December 22, 2016                    Parashat VaYeshev                     22 Kislev, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Sevivon Challenge
Sixth-Grade Science
Seventh-Grade Talmud
Eighth-Grade History
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear Middle School Families,   

We'd like to wish you a very happy Chanukah and a relaxing, enjoyable Winter Break. We're looking forward to seeing everyone back, refreshed and relaxed, in January!

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 Chanukah Sameach! 

Brian Cohen
Associate Principal, Middle School        

D'var Torah

by Rabbi Dov Huff

Rav Kahana said... the Chanukah candle left above 20 cubits is invalid.
Rav Kahana said..."the pit was empty, it had no water"... this comes to teach us that it had no water, but it did have snakes and scorpions (Shabbat 22a)
What message about the Chanukah candles, and the pit into which Yosef was thrown, is the Gemara trying to convey through this juxtaposition?
The Meshech Chochma explains that the military victory of Chanukah and Yosef's meteoric rise to power, while spectacular, are not necessarily miraculous. It has happened in history that a small army has defeated a larger one. We could read the story of Yosef in a history book and attribute it to no more than coincidence. We have a tendency to perceive events only as rational occurrences. We make even spectacular events fit into our box of natural order. This tunnel vision prevents us from seeing the divine intervention in our everyday lives.
To correct this, Hashem gives us the lasting oil of Chanukah, and Yosef's protection from the deadly snakes. These "minor" peripheral miracles give us a different, miraculous perspective on the events surrounding the rest of these stories. A band of priests and educators could not have defeated the Hellenists without the help of Hashem, and Yosef could not have risen to power and overcome the great drought without divine intervention. Thus a message of Chanukah is that we must train ourselves to see the miraculous in the mundane - to see yad Hashem in our everyday lives. 
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What things in your life do you take for granted, or label as "natural/rational," that when you step back can seem miraculous?
  2. How does our perspective on the Six-Day War and the Yom Kippur War change when we see them through the lens of the miraculous? 
Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi Dov Huff

When codifying the requirement to recite
Hallel at various times throughout the year, the Rambam chose to place the relevant laws at the end of Hilchot Chanukah. This is surprising given the Rambam's meticulous nature in writing and organizing the Mishna Torah. Why are these laws not found in Hilchot Tefillah, where one would expect to find them?
The Rav answers that Hallel is usually relegated to the arena of tefillah. It is in prayer that we find ourselves best able to praise and thank Hashem for His miracles. Chanukah, says the Rav, is in its essence about praise. And it is on this holiday when we are able to say Hallel, to praise Hashem in the purest form - through action. For this reason the Rambam connected the two, because the idea of Hallel is the very nature of Chanukah itself.
Sevivon Challenge

Our Middle School students enthusiastically embraced the Sevivon Challenge this week! Teams of students in each grade were given identical packets of materials. After learning about the properties that make a dreidel spin, teams were asked to construct a sevivon and the one with the longest spin time would be the winner. A team of seventh graders used a CD and a thumbtack to create a sevivon that spun for over a minute!

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Sixth-Grade Science

The sixth graders have been learning about the difference between weather and climate. Specifically, we are learning about the different climates around the world, with a focus on the relationship between climate, plant life, and animal life.

Students have been working in groups to research a specific biome in depth. They have made videos, slide shows, dioramas, and puppet shows in order to present this information to their peers. We look forward to seeing their presentations after vacation!

Seventh-Grade Talmud

We have reached the point of developing real Talmud skills!  In Perek Tefillat Ha-Shachar, we have just completed the section of "Ad v'Ad bi'Khlal," "up to and including" - a pillar of Jewish learning.  In a fury of visual aids, we have immersed ourselves in the Amoraic perspective of their predecessors, the Tannaim, and have even developed a chant or two along the way. 

Now a couple of blatt into our Talmudic careers, we have an understanding of the origins of the Shemoneh Esreh and its development up to the modern day.

Eighth-Grade History

Over the past two weeks, the eighth graders have practiced presentation and note-taking skills while sharing their research about South America with each other. A partial list of topics covered includes: Carnival, chocolate, Day of the Dead, human sacrifice, Machu Picchu, soccer, temples, Native American foods, music, and dance.

Classes have seen sacrifices (no people were injured in the demonstration), played Kahoot, eaten tacos, built temples, and thrown confetti-filled balloons at each other. All projects were created by our eighth graders. Even the rubric used to critique the presentations was developed by the students during class.

After vacation, we will embark on our exploration of Asia.

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



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