January 27, 2017 - 29 Tevet 5777 - Vaera
ES Highlights
D'var Torah
Thoughts of the Rav
Report Cards
After-School Activities
Fourth Grade Wax Museum
Grade 3 Principals' Coffee
Principals' Coffees
Family Learning
Parent Volunteers
Patriots Gear
In the Art Studio
Lost and Found
ECC/MS/US Newsletters
ES Calendar
Wed, Feb. 1
Grade 4 Principals' Coffee
8:00 a.m.

Tues, Feb. 7
3:00 p.m. Dismissal

Wed, Feb. 8
Grade 4 Principals' Coffee
8:00 a.m.

Sun, Feb. 12
Family Learning

Mon, Feb. 20 - 
Fri, Feb. 24
February Break
No School

As always, please see the Kol Rambam Weekly for the all-school calendar, events and PTA notes.
Quick Links
Online Photo Galleries
Hosted securely on Phanfare.com. Password to view all galleries is "maimoparents".

Click here to view

Send us your
Maimo Moments
  Whether you are a parent, alumni or faculty member, your Maimo Moments are welcomed and appreciated. 


Please send your Maimo Moments to  


maimonides.org or call our Maimo Moments hotline 617-232-4452 x424 and record your moment in a voice message.

Find Maimonides On:
Dear Parents,

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

D'var Torah
by Rabbi David Saltzman

In Parashat Va'era we are introduced to the first seven makkot that struck and debilitated the Egyptians. Looking closely at the names of the makkot, most of them are descriptions of the actual object that caused the plague: Blood, frogs, lice, disease, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. The description of the fourth plague seems to be different. The fourth plague is called
ערוב which in its pure form is from the root ערב. This, according to the commentators, has various meanings.
Rashbam, for instance, explains that ערוב is a form of the word evening (ערב). He says that the plague was caused by wolves, who generally look for prey at night. Therefore, the plague was that the Mitzrim were attacked by wolves. According to Rashbam, following the way that all the other makkot were described, this makkah should have been called זאבים - wolves. Instead, it's called the enigmatic ערוב, which opens it up to other interpretations.
Many other commentators, including Rashi, explain the word as "a mixture" of something. As Rashi explains:
את הערב: כל מיני חיות רעות ונחשים ועקרבים בעירבוביא והיו משחיתים בהם.
a mixture of noxious creatures: [which includes] all species of wild beasts, snakes, and scorpions in a mixture, and they were destroying among them [i.e., among the Egyptians].
According to Rashi, an assortment of animals and creatures joined forces in order to plague the Egyptians and cause destruction. Additionally, other commentators explain that a number of miracles occurred during this plague. The pasuk states that the animals did not harm the Jewish people, and a noticeable separation between Jew and Mitzri occurred during the plague of arov. Another miraculous aspect was that animals not commonly found in Egypt were present during this plague. One aspect of the plague not usually considered is that the wild animals, which are usually territorial and/or attack other animals when threatened, did not act according to their nature during the plague. Instead, they put aside their differences and their natural tendency to attack other creatures and focused their energies solely on troubling the human Egyptians.
It is interesting to note that the root letters of .ע.ר.ב also make up the word ערבות. As explained above, the creatures plaguing the Egyptians during the makkah of ערוב also behaved with a sense of arvut. The myriad beasts that descended into Egypt, each with their own natural deleterious tendencies, managed to put their differences aside and work together towards a common goal and purpose. This is an example of acting with arvut, and hence the makkah is appropriately called ערוב.
We should learn the lesson of arvut from the animals of arov. In order to fulfill our historical destiny, we need to put our differences aside and act as a nation intertwined, dedicated to our Jewish mission.
Thoughts of the Rav on the Parsha
by Rabbi Dov Huff   

In the next two parshiyot we read about the hardening (vayachbed) and strengthening (vayechezak) of Pharoah's heart. The Rav explains that these verbs are describing degrees of sensitivity. When the Torah says "kaved lev Pharoah" it means that Pharoah had no conscience or sense of morality. The Rav supports this with a pasuk from Yechezkel - "and I will remove the heart of stone from you and I will give you a heart of flesh" - a hardened heart is an inhuman one. 
On the other hand, when the Torah says "vaYechezak lev Pharoah" it means that Pharoah's heart was strong. It had the capacity for sensitivity. In these moments he was fully aware of what he was doing, but was resisting "the onslaught of the moral challenge." The slavery was a calculated economic decision, at the cost of doing the right thing, and Pharoah knew it. 
For this reason, the Rav says, we see Pharoah oscillating between sentiments like "you (the Jews) are being lazy" - an entirely ethically vacant heart - and "Hashem is righteous and I and my nation are the wicked ones" - a morally aware heart which he is choosing to resist. And it is in this resistance that Pharoah has his bechira, his free will, but he fails to make the right and ethical choice.
Report Cards Open Monday
Our online report card system for the first semester of 2016-17 will open on 
Monday, January 30 at 5:00 p.m. Please go to the My BackPack log-in page, located under Student/Parent Resources on the Maimonides School website, for a set of instructions on using the system.
Please note that if you have more than one child, once you have logged in, you will be able to view report cards for all of your children.
If you have forgotten your username or password, you may click on the "Forgot Username?" or "Forgot Password?" links, or email 
If your child works with a Hebrew or English literacy specialist, a curriculum support specialist, or a Gateways specialist, an individual progress report   
will be mailed to you. 
Please click here for the grading scale.
After-School Activities
The after-school MSAP (Maimonides School Activities Program) Fall into Winter semester ends the week of February 6 (with Tuesday programs ending next week, on January 31).

The brochure for our Winter into Spring semester was sent home in your child's backpack. Registration closes on February 9; Early Bird registration closes next Thursday, February 2. Many courses have limits on their numbers, so hurry and send in your registration!

Please contact Dr. Deborah Mehl, dmehl@maimonides.org, if you have any questions.

Fourth Grade Wax Museum
On Wednesday fourth graders participated in a Wax Museum activity in order to present their research about the Age of Exploration to friends and family. Each student spent weeks learning about a different European explorer and wrote a research paper on the topic. They then created medallions with key information and dressed up as their explorers to teach visitors what they had learned.

Grade 3 Principals' Coffee
The second round of Principals' Coffees continued this Wednesday morning. Following Rabbi Saltzman's d'var Torah, third grade parents had an open conversation with the principals about topics of interest for them.
The first topic of discussion was how we can create a social environment at the school that fosters a true sense of community among both students and parents. Some felt that this should be done by having more social activities for parents and children.  Others felt that the way to deepen connections is through meaningful involvement of parents in the life of the school.  Rather than parents coming in as spectators for events and plays, or to serve hot lunch or help run a book fair, there might be other, better ways for parents to share their interests and increase engagement through activities such as parent /student book clubs.
Guidelines for birthday parties and the role that the school should take were also discussed.  The parent handbook makes some general recommendations aimed at making sure that classmates do not feel left out, while understanding that large parties are expensive and difficult to manage:
Birthday Parties Outside of School
In order to be considerate of all children, Maimonides School asks parents to select from one of the following guidelines when inviting their child's classmates:
  1. Invite the entire grade or class;
  2. Invite all the boys or all the girls in the grade or class;
  3. Invite a very small number of friends from the grade or class.
Please mail invitations to children's homes rather than distributing them in school.
Care should be taken that movies shown at parties are those with which parents of all children will feel comfortable.
At the parent coffee, suggestions were made to add more detailed guidelines to help parents understand the importance of proper supervision at parties, as well as suggestions for how to invite a smaller number of students without making classmates feel excluded.  For example, one could invite 2 or 3 boys or girls from one section and 2 or 3 from the other section, thereby not excluding a small number of students from a section.  The school administration and social worker are always available for parents who seek advice on this matter. 
Principals' Coffees
The next Principals' Coffee will be for fourth grade parents, and will take place on Wednesday, February 1, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. Principals' coffees are taking place for parents of students at each grade level on mornings from January through February. The coffees are an opportunity for parents to talk with the principals, ask questions, give input, and learn more about different aspects of Maimonides students' 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 date:
  • Wednesday, February 8, from 8:00-8:45 a.m. (5th Grade)
Family Learning
This past Sunday, a number of families joined us at Family Learning. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn with your children and meet other families. 
This week we continued our themed learning about netina - giving. We learned about real-life situations where one can give to another not only items but also time, services, and advice.  These are all considered "giving to others." We saw examples from the Torah where famous biblical figures gave in various ways.
The morning concluded with all participants making a bracelet reminding them of the mitzvah they took upon themselves to perform. 
The next Family Learning will be Sunday, February 12. We hope to see you there! 

Looking for Parent Volunteers
The PTA is looking for new parent volunteers to help us with some wonderful programs.  Volunteering and being a part of PTA programs is an easy way to get involved with the school.  It also helps to impress upon your children the importance of community engagement.  Please help us ensure that these programs continue by signing up today!

The Elementary School Book Fair
The school book fair is once again being held on the same day as the Elementary School science fair,  Tuesday, March 28!  We are looking for some volunteers to manage the setup and sale of the books that day.  Sophia Zilber, who has run the book fair in the past, will coordinate just about everything leading up to that day.  Please sign up as soon as possible so we can confirm with our vendor that we will have a book fair again this year!

Teacher Appreciation Week/Purim
We are looking for two coordinators and a few additional volunteers to run this wonderful week to show the teachers how much we appreciate them.

The responsibilities are:
  • Organize a breakfast for the teachers in the ECC/Elementary and Middle/Upper Schools.
  • Organize a lunch for the teachers in the ECC/Elementary and Middle/Upper Schools.  
  • Assemble Misloach Manot packages for the faculty and staff.  (All the items will be preordered and delivered to the school.)
  • For the ECC/Elementary faculty lunch, recruit a handful of volunteers to help supervise the students during lunch.
  • For the Middle/Upper School faculty lunch, recruit a few volunteers to help set up the lunch.

Spring Sunday Soccer
We are looking for two people who are interested in running Sunday Soccer.  This is a very popular activity for kids in the springtime.

The responsibilities are:
  • Recruit volunteer coaches.
  • Send out reminders and registration information for the parents through the school.
  • A lot of the work is done through email.

We really need your help and would love to have your involvement. Guidance and support will be available and offered for all volunteers who run a project. Your children and the school will appreciate it!

Thank you in advance for your support!
To volunteer or for more information, please contact Claudine Grossman at claudine@aboutface.com
Wear Your Patriots Gear
Next Friday, February 3, tell your children to leave the collared shirt at home and dress up in their favorite Patriots gear in preparation for SuperBowl 51. Jerseys, tee shirts, and hats (not shorts) will be permitted at school all day Friday to demonstrate support for the Pats. If/when the Pats win, they can wear their gear again on Monday, February 6 in order to celebrate. Good luck to the Patriots!

In the Art Studio
On Thursday, Kindergarteners were introduced to working artists who use the same art media as the students have been using in this unit (drawing, painting, sculpture, and collage). Students were invited to create their own projects, inspired by the artists' examples, and to experiment with the same techniques and processes.

Lost and Found
The latest Lost and Found items can be viewed in front of the Brener office. 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. 
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:

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