January 13, 2017                    Parashat VaYechi                    15 Tevet, 5777 
In This Issue
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Eighth-Grade Step-Up Week
Seventh-Grade Schedule Change
Lit Mag
New Chugim
2016-17 Calendars
Handbook Online
Vehicle Policies
Maimo on Instagram
Directory Online
Online Photo Galleries

Quick Links
Find Maimonides On:

Dear Middle School Families,   

In this eventful week, the eighth grade got to experience Upper School life, the seventh grade learned about a new schedule to begin next Tuesday, submissions for this year's literary magazine opened, and everyone signed up for their new round of chugim!

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

Before his death, Yaakov Avinu leaves two sets of instructions.
For the brothers: "Bury me in the field of Machpelah... which Avraham bought from Efron...There they buried Avraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Yitzchak and Rivka his wife and there I buried Leah."
For Yosef: "Do not bury me in Egypt. I will rest with my fathers, carry me from Egypt and bury me in their burial place"
The instructions to Yosef have an added element, and really a different focus. What were the different objectives? If we look at the passing of Yaakov Avinu perhaps we can find an answer. His death was felt not only by Yosef and his brothers but by all of Egypt and beyond. The immediate aftermath of the death involves Yosef and his team of Egyptians preparing the body for 40 days and mourning for an additional 30. 
Yaakov is escorted out of Mitzrayim by "all the servants of Pharoah, the elders of his house and all the elders of Egypt," accompanied by a host of chariots. They arrive at Goren Haatad, a place on the eastern side of the Yarden, and there they eulogize and mourn for seven days. Up to this point the heavy emphasis is on the Egyptian cohort, led by Yosef, and their burial customs. It does not say that "they," bnei Yaakov, mourned for seven days at Goren Haatad but that "he," Yosef Hatzaddik, did. The observance of this national Egyptian tragedy makes such an impression on the local Kenaanim that they reacted by saying "this is a great mourning of Egypt" and called that space "Avel Mitzrayim." This event was a huge one, and the enormous reaction to the death of Yaakov Avinu points to the regard in which they held him. 
Rashi explains that the famine had ceased once Yaakov Avinu came, and the Nile had been blessed on his account. Like his son, he was a national hero. Rav Ezra Bick explains that Yaakov Avinu was not relegated to his ghetto in Goshen but had national recognition. Yaakov Avinu knew that he had to be not only brought to Eretz Yisrael, but also extracted from Mitzrayim - the country which thought of him as their own. And this mission could only be entrusted to his son Yosef. The one who dressed and spoke like an Egyptian, the one who married the daughter of an Egyptian priest, the one who was integrated to the point that he was a leader of Egypt, and yet also the one who was able to remain Yosef Hatzaddik. He was the only one who could navigate this extraction. 
Until they reached Goren Haatad the procession was an Egyptian ritualistic rite, led by Yosef. Then the Torah tells us that Yaakov's sons did as they were commanded. At this point bnei Yaakov take over and the second burial of Yaakov Avinu commences.  The next pasuk tells us how "they," no longer "he," brought Yaakov to Maarat Hamachpelah to rest with the Avot and Imahot. After the extraction coordinated by Yosef, only he and his brothers are mentioned - fulfilling the promise they all made to their father to bury him in Israel with his family.  
Questions for the Shabbos table:
  1. What was your takeaway from the d'var Torah this morning?
  2. In what ways do you have to "extract" yourself from the prevailing culture?
  3. How do you balance engagement in that culture with retaining your own unique Jewish identity?
Thoughts of the Rav

by Rabbi Dov Huff


The Rav relayed a story he heard from a cousin of Baron Edmond Rothschild. After the Baron's death, his family, unable to bury him in Israel because of the War of Independence, buried him in France. After the war they wanted to move the body to Israel, but Charles De Gaulle objected. He said that he always thought of the Baron as a Frenchman! He went to French schools, fought for France, and supported French culture. The only difference was the minor one of religion! How could Edmond Rothschild have wanted to be buried anywhere but France!? 
The Rav said that Pharaoh had the same objection as De Gaulle to Yosef's request that Yaakov be buried in Israel. They were willing to honor the request, but were not happy about it. The Rav sees this discontent in the words of Pharaoh: "bury your father as you promised" - but only because you promised it. Both Pharaoh and De Gaulle misunderstood the nature of the commitment the deceased had to their Jewish faith, identity, and homeland.
Eighth-Grade Step-Up Week

by Scott Mattoon and Rabbi Dov Huff 

This week the eighth-grade students had the opportunity to take classes with several Upper School teachers during our Step-Up Week. This gives them a taste of academic life in the ninth grade and allows them to talk about the content and skill goals of different disciplines in the Upper School. 

As many of our current ninth graders (last year's eighth graders) remarked this fall, last year's Step-Up Week allowed them to experience a palpable and exciting shift in the way teachers engaged their minds and abilities while respecting the increasing freedom and responsibility that accompany this stage in their lives - and inspiring their curiosity and long-term interests along the way. 


One salient benefit of being at Maimonides is that our ninth-grade teachers - some of whom are also current eighth-grade teachers - know very well the kind of transition our rising ninth graders experience, and understand the critical balance of meeting them where they are while pushing them appropriately to make the most of their age and stage of growth. 

There will be more exciting Step-Up activities for our eighth graders as we move ahead.  Most immediately, Upper School club leaders are connecting with the students based on  preferences they expressed at the club fair in the fall.  We look forward to their enjoying some terrific activities!

Seventh-Grade Schedule Change
Next week, the seventh grade will begin saying mincha together during their Wrap-Up period. This time will also be used for grade-wide announcements.

Lit Mag Submissions Now Open!
Your Magazine, our Middle School showcase of students' artwork and writing, is now accepting submissions for its annual publication! Please encourage your child to submit his or her favorite creative work to the Middle School office.

New Chugim Start Next Week!

Our new round of chugim will begin next week! We are particularly proud of this term's offerings, as they will include four new options created and organized by Middle School students: Girls' Dance, which will culminate in an end-of-term recital; Jam Band; Magic: The Gathering; and Red Cross Volunteers / CPR Training. Other students are joining these chugim with enthusiasm! We applaud the students' initiative in bringing these groups to life. Keep those ideas coming!


Printable and Electronic Calendars Online

The printable school calendar for this year is at
The electronic calendar for 2016-17 is also online!  You can visit http://maimonidescalendar.org/calendar 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 http://maimonidescalendar.org/calendar-instructions 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: svedol@maimonides.org

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