Facebook! 
Fans of our Maimonides School Facebook page get an insider's view of all that's going on at Maimo, with the latest photos taken in the classrooms, on the playgrounds, and all around the Brener and Saval campuses. If you'd like to be in the know, just click here to "like" us on Facebook.

!שבת שלום
Rabbi, Reena, and the Maimonides ES Faculty  

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