December 9, 2016                      Parashat VaYetzei                        9 Kislev, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
New School Logo
Yom Chesed
Sixth-Grade English
Seventh-Grade Science
Eighth-Grade Shabbaton
Basketball Tournament
ROFEH Toy Drive
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear Middle School Families,   

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

The Gemara in the fourth perek of Brachot provides us with two models through which tefillah was derived: The avot and the korbanot. These two models point to two different aspects of tefillah.
The korbanot are rigid, fixed, and static. There is no room for creativity or innovation. It is avodah - the service of G-d - meticulous and precise. And this quality of avodah is echoed in our tefillah through the established text and the specific time limitations and choreography. This is the aspect which compels us to relate to Hashem as a servant to his master. To pray not out of desire and love, but out of responsibility. It requires us to mechanically serve Hashem three times a day - at prescribed times and in prescribed ways.
The avot model, on the other hand, is dynamic. It changes based on the individual and their context. Tefillah of the avot is alive, shaping itself to the contours of an individual's needs and experiences as they go through their ever-changing day. It is personal, interactive, and creative.
The three daily tefillot are derived from three pesukim:
1. Shacharit - "And Avraham woke up in the morning to the place he had stood before Hashem"
2. Mincha- "And Yitzchak went out to converse in the field"
3. Maariv - "And (Yaakov) encountered the place"   
The amidah of Avraham Avinu is not the sicha of Yitzchak Avinu or the pegiya of Yaakov Avinu. One is reflecting in the wake of his failed attempt to save Sedom; one is about to meet his future wife; one is alone, in the night, fleeing for his life. Each is in their own context, facing their own unique challenges. The result is Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv - three tefillot sharing words of the Shmoneh Esrei but fundamentally different in their nature.
Rav Moshe Taragin from Yeshivat Har Etzion explains that the avot model of tefillah teaches us that in the morning, the first thing we do is stand - present ourselves before our Creator. In the afternoon, we interrupt our busy days not to repress the midday thoughts racing through our minds but to channel them into a conversation with Hashem. And in the quiet calm of the night, we have the most spiritually charged of the tefillot as we encounter Hashem before we go to sleep.
The combination of these models results in a multifaceted daily tefillah experience, the challenge of which is to balance the rigidity and the flexibility, the standardization and the personalization. This dual nature is perhaps even captured in the term used to describe tefillah - avodah shebalev - juxtaposing the avodah which is the same for everyone and the lev which is unique to each individual. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
2. Which aspect of tefillah speaks most to you?
3. How can you integrate some of these ideas into your tefillah?
Thoughts of the Rav

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

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.

MS YOm Chesed 2016

Sixth-Grade English

by Stephanie Samuels 

The sixth-grade English students are forging ahead on all fronts! 

In the grammar arena, they have memorized their 40 prepositions and are tackling prepositional phrases with multiple objects! 

They are heading to the end of the wonderful book Wonder, by RJ Palacio.  They recently discovered that Miranda purposely handed over her part in the play "Our Town" to Via, which complicates our view of their broken friendship... and Auggie is headed toward difficult times on his class trip! 

Back in the classroom, the students are now writing a TIDE argument essay about what they think is the most ingenious invention ever created.  In the essay, they describe how this invention serves many uses today beyond the use for which it was initially intended.  See the photo below for one class's "brainstorm" of ingenious inventions.  Ask your child which invention they chose!

Seventh-Grade Science

by Ken Rosenstein  


This week, 7th grade science students ran a pair of hands-on investigations to explore properties of the cell.

First, we used a dialysis membrane to model the cell membrane. Students designed and executed an experiment to determine the permeability of a membrane. Please ask your child what "selectively permeable" means, and how observed color changes proved which type of molecule could pass through the cell membrane.

Second, we investigated why eukaryotes need to be made of many small cells. Using agar cubes to model cells, we created cells of different sizes, and used indicators to show how far in we could diffuse molecules. Please ask your child what they saw when cutting open the cells, and what that means when discussing cell size.

Over the next few weeks, we will begin exploring cellular functions, such as cell division, cellular respiration, and protein synthesis. Stay tuned!
Eighth-Grade Shabbaton

The eighth-grade students have been working hard all day to prepare for their Shabbaton! We're anticipating a fantastic Shabbat with your children. Many thanks to all of the parents who have helped us prepare, and to all of the students for the work they're undertaking.

As we speak, they're cooking up a storm, and delicious smells are wafting out of the kitchen.

Shabbat shalom!


Invitational Basketball Tournament
The excitement is building for the annual Maimonides Invitational Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton, which is scheduled for next Thursday through 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

ROFEH Toy Drive


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