December 9, 2016 - 9 Kislev 5777 - Vayetzei
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
New School Logo
Yom Chesed
Principals' Coffee
In the Art Studio
Collecting Donations
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, Dec. 18
Family Learning

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.

D'var Torah

by Rabbi David Saltzman
This week's parasha opens with Yaakov running away from his brother Eisav and on his way to find a wife (or 2 or 3 or 4!). The Torah says that he reached a place as it was getting dark and he took some stones to place under his head.
וַיִּפְגַּע בַּמָּקוֹם וַיָּלֶן שָׁם כִּי בָא הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ וַיִּקַּח מֵאַבְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם וַיָּשֶׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיִּשְׁכַּב בַּמָּקוֹם הַהוּא:
And he arrived at the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took some of the stones of the place and placed [them] at his head, and he lay down in that place.
Yaakov has a dream, and in the morning:
וַיַּשְׁכֵּם יַעֲקֹב בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּקַּח אֶת הָאֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר שָׂם מְרַאֲשֹׁתָיו וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ מַצֵּבָה וַיִּצֹק שֶׁמֶן עַל רֹאשָׁהּ:
Yaakov arose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of it.
Rashi points out that the word אַבְנֵי, many stones, changed to אֶבֶן, one stone, in the singular. Rashi comments that:
התחילו מריבות זו עם זו, זאת אומרת עלי יניח צדיק את ראשו, וזאת אומרת עלי יניח, מיד עשאן הקב"ה אבן אחת, וזהו שנאמר (פסוק יח) ויקח את האבן אשר שם מראשותיו:
They [the stones] started quarreling with one another. One said, "Let the righteous man lay his head on me," and another one said, "Let him lay [his head] on me." Immediately, the Holy One, blessed be He, made them into one stone. This is why it is stated (verse 18):"and he took the stone [in the singular] that he had placed at his head."
According to Rashi, the rocks began to argue with each other, and G-d miraculously fused the separate stones together to form one large rock (and an uncomfortable pillow!).
Obviously stones don't talk or fight. What does Rashi mean, and what can we learn from his explanation?
Rabbi Moshe Taragin, in a talk on, quoted Rabbi Yehdah Amital and explained Rashi's explanation as a metaphor with two lessons.
One lesson is that each of these arguing rocks represented the different competing goals and interests that a person struggles with during life. Life is complex, and we constantly need to decide and determine how much time we designate for our children, our job, and our community. It's impossible to be everything for everyone at the same time, and having to make these decisions can cause conflict within each individual. The merging of the rocks into one teaches us that the human condition is tangled, and we need G-d's assistance to help us focus and prioritize.
The second lesson is that the Jewish people are made up of many different types and personalities. Each rock represented a different philosophy, a distinctive way of thinking, various abilities and dissimilar backgrounds. A true leader is sensitive to the individual needs, desires, and dreams of each person. The leader strives to include all and fuse everyone together towards a common goal and purpose. As Yaakov was about to embark on his life and become the father of 13 divergent children who would grow into Am Yisrael, he learned that his modeling of leadership would keep the nation connected as one for all eternity.
Achdut, oneness and togetherness, breeds arvut, feeling connected to and responsible for each and every person.

Thoughts of the Rav on the Parsha
by Rabbi Dov Huff 

There is a general machloket between the Rambam on the one hand and the Ramban on the other about tefillah. The Rambam believes there is a biblical obligation to daven every day, while the Ramban believes that the biblical obligation applies only in times of crisis and the obligation to daven every day is rabbinic in nature. In classic Brisker style, the Rav sees a much deeper fundamental disagreement here. Not on the nature of tefillah, but on the very nature of existence. 
The Rav suggests that both the Rambam and Ramban actually agree that tefillah is prompted by a state of crisis. The difference is that from the Ramban's perspective, we daven when threatened by an external crisis. When we find ourselves in peril, or in a time of difficulty, we turn to Hashem to pray.  The Rambam, however, feels that the human experience is one in which we are always in a state of existential crisis. Lowly and lonely man, in his quest to understand a G-d who is beyond his capacity to grasp, is perpetually in a fragile state. For the Rambam, says the Rav, tefillah is ever present in our lives to help us navigate the human experience. 
New school logo introduced

Maimonides School's new logo was introduced at the start of Yom Chesed on Sunday. The dual arch symbolizes many things, according to Head of School Naty Katz, including "not only the richness of our heritage but also the promise of possibilities," as well as "the school's foundation in both Judaic and general studies," which "evokes encountering the modern world and its dynamic educational challenges and rewards, while always rooted in the eternal truth of Torah."

Once again, we made a difference!

Last Sunday over 500 students, parents, alumni, grandparents, faculty and staff joined together for our 4th Yom Chesed. This group -- our largest ever -- participated in 15 projects here in school and throughout the community, putting chesed into action and sharing our learning about arvut. In addition, a group of young alumni volunteered at a food pantry in Jerusalem, making Yom Chesed a truly global event.

To see more about Yom Chesed, click here for our video, and here for a photo album.

Grade 5 Principals' Coffee

The fifth grade Principals' Coffee began with a d'var Torah, which was followed by a brief presentation about the collaborative work on student data collection and analysis that the Elementary School faculty has been engaged in this year.
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 purpose is to gain a better understanding of our students, how they learn best, and where we need to improve our instruction.  The various sources of data looked at in fifth grade were reviewed:
English Language Arts
  • Spellography Inventory and Placement Test
  • Lexia Rapid Assessment in Phonetics, Word Reading, Vocabulary, Syntax and Comprehension
  • Self-Regulated Strategy Development pre-and post-writing assessments (in January)
  • 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 interview
  • Informal assessments of students' letter-sound knowledge, nikud, and word reading
  • Writing samples
A sample fifth grade meeting protocol was shared, and examples of instructional implications were discussed.
Parents then had the opportunity to ask questions and make comments.  Some topics brought up included a desire for after-school social programming for families. A few of the parents present are hoping to move forward on organizing an event.

We also talked about opportunities for students to take books out of the Brener library.  Until now, fifth graders have been very busy with the fall holidays, Teva, and studying the election process, so it was difficult to find time for formal library visits.  These will begin next week.
Parents also wanted to know more about the choice-based art program that we've continued this year.  It was shared that this past summer, Ms. DiOrio attended an intensive week-long training program about this approach to art instruction, and came back with some wonderful new strategies that she has implemented very successfully.  Some finished products will be coming home soon.
As at the fourth grade coffee, parents requested a means to see homework assignments online.  In response, a Google doc listing homework has been shared so that parents (and students) can easily look up homework posted by teachers as a back-up in case student planners are inaccurate or unclear.  
In the Art Studio

On Thursday, students in 5B participated in a class critique of their final projects for their first unit. After spending several weeks planning, creating, mounting, and writing about their projects, everyone had something of which to be proud.

We started by discussing the importance of critiquing artwork and the benefit it can have for artists. Then we brainstormed some ideas for helpful comments and compliments, and students wrote personalized feedback on sticky notes next to each finished project.


At the end of the class, students shared some comments they received that were helpful and not-so-helpful, so next time we will have a better understanding of how to provide criticism that aids in our artistic growth.

Now that our first unit is complete, the artwork created in the last few months will soon be sent home.

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 next week

The excitement is building for the annual Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton. The tournament is scheduled for next Thursday thorough 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

Here are the latest Lost and Found items. PLEASE LABEL EVERYTHING. Some 
students don't seem to notice their own belongings, so it's best to label everything so that we can return any lost items to their owners.

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


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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