My grandfather, סבא אהרון, used to wake up my brother and me around 3:30 every morning to work in our family farm; count the animals, milk the cows, feed them and make sure they are healthy and safe.
Taking care of animals takes an absolute commitment and understanding of your role in their life. You simply learn to serve and give with no conditions. Almost like being a parent.
As a holocaust survivor my grandfather didn’t say much...and as he woke us up with 3 knocks on the door - he used to repeat the same sentence for more than a decade: We are home, building our state. Get up and do your share.
אנחנו בבית. בונים מדינה. קום ועשה את החלק שלך
When we were teenagers my brother and I went for a morning run, heading to our second grandfather ראובן ז"ל community grocery store...we found him with no spirit...he was brutally butchered by Palestinians. We were too young to understand, but old enough to accept the fact that creating a safe flourishing place for the Jewish nation העם היהודי means many things, and lost is one of them. Moving on, work hard, give birth and love is the other.
After my army service I was accepted to medical school, but at the same time I was offered to try and join the special operation team in the Israeli secret service.
I felt young and strong… proud and motivated.
As the work was in a deep undercover - no one in my family, and none of my friends knew what I was doing and they all worried I’m lost.
It takes a few long and demanding years to become what we call a shadow warrior. As a shadowed unit we were simply our enemies nightmare...we knew them so well up to a point where we could predict their next move and be there ahead of time ...using any necessary means in order to save lives....we did everything out of love to the Jewish nation and the state of Israel. Hate never took any place in our hearts and actions...how deadly the situation was.
In the early 2000 I became a team leader. My team members sacrificed their soul, heart, body and some even their lives. They were my brothers and sisters.
But 2002 was different. It was a deadly year, and especially פסח time, for the matter of fact it was the deadliest month in the history of the state of Israel, and my team was the last frontier before death strikes civil life.
Suicide bombers and shootings over innocent families were a daily routine and were all over the state... I was in charge of Tel Aviv and its surroundings cities.
Buses exploded...line number 24, line number 25, and line number 5 in the center of the Tel Aviv...taking mostly young students and elders, line number 405 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cafe moment, Park hotel hosting the Seder , אפרת, עפולה, חיפה, מעלה אדומים, כיסופים, קרני שומרון...so many dead people. So many lives were ruined.
I don’t really remember the days before the following story…a story about the most beautiful women I ever met. My team members didn’t sleep, didn’t shower, eat or drink much. They didn’t have a chance to watch t.v., listen to music, be with their families, take a moment of break and enjoy the cold ocean breeze, smell the mountains and face the beautiful sun… we were in what we call in time of crises - "a Burning Ground Mode"...which simply means; we are in a time of a true extreme on going threat and we should keep moving...keep fighting...collect the information, analyze it, act and react. Embrace reality as is, and be ready. Get things done.
Around 7 pm that day, a new alert came in to our office: “A suicide bomber is on his way to Tel Aviv”.
I used the team I had, resources and the tactics we knew to create a net around the city, a net that hopefully would lead us to catch him, or them.
The power I controlled from the car I drove, included connections to special army units, air-crafts, satellites, armed motor bikers, elite snipers, and the most advanced technology to analyze any signal out there…a power that could easily lead to a war if used wrong.
But the truth was that at that point we knew almost nothing. Nothing more than: “A suicide bomber is on his way to Tel Aviv”.
My team acted as the best humans on earth ...peacefully they all did exactly as I ordered them. No one doubted anything. There was no time or room for that. It was war. I was proud of them as we already lost few friends this year ...for mental and physical injuries.
For the next two hours I have received more pieces of information. Looking back I know I could have done much more.
The next information received was that we should look for three individuals. Then we got Tel Aviv center as the location for the explosion. Then we have been told that we should look for a white car… most likely to be of a GMC brand. Then we got a specific street name.
Every understanding changes everything and I moved my team and together we narrowed the circle... we were all the best that the state of Israel could offer in this type of fighting, and we managed to prevent and stop so many...again and again.
They do as I order and quickly report their new location, their grasp and hold of their new position. “א in place”, this is ביסו here… I have clear site”, This is ארנבי, ready to enter”. I fully trust them.
Then I was told we have 20-30 minutes. You must understand that every piece of new information means that our enemies are being interrogated….as they should in time of a vicious war. War simply means Us or Them. No middle ground.
The next thing I remember was that the 20 minutes became a two minute alert. We had two minutes and time ran faster than ever.
Can you imagine the responsibility we all felt? Two minutes only. Our mind was so alert, so tuned, ready to charge...fight and sacrifice. It was our duty.
The very last piece of information I got was: “Be ready to clear out”...clear out as we needed to keep our identity hidden. Our identity as shadows was our true strength. So as yours. Being a proud free Jew.
8:59 pm. Silence. I felt that easily it could be the same silence as before creation. But it was not.
Through that silence I see it. Allenby Street, a white GMC, unsteady driving. I know where my team is...they are all too far…the net I have created was not good enough this time… no one will make it on time...except me… but it is against the protocol - to get out of my car and make an "on foot chase". I’m the leader… and the leader should always lead...keep managing the team, share the information and follow the rest of the procedure.
Still, here I am, out of the car, without informing anyone. Especially not my own team...
My grandfather words are running strongly through my veins: “We are home, building our state. Get up and do your share.”
אנחנו בבית. בונים מדינה. קום ועשה את החלק שלך
I take my gun, I load it, and I start running like there is nothing between me and them...life and death. Love and hate.
I see the car still in a distance...far less than a quarter of a mile. My assumption was that they already launched their guy into one of the coffee shops on the street...
I ran so fast. fast. fast. Faster….I know I’m close...and all I need is another 5 to 10 seconds, and half a second inside the coffee shop to locate and shot him down. I take a deep breath… and deep inside I could already feel it….
9 pm. Explosion. I find myself on the ground. Broke both of my shoulders, my eyes are burning, I lost hearing in my right ear, and pieces of metal and glass are covering my body and especially my arms. I feel strong and i keep running. Initiating contact. Initiating is a primary essence of the IDF and Israel security agencies. Never again to be a victim.
I get inside the coffee shop. I see him. There is nothing to shoot at. Nothing at all. As a leader I know I’m in the wrong place. I just did all the things I should have not done. I should clear out, and reports of the situation...lead the chase after the GMC. Instead, I just stayed and gave first aid...cleared out the injured. It was still silence. No one screams in the beginning.
Than I stopped. As I stood there in the center of hell on earth screaming שמע ישראל...I needed some guidance. Felt helpless...and wondered why I didn’t go to medical school when I could have, why again I am late just as I was late to save grandfather 15 years ago.
My call was answered and everything became clear. Felt strong again. It’s like I knew everything that has happened in the moments before the explosion...what did he do, said, how did he act, to whom he approached and why.
It was the shadow of death and God has shown me the only way out. I looked back, to the bar, knowing that behind any bar there is a bartender. Alcohol was dripping from the above shelves, fire got bigger. ... I move quickly and I see her; the most beautiful women on this earth… and she is on fire. I use a fire extinguisher... I take her out in my arms and I lay her down on the side road. There are now people all around and screaming. I was thinking to myself ...look at them… so brave… helping and caring ...doing whatever they can...these are my people and I love them. This is why I am here. To be part of exactly that. In the most ironic tragic way there is… I thank God for that.
I was about to leave her there and go, a dead young women, just as out of nowhere she remarkably whispered: “Touch my hair, I don’t want to die alone”.
She closed her eyes, her head in my hands. I do as she asked me too. I touch her burned face.
A Stranger approached… a human angel… “Here, have some water”…he said….”give her some”…he add with a smile…as angels knows… they do.
Kineret woke up after months in intensive care, been through every pain known to man and born again as Kineret חיה. She did teshuvah, got married and created a beautiful family.
In 2007 - I got a decoration of bravery for leading my team for a complex period of time with an operational success. It is only than that I felt brave enough to call her and ask for her forgiveness.
We met in the coffee shop. She cried as she hugged me. This time it is her who is touching my face, while saying that it was the best thing that has happened to her...and while everyone around us were crying with her…she gently spoke her words for all of us –
“I found God, life, and a great nation that can never be defeated”
עם ישראל חי, לזכור ולא לשכוח!
“I've always been passionate about food -- cooking it and eating it,” asserted Ben Niewood ’10.
That’s wonderful, because Ben and Aliza (Shapiro) Niewood ’10 just moved to New York to start careers in the food industry – Aliza at Hello Fresh, a meal kit delivery company, and Ben at “an amazing modern farming company called Bowery Farming.”
Bowery is “growing the purest produce imaginable by revolutionizing agriculture,” Ben continued. “By combining the benefits of the best local farms with advances made possible by technology, our indoor farms create the ideal conditions to grow post-organic produce, and good, fresh produce is the easiest way to effortlessly make food taste better.”
The Manhattan company is operating its first farm, and is building a second. “We grow everything hydroponically in a warehouse,” Ben explained. “All of the plants grow in little plugs made of a synthetic, dirt-like substance. The plugs sit in Styrofoam rafts that float on top of a large tray of water. We put nutrients into the water and grow the plants under LED lights.”
“Because we grow indoors in a controlled environment, we can vary the temperature, humidity, CO2, and other environmental variables to get perfect growing conditions for every crop. Because we are inside, we can also ensure that there are no bugs in the lettuce without using any pesticides.” He added, “That's particularly beneficial for us kosher keepers.” Bowery produce is available at some Whole Foods and Foragers stores in the Tri-State area.
The company uses a proprietary software system, vision systems, automation technology, and machine learning to monitor plants and all the variables that drive their growth, Ben said. “Because we control the entire process from seed to store, the Bowery farm uses 95 percent less water, and is exponentially more productive on the same footprint of land than traditional agriculture.”
Bowery has raised almost $28 million in venture capital and is backed by established leaders and innovators in the food industry.
“Bowery's mission isn't just to grow fresh produce,” Ben said. “Our long-term goal is to use our farms to help deal with the world's impending food crisis. The world's population is going to explode over the next 30-40 years. With more people moving to densely-populated urban areas, growing more produce close to cities is the only cost- and energy-effective way to feed everyone in the cities; traditional farming can’t do that.”
Ben learned for a year at Yeshivat Orayta before matriculating at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 2015. He was working as a product design engineer at Nest in San Francisco when he spotted the opportunity at Bowery on an MIT alumni jobs list.
He is one of two mechanical engineers, “working mostly on systems engineering. We design the systems -- lighting, irrigation, and HVAC -- that help the plants grow.” He not only runs experiments, takes measurements, and builds new prototype systems, but also helps harvest the day’s lettuce haul. “We're focused on building our next farm, which will be much larger. After that we'll look for new cities in the U.S. to build farms near, and we eventually want to have at least one Bowery farm next to every major city in the world.”
“In America, our food is consumed so far from its source that many people don't understand the connection between farming and food,” Ben observed. “For contrast, in many of the other countries Aliza and I have visited, especially in Asia, people buy far more produce from small markets whose farms are just outside the city they live in. And food is central to any culture; the best part of traveling, and the best way to experience any new culture, is to try the food.”
Maimonides School's annual commemoration of the Kristallnacht pogrom is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 5, at (ma'ariv at ).
The speaker will be Dr. Jonathan Skolnik, associate professor of German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is also on the History and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies faculties. His talk will be entitled, “Kristallnacht in the Shadow of the Spanish Inquisition: The Sephardic Past and the End of German Jewry.”
In 2016-2017, Prof. Skolnik served as interim director of the UMass Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies. Earlier he was a Soslund Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. He serves as faculty sponsor for the graduate fellows of the Yiddish Book Center and is the author of the 2014 book Jewish Pasts, German Fictions: History, Memory, and Minority Culture in Germany, 1824-1953.
The speaker received his undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia and is writing two books. He has presented several papers at conferences on topics relating to the fields of Germanic and Judaic studies and has received fellowships from the Leo Baeck Institute and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.
Maimonides began this lecture in 1988, when Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, זצ"ל, described his personal experiences on Kristallnacht -- the night of Nov. 9, 1938. Rabbi Wohlgemuth, who joined the Maimonides faculty in 1945, was a young rabbi in the town of Kitzingen, where a mob attacked his shul. Rabbi Wohlgemuth subsequently was detained at Dachau for several months.
Craft beers are proliferating in Israel, and a Maimonides School graduate is part of the phenomenon.
Asher Zimble ’09 brews a commercial product called Oak and Ash. “Right now we're fairly local... only the real beer places know of us and carry our beer,” he said. “But we're branching out and growing.”
Following Maimonides graduation, Asher learned at Yeshivat Lev HaTorah in Beit Shemesh. “I was more into the trips, hiking, camping, etc. than the formal classes, and I came away with a love for the country and a strong desire to make aliyah,” he said. “By the summer of 2010, I was on a Nefesh B'Nefesh flight to Israel.”
One of his first stops was a mechina (pre-army preparatory program) in a small town called Keshet, “a little bit north of the middle of nowhere. The mechina gave me the skills I needed to thrive in the army, as well as a lot of good friends throughout the country.”
Asher said he discovered brewing a few years ago. “I tasted some commercial lager and remember thinking, ‘I
bet I could make something better than this.’ That's really what got me started as a craft brewer.” While in
Chicago for a simcha after completing three years of army service, he sat in on a college-level course on brewing. For the next year he worked in Israeli breweries, ultimately landing a job as head brewer for the popular Dancing Camel brewery in central Tel Aviv.
There’s no brewery in the Zimble home in Givat Shmuel. “I brew the beer at the Dancing Camel facility. We’re space-sharing to our mutual benefit. I get to use his brewery equipment and he gets to use my packaging equipment.” Asher employs an assistant brewer and a salesperson. Asher’s wife Meira (Altabet) ’09 “is involved with our online content to some degree but she is mostly focused on her master's degree program,” Asher said. They have a one-year-old daughter, Hadar.
“My goal is to make flavorful beers,” Asher explained. “I want people to bring six packs of craft beer when they go to friends for meals or parties. You can enjoy several average-strength beers with your friends, try something different every time, and still wake up the next day to get to work on time. Also, it's not going to break the bank, and each bottle or can is one serving, so you can easily save some for later.”
Asher said that although “making beer is a fairly complicated process, I can try to sum it up on one foot: Brewers make a home for yeast, and yeast makes it into beer.”
He delineated the steps: “Grind your malt. Mix your malt with warm water to activate the enzymes and convert the starch to sugar -- in brewery terms, mash. Let the enzymes do their thing. Then strain your sugary water, called wort, through the grains and into the boil kettle, adding more hot water while you do this so that you get all the sugar and the correct volume of wort in the kettle.”
Then comes boiling, “which sanitizes the wort, denatures the enzymes, removes proteins from the solution, and extracts bitterness and aroma from the hops. Then cool it down so the brewer's yeast doesn’t die -- it can’t handle exposure to temperatures over 33 degrees. Move the liquid to the fermenter and add yeast. Now it's beer.”
“We are working to get certification from the local rabbanut for Oak and Ash, so that our customers won’t have to be concerned about any kashrut issues,” Asher said.
Those issues are interesting “Some beers are aged in wooden barrels previously used to age or store non-kosher wine. Some authorities think this is a problem while others say using wine barrels isn't a problem.” Oak and Ash does not use wine barrels.
Also, “spices, fruit, fish, even meat can be added to beer to give it special flavorings and that's just the natural stuff. Some beers also use coloring agents, and it’s important to know what the dye is made out of. As a rule of thumb, if your beer is vegan the additives are probably also kosher-friendly.
“Some of the filtering aids and other products that are used to help make beer clear can come from non-kosher animals. Although at the end of the day none of these products remain in the beer, I could see how this may be an issue,” Asher said. He noted that “Oak and Ash is careful to use in its beers only those additives and products that have been certified kosher.”
Oak and Ash “is a play on words. We age all of our beers with oak, and I brew them so it's oak and Asher (Ash).”
There are many craft beer festivals in Israel, and Oak and Ash has been featured at one so far. “It was a ton of fun,” Asher recounted. He noted that every year the Dancing Camel serves beer at the American Consulate Fourth of July party, where he chatted with Palestinian Arabs who brew Taybeh beer. “They are nice guys who brew a nice beer, and I could see us working together on something in the future.”
Rosh Hashanah Dvar Torah by Jacob Unger '20
With Rosh Hashanah rapidly approaching, I thought it would be fitting to speak about the Mitzvah that is most synonymous with the Chag: the blowing of the Shofar. As the 10th graders learned, the Talmud tells us in מסכת ראש השנה that the Shofar itself reminds us of Akeidat Yitzchak, and its sound signifies our pleading to Hashem for forgiveness. We hope that he will remember our good deeds, and the deeds of our ancestors. We have faith that he will see the goodness inside of us. Rambam, in his book Hilchot Teshuvah, finds that the Shofar has a quite different purpose. He writes that the Shofar is actually a tool that G-d uses to cry out to us. Hashem wakes us up, and tells us to examine our deeds. The Rambam adds:
אלו השוכחים את האמת בהבלי הזמן ושוגים כל שנתם בהבל וריק אשר לא יועיל ולא יציל
There are those who forget the truth in the distractions of time and throughout the entire year, devote their energies to vanity and emptiness which will not benefit or save.
What sort of actions are the Rambam talking about? Which actions do not benefit or save?
I found the answer in a column written by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
Rabbi Sacks recalls a book that he read, in which the author distinguishes between what he calls “resumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues”. “Resumé virtues” are our achievements, our skills, … what makes us better than others. These things are important to us in our life, but we won’t be remembered by them. Our kindness, our honesty, our sympathy, these are things that will leave a lasting impact on the world, and will hopefully define our lives. These “eulogy virtues” are often forgotten due to the constant pressure to succeed. When the Rambam writes about the distractions of time, he is showing us that we need to focus more on our “eulogy virtues” - things which lead to a meaningful life, as opposed to our “resumé virtues” which will disappear after we are gone. The Shofar is calling us to remember what really makes life special. The Shofar is a wake up call to remember what really matters.
Rabbi Sacks continues his explanation by bringing a passage from Rav Soloveitchik's essay, The Lonely Man of Faith. The Rav explains that there are two separate accounts of the creation of אדם in the Torah. The first account, in בראשית פרק א, is of humans as the most advanced, and highest of all other animals. In Perek Bet, humans are described as having feelings, souls, and connections towards each other and G-d. Of course it is important that humans are more intelligent than other animals, but our connections towards each other and Hashem is what really matters. Rosh Hashanah is the time for Cheshbon HaNefesh: Self-evaluation. It’s the time where we can separate our eulogy virtues from our resumé virtues. We can live up to the second creation story, and leave behind the first. Even a small change within ourselves can bring out the best in the people around us, and even make an impact on the world. Rambam sees the world as balanced, and one sin or one good deed can tip the scale in or out of your favor. This year, let the call of the Shofar remind you of “eulogy virtues” that you can improve on - love, charity, integrity - and use them to make an impact on yourself, others around you, and the world.
Shana Tova U’metukah
Maimonides School’s 65th commencement ceremony Sunday morning featured a pair of milestones that reinforced the school’s reputation as a national landmark in Jewish education for eight decades.
Forty-six seniors received diplomas to culminate the program. The second name on that roster was Arthur Bloomfield, and it was announced that he is the school’s 2,000th high school graduate. Maimonides was established in 1937; the first high school class, comprising six seniors, graduated in 1953. The 1,000th alumnus was recognized in 1996. Arthur’s father Sam graduated in 1975.
A little later down the list, Adam Greene was recognized as the school’s first third-generation graduate. Adam’s mother Batya (Drapkin) Greene is a member of the Class of 1991. His grandmother, Rosa (Holcer) Drapkin, recently joined 1967 classmates who celebrated their 50-year reunion.
Sarah Wertheimer, valedictorian of the class of 2017, spoke about the future. As is the tradition at Maimonides, her valedictory was delivered in Hebrew.
“Let’s fully celebrate and appreciate this moment, but simultaneously look forward to reaching many more milestones, both individually and together as part of the Maimo community,” said the translation of her remarks.
Reflecting on the seniors’ Maimonides careers, the translation said, “We asked for help, and teachers, parents, friends in other grades, and classmates were always happy to give it. We learned from everyone, which created a supportive atmosphere in which to grow.”
The text added: “We keep caring about each other, even when we are upset, even when we disagree. We still care about each other’s feelings. We keep each other’s spirits high, and we stick together.”
Joshua Gruen, class salutatorian, spoke on the theme of questions and answers. His classmates’ classroom questions “were us showing we are engaged, that we want to learn, and most of all, that we will settle for nothing less than complete comprehension of the subject at hand,” he said.
“One of the numerous advantages of going to school every day with the same great 46 people year after year, and really getting to know each one, is there was never much discomfort in the classroom or the halls,” Joshua continued. “There was never fear to assert oneself or to ask each other for help when needed.”
"We were able to grow together for years and had an automatic support network, while, like any good teenagers, we challenged our goals, and searched for answers to not-so-easy questions like, ‘What is our purpose?’ or 'How can I have a positive impact on the world?’ Those are only a couple of the many questions we faced,” he said. “While if you ask many of the teachers here, there is ‘no such thing as a bad question’ and overall I agree, I have heard some especially great and notable ones throughout my time here.”
Four other high-ranking seniors were honored by delivering excerpts from the writings of Maimonides, the 12th century commentator and physician for whom the school is named. They were Hillah Hassan, Eitan Jeselsohn, Lauren Koralnik and Aleeza Schoenberg.
The two Middle and Upper School principals used music as a metaphor in their tributes to the Class of 2016.
In his opening charge to the graduates, Rabbi Dov Huff, Judaic studies principal, declared that the seniors are endowed with "a beautiful internal song that is just bursting out of them." At every opportunity, he said, members of the class break into song and dance.
That is an attribute that will serve them well, now that they are about to navigate the world, he said, because "their song is a symptom, an indication, of a deeper middah: the passion of the Class of 2017." That passion manifests itself in a range of ways, he said: intense political debates, new davening initiatives, commitment to chesed, "the never-ending quest for truth."
"Your passion," Rabbi Huff asserted, "grounds you. It drives you and it fuels you."
Noting the recent passing of longtime Maimonides Jazz Band Director Michael Maleson, Scott Mattoon, Middle and Upper School principal for general studies, also presented his closing tribute with a musical theme. “I reviewed your wonderful class photo,” he said to the graduates. “Each face called up an instrument of a certain tone and personality that you have ‘played’ from time to time – for some, literally so; for most, figuratively.”
“In seeking the miracle of music and the truth it has to share, it is worth contemplating how many kinds of instruments you will summon over your lifetime to come,” Mr. Mattoon continued. “At the same time, it is so important to recognize that the aim is not to ‘play’ every single one. The aim is to play the ones that are authentic to who you are, because you are all part of a larger symphony at play…”
He urged the seniors, “Go forth, find your notes, and play them with the most authentic instruments for you; if you do, your notes will echo in eternity.”
Head of School Naty Katz opened the proceedings, directing part of his remarks to parents.
“History has taught us that our graduates will maintain strong ties with one another for a lifetime,” he said. “We hope that your relationship with our school, as valued members of the Maimonides family, will remain strong as well. As Maimonides celebrates the 80th anniversary of its founding, we want to thank you for the privilege of educating your children.”
“Your children, and all of you, will always be part of the Maimonides family, and we hope that you will continue to add your strength to our school community.”
Zev Gewurz, a member of the Board of Directors, opened the proceedings with a message on behalf of the Board. He referenced a 1932 newspaper interview with the school’s revered founder, Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l. “In that interview, he articulated a bold and innovative vision for the education of Jewish boys and girls in Boston,” Mr. Gewurz said.
“Hopefully, like Rabbi Soloveitchik, you will draw on this foundation, on this wellspring, and continue to be bold and innovative,” he said. “And, hopefully, like your parents and teachers before you, who have sustained you, and brought you to this day, you will pass it on.”
Other members of the Class of 2017 are Micah Beiser, Miriam Bressler, Dina Cohn, Michelle Delman, Jakob Diamond, Yonatan Diamond, Uriya Durani, Shira Ellenbogen, Dina Fisher-Greisdoff, Elijah Forstadt, Ethan Fraenkel, Emma Gelb, Michael Gerber, Ariana Gewurz, Moriya Goldberger, Elisheva Goldman, David Gould, Jesse Gould, Akiva Jacobs and Simon Kangoun.
Also, Baruch-Lev Kelman, Jacob Kosowsky, Sarah Kosowsky, David Kotler, Charles Kramer, Abigail Lanzkron, David Lutati, Israel Picard, Sophie Rosenberg, Aleeza Solomont, Hannah Spear, Hadassah Stanhill, Rebecca Stolarov, Zev Traum, Samuel Unger, Abegail Vidrin, Julia Vorobeychik and Noach Weiss.
Members of the Class of 2017 have received acceptances to many excellent colleges, universities, seminaries and yeshivot.
Class of 2017 College Acceptances
University at Albany
University of Colorado
University of Connecticut
University of Maryland,
University of Maryland,
Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Massachusetts, Boston
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
University of Michigan
New York University
University of Pennsylvania
Rutgers University, Camden
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Tel Aviv University
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Midreshet Emunah v’Omanut
Beit Midrash Migdal Oz
Midreshet Torah v’Avodah
Midreshet Torat Chesed
Yeshivat Birkat Moshe
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh
Yeshivat Lev HaTorah
Yeshivat Ma’ale Gilboa
Yeshivat Migdal HaTorah
Yeshivat Torat Shraga.
Rabbi Dov Huff, Maimonides Middle and Upper School Judaic studies principal, shared an emotional experience with teachers in a recent memorandum.
“After our Yom Ha'atzmaut chagiga and parade ended, we sent the students back to class. As everything settled down, I looked around the corner to find the juniors, wearing blue and white face paint, waving Israeli flags, going into classrooms and singing Am Yisrael Chai. It was very powerful. Their ruach and their modelling of love for Eretz Yisrael were amazing.”
As these students move into senior year, their energy must be channeled into knowledge and skills that will be effective on campuses and sustainable into adulthood. Keys to accomplishing this are the weekly class in Israel advocacy and the four-day AIPAC Policy Conference in March.
Much of that task is handled by Refael Fadlon, who has been teaching Israel advocacy weekly to the seniors since 2007. “The combination of Israel advocacy and the annual AIPAC Policy Conference has been really helpful and important,” Mr. Fadlon said.To ensure that the students have a solid historical context, Mr. Fadlon has introduced a new summer assignment to juniors: Read Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn by Daniel Gordis. “That provides the overview. Then we will have time for deeper questions,” the teacher said.
The course addresses three advocacy scenarios: Debating in front of an audience; discussing privately with another individual; and combatting lies and conspiracy theories, some of which have become mainstream. The teacher uses video examples that portray the consequences of inadequate preparation.
“We used to teach the David Project curriculum,” said Mr. Fadlon, referring to the college advocacy group founded by Dr. Charles Jacobs. “Every unit started with some kind of allegation against Israel, and then disputed it. We also asked them to read The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz, which also talks about different ways to advocate.”
He acknowledged that his perspective has changed in recent years. “It’s not necessarily the point to prove that you are right. You want to reach out to people and create dialogue, especially with people who are unfamiliar with the facts, and try to explain to them a very complicated reality.”
The approach has evolved, Mr. Fadlon said, as “I realized based on feedback that students want more depth. And they want to hear the other side’s voice. It is no longer enough just to learn why Israel is right, just to learn the history. So what I started to do is try to explore every question from a different point of view.”
“Kids want to hear the authentic voice of the other side,” Mr. Fadlon said. “They understand it’s not black and white.” He said initially he was concerned enough to discuss the classroom approach with Gordis himself at an AIPAC event. “He told me, ‘Don’t make the decisions for them.’”
“The bottom line is personal education and dialogue though positive meaning,” Mr. Fadlon said. Yet the instruction also makes clear that “sometimes you don’t have a choice but to oppose the other person, those who delegitimize Israel.”
Discussion of Arab refugees from Palestine includes historical data, the subsequent expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, and various 20th Century refugee exchanges, including India and Pakistan, or Turkey and Greece.
One creative exercise reviews the drafts of the Balfour Declaration and combines them into a format resembling a page of Talmud. “That helps students discover what exactly is the meaning of every word in historical context,” Mr. Fadlon said.
When he teaches about Israel’s political system, Mr. Fadlon said, “it’s not enough just to know the results. When Prime Minister Netanyahu has to make a decision, what are the forces that influence him? How does he create a coalition, and how does it limit the power of the prime minister? The kids say they finally realize what it means when Israel makes a decision.”
The class also explores conflicts in Israeli society -- involving Jews and Arabs, political left and right, religious and secular – through media like music and art, Mr. Fadlon noted.
The year of advocacy training is augmented by attendance at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC. The school has sent the senior class as delegates for three consecutive years.
For Yoni Gelb ’16, the AIPAC Policy Conference “was really eye-opening. There was so much to learn, so much to take in. It was powerful to see so many people come together, with different backgrounds, different opinions. It gave me a feeling that I wanted to be more involved.”
Inspired by his experience, Yoni joined Badgers for Israel soon after he began classes at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and now serves on the board. The group has a strong AIPAC connection, he said.
Last semester, Wisconsin students supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign “tried to pass a student government resolution targeting Israel and we mobilized about 100 people to speak at an open forum.” Then the issue was brought up again during Pesach, and although there was a favorable vote, the student judiciary vetoed it because the timing was deliberately exclusive, he said.
That has been “the only real presence BDS has had on campus,” Yoni said. “We don’t see people walking around campus with signs. There is no Apartheid Week.”
Are there opportunities for dialogue? “There are people working at the grass-roots level,” Yoni said. “There are people who want a civilized conversation. The open forum is combative.”
Yoni said he was well-equipped by his Maimonides advocacy course and “the tools I got from AIPAC.” Indeed, last winter he was a delegate to an AIPAC conference for college students. “I learned a lot of tactics, ways to work to further your goal and not let detractors get in the way. Everyone was really passionate and doing good work.”
Leora Wenger ’80 has been designing websites longer than almost everybody in the industry. But that doesn’t mean she can relax. “You can’t stop with this,” she said about learning new technologies. “If you stop, you will be out of date in a second. You have to learn every system they throw at you.”
Leora and her family live in Highland Park, NJ, and these days she does most of her work for nearby Rutgers University. “They pay me to learn, and sometimes the learning is longer than the doing,” she said.
Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, Leora said, computers were part of the household because both parents worked with them. “We had exposure to computers when we were young.” However, that didn’t extend to school. “I have this vague memory that there was a computer available, and nobody made it interesting to me.”
Leora was an artist in high school and served as an assistant yearbook editor. After Maimonides graduation, she enrolled in the Boston University School for the Arts. “I discovered that art school was different than I expected, so I took a lot of liberal arts classes,” she said. Now, “the work I do is more technical, though I have an interest in art.”
She graduated with a double major in urban planning and art history. After a stint with the City of Boston planning office, she worked as an administrative assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Laboratory for Computer Science. “In my group at the Laboratory for Computer Science, people realized I could do technical support, so it became part of my job. That really boosted my confidence,” she noted. In 1990 “I was working with a secretary who knew how to program, and together we wrote a program so people in the Lab could access the Lab phone directory with just a few keystrokes.”
At MIT, she recalled, “everybody knew about computers.” She began taking programming courses, financed by her employer. “Then the Web came around and I said, ‘Well, I am going to teach myself that.’” It was 1993, the year Leora left MIT. “I didn’t think I would like it — until I did it,” she said of computer coding. “Now my son has taught himself coding.”
After mastering HTML, “I started learning how to build a website,” she related. Her first project was as a volunteer, some 20 years ago — a site for her son’s school. She moved on to a local commission, then small businesses, and, beginning in 2002, Rutgers University.
“Initially, I used to do the whole website myself. Now, I almost always work as part of a team — better websites are usually a teamwork effort,” Leora explained. Her approach is to “design how the information can be presented. For example, a home page can have a variety of links, subtitles and what I call home stories, and the content publisher just edits a series of forms to update those stories.”
“I especially like building sites with Drupal, a content management system, because the system itself has so many components,” Leora said. “For Rutgers sites, we are moving toward having sites built in Drupal 8; those providing the content, faculty or staff, are given a form built specifically for their needs, and pages can have different views of similar information, organized in unique ways.”
She still does some site-building for small businesses, and “I often have to start at the most elementary level at explaining what is needed for a website. When I build a website for faculty members at Rutgers, they have often worked on other sites and have their own ideas on how to present the information. For the Highland Park Public Library, every few years I work with the director, and we tweak the design and the way the site is maintained.”
The client provides the content, Leora said. “With WordPress, a content management system, I am changing more complicated sites with new tools so clients can easily update pages on their own. Drupal 8 has more of these tools built in, but it is more costly to maintain, so I don’t recommend it to small businesses.”
“I often refer my clients to graphic designers, photographers or writers — there are a lot of talented people who can help build a sophisticated site,” she added.
Rutgers has a student population well over 50,000, and Leora said the university’s approach to its Web identity is somewhat decentralized. “There are basic guidelines but not much more than that,” she explained. Her work over the past 12 years includes a range of disciplines, including the Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and components of the Schools of Arts and Sciences and Engineering. She currently works for the Rutgers School of Communication and Information.
Over the years she has met the “challenge of a woman doing freelance work in what is still a male-dominated field,” Leora said. She also feels like a pioneer in the workplace. A little over 20 years ago, “I was working for this little company after my oldest child was born. I remember saying to them how much I could produce if I could work at home — at that time people in the industry weren’t yet working at home much.” Today she handles most of her projects from home.
Leora and her husband Aaron Epstein have three children.
A week after Dov Kram ’95 formally launched his new company in Israel, he already had been asked to submit bids on three projects. Still, he said, “The advice I would offer to anyone looking to move to Israel and start a company of their own is to be patient, confident in their skills and to remain determined in terms of the potential success of their new venture.”
Dov, an experienced building contractor, has launched Dov Kram Ltd. less than six months after making aliyah. The company, targeting the “Anglo” community in Israel, doesn’t just build. It also “allows for potential clients to find all the professionals they need to see their project from concept through completion, and beyond as it relates to both short and long term maintenance.”
“I realized as I assembled the components needed to open my company, that there was need for more than just a builder to service the high-end English-speaking market,” Dov said. “Having talked with Anglos who have built in Israel, it became clear that they have not been able to achieve the same level of detail or finish as what they had come to expect overseas. Others have chosen not to build, some for fear that the Israeli builders couldn’t relate to them and didn’t understand what they were looking for, due to things being lost in translation, and others that found the process of selecting and engaging all the various professionals needed to complete a project overwhelming.”
So he decided to expand his reach beyond construction. “I began building an internal network of professionals who are fluent English speakers and work in related services — real estate brokers, mortgage brokers, architects, interior designers, landscape architects, real estate attorneys, property/building managers and suppliers,” he said.
The move to Israel happened fast for Dov, his wife Jessica (Dollinger) Kram ’95, and their children. “As things with my career in Boston progressed I became more and more focused on my career goals with the company, in which I had become a partner,” he said. “While I liked the idea of moving to Israel it was never a big priority for me; it was something I thought we might do in retirement.”
Then in May 2015, “my father, z’l, passed away and everything changed. I found myself thinking about how short life is for all of us and what my priorities in life were. I spoke at length with Jess about this. A couple of months went by and we concluded that family was our number one priority and Israel was a close second. It was very obvious to both of us that we wanted to move to Israel to be closer to my two siblings, Toby ’98 and Tamar (Kram) Shafner ‘06 and their families and a very large extended family that we are blessed to have living here in Israel.”
Through an acquaintance of Toby’s, Dov met Avi Grumet, a builder whom Dov says “focuses on the minute details of the project, responds quickly to questions or concerns and takes immense pride in his work. He understood that teaming up with me would help him access the ‘Anglo’ market that he had very limited access to on his own.” They began to plan a potential working relationship.
“When it became clear that this was an opportunity for me to work in Israel and deliver an end product on par with the work I had been doing in Boston for so many years, the notion of making aliyah seemed not just like a possibility but an opportunity,” Dov said. “We essentially started packing that day.” They arrived in Israel on July 20, 2016, and now reside in Efrat.
Establishing a company in Israel “took a lot of effort, but the process itself was very fulfilling,” he said. “There were a lot of unknowns but my attitude of ‘expect the best but plan for the worst’ came in very handy, having designed a logo, built a website, printed business cards and brochures, registered the company with the proper authorities, engaged a lawyer and an accountant, opened a company bank account, got a company stamp, and more.”
“It can be confusing, at times, to navigate the system here where everything is geared towards fluent Hebrew speakers and where the processes are unfamiliar,” he observed. “Surround yourself with people you trust and keep your eye on the prize.”
“I don’t expect immediate success and I know that I will make mistakes along the way, but at the end of the day I have my priorities straight, so much of my immediate and extended family close by, a roof over my head and my feet firmly planted in the ground of Eretz Yisrael,” Dov said.
The New York Times in early January published a feature story on the popular and intense boys’ floor hockey competition in a league composed of Metro New York yeshivas and day schools.
Like many things, Boston was the proving ground for this sport — specifically, Maimonides School in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Some even wonder whether it was imported from Maimonides.
“I know that my Maimonides classmates who entered Yeshiva College in 1971 brought the game from Maimonides to YU,” recalled Abe Katz ’71. “I would argue that Maimonides may have been the first day school at which the sport was played.”
“We called it the MHL, the Maimonides Hockey League,” confirmed Jack Gottlieb ’69. “It involved the classes between 1968 and 1970, mostly boys.” The venue was an outdoor basketball court that was sacrificed in 1985 for the construction of Fox Gymnasium. “We used to ice over the basketball court and play in rubbers on our shoes,” said Rabbi Ed Goldstein ’71.
“I believe we were playing street hockey on the court well before the other schools were,” said Allan Goldstein ’69 (no relation). “In fact, I think I brought the first hockey stick to school while everybody was still using their feet.”
Although it was always intramural, veterans say floor hockey engendered the intensity and enthusiasm that the article describes.
“Our class had to wait for the ‘69 class to graduate before we could play on the basketball court,” said Rabbi Goldstein. “We made do with a space by the kindergarten near the back entrance to the school.”
Less than three years ago, Ben Diamond ’15 got his first taste of piloting. Now he has a bird’s-eye view of his career path.
A freshman at Bridgewater State University, Ben said he is enrolled in the college’s accelerated aviation program. “Incoming students are taught everything they need to know about aviation as soon as possible,” he said.
Upon completion of that program an aviation student has the option of going through what they call the Gateway Program, which “allows a student the opportunity to spend a year working as a flight instructor at Bridgewater — and then immediately join an airline that has paired with BSU to bring new pilots into the commercial environment.”
So far, he said, JetBlue and its partner Cape Air are paired with the university. “Within the coming months, companies like Delta and Trade Winds will be joining them. This means I will be able to spend three to four years as a pilot-in-training, a year working as a flight instructor, a couple of years at Cape Air flying locally, and finally joining JetBlue to fly internationally.”
“I first realized I wanted to become a pilot when, on my 16th birthday, my father took me for an introductory flight with Horizon Aviation, a small aviation training company operating out of the Norwood Memorial Airport,” Ben related. “We only flew around the Cape area for about an hour, but during that time I fell in love. It was an amazing experience.”
Last summer, Ben began pilot training. “We spent four hours flying and four hours learning on the ground, five times a week,” he described. “It was tough, but it was a lot of fun.”
“Now I spend up to three times a week flying around and working my way toward becoming a private pilot,” he continued. “A few weeks ago I flew solo for the first time. Recently my instructor and I flew out to Brainard Airport near Hartford, a 75-mile trip that took roughly an hour each way. And soon I will begin flying at night.”
He noted that he cannot legally fly paying passengers until he receives his commercial license — he hopes as soon as his junior year.
Ben observed that his pilot training has completely changed his perspective as an airplane passenger. “I understand things that the average passenger does not,” he pointed out. “Most of it is just random bits of knowledge. But when the airplane gets hit with turbulence, the guy next to me is practically tearing the cushion off his armrest, but I am not worried.”
“I also get very excited just looking out the window as the airplane taxis from the terminal all the way to the runway. It is the little things I have started to pick up on that really allow me to appreciate how complex everything is.”
Five Maimonides School graduates from the Class of 2014 are on active duty with the Israel Defense Forces.
“Everybody decided by themselves,” said Ariel Warren. “I didn’t know who else was in Israel until after I drafted (enlisted).” Ariel is no stranger to the landscape of Israel. He lived there with his family when he was in tenth grade, and his grandparents spend part of the year in a retirement community near Jerusalem.
Ariel said he joined because “I wanted to actually make an impact.” During his gap year at Mechnat Ye’ud, “I was set to go to Rutgers. But then I decided around Pesach time that I was going to enlist in the IDF through Garin Tsabar,” an IDF program that accommodates new lone soldiers. Ariel, who is an Eagle Scout, is training as a tank operator. Infantry was out because of his glasses, Ariel said; the assignment is “based on your physical profile.” Tanks are also considered one of the combat arms.
“In general, I’m happy with it,” Ariel said of his decision. He pointed out that the IDF experience “really helps religious and non-religious Israelis learn to depend on each other.” When off duty he lives with others in his garin class at Yeshivat Maaleh Gilboa.
As a student at Yeshivat Birkat Moshe in Ma’aleh Adumim, Doron Cheses has an 18-month military commitment through the Hesder system — yeshivot that require a military component. He enlisted in March, and after four months of basic training and three months of advanced training, was accepted into an infantry commander’s course (where he joined classmate David Solooki). “Once I finish the course in March, I will become a squad commander responsible for about 10 soldiers,” said Doron.
He noted that he originally intended to go to Yeshiva University and then make aliyah. “I’m really enjoying the army, and am very happy that I drafted,” Doron said. “I have learned navigation skills and how to shoot a rifle. I have spent a lot of time in the field, gotten into shape, and most importantly learned to work well as a team. In commander’s training I will learn leadership skills, learn in depth about many weapons, and exercise a lot.”
“Very quickly in yeshiva I understood that you didn’t need to be a big macho army guy in order to accomplish impressive achievements in the army,” he continued. “Every regular yeshiva bachur with a strong will and a desire to serve and protect his country can be very successful in the army. I very much wanted to live in Israel and to be fully integrated into the society, and I felt that being a combat soldier was a great way to integrate into the Israeli culture.”
“The army is definitely more mentally challenging than it is physically challenging, as we like to say ‘haKol baRosh’ (the real challenge is in your head).”
Ben Almekies is in advanced infantry training, serving in the Givati unit. He has learned to handle the shoulder-fired anti-armor missile known as Matador. “It was created by Israel, and it is meant for blowing holes in buildings without harming those inside,” he explained.
Ben began his active service last April in Machal, the platform for volunteers from the Diaspora, because “I wanted to do something for Israel, and I also wanted to see Israel in a more realistic way.” He said his year at Yeshivat Lev Hatorah “inspired me to do it.” Indeed, he was part of a mechina program that the yeshiva operates for students who want to enlist. “They not only helped us get into the army but also provide an apartment in Beit Shemesh, a place to stay” when off duty.
The army has introduced him to Israelis from most parts of society, said Ben, who participated in a special IDF Ulpan for the first three months to strengthen his Hebrew skills. “There are definitely days that are harder than others,” he acknowledged. But without the full range of experiences, “you’re not getting a real view of what this is.”
David Solooki is part of an exclusive IDF unit — a commando brigade — where he experiences long navigation exercises and parachute training as preparation for both open field and urban warfare. He entered the army in November 2015 because “I believe Israel is the home of the Jewish people and it is important to serve and give back to your nation.”
He emphasized that as a member of the IDF, he considers himself a representative of the Maimonides School community.
Training for this military specialty is unusually long — about 17 months. “Then we will do missions inside and outside of Israel,” he said. When off duty, David is based in an apartment for lone soldiers in Beit Shemesh.
David noted that their classmate Josh Rosenbaum is also in a special unit, training in counter-terrorism.
The technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has propelled the United States toward energy independence. But for many Americans, the environmental consequences are a cause for concern. Miriam Aczel ’08, a doctoral student at Imperial College in London, is undertaking research to help the United Kingdom learn from experiences in the United States.
“I am working in the Centre for Environmental Policy so my project really is about using good science to make strong policy recommendations,” Miriam explained. “The U.K. is likely going to start using techniques of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas. I am looking at the experience of the U.S. and trying to use that experience to identify strategies to make sure that if fracking is done in the U.K., risks to public and environmental health are minimized.”
Miriam, who earned an undergraduate degree at McGill and her master’s at Imperial, said “since Maimonides, I’ve been looking for ways to bring together my multiple passions: the compelling need for tikkun olam; languages and cultures; understanding how the world works; and the need to express complicated science concepts to those in charge of policy. I have found a way to bring all these passions together in my research subject.”
She expects her efforts to take more than three years, addressing issues ranging from comparing systems of laws and regulations to managing environmental and health protection. “What’s exciting to me is that my work is at the intersection of public policy and science: How do we ensure that the science is as good as possible and that policy is as effective as possible?” she said.
“I have wonderful support from the Centre, which is a close-knit community and very multidisciplinary, comprised of climate and energy scientists, barristers and lawyers, policy experts, and environmental and health experts,” Miriam continued. She added that she also has “great support through various places I’ve worked,” including geologists in the London Natural History Museum’s CT Core Research Lab and a London law firm.
Miriam acknowledged that “there’s so much research and data on the environment and fracking, but it often seems to get lost in translation to policy. One of the issues that I’m particularly passionate about is the role of ‘citizen science,’ where members of a community can volunteer to participate in a range of activities, like taking pictures of streams and water sources, and recording water and air quality through the use of pocket measuring devices that can be linked to smartphones.”
“Some of the biggest policy issues we’ve seen with fracking in the U.S. have been the lack of baseline data on water and air quality, and the lack of public engagement and participation in decision making, so implementing citizen science programs could help with tackling these problems.”
Every country has unique issues, Miriam commented. “The technology of hydraulic fracturing is banned in France, but there’s a massive loophole if they develop a way to break the rocks without using water. In the U.K., property laws are problematic for landowners — new laws mean there is no requirement to ask owners’ permission to drill when at least 500 meters under their land. In the U.S., while landowners can choose not to lease their land resources, there’s a big issue with lack of transparency.”
Miriam is spending several weeks as a visiting researcher at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, DC. “Lawyers here work on a range of issues, from environmental compliance and pollution, to air quality, citizen science, and fracking and property laws,” she said.
“Part of the problem is that after water or land is contaminated, gas firms can pay settlements to landowners but they have to sign non-disclosure agreements,” she explained. “Also, the chemicals used in drilling are ‘proprietary blends’ so companies can consider them trade secrets, which leaves doctors and vets in a situation where they’re trying to treat symptoms resulting from a mystery cocktail of chemicals. Another key issue in the U.S. is the patchwork of local, state, and federal regulations, and a lack of enforcement ‘teeth’ at all of these levels.
“Political instability and changes in government only make environmental regulations harder to enforce,” she added. “When I finished my master’s, my conclusion was that fracking in the U.K. would likely be better regulated because of the country’s position within the European Union and its strong regulatory framework. But by the time I started my Ph.D, they had Brexited.”
Eventually, “My interest in translating science into policy makes me want to work on policy in an international setting,” Miriam said. “As the environment is a field that doesn’t respect borders, there’s a great need to improve frameworks for collaboration. I’m also interested in environmental quality as a common need and a vector for political action and peacebuilding, and would like to work on using language and communication as a tool for encouraging and promoting collaborative environmental protection.”
Joey Blechner ’09 became interested in soccer around 10th grade — from playing a video game. Almost 10 years later, after high school and collegiate success in soccer, he has turned to coaching “because I had always loved to teach kids about the sport.”
Joey just completed his second season at the helm of the fledgling soccer program at Touro College’s Lander College for Men in Manhattan. “It took a while to get equipment and to get players to commit,” he reflected. “I had to convince the hierarchy that we have a good program. But we are growing fast and people are noticing. I hope to have at least a traveling club team by the spring of 2018.”
“I have players at all skill levels. I have had a few players that on day one couldn’t dribble a ball 10 feet or properly kick a ball,” he continued. “One idea that I stress is that no matter who you are, you always have to start with the basics, which is why I start each season by re-teaching fundamentals. Yes, some players progress better than others, but when everyone starts on the same level, team confidence rises since everyone helps each other out.”
That video game “got me into watching the sport and eventually I started following Manchester United, the team that had the most games broadcasted in the U.S.,” Joey recalled. “My first soccer idol was Edwin Van Der Sar, goalkeeper for Manchester United. He and I have similar body types, tall and lanky, so I could relate to how he played.” He said his field skills started to develop while playing informally with friends.
Joey’s first mentor was former Maimonides Coach Pedro Odon. “He showed me the proper technique.” Things didn’t start so well, however. “The summer before junior year, I trained almost every day. Tryouts came and went, and I didn’t make the team. I was really disappointed but I was determined to get better. “
“The first day of training, I showed up and asked Coach Odon if I could be a practice squad player, and he agreed. The day before the first game, he told me that I was on the team — and I was starting, though on defense.” As a senior, moving up after the starting goalie was hurt, Joey recorded three shutouts.
“That summer and into my year in Israel, all I focused on was playing goalie,” he recounted. “I was playing in summer leagues and against locals from near my yeshiva just so I could better my game. Towards the end of my year in Israel, the head coach of YU’s soccer team called me up and recruited me to play goalie for YU. I was so happy that I was getting a chance to play college soccer.”
For most of four varsity seasons, Joey was the starting goalkeeper for the YU Macs. “I worked tirelessly in the gym and in the classroom studying goalkeepers and players from around the world,” he said. “I finished my junior season as the statistical leader for saves per game in our conference and was ranked 12th in the country for NCAA Division 3 in that same category. That was truly my most amazing accomplishment.”
“My YU coach, Shua Pransky, took me under his wing and showed me the essentials of coaching,” Joey said. “Being a goalkeeper, I had to know each position on the field and how it worked. This helped with understanding how to set up trainings. So far it has worked out really well.”
“What I learned from my coach, which I pass on to my players, is that playing on a team and playing a sport do so much for you in the real world,” he testified. “Sports help motivate you, build self-confidence and maintain a healthy physical and mental body.”
Joey said actual coaching takes about four hours a week, “but I spend about 60 minutes every night going over practice drills and sending videos and notes to my players. I encourage them to watch as many professional games as they can.”
Joey is an associate community manager for WeWork in New York. The company purchases real estate space and transforms it into smaller offices and common areas. “Playing on a team helps your professional mindset. It prepares you for working with others and problem-solving by literally thinking on your feet. In a soccer game, everything can go wrong in a split second,” he said.
“It is hard doing this with a full-time job,” he added. “Eventually, if and when the program becomes a travel team, I will have to work out my job schedule to accommodate more practices and games.”
Joey said he also has learned that “as a coach, you have to balance maintaining a team and maintaining players. Maintaining a team requires working on chemistry, ball movement, set plays. Maintaining a player means not only working on the player’s skills but also working on confidence and self-determination. By having confidence in yourself and trust in your team, you can quickly turn your mistakes into success.”
Maimonides School’s new logo -- a dual arch that merges as it approaches the horizon -- is a rendition of the school’s unique combination of foundation and vision.
The logo was introduced at the start of the annual Yom Chesed community service event on Sunday, Dec. 4.
“We wanted to share this new logo with you first,” said Head of School Naty Katz to an assembly of Yom Chesed volunteers. “Today, a day when we all come together as one school to serve our community’s needs embodies so beautifully our values.”
Mr. Katz noted that as the school approaches its 80th anniversary, “the focus is not only about the richness of our heritage but also the promise of possibilities. That exciting future is symbolized by the school’s new logo.”
He acknowledged that arches are the architectural motif of the buildings on Saval Campus. “But they also represent the school’s foundation in both Judaic and general studies.”
That combination, he said, “evokes encountering the modern world and its dynamic educational challenges and rewards, while always rooted in the eternal truth of Torah.”
The new logo – the fourth in the school’s history – is gradually being incorporated on the website, publications and promotional material, and communications.
Racheli Berkovitz ’10, a graduate student in art history at the Hebrew University, is working as an assistant curator at The Umberto Nahon Museum of Italian Jewish Art.
The 33-year-old museum, located in downtown Jerusalem, collects, preserves and displays objects pertaining to Jewish life in Italy beginning with the Renaissance period, featuring original artistic objects and documentation from Italy’s Jewish communities.
As an assistant curator, Racheli helps research, plan and stage museum exhibitions. “Often that entails research into certain objects or explanation of broader subjects,” she said. “Right now we are working on a major exhibition opening on Sukkot to mark 500 years since the establishment of the Jewish ghetto in Venice. I’ve done a lot of reading and writing about the ghetto itself and related objects in our collection.”
She is assisting the chief curator with certain aspects of the exhibition design and preparing objects for display, as well as writing some of the texts for the walls and the catalog.
Racheli moved to Israel a year ago to begin her master’s program, and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in the field.
“Over the past few years I have done some volunteer work for the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem,” Racheli related. “About two years ago I was put in touch with the chief curator of the Italian Museum. Because of its smaller size, I am able to contribute more and am given more opportunities than I would in a larger institution.”
She added that since the Italian Museum deals specifically with Judaica and Jewish life, “it is the best place for me to learn about the field I am trying to enter.”
Racheli majored in art history at Brandeis, fulfilling a direction she considered even when applying to colleges.
“The Judaica piece of it entered the picture somewhere in my second year of college,” she recounted. “I was lucky enough to intern at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as they were developing their new Judaica collection. I had to read inscriptions, measure objects, study styles and look for hallmarks — real hands-on stuff.”
“It was probably at that time that I realized that paintings and drawings were not enough for me; I wanted to study objects, how they were used, what they say about a culture.”
“There’s often a lot to be said about famous figures and ‘high art,’ but the world of the laypeople and the objects that they used on a daily basis could use illumination,” Racheli continued. “One of the most exciting things is handling a piece and knowing that hundreds of hands held it before me, all tracing back to the first pair of hands that created it.”
She said part of her job “is simply going through the online object database and making sure that all of the information on each object is properly entered.”
“For example, if I’m logging a Kiddush cup, I ensure that the medium, technique, date, place and measurements are in order, and often I will write a short description of the object that could later be used as a wall label should the object ever be displayed.”
Racheli doesn’t have specific long-range plans beyond continuing her academic work. “I’m also hoping to continue in museum work and Judaica,” she said.
Meanwhile, she is living and working in a city that is “steeped in cultural events. There’s always something going on that is related to the arts, which is phenomenal.”
“Being in the humanities can sometimes be disheartening because many people see it as a dying field, since science and technology are where the money is these days,” Racheli acknowledged. “In Jerusalem, people still see the value in the arts even if they themselves work in an entirely different field. The intellectual curiosity and the energy here always give my work a boost and remind me that the work I do has value and meaning.”
Danny Leeder ’89 spent more than 14 years toiling in the financial services universe, both in New York City and North Carolina. He said he always felt something was missing — and he found it nine years ago in the “fantastic environment” of law enforcement.
Today Danny is the only Jewish member of the 500-officer police force in Durham, NC. He was promoted to sergeant on July 25.
“Sergeant is a coveted position in the department because you get to work with a lot of young officers,” Danny said. “You have a real opportunity to help mold the future of law enforcement. You have a chance to make a difference.”
“I have 11 people that I supervise – two corporals and nine patrol officers,” he continued. “I don’t sit behind a desk; I also go out and patrol the streets… The other night I stopped a car and was able to confiscate stolen narcotics from the driver.” His responsibilities cover the range of day-to-day police operations, from traffic control to drug investigations to emergency calls.
Danny recounted that “in 2007 I decided I needed to make a change — and this was the best change I could have made.” He acknowledged that when he joined the Durham force he was one of the oldest recruits in the police academy, “but I was in very good shape when I went in.”
Durham is a city of some 250,000, and Danny says the police department is understaffed. “It’s a tough battle; it’s a very busy city,” he said, including not only Duke University and the university hospital, but also “the same problems as most major cities, including drugs, violence, gangs and poverty. When I was a corporal I spent most of my time in the Criminal Investigation Division and I spent time in the homicide unit. I got some good experience because, unfortunately, Durham has its fair share of homicides.”
There’s a significant element of chesed in police work, Danny acknowledged. “Durham definitely has its impoverished areas, just like any major city, and on a daily basis we run into people who truly need help. It’s always a good feeling as a police officer to be able to help people in need. Obviously we don’t do it for the money, and we don’t do it for the glory.”
He noted that “growing up, my parents and grandparents instilled in me the importance of helping others.”
Danny acknowledged that there are feelings of “great frustration in law enforcement for how we are being portrayed. Based on statistically very few events, we are being portrayed in a very negative light. Part of my job is to motivate my officers — in spite of what is being said, and the obvious dangers — to do their job to the best of their ability, and to try to enjoy what they do.”
He added that “it’s easier for me; I switched careers. And I can definitely tell them you have to love what you do.”
Danny observed that over a nine-year police career in Durham, he has been the only Jew in the department. “I’ve dealt with a lot of people who never met a Jewish person before,” he said. “I had to basically show them that their stereotypes were really just that.”
“Food plays a big role,” he continued. “I bring in traditional foods for everyone. They have expectations on Chanukah and Pesach.” He also is a resource for cultural explanations. “A couple of years ago there was a call about a disturbance at a shul in Durham on Shabbat. Later I had to explain to the officers about the request not to respond with lights and sirens.”
Durham is part of North Carolina’s so-called Triangle, named for the major research universities in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh. The Jewish community in the region has been growing in recent years, Danny said, including students and retirees. Danny and his wife Tara and their four children reside in Apex, a suburb near Raleigh and Durham.
Evette Ronner ’14 never heard of Camp Kesem until last spring. Now she is founding director of her college’s branch of this week-long free summer camp experience for children whose parents are battling cancer.
“The national organization announced that it was looking for directors to start a Harvard chapter,” Evette related. “After learning about the mission, I instantly knew that I wanted to be the founder of this new chapter.”
Evette is a junior at Harvard majoring in human developmental and regenerative biology. “After college, I hope to go to medical school to fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor,” she said. “Because I love working with kids so much, I would love to sub-specialize in a pediatric field of medicine.”
“The Kesem mission combined two of my passions: helping children and conquering cancer,” she said. “I have been a camp counselor for the past four summers and absolutely love working with children, especially in a camp setting. I also am really passionate about overcoming illness. Kesem’s mission resonated with me so strongly because I lost my father to terminal brain cancer when I was only six years old, back in 2002.”
The Camp Kesem model is a one-week off-campus sleep-away camp experience sponsored by a college or university. The national office oversees 80 chapters in 38 states, providing training, support and leadership development to students who volunteer to create, manage and run the camps.
As founding director, Evette said, “my main responsibility is to ensure that we reach all of our goals to make the first year of camp a success. These goals include raising $30,000, choosing our campsite, selecting our counselors and campers, and finding volunteer nurses and mental health professionals to volunteer at camp.” The program is planned for a week in August, and the Harvard chapter is finalizing a venue.
“Our chapter at Harvard has worked with MIT and Brown University. Because Brown was a first-year camp last year, it was really amazing to see how devoted undergraduates can really come together and change lives for kids in just a year,” Evette said.
Last summer she attended a day of Brown’s camp program. “It was so wonderful to see how much Kesem meant to the children,” she said. “I observed their ‘empowerment ceremony,’ the one time during camp that we have a designated time for children (and counselors) to share their stories. I was so moved by the stories from these children, and was also impressed by their strength.”
MIT’s chapter has been around for over 10 years, with about 180 campers and 90 counselors, she continued. “The success at MIT is really inspiring to us at Harvard, and we hope to leave a Kesem legacy at Harvard after we graduate. I am working to spread the word on campus about Kesem’s mission and how other students can get involved.”
As she learned first-hand, Evette said, “cancer does not only affect the patient, but also their entire family, and children of parents with cancer suffer too. They often have to fill parental roles to compensate for their sick parent, and have to deal with a lot of anxiety and stress every day associated with their parent’s cancer.”
“Being part of the Maimonides community really taught me the value of being part of a tight-knit, supportive community,” Evette continued. “It provides a support system of people who care about each other, both during times of celebration and trouble. I hope to give the children and counselors a community that they can call home, similar to the Maimo family that many students and alumni call their home, both during and beyond their years at the school.”
“I remember childhood summer as being such a wonderful time to relax and have fun. I would love to be able to give back and provide these children with a fun, loving and supportive camp environment to help support them through and beyond their parent’s cancer,” Evette concluded.
The founding director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University will be the featured speaker at Maimonides School’s annual commemoration of the Kristallnacht pogrom on Sunday, Nov. 6, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Dr. Ilan (Selwyn) Troen, professor of Israel studies at Brandeis, will speak on “The Shoah in Israeli Politics and Culture.”
Prof. Troen attended Maimonides School in the 1950s and earned degrees from Brandeis and Hebrew College. He made aliyah in 1975 and joined the staff of Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva, serving as dean of humanities and social sciences and director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sde Boker.
The Kristallnacht commemorative lecture at Maimonides began more than 20 years ago, when longtime faculty member Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, zt”l, described his personal experiences. Rabbi Wohlgemuth’s shul in Bavaria was attached by rioters on Kristallnacht and he was interned at Dachau for several weeks.
“I remember Rabbi Wohlgemuth well,” Prof. Troen said. “I studied Gemara with him and would even see him at his apartment when I visited his son Shlomo who was a classmate and friend. It would be a source of great pleasure to try to honor him and his memory.”
The speaker, who also holds the Stoll Family Chair in Jewish Studies at Brandeis, is president of the Association for Israel Studies. He has contributed to the rapid development of this discipline through the Schusterman program, which has trained 270 academics from more than 200 universities worldwide and has contributed to the establishment of centers or programs for Israel Studies in the U.S., Canada, China, India, Hungary and Romania.
Prof. Troen is the author and editor of numerous books and articles in English and Hebrew on American, Jewish and Israeli history. He is also the founding editor of Israel Studies, an international journal to which more than 3,400 universities subscribe. In public engagements, Prof. Troen often focuses on disseminating an informed appreciation for Israel. He plays a leading role in the campaign to counter the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions).
More information is available by writing email@example.com or calling (617) 232-4452, ext. 405.
The call of the shofar that resonated through the Brener Building gymnasium on the afternoon of Sept. 30 did not signify the end of the month of Elul.
Rather, Brian Cohen, associated principal, Middle School, sounded the shofar to mark a beginning.
The ancient call to action culminated the breakout ceremony of Maimonides School’s first theme of the year: Arvut, translated as “mutual responsibility.”
“All 550 of our students will spend the year learning about the various circles of mutual responsibility, and teaching one another through art, music, drama, and text study,” said Naty Katz, head of school, in a letter to the community.” We believe the lessons inherent in this important theme will be experienced in a unique and profound way due to the multi-sensory nature of the project.”
As announced during the kickoff event, various aspects of arvut will be studied and then taught by a specific breakdown of grades. Students in the Early Childhood Center through Grade 2 will address the concept of responsibility in school -- to one another, and among students and teachers. The focus for Grades 3-5 will be responsibility for the local community.
Middle School students – Grades 6-8 – will learn and then teach about global responsibility, to all people and to the environment. The Upper School’s area of expertise will be the concept of kol Yisrael areyvim zeh la’zeh – responsibility for all Jews.
“Two major original pieces of art with the arvut theme will be created and mounted in the entryways to both of our school buildings,” Mr. Katz continued. “It is hard to describe the excitement we feel as we bring experiential Jewish learning to Maimo on a major scale.”
The arvut breakout began with classroom learning sessions and culminated with an unprecedented assembly of studdents in Grades 1-12 in the Brener Building gymnasium. Coordinating the introduction and all of the thematic activities this academic year is Benji Hain, Middle School director of student life, who leads experiential learning schoolwide.
Part of the breakout was a video, viewed by individual grades, about a substitute teacher who boasted to his students that he never needed anyone’s help. Then as part of a science experiment, he was transformed into a small household pet. After he was restored through his students’ intervention, the teacher professed a new appreciation of the concept of arvut.
The video’s conclusion was a live performance on the Brener gymnasium stage, featuring Reena Slovin, associate principal, Elementary School, with seven actors from Grades 1, 2 and 3. Senior Arthur Bloomfield produced a separate breakout video. Music and lyrics for a special arvut song were composed by Andrew Malkin, the Elementary School music teacher, and Mr. Hain.
“Torah study, original texts, music, art, and drama, led by our students in peer-to-peer learning – this dynamic and innovative program promises to provide a meaningful and memorable learning experience for our students,” Mr. Katz declared.
The Maimonides Early Childhood Center (ECC) begins its second year with enrollment at capacity, thanks to a successful launch, a growing roster of committed staff, and a brand new, specially-tailored classroom for two-year-olds.
“I’m excited to have new students, increased classroom space, and a new teacher,” said ECC Director Robin Meyerowitz, noting that this year enrollment across the three age levels is at full capacity with 56 students, “and we have a full waiting list.”
“We have already received an ECC application for the 2017-18 year!” Mrs. Meyerowitz noted.
She added that all of last year’s four-year-old students whose families remained in the Boston area have enrolled in Kindergarten at Maimonides.
Almost all ECC staff members have returned, and now the three- and four-year-old classes each have two lead teachers plus an assistant, Mrs. Meyerowitz said. “There are Hebrew speaking teachers in every room, and we have a staff member who speaks Russian as well,” she noted. Joining the faculty is Shayna (Schafer) Yarmush ’00.
Mrs. Meyerowitz said teacher Laura Bradford “has a real love for nature and science, and she is going to serve as our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) consultant. She will help the teachers integrate experiential science into their everyday learning, bringing science experiments and activities to all the classrooms and the playground.”
The director said she is looking forward to continued interaction with Elementary School students and teachers. Last school year this included biweekly reading with the fifth grade, project presentations by third graders, and davening and snack with Kindergarten students. There are several opportunities for interaction with Middle and Upper School students as well. The Kindergarten and ECC also came together to plant a garden in their shared playground space.
“We did a lot of activities with the Kindergarten,” Mrs. Meyerowitz said. “The Kindergarten teachers know all our kids.” Meira (Salzberg) Houben ’04 teaches the four-year-olds tefillot with the melodies they will use in Kindergarten.
The new classroom, built over the summer, will provide a spacious state-of-the-art facility for our youngest students. Mrs. Meyerowitz applauded Director of Operations Merv Alge for his creativity.
Seven years ago, Dan Senor and Saul Singer wrote Start-Up Nation, a book explaining why Israel is “a society that uniquely combines both innovative and entrepreneurial intensity.”
Nate Jaret ’07 is on the ground floor of that phenomenon. Since 2014 he has worked for OurCrowd, a wildly successful equity crowdfunding venture capital firm (Josh Wolff ’89 is senior vice president of global operations).
“We carefully select Israeli and global technology startups, invest our own capital, and open up these investment opportunities to our community of 14,000 accredited angel investors from around the world,” he explained. “This allows ordinary investors to invest alongside a professional venture capital (VC) investor, under the same VC-negotiated terms, but with much smaller minimum investment sizes.”
Nate came on board early in 2014 as a member of the personal team of Jon Medved, founder and CEO. For more than a year he has been the associate for OurCrowd First, a seed fund responsible for OurCrowd’s investments in the very youngest startups that are seeking funding.
He manages the pipeline of applicants for funding — about 100 submissions per month — and leads due diligence on the 1 percent that make it through. Nate also provides post-investment support to portfolio companies and manages communications and financial reporting to investors.
“Crowdfunding is an exploding new way of raising capital, but once you’re talking about actually investing in a company and receiving stock, you need to make sure that someone is on the other end of the website, conducting professional due diligence and making sure that everything checks out,” he asserted.
“Venture capital investments are extremely high-risk as is — investors can’t afford to invest in what sounds cool. OurCrowd, a startup itself, is working on just that, democratizing VC investment while protecting investors from unresearched opportunities and even fraud.”
Nate, who made aliyah in 2012 after graduating from Yeshiva University, has personal experience with some of the qualities that propel Israel into the startup stratosphere. (“Most of these have been spelled out in some form in Start-Up Nation,” he said.)
“There is a pervasive culture of hyper-independence in Israel,” he pointed out. “It starts with children playing outdoors, pretty much unsupervised, from the moment they’re old enough to cross the street alone. I remember this autonomy perhaps more distinctly than anything else from my year living in Israel in second grade.”
Also, mandatory military service “demands a certain type of responsibility and maturity quite foreign to most teens,” Nate observed. (During his active duty, he served in the IDF Spokesperson unit.) “The IDF is a deep-pocketed technological powerhouse, and today’s military service often demands advanced technical training — coding, communications, UAVs, electrical engineering — that sets the stage for very young individuals to have very grand entrepreneurial ambitions before they’ve even started university.”
The “delicate reality” of potential conflict and a spirit of optimism “has a direct impact on Israeli risk-tolerance, whereby the prospect of starting a company and it utterly failing is just not such a big deal,” Nate continued. “Close to 95 percent of all startups will not succeed — and in order to realize those few successes, you need to know how to warmly welcome the establishment of a lot of doomed startups.”
He also cited the impact of Israel’s huge immigrant population. Its “many perspectives and experiences — compounded by the local no-nonsense, ‘say-it-like-it-is’ corporate culture — makes group-think rare and quick problem-solving the norm.” The immigrant wave from the former Soviet Union in the early 90s “contained a highly trained technical workforce that has become a key part of the high tech community,” Nate added.
Nate acknowledged that “we are definitely seeing increased integration — of Hareidim, of Israeli-Arabs and also Palestinians, of Bedouin — into the high-tech sector, and that is only a good thing. It’s critical both for the short-term improvement of their material situations and the longer-term goal of making co-existence not a buzzword but an economic and eventually social reality.”
“It’s really, really hard to feel political animosity towards your day-to-day colleagues, and so this sort of bottom-up empowerment should be a top priority, totally irrespective of the political echelon and the regional agreements it may or may not advance,” he continued.
Nate completed his MBA in entrepreneurial studies and marketing management from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He and his wife Racheli and their son live in Efrat.
(The following report written this week by Menachem Wecker '01 for the Religious News Service details plans by fellow Maimonides graduate Dovid Green '00 to honor Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman)
(RNS) Dovid Green and his wife, Amy, are huge Aly Raisman fans. Orthodox Jews, they appreciate the pride the world-class gymnast takes in her Jewishness. Watching the Olympics, he joked that if Raisman continued to win at the games, they should commemorate her achievements with a distinctly Jewish flavor: by sponsoring a kiddush.
“What better way to pay tribute and show that the Jewish world is proud of her?” said Green, a clinical psychologist in New York. “So I posted on Facebook, half for fun and half to gauge interest, and it picked up super quick.”
Green, who has been trying to reach Raisman’s family both directly and through a publicist, says he’s likely already secured enough co-sponsors — he estimates some three or four dozen so far — to pay for two kiddushes. He thinks there’s already about $1,000 in the coffers, and he has just posted a “Kiddush for Aly!” fundraising page on generosity.com.
With the Raisman family’s blessing, Green hopes to sponsor the kiddush at a synagogue of its choosing. And his plan is to donate the excess to either a charity that Raisman names, or another appropriate organization, such as Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America or the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
Birkon Mesorat HaRav, a new hard-cover book underwritten by Sandra (Wintman) Welkes ’68 and Kenny Wintman ’74 in memory of their parents, Abe and Sylvia Wintman, z”l, has been published by the Orthodox Union and Koren Publishers.
The birkon features a running commentary of the thought of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, compiled by Maimonides parent Rabbi David Hellman of Young Israel of Brookline.
Mr. and Mrs. Wintman and their children for decades enjoyed a personal relationship with Rabbi Soloveitchik. Details are included in a special two-page introduction entitled, “The Wintman Family and the Rav: A Unique Relationship.” Mr. and Mrs. Wintman were dedicated Maimonides volunteers and were honored by the school in 1989.
Also in the birkon are also sections of halachic explanations and the Rav’s personal practices, compiled in consultation with those who knew the Rav firsthand; and essays on the Rav’s conceptual understanding of Birkat HaMazon, Zimmun and Kiddush.
The birkon may be purchased in Jewish book stores or through www.oupress.org.
The 20-year reunion of the Class of 1996 has been scheduled for Motza'ei Shabbat, November 26, at the school.
The class also celebrated its 10-year reunion on the Saturday night of Thanksgiving weekend in Brookline in 2006.
Several classmates also participate in or watch the annual "Turkey Bowl" touch football game on Thurssday morning.
Forty-five seniors entered the ranks of Maimonides School alumni Sunday morning as hundreds of family members, teachers and friends joined in the celebration of the school's 64th commencement.
The Maimonides tennis team will have to wait another day to attempt to reach the sectional finals.
The Division 3 South semifinals match between the M-Cats and Old Rochester Regional, scheduled for this afternoon, has been postponed until Thursday at 3 p.m. at the school in Mattapoisett. The decision was made before noon Wednesday because of forecasts of inclement weather.
The delay will be helpful, as seniors Jonathon Cohen, Jordan Cohen and Yedidyah Samuels will have time to transition from the senior trip, which concludes today. They actually joined their classmates late Monday in the Berkshires, following Maimonides' 3-2 win over the Hanover High School tennis team in the quarterfinals.
It is hoped the team will rerturn from the South Coast in time for Thursday evening's spring sports award recognition event in Saval Auditorium.
When Laurie and Brian Yablon ’83 moved to Portland, OR in 1997, “the only kosher meat you could buy was frozen Empire chicken. A group of us at shul formed a co-op and purchased meat directly from Rubashkin in Iowa. The minimum order was 2,000 pounds, so we would coordinate orders around the chagim and recruit customers.”
The Portland community has come a long way since then, and Brian has been a big part of it. He is serving his fourth year as Oregon’s AIPAC state chair.
Brian, an electrical engineer by training and now an engineering management consultant, moved to Portland with his family to take a position with Intel Corp. They arrived two days before Rosh Hashanah. “We went to the local Safeway to buy food, and after wandering around for a few minutes, I asked a stock boy where the kosher section was. He responded, ‘Kosher? Is that like low-fat?’ I figured we’d made the biggest mistake moving out here to the Wild West.” The Oregon AIPAC chapter was then defunct; it was not resurrected till 2004.
The Yablons’ three sons went to a community school, and “we augmented their Torah education through inde-pendent study with a local Chabad rabbi,” Brian said. “Things are completely different in Portland now. We have a kollel, the Ma’ayan Torah day school, an eruv, a full kosher deli at the Safeway. Our shul moved from a dying corner of town to the Jewish epicenter and experienced an unbelievable rejuvenation. Portland is now on the Orthodox map!”
Brian said he is the third generation of a family of ardent Zionists. “Perhaps the most impactful moment for me was when my dad left for Israel Motza’ei Yom Kippur in 1973 with a number of other Boston-area doctors to help out in the war.”
“I remember the rabbi announcing from the pulpit that Israel was under attack, and my father’s face mirroring his emotions as he moved from fear to anger to resolve,” he recounted. “That night, we got home, broke our fast, and then he just packed and left for Israel. My mom didn’t question his decision at all, and held down the fort with me and my sister. We didn’t hear from him for three weeks because he was assigned to a field hospital somewhere in the Sinai. That taught me what we do for Israel.”
Support for Israel at Maimonides “was constant and unshakable throughout my 12 years there, and the Maimonides community absolutely contributed to my Zionist identity and laid the foundation for my activism,” Brian recalled. “Zionism per se was not taught. But we absorbed and internalized it from all our teachers and in all our classes. I think this is because the horror of the Holocaust was still so proximate when we were young.”
AIPAC leadership “is a big commitment. We travel to DC at least three times each year to lobby our congressional delegation,” Brian related. “The small size of our community means we activists have personal relationships with every one of our members of Congress. They actually reach out to us for our perspectives on pro-Israel legislation, and for our thoughts on the ever-evolving situation there.”
Thus AIPAC leaders must be “well-informed and thoroughly conversant with the news, with the historical con-text, with the legislative landscape,” he continued. “It is also a tremendous feeling to be participating and advancing our agenda, defending the U.S.-Israel relationship and keeping Israel safe by personally engaging in the best traditions of our American democracy.”
“The US-Israel relationship is a very personal one for me,” Brian asserted. “My oldest son Ben made aliyah in 2013 and married his sweetheart, Miriam Clayman, whom he met at Bar Ilan on his gap year. They both now serve in the IDF.” Middle son Jonathan later enlisted in the US Marine Corps. “Promoting a strong U.S.-Israel alliance keeps all my kids safe!”
“Most of the guys in my Maimonides class have stayed quite close, despite the distance and the years,” Brian said, noting that at Ben’s wedding near Beit Shemesh in 2014, “I was privileged to share the simcha with classmates Eliezer Halbfinger, Judah Richman, Sholom Weglein and Steven Epstein. Then, just a few months later, we danced at Judah Kosowsky’s bar mitzvah with Josh, Jeremy Kahan, Elliot Mael and Danny Edelman.”
The Pacific Northwest’s reputation for being “progressive” is well-deserved, Brian said. However, “that embodies a constellation of viewpoints and attitudes that sadly — and falsely — includes viewing Israel as a regional aggressor that tramples on the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians. We see it everywhere, even in classrooms in the material they are taught in public school.”
Disputing these perceptions requires constant work, Brian said. “We reach out to new members all the time through messaging from the pulpit in shuls, by local speaker engagements, parlor meetings, and personal outreach to grow our movement, educate people and quash the lies and false narratives that so many good-hearted people are tragically inclined to believe. We are combatting an astonishing ignorance of history.”
Israel, Brian observed, “should be the darling of the Progressive Movement. Where else in the Middle East can the LGBT community exist free from persecution? Where else do women have the right to vote, drive cars, and work freely in any industry? Where else does the entire citizenry participate in a parliamentary democracy without regard to race or religion? Israel is an island of democratic values in a vast ocean of repression absent of human rights.”
The Maimonides boys' tennis program is only in its second year as an interscholastic sport sanctioned by the state athletic association.
But the M-Cats have already established themselves as among the best.
After defeating Hanover High School 3-2 at the Pine Manor College courts Monday afternoon, the team moves to the Division 3 South semifinals Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Old Rochester Regional, which is in Mattapoisett on Buzzards Bay. Maimonides, the third seed, has a record of 9-1. Old Rochester, seeded second, is 19-2.
The key to Maimonides' success in the first two rounds of the tournament has been the doubles play. Both first and second doubles are undefeated.
But it wasn't easy. Monday the unit of senior Yedidyah Samuels and junior Jake Kosowsky fell behind 5-0 before rallying to win an excruciating tie-breaker, 7-6. The second set was highly competitivbe as well, with Maimonides finally prevailing 6-4.
Meanwhile, the second doubles unit of junior Adam Greene and sophomore Josh Schoenberg were in a battle of their own. After a 6-3 opening set win, they were successful in their own 7-6 tie-breaker.
Senior Jordan Cohen dominated in second singles, 6-3-, 6-1, and then awaited the outcome of the doubles matches to see who would advance. Senior Jonathon Cohen (first singles) and junior Eitan Jeselsohn (third singles) played well in losing efforts against Hanover. They will be back opn the court Wednesday with the rest of the Cinderella Cats.
Senior Esti Solooki is the Maimonides School winner of the annual Rose Ruderman Scholar Award.
Mrs. Ruderman, z”l, “was a kind, compassionate person who always sought to improve the lives of her friends, family, and members of her community,” according to the scholarship criteria. The award exemplifies her values by recognizing “students who contribute to the Jewish community by reaching out and helping others.”
Award criteria include a commitment to helping the elderly; kindness and respect toward others; and efforts to achieve school and community improvement.
A highlight of Esti’s extracurricular activity was the Yachad Club, which she said “is about making friendships with people with whom you don’t normally interact at school. We all have our differences but we can always find common ground.” Her Project Shalom service commitment was at Hebrew Senior Life, and her senior independent study involves issues of inclusivity.
Esti will receive the prize alongside representatives of five other area Orthodox day schools in ceremonies Thursday afternoon, sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation and Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
Maimonides School has established a new award for student-athletes that recognizes the personal empathy and commitment to team spirit that were personified by Ezra Schwartz, zk"l.
The Ezra Schwartz Mentorship and Team Building Award will be presented to a deserving junior or senior varsity athlete who "exemplifies dedication to instructiing underclassmen and to building team uinity."
Ezra, a 2015 Maimonides graduate and a leader of the baseball team, was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel on Nov. 19, 2015.
The Schwartz family worked with the school to develop the award and “honor the kind of athlete that Maimonides is proud to have, one who goes out of his or her way to make new players feel welcome, who helps struggling players improve.”
The individual the Schwartz family and Maimonides want to recognize “seeks out those who need the most help or who feel the least included,” family members said. The award recognizes athletes who put the interests of their team and their teammates before their own," and who "take it upon themselves to teach others, to spend time making others better, to make others feel comfortable and included, and who help build team unity.”
Senior Avi Sanders, a member of the wrestling team, was the first recipient of this award at the recent winter sports recognition ceremonies.
The Maimonides Upper School Science Department has selected junior David Kotler as the first participant in a new, innovative science internship program.
The program, called Beyond Maimonides, was developed with the goal of providing students between junior and senior year with advanced experiences in research, medicine, and science- and technology-based businesses, said Brian Palm, Maimonides science director.
“It is our strong belief that a hands-on opportunity in a lab or field setting will best encourage students to continue in science-related careers,” Mr. Palm asserted.
David said he applied for the program because “my lifelong dream is to become a doctor, and I wanted to see first-hand the way science can truly make a difference.” He added that he looks forward to comparing experience in a research laboratory to that in the Upper School science lab.
An accomplished pianist and a member of the wrestling team, David is also one of the leaders of Music is Medicine, a student club that performs instrumental music in hospitals and residences for the elderly. He was chosen for the internship by the science faculty as the culmination of a competitive application process.
This summer, David will be working at the research laboratory of Dr. David Fisher at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Fisher, the father of a current Maimonides student and three alumni, heads the hospital’s Department of Dermatology and is also director of the MGH Cutaneous Biology Research Center.
“Part of the Department of Dermatology and MGH Cancer Center, the Fisher Lab is one of the nation’s leading melanoma cancer research laboratories,” Mr. Palm said. “David will have significant exposure to cutting-edge, novel research techniques applied to a range of ongoing projects within the lab.”
As a student intern, he also will be part of weekly lab meetings, helping him gain an understanding of how his work fits into larger, long-term research.
“When David returns for his senior year, we will be excited to see how these experiences shape his involvement and direct his leadership within our science classes,” Mr. Palm said.
Four Middle and Upper School students have advanced to the Chidon Ha-Tanach national finals.
And for the second consecutive year, one of them is a regional champion.
Grade 10 student Elad Jeselsohn’s score again was tops in the Greater Northeast Region, which includes New England and the Philadelphia-Washington corridor, south to Tennessee.
Also for the second year in a row, Dina Cohn, a junior, and Josh Schoenberg, a freshman, have qualified for the national exam, which is scheduled for Sunday morning, May 15, at Manhattan Day School in New York City. They will be joined by a high scorer in the chidon’s middle school division, Elan Traum.
The chidon, sponsored by the Jewish Agency, is the U.S. National Bible Contest, held in two divisions covering grades 6-11. Day school students take exams in Hebrew. There were three rounds of qualifying tests, held at Maimonides in December, February and early March.
Limudei kodesh teacher Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, a former U.S. chidon high school winner, has mentored contestants for several years. This year, he explained, the Books of Bamidbar, Shmuel Bet, Yeshayahu and Ezra were designated for the content of the contest.
Rabbi Jaffe’s chidon team has nine students, who “have answered challenging questions about the story, poetry, and details of each of the books,” he said.
The Maimonides School class of 2016 is scheduled to depart for Washington, DC Sunday to participate in the three-day Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
This is the second year in a row that the entire senior class has experienced what is billed as the largest pro-Israel gathering in the country, with some 18,000 delegates.
The students will be part of an assembly that includes speeches by presidential candidates and other luminaries, educational sessions and meetings with members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Maimonides remains the only school in the country to send its entire senior class to the conference.
Tuesday the seniors listened to two of the region’s top AIPAC leaders, who came to the school to explain the significance of AIPAC and the Policy Conference.
Long-time Regional Director Eric Giesser spoke of the failure of Jewish delegations to sway U.S. wartime practices during World War II, when even the bombing of rail lines to concentration camps could have saved thousands of lives.
The lesson the community learned from that experience is that Israel advocates must be involved with the political process and develop relationships with government leaders to be effective. AIPAC is the vehicle for that activism, he said.
Mr. Giesser emphasized that AIPAC promotes the “shared values and strategic interests” that make friendship with Israel a policy imperative for the U.S.
Larry Greenberg, a volunteer leader of the regional chapter, told the students that Israel “cannot survive without the support of American Jews and the United States.” AIPAC, he said, is the most effective delivery system for advocating “legislation that helps the U.S and Israel.”
“This will be an amazing opportunity,” he declared. “You will begin to understand that you do have a voice.”
Mr. Giesser provided a recent example to validate that assertion.
One year ago, he related, he was among a group of about 50 Policy Conference participants meeting with a representative in Congress. The topic was a proposed letter connected to the U.S. deal with Iran on nuclear issues, and the congressman seemed skeptical about AIPAC’s position.
“All of a sudden a Maimonides student walked into the room. Then another, and a few more,” Mr. Giesser related. “I could see the congressman’s eyes widen because of these high school students. Soon they doubled the number of people in the room, and I could see from the congressman’s body language that he was blown away.”
Maimonides School’s intrepid mock trial team has advanced to the statewide quarterfinals – the final eight schools remaining from the 132 that began the season.
The team is now preparing for Monday morning’s match at Worcester Superior Court. If Maimonides is successful, the semifinals trial will take place that afternoon. The finals are scheduled for March 29.
Sunday the Maimonides team – along with 31 other regional champions – experienced a new format developed by the Massachusetts Bar Association, sponsor of mock trial competition. For the first time, playoffs were consolidated at a central location – Clark University in Worcester.
The intent was to broaden the geographic range of playoff opponents, and indeed the day featured two new opponents for Maimonides.
In the morning the defense contingent squared off against a team from the Rhode Island border, Bellingham High School. That round was successful, so the team was paired with another of the surviving schools, St. John’s Preparatory of Danvers. This time the Maimonides plaintiff side got the assignment, and the outcome propelled Maimonides into the so-called Elite Eight.
Amy Rosen, director of student life and mock trial attorney coach who has been involved with the program for more than a decade, said the new format provided the elimination rounds with a sense of excitement and importance. Well over 400 students, all dressed for courtroom appearances, had “a real sense of a tournament,” she said.
Members of the team are seniors Charlotte Guedalia, Aviva Rosen, Adara Rosenbaum and Daniel Smits; juniors Lauren Koralnik, Aleeza Schoenberg and Hadassah Stanhill; sophomores Eliana Abraham, Racheli Cohen, Ezra Feder, Shirah Hassan, Yair Kosowsky-Sachs, Yardaena Portman and Natanya Rosen; and freshmen Abigail Fischer, Ayelet Fried, Joey Guedalia, Rafi Kaplan, Kinneret Rosen, Joshua Schoenberg, Michael Schwartz and Daphna Spira.
Serving as Maimonides mock trial teacher-coach is Gina Sauceda of the Upper School faculty. Maimonides parent Jay Rosenbaum is the volunteer assistant attorney coach.
Post-sesason state tournament play ended with losses by the Maimonides varsity basketball teams this week, but they displayed abundant drive, hustle and pride from the opening whistle until the final horn.
Tuesday the Lady M-Cats fell behind St. Clement High School by 15 at the half, before battling back to within two in the fourth quarter. The effort fell just short, and the final score was 52-46. Coach Garvey Salomon said the comeback featured "a coming-of-age performance by Daniella Bessler."
Thursday night Lowell Catholic unleased a blizzard of successful long-range baskets to surge to a 34-19 first-quarter lead that proved to be insurmountable. The halftime score was 62-42, and the two teams played virtually even over the second half -- the final score was 112-90, an incredible 202 combined points in a 32-minute high school game.
Leading scorers for Coach Ed Gelb's M-Cats were seniors Yoni Gelb and Ethan Turk with 23 apiece. The team next travels to New York City for Yeshiva University's Red Sarachek Tournament, which opens Thursday afternoon.
Although the M-Cats were seeded second in the sectionals, based on their 12-2 records, the capacity of the Fox Gymnasium is below the MIAA standard for post-season play. So the game will be played at Waltham High School.
Two seniors returned to Brookline this week with “best delegate” honors earned at Yeshiva University’s annual National Model United Nations in Stamford, CT.
Noah Avigan of Sharon, representing Germany in the Model UN format, and Dan Smits of Newton, representing Ukraine, were part of an 11-student delegation spanning the four Upper School grades.
Two juniors, Charlie Kramer and Sarah Wertheimer, both of Brookline, received honorable mention in the delegate rankings. There were more than over 400 students competing for 11 best delegate awards and 22 honorable mentions.
YUNMUN is a student-run simulation of the workings of the real United Nations. Participants play the roles of delegates from UN member nations, and research the appropriate positions to represent.
The Maimonides team was accompanied for the 17th year by Dr. Jerald Halpern of the Upper School faculty. “As always, our students were model delegates,” Dr. Halpern said. “Special recognition should go to the excellent leadership of Noah and Ayelet Ehrenkranz.”
Other participants were juniors Ariana Gewurz, Akiva Jacobs, Jake Kosowsky and, Zev Traum, sophomore Ezra Feder and freshman Ayelet Fried.
We are pleased to announce that Maimonides is a recipient of a generous grant from the newly launched Morton E. Ruderman Inclusion Scholarship Fund.
A partnership between CJP, the Ruderman Family Foundation and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, this new Fund will help to defray the cost of both school-based and ancillary services for students with disabilities and special needs, particularly those who require financial aid. The goal of the Fund is to attract new families who are prevented from sending their children with disabilities and special needs to Boston-area Jewish day schools due to affordability challenges, as well as to support existing families by sustaining and enhancing current financial aid awards. The Fund honors the legacy of Morton E Ruderman, and all that he did to inspire and support our community in creating more inclusive schools for all Jewish children.
The commitment to Israel exemplified by Ezra Schwartz, zk”l, and the sacred learning that he inspired are helping keep the world alive.
That teaching was offered Monday morning by Rabbi David Saltzman, Elementary School principal, to mark the close of shloshim, the 30-day halachic mourning period in memory of Ezra ’15, who was murdered in Israel by a terrorist on Nov. 19.
More than 300 Middle and Upper School students and teachers convened in the Brener Building for a siyum, the ceremony concluding a community-wide Tanakh study in Ezra’s memory. The event also included raising the flag on Saval Campus to full staff.
Rabbi Saltzman referred to a verse from the Tocheicha -- curses enumerated in the Book of Devarim -- that predicts difficult times and despair. When faced with such a prognosis, Rabbi Saltzman explained, Rashi taught that the antidotes are Kiddush Hashem and learning Torah every day.
Ezra was killed in Israel only because he was a Jew, thus sanctifying G-d’s name, Rabbi Saltzman said, and his goal to study the entire Tanakh has inspired thousands of people all over the world to learn daily.
Ezra’s mother Ruth Schwartz also spoke during the siyum. “We can learn many things from Ezra about friendship,” she told the students. “He truly wanted the people around him to enjoy life.” She added, “Be good to each other – that will honor Ezra.”
Mrs. Schwartz shared letters from a preschool teacher who worked with Ezra during his senior year community service project, as well as from his pediatrician. Siblings Hillel Schwartz, an eighth grader; Elon, in sixth grade; and Mollie, Class of 2014, each read excerpts from consolation letters from summer campers Ezra supervised, as well as some of his own writing.
The senior class and other Upper School students also attended a national siyum mishnayot in the shul later in the morning. The proceedings were projected onto a screen, as students and teachers in more than 40 North American day schools were linked electronically. The siyum was coordinated through the Yeshiva University Institute for University-School Partnership.
There were several special presentations, as well as learning from students in six schools covering three time zones. Rabbi Dov Huff, Middle and Upper School interim Judaic studies principal, chanted the Kel Maleh memorial prayer. Mrs. Schwartz also spoke briefly. “The outpouring of love has been extremely heartwarming and comforting,” she said. “We hope to keep his memory alive through acts of kindness and good deeds.”
One of the top Modern Orthodox professional leaders told Maimonides School seniors Tuesday that they have an opportunity to change Jewish history by reaching out to their unaffiliated peers.
Rabbi Steven Weil, the OU's senior managing director, said the strength of Orthodoxy in the U.S. belies alarming broader trends in the larger Jewish community. "This is the greatest diaspora we had -- and at the same time we are nearly destroying ourselves," he declared.
The 50-year-old speaker said his generation realized important goals in building Jewish and informal education, but lost sight of the bigger picture. "We focused on ourselves -- and we became irrelevant to the rest of the Jewish people," he said. "Shame on us."
Young people can make a difference in many ways, Rabbi Weil said. He encouraged the seniors to consider inviting unaffiliated collegiate acquaintances to Friday night dinners and Purim seudot. Also effective are promotion of Birthright trips and gifts of Judaica or basic books by authors like Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, he continued.
Also important, he said, is awareness that "you represent Judaism to them." That means behavior that is warm, generous and honest. "We want them to have the love, warmth and depth that we have," Rabbi Weil said.
He emphasized that the students would achieve better results by stimulating interest rather than "preaching."
Rabbi Weil cited data from the 2013 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews to fortify his statements. He mentioned a few "less publicized" conclusions:
-- Twenty-nine percent of Orthodox Jews grew up in other denominations or Judaically unaffiliated.
-- The Orthodox birth rate in three demographic microsectors is significantly greater than the overall Jewish rate. "We have to thank the chasidim for that," he commented.
-- In a 1960 issue of Look magazine, a sociologist predicted that Orthodox Judaism would be extinct in America by 2020. But the only thing extinct is the magazine.
The survey also noted an 83 percent retention rate in the younger cohort of Orthodoxy. "It portends well for the community," Rabbi Weil said.
Rabbi Weil stepped down as the OU's executive vice president last spring and now holds a senior position in institutional advancement and community engagement. At Maimonides he also met with faculty and the 11th grade, and was the featured speaker at an evening event for donors.
We are pleased to announce that Maimonides School is a recipient of a generous grant from the newly launched Morton E. Ruderman Inclusion Scholarship Fund.
A partnership between CJP the Ruderman Family Foundation and Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, this new Fund will help to defray the cost of both school-based and ancillary services for students with disabilities and special needs, particularly those who require financial aid. The goal of the Fund is to attract new families who are prevented from sending their children with disabilities and special needs to Boston-area Jewish day schools due to affordability challenges, as well as to support existing families by sustaining and enhancing current financial aid awards. The Fund honors the legacy of Morton E. Ruderman, and all that he did to inspire and support our community in creating more inclusive schools for all Jewish children.
The Maimonides School family is profoundly saddened by the unexpected passing of Dr. Bernard Kosowsky, z"l, former chair of the Board of Directors, longtime volunteer leader and benefactor, father of four graduates, and grandfather of six graduates and three current students.
Dr. Kosowsky, with his wife Joyce, helped direct, sustain and strengthen the course and character of Maimonides School for two generations. He joined the Board in the mid-1970s, and in 1978 began 12 years as chair of the school's Management Committee, which was responsible for the planning and oversight of all non-academic activity, including facilities, finance and communications.
He was named Board chair in 1988 after the passing of Maurice H. Saval, z"l, and served in that capacity for almost 20 years, a period of dramatic growth and achievement for the school, including the addition of the Leonard Brener Elementary Building.
Dr. Kosowsky was invested in all aspects of the school's operations, both day-to-day and long-term, and raised millions of dollars for operations and endowment. He and Mrs. Kosowsky were honored by the school in January 1992.
In his annual campaign message to the community that year, Dr. Kosowsky stated, "I repeatedly am impressed by our school's continuing strength amid changing times. That strength, of course, is founded on the immutable teachings of our tradition. Our school also benefits from the dynamic vision and involvement of people -- dedicated educational leaders, creative teachers, talented and devoted parents, friends and volunteers."
Dr. Kosowsky was also active in the greater Jewish community, including several years as an officer of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Mrs. Joyce Kosowsky, and their children Dr. Jeffrey '81, Dr. Joshua '83, Dr. Jennifer Michaelson '85, and Daniel '88. Their grandchildren include Michael '09, Sam Michaelson '10, Tamar '11, Jonathan Michaelson '12, Avigail '15, Ilana Michaelson '15, and current or past students Harry, Jake, Sarah, and Judah.
The hesped took place Thursday night.
It is with a broken heart that we share with you the very sad news that Ezra Schwartz, z"l, a Maimonides School graduate of the Class of 2015, was murdered in a terrorist attack in Israel earlier today. Ezra was spending his gap year studying in Israel. Today we are all part of the Maimonides School family and we suffered an unbearable loss. We offer our deepest condolences to Ezra's family, classmates and friends. May the Schwartz family and the Maimonides School family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Mr. Bert Katz, one of the founding members of the Maimonides Kehillah, is the featured speaker at the Annual Maimonides commemoration of Kristallnacht, Sundayevening, Nov. 8, starting at 7:30 at the school's S. Joseph Solomont Synagogue. Mr. Katz, father of three graduates and grandfather of three more, is a longtime member of the Brookline community with a fascinating story of escape from the horrors of Europe. At age eight he was expelled from his public school in Germany a few days after Kristallnacht, which took place on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, and is often considered the event that launched the Shoah. Less than two years later, Mr. Katz and his family were on their way east, escaping Germany via Siberia, China Japan and California for ultimate resettlement in Ecuador. The Maimonides observance began more than 20 years ago when teacher Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, z"l, recounted his personal experiences. Rabbi Wohlgemuth's shul in Germany was damaged by rioters and he was interned at Dachau for several months. Mr. Katz joins a roster of distinguished speakers who have helped our school community mark the Kristallnacht anniversary with memory and dignity. One can't help but consider how little time remains before we will no longer be hearing first-hand accounts of Jewish life in Europe before and during World War II. We hope you will join us for this special opportunity.
A 1972 Maimonides School graduate who now works with the Israel Defense Forces on its program of “ethical combat workshops” will speak at the school about the crisis in Israel on Monday evening, Oct. 26.
Yitzhak Sokoloff, who grew up in Sharon, will address "The Challenges of Being an Ethical People in an Immoral World." The free lecture begins at 7:30 pm. in S. Joseph Solomont Synagogue.
Mr. Sokoloff initiated a unique educational program for soldiers, and now works in conjunction with the IDF Educational Corps and Beit Morasha, the Jerusalem research institute, on "ethical combat workshops” designed for dealing with challenging combat situations.
A combat veteran of the IDF Golani Brigade, Mr. Sokoloff graduated from Columbia University and taught political science and Jewish philosophy at Hebrew University. He is the founder and president of Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel.
Maimonides School sophomore Elad Jeselsohn has completed three years of independently learning the entire Mishnah, the cornerstone of Jewish law.
Friday morning, Oct. 9, Elad celebrated the accomplishment with the Middle and Upper School student body in S. Joseph Solomont Synagogue.
Immediately following tefillot, he was introduced by Rabbi Dov Huff, interim Middle and Upper School Judaic studies principal, who said Elad’s undertaking was “really amazing.”
Elad delivered a dvar Torah that referenced the 19th century Polish scholar known as the Chofetz Chaim, who taught to “focus on what you are learning right now.” That will deter becoming discouraged over a long-term commitment and help ensure success, Elad said.
He also conducted a siyum, formally marking the completion of his learning. Students and teachers applauded, and Elad and his friends danced around the bimah in celebration. Tenth graders later held their own reception for their classmate Elad.
In an interview, Elad said he was inspired by earlier experiences – studying Pirkei Avot as a sixth grader with his father, and learning parts of Berachot during the senior project of Yoni Nouriel ’12 a year later. “I decided to finish Berachot by myself, and then I realized that I could do the rest of Mishnah. It would just take time,” he stated.
Rabbi Huff told the students that he hopes they internalize Elad’s message that Torah is accessible.
Elad said it took about three years, mostly at the rate of one perek per day. The experience “made me more knowledgeable about everything concerning halakha,” he said, and opened the door to learning Gemora. He added, “It made me a better person.”
Elad, son of Joel and Dr. Rinath Jeselsohn, is the defending Greater Northeast Region champion of Chidon HaTanakh, and also plays basketball. When asked how his friends reacted to his ambitious learning challenge, he replied, “I don’t think many people knew about it.”
The 79th academic year at Maimonides School is underway, and one highlight is the quadrupling of three-generation families at the school – from one to four. The third-generation students, through alumni parents and grandparents, bridge decades of history, to the school’s formative years.
“As our son starts Kindergarten I am both excited and adjusting to a range of new emotions. He is the third generation of our family to attend Maimonides,” said Elka Tovah (Menkes) Davidoff, a 1988 graduate.
“I have been looking forward to this moment since before he was born, and he has been counting down the days since he was old enough to talk. He proudly told anyone who asked this summer that he would be starting at Maimonides in the fall. ("Not next year! In the fall!").”
Elka Tovah said she sees a parallel between her personal transition and the school’s.
“Somehow my perspective keeps shifting. He seems to be so mature compared to the baby he was a few years ago. He has already learned so much, and can do so many things. But he also seems so small compared to the young man he will be by the time he graduates. That day seems so distant now, but all my friends with older children keep telling me that the years will fly by, and ‘he'll be graduating before you know it.’ "
“In a way the school is going through a similar transition,” she continued. “My mom (Judy Weiner Menkes ’63) was one of nine students in her graduating class, the first class to attend school on the new Brookline campus. When I graduated the gym and library were newly built, and the school was celebrating its 50th anniversary. So much has changed since then. Now there is a separate building for the Elementary School, and the teachers talk about ‘learning styles’ and ‘differentiated instruction.’ The range of extracurricular activities available is dazzling. And the use of technology in the classrooms is amazing to those of us who remember when a self-correcting typewriter was the latest thing.”
Elka Tovah said she is happy “that our son will be able to attend both the school my mother and I went to, and a modern school using the latest in educational best practices -- all at the same time. I want him to learn to honor and cherish our traditions while also learning the skills he will need to succeed in the future. And I'm glad all of that can be found at Maimonides.”
He and his wife Elisha have four children, the oldest two in the Elementary School. They reside in Sharon, where Rabbi Huff grew up.
The 63rd graduating class of Maimonides School celebrated with more than 450 parents, relatives, teachers and friends Sunday morning at commencement exercises in Judge J. John Fox Athletic Center.
Forty-four members of the Class of 2015 accepted diplomas with enthusiasm. Among those applauding were members of the Class of 1965, who led the processional as a highlight of their 50-year reunion.
David Schoenberg, class valedictorian, referred to the current weekly Torah portion as well as the most recent one in his remarks, which were delivered in Hebrew.
Noting that advice from Korach and from the 12 spies had disastrous consequences, David’s translation said, “It is always appropriate to listen to advice. The problem only lies when you follow your heart or your eyes in doing so, instead of your mind.”
“We must use our intellectual capabilities to sift through the emotion, sift through the rhetoric, and sift through other people’s and our own goals,” the translation continued. “There are many ways for advice to be faulty, but there are also many ways for someone else’s opinion to help us. Only if we carefully investigate, weighing risks and comparing advice, can we be sure to find the best path.”
“We are now utterly responsible for our own decisions. We must be very careful to sift through all the advice we are given: not to follow it blindly, but also not to throw it away blindly. It is easy to fall into either trap — believing that what we think is correct must be right, or thinking that someone who is older or more experienced must be right.”
Each member of the class not only has something valuable to receive but also has something valuable to add, he told his classmates. There is “much to learn from people who are older or wiser, and from those younger or less experienced. If you listen judiciously, everyone has so much to teach you.”
In her English address, Avital Fried, the second ranked senior academically, declared that “what we should be celebrating here today is the journey we’ve taken together at Maimonides, not the destination of graduation. On our Maimonides journey, we learned a lot; we built a community; and we came away with many great memories.”
“We built a community,” she continued. “As everyone knows, we spend a lot of time at school. Sometimes we spend even more time here than we do at home. So we made ourselves a home away from home…. We studied together, procrastinated together, and laughed together. We went on our journey together.”
Avital thanked teachers and her classmates for “memories from our years together,” including the AIPAC Policy Conference in March. The Maimonides Class of 2015 was the first from any school to participate in the conference as a unit.
“Our high school journey is about to end. Soon we are going to head out into the world and travel on many different journeys to a variety of destinations. But we will always have this journey, our first, as a foundation for many more journeys to come,” Avital said.
Four seniors – Shifra Berg, Barak Durani, Abigail Kosowsky and Hannah Stanhill – presented excerpts from the writings of Maimonides, continuing a graduation honor long conferred on those with exceptional scholastic achievement.
Scott Mattoon, Middle and Upper School general studies principal, delivered the opening address.
“For those of you who find your paths at university, know that while you always have a sense of the person you are becoming down your path, bear in mind that – just as at Maimo -- your professors and mentors can see in you what you cannot… Allow them to push you to become people you did not think you could become.
“A teacher can know a discipline as deeply as anyone in the world, but if the teacher and you are not mutually invested, you as a student may learn a lot of material and skill, but you will not be inspired or curious or feel the relevance of what you know, and that knowledge and skill, as a result, will not stick over time,” he continued
“But through all of your experiences with professors, mentors, and others in your young adult lives, you – most crucially of all -- you also need to lean on yourselves… to remind yourselves of the excellence within you… not perfection, but the goodness and the desire for progress in yourselves.”
Mr. Mattoon’s Judaic studies counterpart, Rabbi Mordechai Soskil, awarded the diplomas, along with Naty Katz ‘73, head of school. They were joined on the dais by Judy Boroschek, who retired as general studies principal in 2014, and Rabbi Dov Huff, assistant principal, who offered a closing tribute.
“You are all ready to become leaders in your own ways,” Rabbi Huff charged the seniors. “I have seen each of you in moments of leadership, many different forms, all crucial. I have seen you take a strong, loud stance on an issue and inspire others to follow. I have seen you lead quietly behind the scenes. I have seen you lead by being the first or even only one to step up when needed. I have seen you lead by always saying thank you after a class, and by always greeting people with a smile. In all these ways and more you are leaders. And I am proud of you.”
Dr. Steven Spear opened the proceedings on behalf of the Board of Directors. “As parents here at graduation, we celebrate the years our kids have successfully traversed here at Maimonides,” Dr. Spear said. “But it is more than celebrating what they have done… we’ve prepared them for writing their own chapters successfully too.”
Davey Schoenberg, son of Louis and Susan Schoenberg, and Avital Fried, daughter of Prof. Jesse and Naomi Fried, have been honored as the student speakers highlighting Class of 2015 commencement ceremonies on Sunday morning, June 14 in Judge J. John Fox Gymnasium.
As the senior with the highest grade-point average, Davey will deliver the Hebrew valedictory. Avital will present the English address as the student ranked second academically.
Shifra Berg, Barak Durani, Abigail Kosowsky and Hannah Stanhill.are also being honored for academic performance. Each will read excerpts from the works of Maimonides, the 12th century scholar, physician and commentator for whom the school is named.
Forty-four seniors will join the ranks of more than 1,900 alumni on graduation day.
“V’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha. If we are in love with Judaism and Hashem, we should share it with others,” Rabbi Elly Krimsky ’86 asserted. “I believe the Vilna Gaon said something similar. Or, to quote a fellow Maimonides graduate and my NCSY regional director, Rebbitzen Peggy Weiss, a”h, ‘Don’t just keep the faith: Pass it around.’”
Alla Konnikov Mashensky ’92 has been a resident of London since 1998. She reports that in recent months, things have changed for the Jewish community.
“Particularly since the summer of 2014 during the Israel-Gaza conflict, the atmosphere in London has changed dramatically,” Alla said. “There has been an increase in anti-Semitic actual and perceived attacks. We, as a Jewish community, have become more vigilant, at times apprehensive and at times alarmed.”
Grade 9 student Elad Jeselsohn is champion of the Greater Northeast Region of the national Chidon HaTanach, thanks to his near-perfect performance on the most recent preliminary examination.
Elad answered 95 percent of the questions correctly, and has qualified for the national Chidon finals along with three other high-scoring fellow students: sophomores Dina Cohn and Eitan Jeselsohn and eighth grader Joshua Schoenberg, who is taking the test at the middle school level. Greater Northeast Region includes schools in New England, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
This year's Bible Contest requires students to master the books of Shemot, Shmuel Alef, Trei Asar and Esther, said Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, Upper School limudie kodesh teacher who serves as coach of the Chidon team.
More than a dozen Maimonides students began the contest in November. Two qualifying tests preceded the finals, which will take place Sunday, May 3, at Manhattan Day School. The top scorer on each exam in New York wins the opportunity to represent the U.S. in next year’s international contest in Jerusalem, which is nationally televised in Israel on Yom Ha’atzmaut.
Several Maimonides students have won the U.S. Chidon, most recently Alexander Kahan ’13 and Menachem Schindler ’11. Rabbi Jaffe also was a national champion as a high school student.
The Maimonides mock trial team won’t be competing in the “Sweet 16” state tournament this year.
But the elimination couldn’t have been closer – and couldn’t have been against a tougher opponent.
Maimonides lost by a single point to two-time defending state champion Winsor School Monday in the second tie-breaking trial following an undefeated three-trial preliminary round.
The Maimonides team was a giant-killer this campaign, with consecutive wins over Boston Latin School, Boston College High School and Brookline High School. Winsor School, however, had just enough of an edge to prevail on Monday afternoon.
Maimonides, the 2009 mock trial state champion, is a perennial competitor for top state honors. The team hasn’t lost a preliminary round trial in four years. However, this season Maimonides found itself in a realigned division featuring other top programs, which resulted in a three-way tie after the preliminary round. By random choice, Maimonides and Brookline squared off last week and Winsor awaited the survivor.
Each team prepares prosecution and defense, and in the tie-breaking rounds the position isn’t known until a pre-trial coin toss. “It is an incredibly demanding position to be put in, and yet each time, every member of the team performs in a manner that is a credit to the school,” said Gina Sauceda, faculty coach.
Co-captains of the 2015 team are Avital Fried and Hannah Stanhill. Other seniors who have completed their mock trial careers are Debbie Baskir, Austin Edelman, Jacob Fine, Joey Offen and Davey Schoenberg. The long-time attorney coach is Amy Rosen of the Student Life Team.
The Maimonides Class of 2015 and nine teachers and administrators have returned from the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, energized and inspired by the three-day event.
This is the first time an entire high school senior class has participated in the conference, a reflection of Maimonides' everlasting bond with the State of Israel.
The Policy Conference is billed by AIPAC as the largest annual gathering of Jews in North America. The Maimonides contingent was among some 16,000 participants.
Naty Katz, Head of School, joined the seniors and told them that Maimonides hopes the conference helps prepare them for their college experience. He added that he hopes the seniors will share college experiences with the school so Maimonides can further improve Israel education.
Maimonides School is among several Boston-area Jewish day schools that will benefit from a challenge grant designed to support middle-income day school affordability through increased endowment.
The grant, from George and Liz Krupp, totals $11.5 million and will be awarded to the participating schools in proportion to the amount raised for new directed endowment gifts (both outright gifts and legacy gifts). The grant was announced earlier this month by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
We are grateful for this amazing opportunity to help fund our middle-income affordability initiatives that support our families and help secure the future of our school and our community. You can read more about this exciting and generous initiative in this linked article: http://www.jta.org/2015/01/26/news-opinion/united-states/boston-jewish-day-schools-receive-11-million-challenge-grant.
Maimonides School will host more than 100 student-athletes and coaches from high schools in five states and two countries in the annual Invitational Boys' and Girls’ Basketball Tournament and Shabbaton, planned for January 22-25 in Brookline.
The Maimonides M-Cats and teams from Columbus, Ohio Torah Academy, Kohelet Yeshiva High School of Philadelphia and Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston comprise the boys’ division. The Lady M-Cats will be joined by girls’ teams from Hebrew Academy in Montreal, SAR Academy in Riverdale, NY and Beren Academy.
Games, all open to the public, will take place in Maimonides School’s Fox Gymnasium, as well as at Hellenic College and Brookline High School, on Thursday evening, Friday morning, Saturday night and Sunday morning. The complete schedule is available at www.maimohoops.org. Each game is available via live streaming at www.maimohoops.org/live.
The tournament is the most ambitious since successful Maimonides boys’ and girls’ basketball events in the 1980s.
Like its predecessors, the tourney is designed to be about much more than basketball. It's an opportunity for students, teachers, families and alumni to coalesce in spirit behind the M-Cats, as well as a memorable Shabbat experience for participants and the school community.
The tournament is also seen as a model for all on blending intense play on the court with examples of character like sportsmanship, humility and respect.
More details will be announced as the tournament draws near. New features for spectators include raffles for an iPad Air 2, to be awarded on Jan. 24, and Beats wireless headphones, to be chosen on the 25th. Raffle tickets will be sold at the school and at the games.
A volunteer committee has been working for months arranging hospitality, meals and transportation. Other details can be found at www.maimohoops.org.
Hana Snow ‘09 is a new professional in an industry populated mostly by men. But she says she doesn’t want to be labeled as a “pioneer.”
The terrorists who murdered Rabbi Mosheh Twersky ’73, zt”l, were “the very antithesis of what Mosheh believed in,” declared community leader Barry Shrage at a memorial program held at Maimonides School on Nov. 18.
Mr. Shrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, addressed some 500 people who assembled just hours after Rabbi Twersky and four others were killed at a Jerusalem shul.
Rabbi Twersky’s grandfather, Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, zt”l, founder of Maimonides School, taught that “the password of the Jew is chesed – kindness, compassion – to his fellow Jews and to his fellow man,” Mr. Shrage said. “He said that the Jew is a responsible being; he is responsible for society… The Jew must share in the destiny of his people and be concerned with the destiny of mankind.”
Citing the contrast between this worldview and the barbarism of terrorists and their sympathizers, Mr. Shrage said, “The world must ultimately choose one path or the other.”
Yehuda Yaakov, Israel’s consul general to New England, agreed that the massacre should set off alarms in the international community. “Palestinians must understand that they are bringing a political conflict to the brink of something much more dangerous,” he told the audience.
Threats to annihilate Jews and Israel are becoming casual, the consul general said, and “it’s only we who are taking notice… We have much more work to do in protecting ourselves.” Incitement of Arabs in Israel is a real problem, he said. “Words do kill. We warn again and again, but people don’t listen until it becomes a tragedy.”
Other speakers included two graduates whose relationships with Rabbi Twersky, zt”l, transcended five decades.
Naty Katz, a 1973 classmate who is now head of school, stated, “I will always remember Moshe for his modesty, his brilliance, his smile, and his kindness. And Am Yisrael and our community will remember Moshe for his towering scholarship and his gentle menschlichkeit.”
“Moshe and I were in the same Talmud shiur for a couple of years. He totally wrecked the grading curve,” Mr. Katz recalled. “As he studied regularly with his father, the Talner Rebbe zt”l, and his grandfather, the Rav zt”l, Moshe was a very reliable go-to guy before every Gemara test.”
Danny Langermann ’69 said, “We grew up together; our families were very close…We played Whiffleball together, we davened together, we danced together…” He spoke of the transition “from learning with him, to learning from him.”
“I’ll remember him as a family man as much as a scholar,” said Mr. Langermann, who continued to see his friend after the rabbi made aliyah in 1990.
Rabbi Gershon Segal of Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel in Newton, who is a member of the Maimonides School Committee, spoke of the significance of Rabbi Twersky’s learning with his grandfather, then teaching new generations. “The only consolation is we know that the Torah he taught to his many students – that mesorah will continue,” Rabbi Segal asserted.
He particularly mentioned the pain facing Rabbi Twersky’s mother, Dr. Atarah Twersky, former long-time chair of the Maimonides School Committee, calling her “the matriarch of this community.”
Tehillim were led by Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe of the Maimonides Kehillah and faculty and Rabbi David Hellman of Young Israel of Brookline. Dr. Jesse Hefter recited the tefillah for the healing of the wounded, the memorial prayer for the five victims, and the traditional prayer for the welfare of all Jews in distress.
Rabbi Twersky has lived in Jerusalem for more than 30 years, He was the dean of Torat Moseh Yeshiva, named for his great-grandfather.
According to a report by Lazar Berman '99 in The Times of Israel, "Police said two attackers from East Jerusalem entered the synagogue in the Har Nof neighborhood at 7 a.m. and began attacking worshipers at morning prayers with a gun, a meat cleaver, and an ax. Both terrorists were killed by police within seven minutes."
"Israel Police said there were six injured, including two policemen, one of whom was seriously injured, and another moderately hurt. The attack occurred at the Kehilat Yaakov synagogue, located in a religious institution which includes a study hall."
"One of the worshipers said the two terrorists shouted 'Allahu Akbar' during the attack, and entered the synagogue without their faces covered.
"Photos taken from inside the synagogue after the attack showed bloodied male worshipers lying on the floor, still wrapped in their prayer shawls and phylacteries."
The keynote speaker at Maimonides School’s annual Kristallnacht commemoration on Nov. 8 told her audience that her remarks were designed to counter “prevailing mythology” about persecuted European scholars who found refuge in the United States.
Prof. Laurel Leff said many people believe that “the U.S. role in saving the European intellectual elite from the Nazis was an unqualified success. It was not…. On the eve of Kristallnacht, we should remember the scholars who were not worth saving.”
Prof. Leff , professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University and associate director of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies Program, is engaged in research on how American universities and professional associations responded to the pleas of academics and professionals to help them escape pre-war Europe.
“Academics and professionals were among the first to be persecuted by the Nazi government,” Prof. Leff pointed out, noting that by 1935, some 2,000 professors had been dismissed, two-thirds of them Jews.
There were loopholes in immigration quotas to allow for admission of many of these scholars, but these were more than offset by systemic deterrents, Prof. Leff said, including a State Department requirement that immigrants had to have been teaching for the past two years. Most had been removed from their positions by then.
Efforts to hire, and thus rescue, these scholars were based on humanitarian ideals, Prof. Leff said. “There were professors who spent all of their spare time trying to find work for displaced scholars,” she said. “And there were organizations formed specifically to do this.”
But getting jobs for them was not easy; universities were still feeling the effects of the Great Depression. And anti-Semitism, she said, permeated the American academy “probably more than any aspect of American life… There was no university president in the U.S. who was a leader in this effort.”
Hiring criteria required that European scholars be world class, not too young, not too old and not too Jewish,” Prof. Leff said. Many academic departments had an unwritten quota of one Jewish professor.
The speaker shared excerpts from faculty evaluations of aspirants. The judgments were made with knowledge that rejection was almost certainly a death sentence, she said.
Prof. Leff was introduced by Joshua Eibelman of Brighton, an 11th grade student at Maimonides. The program was underwritten by Maimonides School’s Theodore and Anna Schoenfeld Fund for Holocaust Studies.
A 93-year-old Stoughton resident told Maimonides School sixth and seventh graders during a pre-Veterans Day program Monday that “if it wasn’t for the guys who fought in World War II, you wouldn’t be here. The American military saved the world.”
Saul Selby said he enlisted in the Navy in September 1942 and served on four different ships, primarily in the North Atlantic, until his discharge in February 1946. “I was very proud to serve this country,” he declared, noting that he was often the only Jewish enlisted man on board.
Mr. Selby was trained to be an engineer by the Navy, and that meant assignment to boiler rooms – “the heart of the ship” – as a fireman first class. “We were the number one target of the submarines,” he explained.
One of the fleet’s primary missions was the extraction of cryolite, a key component in the smelting of aluminum, from mines in Greenland, “We brought back enough cryolite to make 165,000 airplanes,” Mr. Selby testified.
Although the North Atlantic did not see the naval combat that marked the Pacific Theatre, Mr. Selby said, sailors who found themselves in the frigid waters suffered from almost instant hypothermia, with survival impossible for more than a few minutes.
Of the 16 million members of the armed forces during World War II, some 550,000 were Jewish, Mr. Selby told the students. The invasion of Iwo Jima included 1,800 Jewish Marines, he noted. “Many of us were first generation Americans – and we knew what our parents went through.”
At the war’s end, “we had no parades,” he said. “We were glad to get out, and we went home.”
Mr. Selby, a successful businessman, has helped strengthen Maimonides interscholastic athletics for almost two decades by donating autographed sports memorabilia that can be sold to high bidders.
He was introduced by Brian Cohen, associate principal, Middle School, who told the students that the veteran’s visit was a “rare opportunity.” The sixth and seventh graders asked many questions, and several individually thanked Mr. Selby for his talk and his service.
Dozens of parents of Maimonides School graduates convened at the school on Oct. 26 for what was billed as "An Evening of Music, Memories and More." Those present agreed that all three ingredients were rich and abundant.
The repertoire included Kol Nidrei opus 47 by Max Bruch, and Beethoven's Sonata in F major in 3 movements, The musicians provided background of the composers and their works. (Several guests were surprised to learn that Bruch was not Jewish.) Dr. Fisher also recounted his association as a medical student with the renowned cellist Leonard Rose, who was hospitalized.
Maimonides School for more than 20 years has marked the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, the event that spiraled Europe toward the Shoah. The commemoration is a tribute to Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, zt”l, who taught at Maimonides from 1945 to 1997. He was a young rabbi in Kitzingen, Germany on Nov. 9, 1938, when his shul was damaged by rioters and he was subsequently detained at Dachau for several weeks.
This year, a distinguished professor researching the response of American elites to the refugee crisis of the 1930s will be the guest lecturer at the Maimonides commemoration. The lecture will be held on Motza’ei Shabbat, Nov. 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in S. Joseph Solomont Synagogue, Saval Campus.
Speaker will be Prof. Laurel Leff, associate professor of journalism and the Stotsky Professor of Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies at Northeastern University, where she is also associate director of the Jewish Studies program. Her topic will be, “Well Worth Saving: How American Universities Selected Faculty Fleeing Nazi-Era Europe."
Prof. Leff is researching how American institutions, including universities and professional associations, responded to the pleas of German and other European academics and professionals to help them escape Nazi Germany.
“During the Nazi era, American universities had one of the few lifelines to extend to the hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee Europe -- faculty positions that enabled refugees to immigrate outside of strict quotas,” she explained. “American academic institutions insisted that positions be offered only to scholars who were not too old, not too young, not too left, not too right, and most important, not too Jewish.”
The “refugee scholars” also had to be well-connected and world class, she continued. “American professors received lists of European scholars, circling the ones who were worth hiring and -- by extension -- worth saving.”
As a result, for every intellectual who survived and thrived in the United States, thousands more did not, she said. “The United States’ role in saving Europe’s intellectual elite from the Nazis is often told as a tale of triumph. In many ways it was. In many ways, however, it was not.”
Prof. Leff’s 2005 book, Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, is “an extraordinary work of documentation and analysis,” according to one reviewer
For more information or to RSVP, write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-232-4452, ext. 405.
A 1972 Maimonides School graduate and veteran of the Israel Defense Forces told a 12th grade Israel advocacy class this week that "we want to have an army that represents the values of our people."
After 2,000 years, the Jewish national home has been re-established, and "with power comes responsibility," said Yitzhak Sokoloff, founder and president of Keshet Center for Educational Tourism in Israel.
"This has been part of the IDF's DNA -- only use force when necessary," he said. "Here's what the Israeli army is about -- you have to be a regular Jewish kid when the situation demands."
A tour guide, educator and political analyst, Mr. Sokoloff lectures widely on issues of strategy and political culture in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict and the contemporary challenges of Zionism. He has taught political science and Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University, and developed seminars for Israeli victims of terror and soldiers who emerged from difficult combat conditions.
"Part of our reality today is when someone says Israelis are capable of using Palestinian kids for target practice -- and no one is saying that that's inconceivable," Mr. Sokoloff told the class.
"You and I know it's inconceivable. But it creates for us a big challenge. So much energy and effort goes into teaching Israeli soldiers that we're willing to risk our own lives" to avert civilian casualties. "It's a very serious commitment...As Jews, we don't behave as if human life is irrelevant."
There are practical as well as moral advantages to this commitment, Mr. Sokoloff explained. One can be called public relations. "We can win battles, but we can't win the peace unless we have partners among the Arabs," he said.
Mr. Sokoloff grew up in Sharon, and told the students his experiences at Maimonides provided much of the impetus for his Zionist passion. As a student at Columbia, he was transformed after terrorists massacred Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972. "For the first time in my life, I saw Jews were killed simply because they were Jews."
After serving as a hospital volunteer during the Yom Kippur War and learning in Israeli yeshivot, Mr. Sokoloff finished his degree work and then made aliyah. He joined the IDF, serving in the Golani Brigade, including the Lebanon war in 1982, and later worked on security and strategic issues and the Ethiopian aliyah movement.
Some critics call Israel's presence among Palestinians an "occupation," and contend that the land was stolen, he told the class. However, if the shoe was on the other foot, any "occupation” wouldn't last 60 minutes. "Our presence in the land of Israel would be over instantaneously," he said. "Israelis and Palestinians understand that that's the truth. The rest of the world does not."
As a youngster, Mr. Sokoloff said, he fantasized about getting an urgent call to put on a Red Sox uniform and help win an important game. But it was the State of Israel that moved him to put on the uniform, with this message: "We are going to determine the future of the Jewish people here, and we need you to defend it and to make it a land of which our people can be proud."
The following article by Director of Admissions Ami Blaszkowsky was published in The Jewish Advocate on August 22:
Fall is the time of year when many schools host open houses for prospective families, but at Maimonides School in Brookline, “open house” is a year-long event.
“Today’s families lead very busy lives and don’t always have the time to come in on a Sunday afternoon, tour the school and get to know all of our faculty and staff,” said Ami Blaszkowsky, Admissions Director. “So, this year, we are excited to offer a variety of opportunities for parents to experience our school.
“We are always looking for new approaches. One of my favorite types of open house events is one which provides parents and children an opportunity to actually learn together,” she continued. Last spring, the school hosted a program for incoming kindergarten parents and their children which combined Jewish learning with a STEM activity about windmills. Guided by Maimonides’ talented team of kindergarten teachers, the parents and children worked together to create their own windmills.
“The energy in the room was so exciting. Families left the program with some new knowledge that they could share with their children at home and had started forming new friendships. The kids got a chance to meet the teachers and to feel that spark of curiosity that drives us all to learn more. The program actually mirrored the day-to-day experience of what we try to create in the classroom.”
This year’s calendar of open house events also will include an evening program, where parents can come without their children and participate in a forum with other parents, administrators, teachers and current students. “Our hope is that this sort of format will give families a chance not only to ask whatever questions they may have about our school but also to engage with one another around the importance of Jewish education,” said Blaszkowsky.
“A Jewish school is really a community and when you open your doors to families, you start the process of creating community and invite others to join what is really an extended family,” Blaszkowsky explained. “An open house isn’t just a chance for families to explore the school, it is also a time for our faculty and staff to get to know our families and to hear their hopes and dreams for their children. And that is what continually inspires all of us to do more.”
Throughout the year, Maimonides School tries to connect families with one another, partnering with a team of committed school parents who continually touch base with new and prospective families. Incoming families are often paired with a current family, who may invite them for lunch on Shabbat, help set up a playdate for young children, or just provide information about the neighborhood.
“Our Parent Ambassadors are an incredible and devoted group of parents who value the school and are happy to share their time with other families. They understand that helping a new family feel comfortable about coming to our school is not something that is accomplished after one open house event, but is an ongoing process that extends well after a family has decided to enroll their child in the school.”
Another important goal of the school open house is helping students feel comfortable about potentially coming to a new school. “Open houses are nice but having coffee and bagels in the school on a Sunday morning doesn’t give you quite the same kind of experience you get when you walk in the doors of a school in session,” said Blaszkowsky. Throughout the year, students are invited to come for what is known at Maimonides as a “Shadow Day.” A student is paired up with a special “buddy” for the day and attends classes, eats lunch in the lunchroom and participates in all the day’s activities as a Maimonides School student. Blaszkowsky also invites parents to schedule a tour of the school when it is in session so that they can feel firsthand the school’s energy and warmth.
“Our school – any school – is a constantly changing environment, which is why it is so special to work here,” she explained.
“You can come here in the morning and be greeted by the sound of the kids davening, you can come in the afternoon and hear all the lively discussions in the classrooms. The school even changes with the seasons and the holidays. Each day is different from the next. “You can’t take in the full picture of a school with just one open house. On the other hand, meeting one of our students in the hallway can sometimes tell you all you need to know.”
Following are remarks delivered by Iris Frisch of Newton at Thursday’s community rally in support of Israel, held on Boston City Hall Plaza. Her son Jacob is a 2012 Maimonides graduate.
My name is Iris Frisch, and I’m the mother of a Lone Soldier. The bravest man I know. He’s our oldest son - Jacob - and he’ll be celebrating his 21st birthday next week.
Three years ago Jacob was actively sabotaging his college admissions process. Not the normal kind of slacking off you’d expect from a high school senior – we found out from his guidance councilor that he was doing things that would have kept him from getting into college.
He told us that he didn’t want to go right away and that he needed to join the Israeli Army.
This was news to Bob, but not to me. Jacob first told me when he was a sophomore in High School army, and then again during the summer after his junior year. But I didn’t listen.
Jacob spent that summer travelling in Europe and Israel with a youth group. One leg of the trip he spent visiting Poland and the death camps.
Outside Auschwitz, he called me to say that he’d made a promise to G-d. Standing in one of the gas chambers, Jacob had vowed that he would do whatever it takes to make sure nothing like this would ever happen again.
The Fall came and so did school. I didn’t have time to think a lot about that conversation with Jacob—yet it was always in the back of my mind. Until the day we got the call from the guidance counselor.
My husband and I realized we had to take him seriously. Jacob agreed to apply to college, as a back up plan in case things changed with his Army plan. We were hoping that the excitement of campus weekends and his friends getting into schools would make him change his mind.
The day he got his acceptance letter, he came to us and said, “OK. I got in. Let’s talk about the Army now.”
I was in Israel this past June to watch Jacob and hundreds of other Paratroopers receive their red berets and wings as they finished their training. I was so proud.
If you’d told me that six weeks later my 20 year old kid would be in a war, going house-to-house in Gaza spending every waking hour searching for – and finding - entrances to terrorist’s tunnels, avoiding booby traps, sleeping in abandoned buildings at night, I never would have believed it. But for the past few weeks, that was his reality as a soldier, and mine as a mother.
Yesterday he returned to his kibbutz and I spoke with him this morning. He reaffirmed his commitment to Israel and his choice of making aliyah. The Galilee he said, “is the most beautiful place on earth, why would I ever leave?”
Jacob is very courageous. And he believed that by joining the IDF he would become part of something much greater than himself, something that transcends just this moment in time. And he’s right. He’s idealistic - in a way that only 20 year olds can be.
And he’s joined by thousands of other Lone Soldiers and tens of thousands of Israeli kids just as brave and idealistic as he is –kids who have willingly put themselves into harms way for us and putting Klal Yisroel above all else. Not for $240 a month in salary. Not just to defend a small country far away from Boston. For us, the Jewish people.
Last summer, my friend Lynn and I took our daughters to Sderot. It’s not a place on every tourist’s itinerary, but it should be.
We saw the remains of hundreds of rockets that had been fired on that besieged town, a town that everyone except the terrorists clearly recognizes as being inside the undisputed borders of the State of Israel.
We visited one family’s home. The daughter Roni, age 12, showed us her bedroom that also doubles as the family’s safe room, with reinforced walls and steel shutters on the windows.
Roni is afraid to take a shower. When not in school, most of her time is spent indoors on the kibbutz or in her room on the computer. Her mother limits her play outside, for fear that she won’t get to one of the many shelters on the kibbutz in 15 seconds.
I thought what a horrible way for this mother to have to raise her children—such a horrible way to have to live. And how brave the people of Sderot were for staying despite the clear danger.
Imagine, then, the new horror of thinking about terrorists, wearing Israeli army uniforms, popping up out of a tunnel exit just outside the fence of your kibbutz or in the fields just beyond your family’s farm. Terrorists sneaking into Israel intent on two things: kidnapping soldiers, and killing innocent families.
No sirens, no warnings - just terror and death. It’s like a scary childrens’ story. But it’s not a story – it’s a reality
Thanks to the IDF, that won’t happen – not this time. The tunnels are gone. But Hamas is still there. In the north, there’s Hezbollah. And terrorists are inside Israel as well.
The conflict phase of Operation Protective Edge appears to have ended for now, but the battle is far from over. Even though Israel and Gaza are off the top of the front page for the moment, we can’t stop. We’ve got to keep rallying. Keep lobbying. Keep raising money. Keep writing letters. Keep the media honest. Keep our campuses free from the anti-Semitic poison that masquerades as BDS.
Being a mother of a Lone Soldier is hard, but then I remember the mothers in Sderot and this gives me strength, courage and purpose.
At age 18, when Jacob was standing in that death camp and made that vow, he knew that the Israeli Army IS the Jewish Army. And the future of the State of Israel IS the future of the Jew. There is no distance. There is no separation.
The fight of the Jewish people and all those who respect Democracy and Freedom will continue, until the people of Israel are permanently safe and secure from radical Islamic threat and terror.
Maimonides and a dedicated team of parent volunteers and professionals have been working hard over the past couple of years on our Maimonides Affordability Initiative (MAI). While there is still much work to be done to address both school affordability and sustainability, we are proud of our work and humbled to have been recently profiled as a pioneering school in the area of affordability.Click here to read more.
Fifteen recent Maimonides alumni are on active duty with the Israel Defense Forces.
Svia Bension ’07, Tzukit Cohen ’11 , Sarah Flesh ’12, Jacob Frisch ’12, Aron Grossman '12
Rachel Heerter ’12, Nate Japhet ’08, Yoni Nouriel ’12, Rivka Rumshiskaya ’11
Meir Schechter ’11, Penina Simkovitz ’12, Natan Stein ’09 , Asher Zimble ’09
(There are also two anonymous alumni serving in intelligence)
Dozens of others have finished their active component and are members of the reserves.
Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.
Following are additional observations, reflections and suggestions from Maimonides School graduates and friends in Israel.
Jennie (Shapiro) Goldstein ’91, Neve Daniel, recommends the Shmira Project, http://www.shmiraproject.com, which describes itself as “an ongoing, grassroots program that pairs IDF combat soldiers with Jews around the world who do acts of kindness, prayer or Torah learning to increase the soldier’s spiritual merit and protection.” Susan (Levenson) Wolf, former student, recommends www.onefamilytogether.org.
Tsvi Langermann, '68, Mitzpeh Netzofah: Here in the Lower Galilee things are nearly normal: too far north for the rockets from Gaza, too far south for the occasional intrusion from Lebanon or Syria. Let's hope it stays that way. I have an important request. The greatest concern of most Israelis right now, I think, is that their own government may settle for a draw, with the usual rhetoric about defending us, statistics about targets hit, and so on and so forth. This is how the previous rounds ended, and we're paying for it now. So anyone who thinks that he or she has channels to leading Israeli politicians and other influential individuals, please pressure them not to let up before a clear victory is scored. Yes, this time we're asking for pressure on the Israeli government, not the American. Don't let anyone put you off because the experts say such-and-such. A manifest, public victory is a political and diplomatic necessity, and not a purely military question.
Ben Michelson '84, Rehovot: My son, who is serving in the IDF infantry, has been on the outskirts of Gaza since the end of last week. He's only been allowed to phone me once since then. I pray our government will make wise decisions regarding how to proceed with Operation Protective Edge.
Yitzhak Sokoloff ’72, Efrat: This morning we awoke to reports that the fighting is intense, that one soldier was killed and another badly wounded. Our hearts go out to their families. The war is beginning to come closer for us. My son-in-law Itamar is the rabbi of a "regular" paratrooper battalion fighting in Gaza and simultaneously a regular combat soldier -- a job description that must be unique to the IDF. My son Chai is flying back to Israel this afternoon from Seattle and going straight to his unit in the south. We pray for their safety and their success in bringing the bloodshed to a stop.
We also pray that our soldiers will avoid having to cause needless casualties among the Palestinian civilians who have been so ruthlessly exploited by Hamas. That is a Herculean task under combat conditions, and the fact that it is an important priority for the IDF says legions about the difference between Israel and its enemies. I have also noticed a new phenomenon in the Israeli media, the fact that it gives significant coverage to Palestinian reports of civilian casualties, sometimes down to the resolution of sharing their names and ages. This must be completely unique in the annals of warfare. At first I thought that this was a form of psychological warfare used to muddy the waters of our moral clarity. But upon reflection I came to realize that for most Israelis the Palestinians are not an unknown enemy who can be easily and completely dehumanized. We are neighbors; we know them for better and for worse, and we understand that Hamas has no more compassion for them than they do for the Israeli children they target with their missiles and tunnel forces. For the most part, Israelis also understand that when we finally succeed in defeating Hamas, we will still be left with the question of how to live in this neighborhood with at least some semblance of peace with our neighbors.
With best wishes for a Shabbat Shalom -- or at least for a Shabbat that will lead to a time of shalom.
(Yitzhak Sokokoff is president of Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel)
Ronald Wachtel '60, Jerusalem: Like every concerned Jew around the world, we continue to say Tehillim at the end of each daily tefilla in support of thousands of soldiers who stand at the front lines protecting our borders and allowing people like me and my family to continue living their lives as normally as possible. I had the zchut last week to accompany my wife's mother, almost age 92, as she made aliya on one of the days that Yerushalayim was challenged with sirens and an oncoming missile. When we asked her if she was scared or possibly regretted her decision to come, she replied: "No way. I've been here for other wars before and I know that Hashem is protecting us." Her sentiments were repeated by several hundred new French olim who landed in Israel this week. My staff at Kav L'Noar, the organization I founded 10 years ago, has made itself available both to families who reach out for our help in confronting today's challenges as well as to communities that have been directly affected by constant uncertainty and danger. Those wishing to support our efforts can send their tax deductible donation to KLN Foundation, 348 Brook Avenue, Passaic, New Jersey 07055 with our deepest thanks for your generosity.
Meira Weinstein ’99, Jerusalem: The Lone Soldier Center's volunteers have been visiting lone soldiers on bases throughout Israel every day, bringing them much needed clothing, food and supplies as many have not been able to go home for over three weeks, as well as encouraging and strengthening them for what lies ahead. We really appreciate your support, especially during these times and are praying for peace.
Yaakov Wolff, Beit Shemesh: Studying in my yeshiva just two miles from Ashdod, the last few weeks have not been easy. I have been experiencing around three sirens every day, which are normally followed by the satisfying thump of the Iron Dome system. Baruch HaShem, Israeli citizens have the strongest will you can find anywhere. We have been here before, and will survive this round as well.
I was thinking about the proper response that I would hope for from American Jews in these times. I think it can be summed up in four words: a trip to Israel. Tourism is one of Israel's main industries, with thousands of people being employed at hotels, tourist attractions and restaurants which depend on foreign tourists. As a result of the recent situation, many people have decided to cancel their summer trips to Israel. I believe it is crucial for Jews who care about Israel to come regardless of the current escalation. Granted, a trip to Israel will not be as relaxing as an afternoon on the beach at Cape Cod. But if you heed the security instructions, the danger of anything happening to you or your family is almost non-existent. If you do decide to come during these times, it will be a tremendous show of solidarity that will be greatly appreciated by the local Israelis. If you don't have a trip planned, maybe you should think about one. I guarantee you that the weather here during winter break is a lot more pleasant than in Boston. This will help boost the tourist industry, which is bound to struggle this summer. Hopefully by then things will have calmed down, and your vacation will not be disrupted.
If you want to do more than just pump money in the tourism industry, I would recommend taking a trip to Sderot, where you will meet some of the most remarkable Jews in the world. They will be strengthened by your visit, by knowing that there are Jews on the other side of the Atlantic that think about them and care about them. Taking a family trip to Israel will be an appropriate response that will strengthen the state of Israel and will be enjoyable for you as well.
Yaakov Wolff, son of Josh Wolff ’89, was a member of the Maimonides Class of '12 before moving to Israel after seventh grade
Sam Packer ’03, Givat Shmuel: I want to provide more comprehensive information on my wife Leora’s pizza initiative that perhaps could be posted so that people could go ahead and order the pizzas without waiting to hear back from her with instructions.
1) Call one of the vendors below and place an order and say: "I am calling from the United States (say your city) and would like to order a pizza to be delivered to a family in the area as a sign that we are thinking of you. Can I place an order?"
2) Tell them that people in America are standing with them
3) Provide your credit card information (credit card number מספר אשראי and expiration date (תוקף).
The following pizza stores are willing to take your orders and deliver them to families.
Pizza Kopidon in Ofakim - 011-972-8-992-1114
Pizza Netivot: 011-972-8993-0145
Pizza Roma in Sderot: 011-972-8-661-2007
Pizza Italkia in Ashkelon -- 011-972-54-942-4212
Pizza Roma in Ashdod - 011-972-8-866-7000
Feel free to pass this far and wide. The Jews may be dispersed, but we stand together.
Rebecca Zibman, Jerusalem: A reflection while headed towards Shabbat... When parents come to visit Gan Shelanu they often ask what kind of tefilah we teach at gan. We respond that it is important to us that the prayers we do with them are relevant to the children's lives so that we are not simply teaching them to recite the words. We start with modeh ani and learn about what we can be thankful for. Then we started saying asher yatzar to say thank you for having bodies that work and keep us healthy. And today we said the prayer for the safety of the Israeli army, for all the fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, and friends who are working extra right now to keep our country safe. It is hard to address current events at an age appropriate level. In many cases we simply don't. There is no reason for them to know things that are beyond their grasp and might scare them. But in this case it is right in front of them. We talked about what to do if they hear a siren because it is a real threat that they need to react appropriately to. We talk about keeping the soldiers safe because this is a visible part of their everyday lives. And because what could be more powerful than the prayers of small children who think their world should and can be peaceful and perfect?
Shabbat shalom. Maybe after this is all over we can have a bunch of posts about how wonderful things are here :-)
Following are reports and observations received this week from a range of Maimonides graduates and friends who reside in Israel:
Ron Arazi ’03, Tel Aviv: Israel is strong. We are unfazed. I appeared in a sold-out play last night. I am at a wedding tonight with 500 people. We make small talk with strangers during alarms. We send jokes about the rockets on Whatsapp. It’s nice U.S. Jews feel empathy. But please keep to yourself expressions of sympathy -- we are exactly where we want to be, resolute, undeterred. Hamas wants us to question our sense of safety and our existence here. We need not respond in any way but to live and be alive, fully and every day.
Judah Hauser, Efrat (former student): All is well, B”H. The Jewish People and State of Israel stand strong. I have and will always feel a strong bond to the entire Maimonides school and Brookline community. May we all hear and share only good news
David Kahan ’79, Ra’anana: As a practical matter, thanks to its sponsors in the Arab world (plus of course the Iranians and the Russians), Hamas is now armed with longer-range missiles that can reach as far as where we live. Accordingly, last night, for the first time since we’ve lived here, we responded to a live air raid siren by going down to our shelter. I was not scared, but maybe I’m just dumb. Indeed, Halle reported that only five of the 19 kids in her theater camp program showed up for camp today (and the camp wisely cancelled its planned outing to Tel Aviv). Clueless American that I am, it never occurred to me not to send her. We go about our daily life -- I'll be driving into Tel Aviv tomorrow. Most people around here are doing likewise. Of course, further south it is a different story.
Rabbi Scott Kahn ’88, Ramat Beit Shemesh: I received a phone call yesterday from an alumnus of my yeshiva. "Hi!" I called into the phone. "How are you doing?"
"Fine," he answered, sounding somewhat pressured. "I actually have only a minute to talk. May I ask you a question?"
"I am packing up my backpack, and I'm not sure that I have room for my tefillin. What should I do?"
The alumnus is in the Israeli army. He is preparing for whatever comes next, and was presumably on his way to the Gaza border. "I really want to take them," he continued.
"How about taking them out of the tefillin bag?" I suggested. "Don't worry about the bag if there's no room. In fact, you can even take them out of the boxes in which they are normally kept. It's much more important that you have your tefillin with you than having them in the proper containers."
"Oh," he responded with evident relief. "I think I'll have room, in that case. Thanks!"
We hung up. I went back to taking care of the kids, and he went back to packing for war. His army-issue backpack is now his tefillin bag.
Everyone should say a prayer today for the soldier with the tefillin bag on his back. For the many soldiers with tefilin bags on their backs. In fact, on some level, every soldier's backpack is, indeed, a tefillin bag on his back.
(Published in last week’s newsletter of Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah)
Isaac Mozeson ’69, Tzfat: Hate is close to love. The flip side of the same coin. Jews must take solace in the fact that so many hate them so passionately. If the world were indifferent to Jews, a future world of peace would seem light-years away. איבה AY(V)aH, enmity, can easily become אהבה AHa(V)aH, love. In Arabic, Hamas means “zeal.” In Hebrew חמס HaMaS means “violence.”
(Isaac Mozeson is the founder of Edenics – see www.edenics.org.)
The following entries include suggestions for tzedakah:
Miriam Bloomberg, Jerusalem: Here is the text of an email sent by Meira Weinstein ’99, who works with her husband Josh Flaster, director of the Lone Soldier Center in memory of Michael Levin, z”l (http://lonesoldiercenter.com). “Thousands of lone soldiers are taking part in Operation Protective Edge risking their lives to restore calm and quiet to all of Israel. We are visiting lone soldiers at locations across southern Israel to motivate and strengthen them for whatever lies ahead. Our chayalim are motivated, in positive spirits, passionate and proud to be defending the Jewish State and her citizens. We are currently collecting donations for supplies and care packages which our volunteers are delivering directly to them. Thank you for all of those who have been supporting the Center and volunteering this week. Please keep Israel and all of her soldiers in your thoughts and prayers during these difficult times.”
Mordechai de la Fuente ’65, Ra’anana: We are managing all right even though there are some interruptions in our daily lives like running to a shelter when the siren goes off. Our shul tzedakah fund is paying for entertainment for kids in Netivot. The city is letting them use the big shelters in town to hold these performances. We also supply refreshments. If people want to donate to the cause they can do it through the PEF fund at 317 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10017. They will issue a tax deductible receipt and the money will be transferred to us. (for Lechu Nerananna charity fund in Ra’anana Israel).
Rabbi Zvi Friedman ‘73, Ramat Beit Shemesh: I have an unusual perspective – one as an individual and one as a professional. On the one hand I live here with my wife and we have four married children and 18 grandchildren, all living in Israel along with many of our extended relatives… The amazing thing about Israel is that the sirens sound and we all go into the “safe room” or get out of our cars or buses and crouch down and put our hands over our heads. We aren’t freaking out or screaming or crying – we are B”H safe and life goes on as if nothing had happened. On the other hand I run a kiruv program and this summer we have three going on right now, each with about 20 girls, and next week 20 more are coming. Every day is another security challenge of where we can or can’t go or what we can or can’t do. I have frantic parents – most are not frum so they have no idea that Israel is not some war-torn country. I have to keep the girls calm and the parents calm and the staff calm. Our buildings are in Givat Hamivtar, which faces Beit Chaninah (Shuafat). We have a big window looking at the rioting and the shooting in the air and the fires. We are about two kilometers from the rioting. We had to cancel so many tiyulim (trips) and reroute everything. We had to add security and hire bullet-proof buses. It has been enormously expensive and if my fellow Maimonides alumni want to help support keeping these girls here, this is a link for donations: https://www.fidelipay.com/jerusalemfellowships. Checks should be made payable to Jerusalem Fellowships and mailed to 28 Park Ave., Airmont, NY, 10952. We involve many IDF soldiers in our program and those who were supposed to meet with our students were thrilled that the girls are staying. When they go to Gaza they aren’t just going for Israel but for world Jewry because world Jewry is here with them (including three girls from the Boston area).
Jennie (Shapiro) Goldstein ’91, Neve Daniel: It has indeed been a very sad month here. I am sending you these links to possible ways for people in the U.S. to help support soldiers. The soldiers are so appreciative of these acts of love, which really nourish them! We all continue to daven for a true peace. http://www.dkatom.co.il/pizza; http://www.stogether.org; http://www.gush-etzion.org.il/pina-hama.htm.
Malkah (Oppenheim) Livneh ’72, Hashmonaim: My friend Shira Gilor works for an amazing organization called A Package from Home (www.apackagefromhome.org). They send packages to soldiers all year long, but when soldiers are called up all of a sudden and don't have time to even pack a bag she is asked to supply basics to hundreds of soldiers -- underwear, toothpaste, socks, etc. Shira is an amazing woman who does a tremendous amount of good -- she supplies food and clothes to needy families in our yishuv on an ongoing basis, in addition to the work she does for A Package from Home. The organization is getting quite a few requests from the army and could use all the funds they can get to help out our soldiers out in the field.
Sam Packer ’03, Givat Shmuel: We are holding up as best we can, given the circumstances, which in Israel means continuing with routine to the best of our abilities in defiance of terrorist intentions. Here in Givat Shmuel, trips down to our building's communal shelter has become another daily routine (thank G-d, we have not had more than about a siren a day where we are). My wife has once again spear-headed the pizza operation to engage Jews around the world to be engaged in supporting Israel and its residents under fire in a more direct way -- simply facilitating the ordering of pizzas from local southern Israel pizzerias to be delivered to local residents. (Details from (email@example.com). The "operation" helps the local shops whose business has floundered, sends dinner to local families and soldiers who have enough to worry about at the moment and sends the feeling that they are not alone in a very personal and meaningful way -- just the way people provide dinners to neighbors who have a lot going on in their lives.
Class of 2014 Commencement: June 15
Translation of Liorah Rubinstein’s valedictory, delivered in Hebrew
Esteemed rabbis, teachers, family, friends and Class of 2014,
I invite you to picture a circle of youths sitting in the middle of an expansive field, under a starry night sky. With linked arms, they sing soulful zemirot and sway to the strumming of a guitar. Some eyes are closed; others look up at the moon. Here and there the friends pause to listen to one of their fellows share inspirational words. New Hampshire, high school retreat, 2012.
Now imagine this: A swarming, spinning circle of jumping and boisterous singing around a Torah. Hands outstretched, they pull in old and young, friend and stranger, to join in their infectious joy. Multiply this by three hours, and again by three days. Brookline, Simchat Torah “Simchaton” 2013.
This is our class in a nutshell. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we infuse our environment with our genuine and powerful ruach. Sometimes it can bring tears to your eyes and at other times it can be heard from a mile away. Well, ok, it can almost always be heard from a mile away. Regardless, it is with this energy that we have blazed our trail –from kindergarten, up until this moment.
This energy is perhaps the one thing about us that hasn’t changed over the past 13 years. As for the rest, I’m not sure when we stopped sneaking inchworms into our classrooms or when we no longer had to stand on our tippy-toes to kiss the mezuzah. What I do know, however, is what we are today. Today we are 55 young men and women with plans and dreams for a bright future, about to step outside of this building that has sheltered us for so long.
Actually, we find ourselves in a similar situation to that which our ancestors were in thousands of years ago. As described in yesterday’s Torah portion, Shelach, Bnei Yisrael were in the desert, poised to enter Canaan. They were in their second year of living in the desert under God’s protection. Hashem provided for them clothing, food and shelter. All they had to do was follow the amud ha’anan (the cloud of Glory).
We, too, have been living under protection. For the past thirteen years we have played and studied and celebrated inside of our homes’ and school’s walls. And now, we too are entering a new phase in our lives. Soon we will be off to Israel or college and we will have to fend for ourselves with no one to take us by the hand, with no Moshe to lead the way.
Before Bnei Yisrael ventured into Canaan, Moshe sent out a prince from every tribe to scout out the land. As Rabbi Menachem Leibtag explains, Moshe instructed them to bring back two kinds of information: 1) He inquired about the nature of the land: “See the land – how is it… good or bad… fertile or lean?” 2) He also requested information regarding the viability of militarily conquering the land: “And the people that dwell in it – are they strong or weak, few or numerous? And how are the cities in which they dwell – open or fortified?” (Numbers, 13: 18 – 20).
As we prepare to leave the comfort of the familiar we too begin to ask ourselves such questions. From simple questions like “Where on the campus is the Hillel?” or “How do you do laundry again?” to more significant ones like “Will I be able to continue to grow religiously? Will I be able to achieve my goals?”
When the emissaries returned, they famously stated regarding the nature of the land that it “flows with milk and honey” (13:27). However, they also reported that “the people that dwell in the Land are powerful, the cities are greatly fortified and we saw there the children of the giant” (13:28). The princes concluded that “We are not able to ascend against the people because they are too strong for us” and the land “devours its inhabitants” (13:31-32). National hysteria ensued. The people wept, claiming that they would have preferred to die in Egypt than go to Canaan. They suggested appointing a new leader and even threatened to pelt Yehoshua and Calev when they offered their positive report of the land.
We can understand the gravity of the situation from Hashem’s reaction. He decreed that they would wander for forty years and perish in the desert before ever reaching their destination. Had it not been for Moshe’s pleas, He would have gone so far as to annihilate them all. Obviously, there was something very wrong. But what exactly did the people do to deserve such a harsh punishment?
The common answer is that the nation believed that their conquest depended solely upon their military capabilities when they needed to trust in God. This was especially shameful after having experienced His glory at Har Sinai. I would like to suggest, however, that their blunder was not lack of faith in God’s military prowess. They understood that God’s assistance was conditional – it depended on the nation’s righteousness
In Exodus it clearly states that “if you listen to His voice and do as I command you, then I shall be the enemy of your enemies and persecute your persecutors,” (23:22). Rather, the nation sinned in that they lacked faith in themselves. They did not believe themselves capable of meriting God’s support, of continuing on the right path. Instead of encouraging themselves to strive upwards, they simply gave up.
Like Bnei Yisrael in the desert, we too are aware of what we will face once we leave the beloved 34 Philbrick Road. Yes, we will be confronted by our own “giants.” It is no secret that anti-Zionism plagues college campuses, or that upon graduating college we will encounter an increasingly competitive job market. The question is not whether the land is ready for us to enter – there will always be giants. The question is whether we are ready to enter the land. And when one looks around at my fellow classmates, there is no doubt that we are ready.
The graduation robes that we are wearing do not prove that we are ready. Rather, I say that we are ready because we have proved ourselves role models and leaders. Our ancestors’ lack of self-confidence prevented them from entering the land. We, however, can be assured that our accomplishments and capabilities will give us the power to excel in the challenges that are to come.
I say we are ready because we pursue Torah learning and chesed (good deeds) zealously. Just this year I have attended more than five classmates’ tractate siyyumim, celebratory conclusions of learning they had done independently. There is also no shortage of chesed among my peers. We developed two chssed clubs that today have widespread impact: Yachad and the Maimonides ROFEH club. Some have been dedicating their Sundays to Friendship Circle for years and others raised thousands of dollars for a Sderot fund. Since January we have had Wednesdays off to do “Project Shalom,” community service.
Although we have completed our required 84 hours, many are still going to their Project Shaloms because for us chesed is not just homework – it is a lifestyle. From volunteering at associations for the blind to coordinating elaborate (out-of-pocket) science projects at an under-privileged elementary school, my classmates have gone above and beyond the expected.
I say we are ready because we have a voice. We make our voice heard concerning Israel. Over the past two years our class sent large delegations to the AIPAC conferences in Washington. Members of our class have become indispensable volunteers at CAMERA, an organization devoted to promoting accurate media coverage of Israel. Yet others marched in the Israel Day Parade in New York just a few weeks ago.
My classmates have shown their leadership and proactivity in other areas about which they are also passionate. One student founded a Gender Equality Club in our school. Thanks to the determination of another, our school offered a business class. This year our Model United Nations team placed second and individuals from our grade were awarded two honorable mentions and one was named a best delegate.
Our talents extend to the artistic realm as well. One of my peers is currently writing a book that is already over 200 pages long. Another directed this year’s play with other seniors acting the leading roles. The music that accompanied our dear faculty’s entrance was composed by one of our class's talented musicians.
Like Bnei Yisrael thousands of years ago, many of us stand to enter the land. But today, unlike our forefathers, we are ready.
We are blessed to have loving parents, dedicated teachers and a supportive community. We thank you – moms, dads, teachers, administrators – because if it weren’t for you we wouldn’t be here today. It may take a village to raise a child, but it took an exceptional village to raise this exceptional child, the Class of 2014. It is our prayer that we should always merit God’s protection and continue to strive to the heights of our potentials: As Calev said, “We will surely ascend and conquer it, for we can surely do it!” (13:30).
Class of 2014 Commencement: June 15
Eliana Ramelson’s English address
Honored rabbis, administrators, teachers, parents, family, friends and… the inspiring class of… 2014. It is a great privilege for me to stand before you today and to share some thoughts on behalf of my classmates at this momentous crossroad of our lives.
Except… there’s one problem – I don’t have a compelling story to tell. You know, one of those “against all odds”, “rags-to- riches”, “stare down adversity” inspirational kind of stories. To be candid, none of us, sitting before you today, has one. Yeah, President Obama is not going to be delivering a graduation address at our school. As individuals, of course we have dealt with ups and downs, struggles and sadness, but on the whole, we are a homogeneous community that has not been left wanting. We have no Horatio Alger tale to tell.
You see, during this commencement season, I have had the opportunity to attend several graduation ceremonies, and to listen to some very moving addresses. Common to each one of these orations was the story of a speaker who had overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve success and to deeply inspire others.
Like the college graduate, who was able to catapult herself from the depths of downtown Los Angeles squalor to inspire her classmates with the message that no socio-economic challenges are insurmountable. Or the professor who overcame insidious racism to attain a department chair from which he instills in others an appreciation for understanding and tolerance. Compelling experiences to be sure.
These stimulating messages resonated deeply within me, but then gave me pause, as I thought about our own paths to commencement and wondered what claim we have on inspiration. By what right can we cross this stage and assert that we are prepared to move forward to lead, to motivate and to inspire. We are the beneficiaries of great privilege. We have been nurtured by loving families; we have been blessed to attend one of the best Jewish day schools in the country. We are not underdogs. Granted, we don’t have a long enough lunch break to trek to Starbucks, so we have to settle for Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and a few of us are still relegated to iPhone 4s because our two year contracts aren’t up yet. Yes, we do have #firstworldproblems.
But in all seriousness, we have not been consigned to an environment that endures collective and constant struggle. To the contrary, we have been blessed. So how, I wondered, if inspiration is measured my surmounting the insurmountable, can we be sources of inspiration to others? And then, I realized, we don’t need the story, we are the story.
Our years at this school, immersed in the study of Torah, exposed to the values of our tradition, schooled in the ways of the Rav to embrace the best of our Jewish and secular worlds have infused us with inspiration. We can now go on to be leaders, motivators, and role models.
Maimonides school has given us the tools to tackle our next endeavors and to influence our new communities in the most profound ways. Our embodiment of Torah U’mada is, itself, the inspiration. And that is our story.
As a class, we have already demonstrated our ability to inspire on many levels. Clearly, the academic success of Maimonides students is legen --wait for it -- dare we say we got into a lot of great schools? Indeed, from much of our academic study, Judaic and secular, we inspire by extrapolating notions of derech eretz, which we are then able to impressively apply to our outside relationships and interactions.
And with respect to extracurriculars, what a year we’ve had. Model UN placed second nationally. Mock trial rose to the Elite Eight for the third consecutive year. Every varsity sports team made it the post-season, including girls soccer, who made history by going as far as the semifinals.
So where does the inspiration come in? What is the connection between our successes and our ability to impact others? Well, herein lies the inspiration: each Maimo team and club has been commended by opposing coaches, players, and referees for its outstanding sportsmanship, kindness, and respect. During one varsity volleyball game this year, the opposing captain remarked that no matter the outcome, win or lose, Maimonides athletes shake the opposing team’s hands with a smile and a sincere “good game.” The next time we faced that team, we couldn’t help but notice that their demeanor was softened and that, at the conclusion of the game, they initiated the handshakes and warm smiles. They learned midot from us. This is the Maimonides way to inspire.
The concept of chesed also resonates as a significant part of Maimonides culture and brings opportunities for inspiration as well. Yachad is an organization dedicated to inclusion of children and adults with disabilities into our Jewish community. Maimonides students annually flock to sign-up for Yachad opportunities. So contagious is the enthusiasm with which Maimonides has embraced Yachad that another day school in the area was motivated to establish its own Yachad club based on the Maimo model. They learned compassion from us. This, again, is the Maimonides way to inspire.
On an academic level, it goes without saying that Maimonides produces students who impact every conceivable area of scholarship. The class of 2014 can boast the first graduates of a five- year Arabic program. And in this realm, too, we have truly inspired. Not only have we, the students, gained a greater awareness of a new language and culture, but we have fostered, among our Arabic instructors, an appreciation for Orthodox Jewish values and traditions.
Recently, students were assigned to write poetry in Arabic. So moving were these poems, poems that reflected our Jewish souls within our new command of the Arabic language, that our esteemed teacher, Fawzi, shared our work with Arabic friends and colleagues at a private gathering he attended. Is this not the epitome of true inspiration? The words of Orthodox Jewish day school students having a profound impact on an Arabic instructor and his community. Imagine the possibilities that this poses for us to go forward and to bridge the cultural gaps, perhaps during our gap year, to bring Arabs and Jews closer together, to use words and intellect to reach greater understandings. They learned of the Jewish neshama from us. This, indeed, is the Maimonides way to inspire.
Clearly, there are many paths to inspiration. We may not have that captivating commencement story. We have not, for the most part, had to overcome adversity. Let’s face it, our way was relatively unencumbered, but we should not apologize for the blessings of a privileged Jewish education.
With the humility and compassion that we’ve been taught, we should go forward and promote the lessons of Torah U’mada, of chesed and of derech eretz. I have no doubts that, as we leave here today and transition to new communities, we will lead by example, we will be the vanguards of Torah values, the class of 2014 will (pause) inspire. That is the Maimonides way.
A new Maimonides School graduate has been named one of the top five men's basketball players among all Jewish high schools on the continent.
Yoni Klausner '14, son of Mitchell and Miriam Klausner of Sharon, was named to the 2013-14 all-star team by honored by Jewish Hoops America.
A four-year starting forward on the varsity, Yoni led the M-Cats to their first post-season tournament win in several years. He also became the sixth Maimonides basketball player to surpass 1,000 career points.
Jewish Hoops America provides exposure and a forum for teams and players, mainly through its website, jewishhoopsamerica.com. The website features weekly rankings of the Top 25 teams nationally, daily updates of scores and records, scoring leaders, previews of big games, coverage of Jewish tournaments and a forum.
A year ago Yoni was named to Jewish Hoops America's second team all-stars.
Six members of the Class of 2015 accepted prestigious university-sponsored awards during recent ceremonies at the school.
Each prize recognizes academic achievement and includes various accomplishments and interests as other criteria.
Recognized were Ilana Michaelson, daughter of Drs. Jennifer and Dror Michaelson of Brighton, Columbia Book Award; Avital Fried, daughter of Naomi and Prof. Jesse Fried of Newon, Harvard Prize Book; and David Schoenberg, son of Susan and Lewis Schoenberg of Newton, Yale Book Award.
Also, three prizes were sponsored by the University of Rochester: Alon Kosowsky-Sachs, son of Elka Sachs and Seth kosowsky of Sharon, Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award; Hannah Stanhill, daughter of Deborah and David Stanhill of Newton, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award (both born in Rochester); and Debbie Lee Baskir, daughter of Lauren and Brian Baskir of Newton, George Eastman Young Leaders Award.
Three Maimonides School seniors recently returned from two weeks in Poland and Israel, cognizant of the tragic past yet inspired by renewed Jewish strength and vitality.
Josh Jacobson, David Solooki and Ariel Warren were among thousands of participants in the 27th annual March of the Living, an educational program that brings students from all over the world to Poland, where they learn the history of the Shoah and the roots of intolerance and hate.
After spending a week visiting sites of Jewish life and culture as well as persecution, participants flew to Israel for a week highlighted by the celebration of Yom Ha’Atzmaut.
“Obviously when you are there you see things that are sad and hard to understand. But the takeaway message is that Jews are still here, a strong and thriving nation,” David declared. Ariel seconded that theme. “It was very inspirational when we went from Poland to Israel,” tracing the steps of early Zionists, he noted.
“We gained more of an appreciation of things we took for granted, mundane things like hanging out with friends,” Josh said. “Some things that seemed trivial before looked like luxuries without freedom and opportunity.”
The boys were part of a small New England delegation of 25 students and 15 adults. Some 14,000 people from all over the world took part in the program
“The more camps we saw, the better understanding we had of what happened, but the harder it was to comprehend,” David commented. The statistics of the Shoah are well known, but cannot compare to “actually going and standing in those spots and trying to imagine how that was even possible, how there could be such an atrocity.”
“It was very powerful when we went to see where some camps were -- and there was nothing there, just a memorial,” Ariel related. In Belzec, he said, the monument took “a huge amount of space” but did not include the names of victims, but only the last places they lived.
A ceremony at Auschwitz included completion of a Sefer Torah, David continued. “I personally connected with a Sephardic rabbi, from whom I learned about the impact of the Holocaust on Sephardic Jewry. There were some 250,000 Sephardic Jews who died, mostly in North Africa, where some communities were wiped out. “
The actual March of the Living route is a couple of miles from Auschwitz to the Birkenau extermination camp. Participants toured the camps a day earlier. David said “a feeling of unity” pervaded the march; “it was so empowering to experience that.”
Ariel said it was pointed out that the Nazis took wood from the homes in the Auschwitz region and used it to build Birkenau. After the war, neighbors returned and took back their wood. “We saw brick chimneys without surrounding wood.”
David noted that the group was accompanied by a survivor of the Shoah. “You would think that all of that suffering and torture, he would be bitter and sad. But he was happy all the time, especially around children. He was able to focus on all the positives of his life. Everyone he knew died at a young age, and he had nobody, so he focuses on the good.”
“The survivor tried to instill in us that it really is our job to continue to tell people about what we saw, about what happened,” Josh said. “We heard from him, but it is our responsibility after those who can give a first- hand account are gone.”
“We met Jews living in Cracow at a seudah shlishit, and we were able to talk with them – young adults, in their 20s -- about how they are building the Jewish community in Poland, and how life is for them now,” Ariel related. One man was cataloguing niggunim. Still, Ariel wondered, “It’s hard to understand why they chose to stay in Poland.”
A visit to Warsaw was especially memorable, David said. The remains of the ghetto wall were only about 12 feet high – “I could climb over it with a friend to help.” He noted that there are residences adjacent to the wall, and Ariel recalled that a woman in one of them spoke to the group.
“Normally when hanging out with a bunch of people you barely know, you want to talk to laugh. When you are touring concentration camps, you can’t do that. It’s just not appropriate,” Ariel observed. Josh agreed that “there were somber moments. But when we were together in a group, people were still upbeat. They made the best of the situation, understanding where we were.”
That’s consistent with the overall message delivered by the marchers, Dabvid said: “We are living. We didn’t let them win. Even in Poland, the community still exists.” He added, “We have to keep educating about the Holocaust.”
The three boys are following up on that, making presentations to classes here at Maimonides.
Liorah Rubinstein will deliver the valedictory at Maimonides School’s commencement ceremonies on Sunday, June 15.
Liorah, daughter of Tzvi and Debbie Rubinstein of Newton, has attended Maimonides since Kindergarten. She plans to spend the next year in Jerusalem, at Nishmat seminary for advanced Torah study, and has deferred matriculation at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women in New York City.
Besides her academic excellence, she has been active in drama productions through Middle and Upper School, and also was a soccer player, pianist and choir singer.
“Liorah is a gifted student who has not rested on her natural ability but has used it to propel herself as high as possible,” said Rabbi Mordechai Soskil, Middle and Upper School Judaic studies principal. “She works hard and is committed to excellence in everything she does.”
“Liorah is also just a great person, always ready to help, always ready to lead, always ready with a smile,” Rabbi Soskil added.
In a retrospective interview with the alumni office, Liorah commented that “the biggest gift Maimonides gave me was the tools with which to face religious questions and dilemmas: confidence, honesty and open mindedness.”
She noted that she values “the everyday moments of walking down the hallway” and interacting with students of all ages, teachers and administrators.
Other student honors will be announced later this month and in June.
A weekly soup kitchen operated by Maimonides School students for the past 17 years is relocating to Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe, 113 Washington St. in Brighton.
Gittel’s Kitchen, the region’s only kosher soup kitchen, is open every Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. For several years the soup kitchen has been hosted by Temple Bnai Moshe and Center Makor on Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton.
The soup kitchen is entirely student-run, with teams of volunteers from the Maimonides Upper School serving meals and visiting with diners each week. Food is donated by kosher restaurants and caterers.
“Our congregation is very excited to partner with the Maimonides School and its students in bringing acts of kindness to the larger community,” said Rabbi Yonah Berman, spiritual leader of Congregation Kadimah-Toras Moshe. “This program helps us in furthering our mission of being a shul that lives up its motto, ‘where all are welcome’."
Student leaders are also excited about the new arrangements. "Gittel’s Kitchen has so much potential to benefit the community. We hope the move to Kadimah will allow us to reach out to a broader range of diners," said Sarah Pomeranz, a Maimonides junior from Brookline.
”I'm excited at the prospect of using Maimonides resources to their fullest extent in order to help people in need,” said junior Jared Shein of Newton. "The move to Kadimah is going to help goals we've all had for a while finally become reality," added Charlotte Guedalia, a Newton sophomore. Other student leaders of the project are Adel Buff of West Roxbury and Moshe Forman of Brighton, both juniors.
The soup kitchen was established in 1997 by a Maimonides student from Manchester, NH, Jessica Singer. She explained that she was surprised to see someone from the school community in line at an area soup kitchen, and decided to offer a kosher option at least one meal a week. She named the effort in memory of her mother.
Over the years scores of students have followed her lead, staffing the soup kitchen not only on school days but also during the summer and other vacations.
Some of the diners have been attending for years. Many are not Jewish, but the students emphasize that all are welcome.
Head of School Naty Katz has announced that Scott Mattoon, currently Upper School Co-Head of the Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad, California, has accepted the position of
Middle/Upper School General Studies Principal at Maimonides School beginning July 1, 2014. This appointment is the result of an extensive nationwide search which ultimately concluded with Scott's recent visit to Maimonides, where he observed classes and engaged in lively discussions with faculty, principals, students, and Board members throughout the day.
"Scott is a dynamic and thoughtful leader and educator and brings to Maimonides 20 years of independent school experience and a passion for education," said Katz. In his current position, Mattoon oversees a high school program of 330 students; evaluates faculty and leads in their professional growth; chairs the schoolwide curriculum committee; and coordinates the 10th and 12th grade teams in weekly meetings on teaching, learning, and student support topics.
Early in his career, Scott was the language department chair and co-chair of the English writing curriculum committee at the Webb Schools in Claremont, CA and an English and French teacher and chair of the Chinese program committee at the Collegiate School in New York. He served for ten years on the faculty at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT, first as an English and French teacher, then as head of the French division, and finally as chairman of the language department, supervising 30 faculty members in 10 language offerings.
Mattoon noted, "I am simply thrilled to join the Maimonides community. My visit to the school offered a wonderful glimpse into the keen sense of purpose among students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators. I look forward to collaborating with all members of the community to provide innovative and engaging General Studies learning opportunities to our students." Scott also conveyed his enthusiasm about meeting and connecting with our student body.
Scott, his wife Dawn, and their two children will be moving to Massachusetts at the end of June. Katz noted that Scott will be introduced to the Maimonides community later this summer.
They finally got a chance to play M-Cat basketball.
Trailing by seven late in the fourth quarter, Maimonides went on a 9-2 run to tie the game with 20 seconds to play, thanks to consecutive three-point field goals Yoni Gelb, Yoni Klausner and David Solooki.
Then, with 5.8 seconds remaining and Hillel playing for the final shot, Klausner stole the ball and raced down the court to lay it in as time expired. His game-winning shot and 35-point performance were a fitting climax to a stellar four-year varsity career.
"Even though we did not score in the second quarter, we ran the fast break well, passed the ball around and penetrated until we had a good look," Yoni said. "Today was unlike the first three games we played, where our opponent tried to slow down the game." The Sarachek Turnament does not employ a shot clock.
The M-Cats had an equally dramatic win over Yeshiva of Atlanta Friday morning on another buzzer-beater, this one by Eli Winton.
Eli Winton's buzzer-beating baseline jumper Friday afternoon propelled the Maimonides School M-Cats to the Tier II semifinals of the Red Sarachek Memorial Basketball Tournament at Yeshiva University. The senior forward's shot was the difference in a come-from-behind 30-28 win over Yeshiva Atlanta.
Grade 9 student Sarah Wertheimer was among the top 10 finalists in the 2014 Ulpaniada championship round, which took place Tuesday at Michlalah Jerusalem College.
Sarah's score in the test, which combines mathematical skill and logical reasoning, placed her between fourth and tenth, inclusive. Ziva Deutsch, director of the competition, which is open to Orthodox high school girls, said the practice is to specifically designate only the first three among the top ten.
Sarah, daughter of Joyce and Jeremy Wertheimer of Brookline, and sophomore Orli Stitcher, daughter of Emma and Andrew Stitcher of Newton, qualified for the finals as a result of their scores on the second round of the exam taken in February. Orli's two older sisters also qualified for the finals in prior years.
There were 60 finalists in this year's Ulpaniada, including only 18 students from the Diaspora. Mrs. Deutsch said some 8,000 girls took part in the first round, with fewer than 1,000 qualifying to move on.
Michlalah Jerusalem College, sponsor of the Ulpaniada, hosted the finalists for four days. "They had a very nice time together, an excellent week," Mrs. Deutsch said, with an itinerary that included tours and shiurim. The program is supported by Israel's Ministry of Education.
Three Maimonides School students have qualified for the national finals in the Chidon Hatanakh, the National Bible Contest sponsored by the Jewish Agency.
David Schoenberg, son of Susan and Lewis Schoenberg of Newton, a junior, will compete in the high school division. Two Grade 8 students, Elad Jeselsohn, son of Rinath and Joel Jeselsohn of Newton, and Yair Kosowsky-Sachs, son of Elka Sachs and Seth Kosowsky of Sharon, qualified for the middle school nationals.
The six-hour finals are scheduled for Sunday, May 11, at Manhattan Day School. The three, like all day school students, will be taking the test in Hebrew. The winners at each level are eligible to compete for the 2015 Chidon international championship in Israel.
Both divisions are being tested on the contents of Bereshit, Shoftim and Tehillim; the high school syllabus also includes Yechezkel.
Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, the limudei kodesh teacher who coordinates preparation for the Bible contest, said students study “by re-reading the stories, making charts and directing a close eye to details in the text, and by memorizing parts. We meet every other week to discuss how our progress has been going.”
Rabbi Jaffe is a former national Chidon winner, as are several Maimonides alumni.
The Maimonides Middle School girls’ basketball team finished an unblemished 13-0 campaign with a victory in the championship game of the Jewish Day School League tournament earlier this month.
Regular season victories included two against perennial power Ursuline Academy of Dedham. Maimonides defeated Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston in the opening round of the league tournament, then cruised to victory over Rashi School in the finals. The middle school girls also played SAR in Riverdale, NY as part of a Shabbaton weekend
The team averaged 50 points per game for the year, and “that’s amazing for middle school girls,” said Elliot Mael ’83, coach for the past three seasons. A big part of that average was the three-point field goals – the girls sank 50 of them. The offensive output wasn’t the only highlight of this team. “We really were able to guard people, and we were super fast. It was hard to score on us,” said Coach Mael, who was a standout on Maimonides men’s teams of the early 1980s.
Nine of the 12 starters are eighth graders, including the starting five of Tri-Captains Libby and Shayna Mael and Rebecca Rowan, Daniella Hanau and Hannah Zar, plus “sixth man” Naama Forman. The team included one sixth grader, Daniella Bessler. Also on the roster was Deena Karger, Grade 7, whose aunt Sharona (Karger) Kay ’87 played on early Maimonides women's teams.
Ela Weissberger reached into her purse and displayed a small piece of yellow fabric, an item that most of the Maimonides School sophomores in her audience had seen only in pictures. “This is the original star I got before I went to Terezin,” she told the students. “We were already wearing them in Prague.”
Mrs. Weissberger shared memories of her wartime survival in a conversation sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves on March 7.
As a child she lived in Prague, and for the most part, the Jewish community in the Czech capital was “very much assimilated,” she said. After the German occupation of Czech lands in 1939, “little by little, they were taking away.”
Those losses included family pets, she told the students. One friend handed a caged canary to a stranger through an open window. Mrs. Weissberger said she lost her dog when her family was forced to move in with two others in a single apartment.
She arrived at Terezin (Theresienstadt) concentration camp with her family on Feb. 12, 1942 at the age of 11 and remained there for almost three-and-a-half years until liberation.
The Nazis created a façade and successfully presented Terezin to the world as a benign resettlement community with many cultural amenities. These included the one-act children’s opera Brundibar. Mrs. Weissberger had a role in the production, which began in September 1943.
“There was only one cat – it was me,” she laughed. “I did it 55 times – I would never let anybody else be the cat!”
“When we performed Brundibar at Terezin, we didn’t have to wear the star,” Mrs. Weissberger said. “For us, it was very important to have a couple moments of freedom and not to be marked.”
The production was incorporated into a Nazi propaganda film. But two weeks after the 55th performance, transportation of artists began to Auschwitz and other destinations.
Mrs. Weissberger said she dedicates her lectures to “so many wonderful children who didn’t survive…. I made up my mind many years ago that they shouldn’t be forgotten.”
“Each survivor has a story,” she told the students. “We are connected, and we are still learning from each other.”
The presiding judge said that after 10 years of officiating over high school mock trials, "the losing team is still better than all of the other teams I've seen."
That was small consolation to the Maimonides mock trial team, which lost a close contest to Winsor School of Boston Tuesday in the state quarterfinal round. The trial took place in Framingham District Court.
The trial was the final appearance of the Maimonides team's four seniors, Captains Eitan Kaplan and Eliana Ramelson, plus Yael Green and Goldie Wolfson.
Attorney-Coach Amy Rosen said, "I'm very proud of every one of them," and added she is already looking forward to next year.
Maimonides School students continued their long-standing relationship with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee earlier this month, as a five-student delegation participated in the annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC.
Seniors Eitan Kaplan, Adam Katzman and Benny Strachman and juniors Avital Fried and Emily Jaffe were among more than 14,000 people attending what is labeled “the largest gathering of America’s pro-Israel community.”
“This event was not only educational, it was also inspirational,” Avital reported. “It was amazing to see 14,000 people of different ages, ethnicities, and religions come together in support of the same cause: Israel.”
“Our experience is one that we will never forget, and it encouraged us to bring what we learned back home to our Maimonides community,” added Emily. “We feel very fortunate to be part of a pro-Israel community, and we hope other members of our community will join us in our active support for Israel.”
According to AIPAC, “The conference highlights the importance of the partnership between the United States and Israel and showcases the two nations’ common interests in making the world a better place.”
The Maimonides School mock trial team is one of eight remaining entries in the state tournament, after outscoring Mansfield High School Thursday afternoon.
The quarterfinals are scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Framingham District Court against Winsor School of Boston.
Maimonides qualifies for the "Elite Eight" for the third straight year and the fourth time in six years.
Thursday the team's plaintiff cohort was in the spotlight, as assigned at the start of the trial in Norfolk Probate and Family Court in Canton.
Both sides got their money's worth, as the judge assigned by the Massachusetts Bar Association spent about an hour providing feedback to every participating student before announcing the score.
By Aaron Marks '14, Director
This year's Maimonides Upper School production will be "Get Smart," the tale of a classic buffoon of a spy named Maxwell Smart. The version we will be performing was adapted by Christopher Sergel in 1967 from the original Get Smart TV show created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon. It is based on the first episode of the series.
Many may remember the TV show for the sayings it introduced -- "Sorry about that, chief" and "Missed it by that much." -- or for the ridiculous gizmos used -- the shoe phone and the famous locker key. Some (we'll call them the younger crowd) may think of the antics of Steve Carell in the 2008 remake.
Our Max Smart, that's Agent 86, can match up with the best of them -- would you believe that?. Played by senior Daniel Schwartz, Smart will try to counter the evil forces of KAOS as they try to manipulate all that's good in a sinister plot for world domination. Helping 86 are his partner Agent 99, played by senior Liorah Rubinstein, the chief, played by senior Rachel Asulin, and CONTROL.
Will they be able to match Mr. Big, played by freshman Arthur Bloomfield, and KAOS after a bumbling professor, a young princess, and some blondes get involved? Come see and , at in the Fox Gymnasium.
Whether you're reminiscing about old times, excited for a riveting thriller, a theatre-lover, or just interested in seeing your grandchild on stage, this production will be something you don't want to miss.
No one asks who Maimonides School is at the mock trial state tournament anymore.
For the fifth time in the past six years, Maimonides has won its region and qualified for the single-elimination playoffs known as the “Sweet 16.”
The first round is scheduled for next Thursday at 2 p.m. at Norfolk Probate and Family Court, 35 Shawmut Road, Canton, where Maimonides will face the team from Mansfield High School.
A win in the regional tie-breaker over Brookline High School Thursday propelled Maimonides into the tournament. The school won this case as plaintiff. In the tournament, the sides are determined by a coin toss just before the trial.
Twenty-four Upper School students -- only four of them seniors -- are on the mock trial roster. Amy Rosen serves as atrtorney-coach; teacher-coach is Gina Sauceda.
When they write the annals of Maimonides School basketball, the evening of Feb. 25, 2014 will need its own chapter.
Both the boys' and girls' varsities, encouraged by hundreds of fans in the Brookline High gym, won impressively in the opening round of the MIAA Division 4 North sectionals. The boys defeated Cristo Rey of Boston, 70-62, and the girls followed by defeating Lowell Catholic, 52-51. The boys' next game is Thursday at St. Mary's in Lynn.
The Lady M-Cats win was more dramatic. They trailed by two at halftime, and the score stayed close through most of the second half. The visitors were starting to pull away with a little over two minutes remaining. Then Michal Alge, the anchor of the Lady M-Cats for four years, fouled out.
So her teammates took over from there, rallying on offense and defense to narrow the gap to one, featuring a key three-point field goal by Shoshana Ehrenkranz. Renen Melul drove the baseline and laid it in with six seconds to go to seal a 52-51 victory.
Michal led the team with 14 points as her stellar career continues for at least one more game. Renen and Shoshana added 13 apiece and junior Adi Atar came off the bench to score a huge 10 points.
In the opening game, the boys rode a flurry of three-pointers to victory, led by David Solooki's four and Yoni Gelb's three. The boys fell behind 9-0 but led by four at halftime. the lead was increased to 55-48 after three, then Maimonides withstood several minutes of pressure defense by the Knights to clinch the win.
Yoni Klausner scored 24, David had 18 and Yoni Gellb 15 for the M-Cats. Eli Winton added key baskets, Joseph Solomont dished out several assists and Josh Jacobson had some huge rebounds off the bench.
Maimonides basketball fans get two games for the price of one Tuesday evening, as first the boys' and then the girls' teams compete in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 4 North tournament opening round.
Both contests will be at the Brookline High School gymnasium on Greenough Street, which can accommodate many more spectators than the Maimonides gym.
The sixth-seeded M-Cats are scheduled to tap off at 6 against a familiar opponent from past years, Cristo Rey Boston. The 11th-seeded Knights have a record of 10-10.
Girls' basketball action is expected to begin around 7:30, as the Lady M-Cats, also a sixth seed, entertain Lowell Catholic, seeded 12th with a 12-8 record. The two teams battled through four overtimes in a memorable tournament game in Brookline a year ago.
Maimonides School students will encounter new faces and new facilities when they return to classes on Wednesday, Sept. 5. This fall marks the 75th anniversary of New England’s oldest and largest Jewish day school.
Rabbi Mordechai Soskil is Maimonides’ new Middle and Upper School principal for Judaic studies. Rabbi Soskil, most recently middle school principal at Beth Tfiloh community school in Baltimore, has been on the job since July.
The eight additional new staff members in Grades 6-12 include a Science Department chair, Linda D’Apolito. There are also two new teachers in the elementary grades.
The most dramatic improvement to the physical plant is a virtually brand new chemistry and biology laboratory. The betterments include not only a new physical learning environment but also state-of-the-art technology. “We are upgrading the rooms in every aspect,” said Mervin Alge, Maimonides director of operations.
All the existing lab units were replaced with new, modern units, which are multi-angled to allow more students to use them efficiently. A state-of-the-art Panasonic Panoboard was installed, the latest generation of the so-called “smart boards.”
The adjacent physics lab was improved with a a new drop ceiling, improved lighting and new upper cabinets for storage.
A generous donation by Dr. Selvin Passen, a retired pathologist from Baltimore, is underwriting the majority of the improvements. Dr. Passen’s gift is in memory of his wife Sylvia, z”l. He is a business partner and longtime friend of a Maimonides family.
Also, space in the main library has been converted to a media center. Among the features are 24 new desktop computers and a projector with sound. This will expand educational opportunities extending to the entire curriculum, Mr. Alge noted. A projector and drop-down screen for classes and presentations were added in the adjacent Levy Library
More than four dozen faculty members took part in professional development activities during the summer, and are expected to bring new programs and teaching techniques back to the school.
The new Judaic studies principal in the Maimonides Middle and Upper School is fully engaged with preparations for the coming academic year.
“I've been so impressed by the care that the administrators show for each student's program, and by everyone's creativity and passion,” said Rabbi Mordechai Soskil. “I look forward to finding ways to contribute.”
Rabbi Soskil most recently was middle school principal at Beth Tfiloh Community Day School in Baltimore, where he began his teaching career in 1996.
He assumed his responsibilities at Maimonides earlier this month, working with Judith Boroschek, general studies principal; Rabbi Dov Huff, assistant principal; and Brian Cohen, assistant principal, Middle School.
“I'm very excited to be a part of the Maimonides community,” Rabbi Soskil declared. “My kids and I are all excited to be part of this great school.”
The co-valedictorians of Maimonides School’s graduating class lauded their alma mater and their classmates, as 50 seniors joined the ranks of the alumni at the school’s 60th commencement Sunday morning. Hundreds of parents, relatives, teachers and friends filled Judge J. John Fox Gymnasium for the culmination of the academic year.
Sarah Ricklan delivered her valedictory in Hebrew, followed by Elliot Salinger in English. They were honored together because their grade point averages were virtually the same.
Sarah described the mixed emotions inherent in commencement day, detailing all of the experiences that she will miss, from caring teachers to the closely-knit senior class. But at the same time, the school has prepared its graduates for life. Maimonides, her translated remarks said, “”has empowered me to live in both the secular and the religious world as the Rav envisioned.”
In addition, “Maimonides has given me a sense of morality. I have a strong sense of values, a kind of instinct about wrong and right… I am equipped with a discerning way of thinking that will guide me…”
“We cannot fully leave this place, because Maimonides is a family, and we can’t just break away from our family,” her translation read. “We are not closing any doors today as we open the new ones. That is one of the gifts Maimonides School has given us. We have the master key to every door in the world.”
Elliot told the assembly that “The Modern Orthodox, Torah U'Madda education at Maimonides has taught us how to engage with our traditions in an intellectually and religiously meaningful way, how to live by them, and how to pass them on to the next generation.”
The school he said, has “imbued within us a holistic sense as to how to lead our lives as committed, halachically observant Jews who are simultaneously engaged with the broader world. The importance of both the nitty-gritty concrete and the more amorphous abstract within Jewish living is a hallmark of the Maimonides education.”
He cited a 1976 lecture by Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik examining Judaism’s perspective on the individual the community, and the relationship between them. There are aspects that are relevant to the Class of 2012, he said. They include:
--"Rav Soloveitchik remarked that originality and creativity are functions of individuality. Our grade comprises individuals who have accomplished incredible feats.” There are unique individual qualities to the class, he added, and “our grade minus one individual would not be the same.”
--The class is a “prayer community, not only by “placing a high value on tefilla” but also by “consistently coming together to support its members undergoing difficulties.” Also, “Our grade has created a supportive network that is ready to help others, whether or not they are members of our community.”
--“The Class of 2012 similarly constitutes a teaching community,” Elliot said. Seniors have “studied our heritage and our religion. During our time at Maimonides, we have accepted our role as bearers of the "living Mesorah.”
Following the valedictories. Annie Davis, Yonina Frim and Avinoam Stillman, all honored for academic achievement, read excerpts from the works of the Rambam in Hebrew and English translation:.
In his opening remarks, Rabbi Yaalov Jaffe, principal for Judaic studies, referred to a Talmudic principle that also has been explored in modern psychology – the inability to concentrate on simultaneous sounds. The need for “selective attention” has practical implications for the class, Rabbi Jaffe said.
“Judaism is constantly engaged in a mutually uplifting dialogue with the entirety of secular knowledge,” Rabbi Jaffe said. As college students, “it is our belief that you will ask yourself at every juncture, ‘What does my faith have to say about what I just learned’?”
Today’s society is marked by a “confusion and cacophony of many different sounds,” Rabbi Jaffe continued. The key to making sense of it all is “you find a voice and a vision that has meaning and values that you have learned, to pick out ideas from among the dissonance.”
Diplomas were conferred by the co-chairs of the Board of Trustees, Beth and Marc Epstein, parents of five graduates, including Talia of the Class of 2012. The Epsteins implored parents of graduates to remain connected to the school.
Judy Boroschek, principal for general studies, followed the presentation of diplomas by complimenting the seniors for their individual strengths, and for their support for each other. “Do not confuse who you are today with what you will become,” she said. “What is guaranteed is a world of constant change and complexity.”
Other members of the Class of 2012 are Lia Almekies, Benji Berg, Jacob Blitstein, Aaron Brandt, Naftali Ehrenkranz, Yakov Ellenbogen, Ezra Etzel, Sara Flesh, Eugene Foygelman, Joshua Fried, Jacob Frisch, Hanah Geller, Jamie Goldstein, Ari Green, Rinatte Gruen, Rachel Heerter, Emmanuel Iskhakov, Eitan Kahn, Avichai Kapach, Benjamin Katz, Erez Krimsky and Yeshaya Lazaros.
Also, Adin Liss, Jonathan Michaelson, Gabriela Mizrahi-Arnaud, Tess Niewood, Yoni Nouriel, Menachum Polack, Yoel Polack, Yael Pomper, Dani Portman, Deena Rosenblatt, David Rubenstein, Laivi Salvaggio, Amitai Samuels, Miriam Segal, Penina Seigel, Jessica Shrayber, Penina Simkovitz, Elisheva Spellman, Yair Strachman, Zack Strunin, Elie Sundel and Hannah Vester.
Teachers, grandparents, parents, guests, and classmates, I am honored to speak to you today at our Commencement.
I have never understood the term “Commencement.” I have seen the word on flashing boards around Boston in May, and we have all groaned at the traffic associated with the ceremony. But growing up, I did not understand why it was called “Commencement” and not “Graduation.” After all, the word “commencement” implies a start, a beginning, something new. The word “graduation,” by contrast, implies an end, a goodbye, moving on. While we are embracing our future today at our Commencement, we are primarily bidding our past farewell. So how is this a Commencement if all we are doing is saying goodbye?
I do not want to leave this place, this school that has become my home. I will miss going to every single class knowing that the teacher genuinely cares about me. I will miss knowing that I can turn to anyone, student or teacher, if I need help or just an ear to listen. I will miss my teachers who, through their passion and expertise, made me want to learn. I will miss the little things that make our hallways a haven: the writing on lockers, the ballgames, the music blasting, and the snacks shared when the days seem so long. I will miss the day the sun finally comes out after an endless winter and everyone streams into the courtyard to eat lunch. I will miss the frustrated mutterings when too many students jostle for the microwaves. I will miss the ubiquitous question, “What class do we have next?” I might even miss the bells. I am not ready to say goodbye to these things, these simple things that have defined our routine for so long. And I am most certainly not ready to say goodbye to my classmates.
A few weeks ago, the high school enjoyed a Shabbaton at Camp Yavneh. On the Saturday night, students and teachers crowded around a bonfire. The flames rose up in the middle of the circle, the smoke swirling into the starry sky above us. Everyone was just talking, roasting marshmallows, and being in each other’s company; it was serene. Then, one member of my class picked up a guitar and another sang along. Soon, the night was filled with chords and melodies. The firelight illuminated my friends’ smiles, their lips mouthing the lyrics of the song. The unity I felt at that moment, the comradery implicit in singing the same words at the same time, was more than beautiful. It was Maimonides.
More than that, it was our grade. My classmates have always had the initiative to start things. And my classmates do not become jealous of those who start things, but instead they sing along. We support each other wholeheartedly, and we are proud and excited when one of us succeeds. We are interested in each other’s lives, interested in each other’s goals and plans. Over the second semester of senior year, there were so many conversations about our senior projects; we all lapped up our friends’ unique talents. I am so blessed to be a member of the class of 2012, a class with immeasurable integrity, kindness, and ability.
I am scared to walk away. But in my moments of fear, I remember what Maimonides has given me. It has empowered me to live in both the secular world and the religious world, as the Rav envisioned. I know that I can be an observant Jewish woman and still be a doctor. Just as I can open a Gemara and learn how to make utensils kosher, I can open a chemistry textbook and understand how to electroplate a silver spoon. But I have been given more than just a way to merge two worlds. Maimonides has given me a sense of morality. I have a strong set of values, a kind of instinct about wrong and right. I know that not everything I encounter outside these walls will fall neatly into these categories, but I am equipped with a discerning way of thinking that will guide me through that gray. When I think about that, I am confident, not afraid. I am also grateful for my brilliant teachers. I admire their wisdom, and I thank them for the unbelievable education they gave us.
Well, time stops for no one, and so here we are, soon to receive our diplomas, about to leave the place that has raised us. When I was little, I would wonder where we would all be at our ten-year reunion. Which one of us will be the famous author? Who will be the successful businessperson? Who will be on track to win a Nobel Prize? I would not be surprised if, in the future, I turn on the TV and see a familiar name associated with some accomplishment. Most of all, I know that whether we change the world or change our block, we will do it with decency and respect.
Although we leave our school to find our own, separate paths, I am not saying goodbye. We will see each other again. One of the things about Maimo is that we will be in each other’s lives. We will come back and visit, chat with teachers, help younger students; we will keep in touch. So perhaps today is not as I originally thought. It is not about closing off our past. We cannot just close off our past; it is part of who we are. And we cannot fully leave this place, because Maimonides is not just a network. It is not just a group of friends. It is not just a school. It is a family, and we cannot just break away from our family.
Maybe at other institutions, “Graduation” would be the appropriate description. The graduating class may very well be saying goodbye, never to return again. But Maimonides School is not one of those institutions. We are not closing any doors today as we open the new ones. That is one of the gifts Maimonides School has given us. We have the master key to every door in the world. This is a Commencement in its fullest sense. So, teachers, grandparents, parents, guests, and my friends, the class of 2012, let’s begin.
Good morning and welcome to the friends and family of the Class of 2012. As you look up to the stage, you should see two distinct entities. The first is a collection of discrete individuals: each graduating senior. However, in addition, there exists a community whose identity transcends those of its individual constituents. That community is the Class of 2012.
On May 31, 1976, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the founder of Maimonides School, delivered an address at the 78th annual meeting of the Conference of Jewish Communal Service in Boston. This address was later published in the Spring 1978 edition of Tradition magazine—Volume 17, Number 2, for those keeping score at home—under the title "the Community." In his address, Rav Soloveitchik discussed Judaism's perspective on the individual, the community, and the relationship between them. Typical of his dialectical approach, Rav Soloveitchik argued that Judaism endorses both experiences, that Jewish life is sensitive to both individual and communal concerns.
Rav Soloveitchik noted several aspects of individuality and community that I think are particularly relevant to our grade. First, Rav Soloveitchik remarked that originality and creativity are functions of individuality. Our grade comprises individuals who have accomplished incredible feats. If you don't believe me, just listen to the Independent Study titles that will be read soon. Furthermore, the individual contributes his or her own personality to the community. In Rav Soloveitchik's words, "Each individual possesses something unique, rare, which is unknown to others; each individual has a unique message to communicate, a special color to add to the communal spectrum." Our grade minus one individual would not be the same; each person has his or her own distinctive contribution to the grade dynamic, and thus every individual is indispensable and irreplaceable.
A specific consequence of individuality that Rav Soloveitchik highlighted is the requirement to show special sensitivity to society's vulnerable members. In the world of high school, one such class of people is new students. Our grade consistently accepted this moral responsibility. Allow me now to speak personally.
I came to Maimonides in 9th grade from another Jewish day school in the area. I knew only a handful of my future classmates. I was worried that I would have trouble making friends, since many of my new peers had already been classmates for nine years at the time. However, I forgot my concerns shortly after starting school. My new classmates were as friendly as could be. They all were interested in meeting me and socializing with me, and I immediately received dozens of Shabbat invitations. I knew that I had become fully integrated when only a few months into my first year, my new classmates would ask me about occurrences at Maimo from the year before. When this happened, I would have to remind them that I was not a student at Maimonides then. Thanks to the inclusiveness of my classmates, I felt completely welcomed, and now I have made many friends for life. My classmates who joined our grade rather late have reported having similar experiences. Part of the Class of 2012's culture is to care for and accept others.
Rav Soloveitchik articulated the process by which the community accepts new members as follows: "I assume responsibility for each member of the community to whom I have granted recognition and whom I have found worthy of being my companion. In other words, the I is responsible for the physical and mental welfare of the thou." Rav Soloveitchik further explained that this sense of empathy creates a special type of community, a prayer community.
Our grade is a prayer community both on the surface level and in a deeper sense. Simply speaking, our grade places a high value on tefila. Members of our grade have helped make minyanim and have served as ba'alei keria at shiva homes and in small communities, such as Lowell. At grade functions, for example class barbecues, the Senior Gala, and other get-togethers, our class has always taken care to daven together. At Shabbatonim, both those for our class exclusively—such as the Portland Shabbaton and Simchat Torah in Brookline—and those for the whole school—such as the recent retreat at Camp Yavneh—our grade has demonstrated its commitment to tefila be-tzibur, a concept central in the Halacha and especially the philosophy of Rav Soloveitchik.
In his address, Rav Soloveitchik focused on a deeper meaning of a prayer community. Rav Soloveitchik defined the prayer community as "a community of common pain, of common suffering." Rav Soloveitchik explained that our prayers are phrased in the plural since we are approaching God not as a collection of individuals, but as a distinct entity called the Jewish community. This notion of a prayer community applies to the Class of 2012, as well. Our grade has consistently come together to support its members undergoing difficulties. The logical extension of this prayer community, as Rav Soloveitchik noted, is a charity community. Our grade has created a supportive network that is ready to help others, whether or not they are members of our community. Activities such as Soup Kitchen, Chesed day, and Yachad, all organized at least in part by members of the Class of 2012, show our grade's commitment to aiding those less fortunate.
Rav Soloveitchik's analysis culminates in a discussion of the teaching community. In this community, the teacher relates to the students the saga of Jewish history and the laws—ritual and moral—by which they must live. Rav Soloveitchik then explained that "we not only tell stories describing events; we tell stories precipitating the re-experiences of events which transpired millennia ago. To tell a story is to relive the event."
The Class of 2012 similarly constitutes a teaching community. Together, the community of 50 graduating seniors has studied our heritage and our religion. During our time at Maimonides, we have accepted our role as bearers of the "living masora," to use Rabbi Prof. Isadore Twersky's phrase. Maimonides has taught us the details of the story—for instance, the economic conditions of Andalusian Jewry in the 10th century and the halachic status of hydroponically-grown plants. But Maimonides has also imbued within us a holistic sense as to how to lead our lives as committed, halachically observant Jews who are simultaneously engaged with the broader world. The importance of both the nitty-gritty concrete and the more amorphous abstract within Jewish living is a hallmark of the Maimonides education.
Rav Soloveitchik continued to highlight the story's intergenerational nature, noting that it "cuts across the ages" and "unites countless generations; present, past, and future merge into one great experience."
Through the study of our past, we have connected our smaller community, the Class of 2012, with the larger community of Knesset Yisrael, the Jewish people throughout history. The Modern Orthodox, Torah U'Madda education at Maimonides has taught us how to engage with our traditions in an intellectually and religiously meaningful way, how to live by them, and how to pass them on to the next generation. Maimonides has taught us how to be the next link in the chain, from our ancestors to our children.
Rav Soloveitchik concluded his address by noting, "It is a privilege and a pleasure to belong to such a prayerful, charitable, teaching community, which feels the breath of eternity." Similarly, my four years as a member of the Class of 2012 have been a privilege and a pleasure. I will never forget my experience here, and my Maimonides education will guide me and all those here on the stage for the rest of our lives. Thank you, Maimonides School, and thank you, Class of 2012.
Co-valedictorians will highlight Maimonides School’s 60th Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, June 17, beginning at 10:30 a.m. in Judge J. John Fox Gymnasium.
Sarah Ricklan, daughter of Drs. David Ricklan and Deborah Mehl of Newton, and Elliot Salinger, son of Jay and Amy Salinger of Framingham, will share the honor after all criteria employed for determining the honor were virtually tied.
Sarah will deliver her valedictory in hebrew, and Elliot's speech will be in English.
Diplomas will be conferred on 50 members of the Class of 2012 during ceremonies that will also include excerpts from the works of the Rambam, read by three classmates: Annie Davis and Avinoam Stillman, both of Brookline, and Yonina Frim of Newton.
Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, principal for Judaic studies, will address the class to begin Commencement, while Judy Boroschek, principal for general studies, will make some closing observations.
Members of the Class of 2012 reside in Boston, Brookline, Newton and Sharon as well as the North and South Shores and MetroWest. Ninety percent of the graduates plan to spend the coming academic year in Israeli yeshivot, seminaries or programs.
Sarah will spend the next year studying at Midreshet HaRova in Israel before matriculating at Columbia University. Elliot also will be learning in Israel next academic year, at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He will then begin classes at Princeton University.
Maimonides School saluted and thanked Rabbi Zalmen Stein Sunday evening, as nearly 250 colleagues, family members and well-wishers gathered at the school to applaud the retiring teacher for his 38-year Maimonides career.
(The proceedings are available on video by using the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_y_1E1_HlcQ&list=PLE71804464804BE02&feature=view_all)
The program featured remarks by Jeremy Fisher ’13, one of Rabbi Stein’s current students; Judy Boroschek, Middle and Upper School principal for general studies; and Harvey Gertel, long-time volunteer leader and a friend of Rabbi Stein. Rabbi Yochanon Stein ’94 also spoke about his father before the guest of honor took the microphone. Rabbi Stein spoke of his gratitude to the school and shared details of some of his early experiences at Maimonides.
Speakers stressed how Rabbi Stein has personified the school’s philosophy through his teaching excellence in both Judaic and general studies. Over the course of his career, his academic disciplines have included Chumash, computer science, mathematics, physics and Talmud.
Remarks also focused on Rabbi Stein’s personal warmth, humor and compassion, his commitment to each student and his versatility outside the classroom.
The school presented Rabbi Stein with an engraved Kiddush cup, as well as an album containing scores of messages of thanks and congratulations written by current and former students, parents and colleagues.
Rabbi Stein’s wife Freydie, their four children and many grandchildren were on hand, as well as many former Maimonides teachers, and alumni spanning five decades.
Six members of the Maimonides Class of 2013 were recognized with prestigious academic honors at an awards ceremony Friday morning.
Honored were Jason Avigan with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal; Moshe Beiser with the Harvard Prize Book Award; and Odeya Durani with the George Eastman Young Leaders Award, given by the University of Rochester.
Also recognized were Natan Pomper with the Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award, also from Rochester; Lior Ramati with the Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology; and Elisheva Rosen with the Yale Prize Book Award.
The ceremony was coordinated by Tamar Gelb, director of college counseling.
Yoni Nouriel ’12 is Maimonides School’s 2012 recipient of the Rose Ruderman Scholar Award.
The prize, presented by the Ruderman Family through Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, goes to one student in each of the region’s seven Orthodox day schools. The award was established in 2009 “to recognize students who contribute to the Jewish community by reaching out and helping others,” emulating the qualities of Mrs. Ruderman, z”l.
According to the Ruderman Family Foundation, “Rose Ruderman was a compassionate person who always sought to improve the lives of her friends, family, and members of her community. The award recognizes outstanding students who exemplify the values which Rose Ruderman embodied, such as commitment to family, involvement in the community, and kindness and respect to others.”
Yoni and the other winners will accept their awards at special ceremonies hosted by the Ruderman Family Tuesday.
For the 42nd time, a participant in a bone marrow screening at Maimonides School is on the threshold of an opportunity to save someone’s life.
The Gift of Life Foundation notified the school this week that a participant in the April 2007 donor drive has been identified as a match for a 63 year old man suffering from myelodysplastic disorder .
After further research, it will be determined whether the match can be consummated with a donation.
Maimonides School’s first Gift of Life event was in August 2003, in response to the illness of a beloved teacher, Sharon Steiff, z”l. Of the 613 screened that day, there were 3 matches.
Since 2007 annual screenings have been targeted at graduating seniors and their families, producing nine more matches so far. There have been five bone marrow or stem cell donations emanating from the matches.
The bone marrow screening for the Class of 2012 is scheduled for Thursday, June 14, before Senior Recognition Night.
Students in Grades 4-12 observed Yom HaZikaron with a solemn and inspirational ceremony on the afternoon of April 25. The day honors Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks. As in Israel, the program began with a two-minute siren. Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, Middle and Upper School Limudei Kodesh principal, chanted the memorial prayer, followed by words from Rabbi Dr. Asher Schechter of the limudei kodesh faculty.
The ceremony featured tributes to defenders who fell during the years before and after the 1948 War for Independence. Guest speaker Nimrod Tzukert, an Israeli Defense Ministry official and Wexner Israel Fellow, talked of his experiences dealing with loss of comrades in the IDF Special Forces. Israel “has to work very hard in order to survive,” he said. Jews in the Diaspora can help by advocating for Israel in the public square, he said
A sextet composed of Moshe Beiser ’11, Doron Cheses ‘10, Akiva Gebler ’11, Menachem Polack ’12, Yoni Nouriel ’12 and David Rubenstein ’12 sang a moving rendition of Ma Avorech, a lament written following the Six-Day War. Later, Doron and Yoni harmonized on Eretz Zvi, a celebration of the successful 1976 rescue of hostages in Uganda.
Other students taking part were Shoshana Ehrenkranz, Ezra Einhorn, Avital Fried, Zoe Gompers, Yael Green, Elisha Jacobs, Jared Kraay, Hannah Lanzkron, Shira Levenberg, Shmuel Mitzner, Liorah Rubenstein, Ariella Sundel, Yael Turk and Julia Wiener. The program was prepared by Galit Grutman, director of Hebrew language, with help from teacher Sarit Rubenstein and the Bnei Akiva shlichot.
The school year is far from over but it's not too early to start making summer plans.Here at Maimo, we offer several options:M-Cats Sports Camp is back for its 6th season of fun and games. Run by current student and alumni, this three week program is geared for students who have completed grades K-7. The activities include: games, water slide, and field trips. New this year are arts and crafts,dance and sports clinics. The series of three one-week sessions begins June 25. Click here for more information.Science teacher Katie Muratore is back again with a three-week camp for budding scientists. Ms. M's Science Camp begins June 25 and is geared for students in who have completed grades 2-7. Each week has a different theme focusing on a specific topic. Activities include classroom and outdoor experiments, field trips and outings to area science attractions. For more information, click here.
The school year is far from over but it's not too early to start making summer plans.Here at Maimo, we offer several options:M-Cats Sports Camp is back for its 6th season of fun and games. Run by current student and alumni, this three week program is geared for students who have completed grades K-7. The activities include: games, water slide, and field trips. New this year are arts and crafts,dance and sports clinics. The series of three one-week sessions begins June 25. Click here for more information.Science teacher Katie Muratore is back again with a three-week camp for budding scientists. Ms. M's Science Camp begins June 25 and is geared for students in who have completed grades 2-7. Each week has a different theme focusing on a specific topic. Activities include classroom and outdoor experiments, field trips and outings to area science attractions. For more information, click here.
Maimonides School recently appointed veteran Jewish educator and administrator Rabbi Mordechai Soskil as the Judaic Studies principal of the Middle and Upper Schools. Rabbi Soskil, who will begin at Maimonides on July 1, is currently Middle School Principal of Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School, a K-12 Jewish community day school in Baltimore, MD.
“We are very pleased that Rabbi Soskil will be joining our academic leadership team,” said Naty Katz, Executive Director. “Rabbi Soskil is highly regarded for his wonderful connection to students, teachers and parents.”
Rabbi Soskil has been at Beth Tfiloh Dahan since 1995, beginning there as a middle and upper school Limudei Kodesh teacher. In 2006, he was named principal of their middle school. Rabbi Soskil received smicha (rabbinical certification) and has a Master’s in Talmudic Law from Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore and is completing a Master’s in Jewish Education at Baltimore Hebrew Institute, a division of Towson University. A graduate of Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, Rabbi Soskil grew up in Queens and Long Island. He and his wife Allison have six children ranging in age from 4 to 16. They will relocate to the Boston area this summer.
“I'm very excited about joining the Maimonides community and becoming a part of the school's phenomenal legacy of excellence,” Rabbi Soskil noted. “On a personal note, my wife Allison and I know that Maimonides will be a great place for our own children to reach their true potential.”
Rabbi Soskil will join General Studies Principal Judy Boroschek and Assistant Principal Rabbi Dov Huff on the administrative team for the Middle and Upper Schools. He was selected after a nationwide search to fill the position, which was vacated when former principal Yair Altshuler moved to Israel at the end of the 2009/10 school year. Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, a member of the Judaic Studies faculty in the Maimonides Upper School and the spiritual leader of the Maimonides Kehilla based at the school, has served as interim principal.
They had ‘em all the way. The intrepid Maimonides School M-Cats, down by seven points with only a few minutes to play, outscored Or Chaim of Toronto 15-6 down the stretch to win the Tier III Championship of the Red Sarachek Memorial Basketball Tournament, 54-52 Monday afternoon in New York. The annual four-day tournament and Shabbaton at Yeshiva University is the showcase of North American Jewish day school basketball, with 20 teams participating. Sophomore Yoni Klausner (12 points) tied Monday’s title game at 52 with 30 seconds remaining, sinking a three-point field goal. Then Or Chaim, trying to set up the winning basket, was called for traveling. At the other end of the floor, Maimonides senior point guard Elie Sundel drove the lane and dished off to junior Yosef Vaitsblit, who laid it in over the defense with 2.5 seconds on the clock to clinch the victory. It was a true team effort, with several other M-Cats were keys to the victory. They included senior Adin Liss, whose scoring helped keep the Cats tied at 28 at halftime, and seniors Yoel (13 points) and Menachum (7) Polack for intense two-way play. The M-Cats had a terrific run in the tournament, After defeating Yeshiva of Virginia in the Tier II qualifying round Thursday, the M-Cats lost a tough battle to Cooper of Memphis Friday morning. The loser of that game automatically drips to Tier III. On Motza’ei Shabbat, Maimonides, led by junior Moshe Beiser (16 points), raced to an insurmountable early lead to defeat Fuchs Mizrahi of Cleveland, 57-41, setting the stage for Monday’s climactic Tier III finals. The Polacks, Klausner, Liss and Beiser were interviewed on streaming video after the game, and they dedicated the win to the memory of Mrs. Pearl Kessler, z”l, grandmother of teammate Joseph Solomont.
The 2011-2012 Maimonides School boys' basketbvall season will culminate Monday morning with the biggest game of the year, as the M-Cats charged into the Tier III finals of the Sarachek Memorial Tournament Sunday with a 16-point win.The M-Cats defeated Fuchs Mizrahi of Cleveland, 57-41, and will face Or Chaim of Toronto at 11 a.m. Monday at Yeshiva University's Max Stern Athletic Center. Live audio will be available through www.macslive.com.
The Maimonides School M-Cats and the Mayhem of Cleveland's Fuchs Mizrahi Yeshiva will compete in the Tier III semifinals of the Red Sarachek Tournement Sunday morning.The game is scheduled for 10:30 at Yeshiva University's Max Stern Athletic Center. Live audio is available throuygh www.macslive.com.Maimonides is 1-1 in the tournament, defeating Yeshiva of Virginia Thursday afternoon and losing in Friday's Tier II quarterfinals to Cooper Yeshiva of Memphis, 53-47.
Six Maimonides School students have qualified for the national Chidon HaTanakh, scheduled for Sunday, May 6 at Yeshiva University.
Yishai Levenberg, a sophomore, will compete in the high school division. Qualifying for the Middle School competition are Tzipporah Machlah Klapper and Ezra Zimble in Grade 8 and sixth graders Yahel Domachevsky, Elad Jeselsohn and Yair Kosowsky-Sachs.
The students became eligible following a series of written examinations. They have been preparing for the chidon for the past several weeks with limudei kodesh instructor Rabbi Yehuda Levenberg.
Maimonides contestants have won the national Bible contest several times, including in 2009 and 2010. The winner takes part in the world championship chidon.
Maimonides School's mock trial season ended two wins short of the state championship Monday, as the team lost a closely-contested trial to Marshfield High School in the state semifinals. The panel of judges awarded Marshfield a slight victory, ending Maimonides' six-trial winning streak and disappointing a contingent of more than two dozen students who have been aiming since last fall for a repeat of the school's 2009 state title. Monday's trial took place at the Moakley Federal Courthouse in South Boston.
Maimonides School recently relaunched its website with a fresh, new design and an easy-to-use navigation.
Highlights of the new site:
For questions, please contact our Communications Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maimonides School’s mock trial team has reached the rarified atmosphere of the state semifinals, and will face off against Marshfield High School Monday, March 19, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Moakley Federal Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way in South Boston. The winner will compete in the Massachusetts finals next Friday, March 23. Monday’s trial, in courtroom 20 on the seventh floor, is open to the public. (A photo identification is required to enter the building, and no cameras, cell phones or other electronic devices are permitted.)
Parent sign ups begin click here
Maimonides School’s first Rhythm and Shmooze event February 12 was everything for which its organizers had hoped: great music with an important message, and a memorable community-building experience, all taking place on Saval Campus. The event was co-sponsored by Maimonides PTA.
The Maimonides Jazz Band opened the musical proceedings with a 15-minute set. Then the Maccabeats, Yeshiva University’s popular a cappella singers, entered Fox Gymnasium while singing Al HaNisim on wireless microphones.
The seven Maccabeats’ 90-minute performance included not only vocal selections but also some learning, a touch of humor and explanations of a cappella techniques.
Near the close of the set, the school presented each of the singers with a Maimonides kippah.
The Shmooze portion of Rhythm and Shmooze followed, with hundreds converging on Saval Auditorium for refreshments. The singers sat around a table in the student lounge and signed their merchandise, as well as concert programs and anything else produced by fans for autographs.
A number of students in Maimonides School’s senior class received early Chanukah gifts in December with acceptance offers through early decision, early action and rolling college admissions.
Students in the class of 2012 have already received admissions offers from: Columbia University, University of Hartford, IDC Hertzliya, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Massachusetts/Amherst, University of Michigan, New York University, Northeastern University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Stern College and Yeshiva University.
“This process is all about the individual student and our goal is to help each student find a match that is right for him or her,” said Tamar Gelb, director of college counseling. “Sometimes the path is smooth and sometimes a bit bumpy, but there are good matches for all of our students. As some of my college counseling colleagues often say, ‘College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.’ A wise college decision is based on self-knowledge and awareness of the opportunities that are best suited for the individual.”
The Maimonides School girls’ basketball team began their 2011-2012 season on a championship note, winning the six-team David Cooper Memorial Tournament at Salanter Akiba Riverdale (SAR) High School in The Bronx.
The Lady M-Cats defeated Ida Crown Academy of Chicago 34-29 in the finals on Motza’ei Shabbat, despite trailing by 10 points at halftime. The girls’ pressure defense ignited the second-half turnaround.
Maimonides won their two qualifying games easily on Thursday. Senior Yael Pomper was chosen most valuable player in the tournament.
Upper School students and teachers applauded the team during brief ceremonies in Saval Auditorium Tuesday morning.
Hal Borkow, director of athletics, introduced the team individually and presented the trophy. He emphasized the commitment to sportsmanship and class that characterized the team during the three-day tourney.
Also featured was a slide presentation of tournament highlights. Sara Herst, director of student activities, coordinated the program with Mr. Borkow.
MaimominiMensches will be hosting a Chanukah party and Open House for preschoolers and their parents on December 14 from 2:00-3:00 pm. While parents are touring the school and seeing our classes in action, children will get to enjoy a fun activity. For more information about our MaimominiMensches programming or to arrange a visit to our school, please contact admissions director, Ariella Brunwasser at 617-232-4452 x409 or email@example.com
.Please send your maimomoments
Three Maimonides School seniors have been named semifinalists in the annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
Sarah Ricklan, daughter of Drs. David Ricklan and Deborah Mehl; Avinoam Stillman, son of Drs. Ely and Naomi Stillman; and Hannah Vester, daughter of Devorah Vester, are among some 16,000 semifinalists across the U.S. -- less than 1 percent of all high school seniors.
The designation is based on their scores in the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, administered in the fall of 2010.
The three seniors are now eligible to achieve Finalist status and compete for National Merit Scholarships, to be offered next spring.
Naomi Ribner has recently joined Maimonides as Director of Communications. She will be replacing Erica Schultz, who will be leaving the school at the beginner of September when she relocates to New York.
Naomi has extensive experience as a print and web designer and also has teaching experience in digital art, having served on the faculty at Wellesley College and the College of the Holy Cross. A resident of Needham, Naomi received her MFA degree from Tufts University and a BFA degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
“We are pleased to welcome Naomi to the Institutional Advancement team at Maimonides,” said Maimonides Executive Director, Nathan Katz. “Naomi’s extensive design experience in both electronic and print media will be an asset to our school as we continue to enhance and expand our communications efforts.”
Josh Sandler recently joined the Institutional Advancement Team as Development Associate.
Josh was most recently development assistant at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a media-monitoring, research and membership organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in Religious Studies and a concentration in Jewish Studies. Josh lives in Brighton with his wife Elana.
“We are pleased to welcome Josh to the Institutional Advancement team at Maimonides,” said Maimonides Executive Director, Nathan Katz. “Josh’s experience and enthusiasm will help strengthen and broaden our development efforts as we reach out to our stakeholders to further our mission of providing an outstanding dual curriculum education.”
In his role as Development Officer at Maimonides School, Josh will be responsible for all fundraising activities including the annual campaign, the parent participation initiative, special events and donor relations.
Our Fall 2011 entering Kindergarteners and their parents (siblings welcome too) are invited to an Ice Cream Social on July 27th from 5-6 p.m. on our Brener Playground. It's a great opportunity for Maimo's newest class to get to know each other over ice cream and on the playground. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to RSVP
Long, hot summer days are perfect for... reading! Maimonides students in all grades are expected to do some summer reading and other skills work to stay prepared for the fall. The Maimonides website now features a "Summer Skills" or "Summer Reading" page for each division. Check the bottom of the drop-down menu for Elementary, Middle, or Upper School and see what's on tap for your summer. (Entering Kindergarten students will get a special mailing with their summer work.)
And for those who just can't wait for the fall (or to start bargain hunting for used books!), next year's textbook lists for grades 6-12 are now also available on the Maimonides website. Check the Parent Resources page and look under your division. General Studies books can be purchased through the Maimonides Virtual Bookstore. For Limudei Kodesh texts, consult the Israel Book Shop on Harvard Street in Brookline.
School may be out for summer but that doesn't mean it's quiet around here. Maimonides is offering three summer programs for students.
M-Cat Sports Camp -- in its fifth summer -- is a day camp run by enthusiastic past and present Maimonides athletes for up-and-coming M-Cats in grades K-7. The camp runs for three weeks and students can opt for one, two or three week sessions.
The sessions are:
-Week 1: June 27-July 1
-Week 2: July 4-8 (including Monday, July 4!)
-Week 3: July 11-15
For young scientists, Ms. Katie Muratore, a teacher in our Elementary and Middle Schools, is offering Ms. M's Science Camp. This camp is devoted to students in current grades 2–6 who are excited and motivated in science and would like to continue learning outside of school time.
This year the sessions include:
-Session 1, July 5-8: Fun with the Environment (Fire, Water, Earth and Air)
-Session 2, July 11-15: Fun with Chemistry
-Session 3, July 18-22: EngineeringFun with Design
For students looking for the "Write Stuff," Ms. Maxene Lorraway is offering the Creative Writing Workshop: "Let It Flow!" New for 2011, this program offers two one week session for students entering grades 3-8.
Each day at "Let it Flow", students participate in engaging experiences, both new and less familiar. Writing about these experiences is the thread that ties each day together.
The writing workshops are:
-Session 1: June 27-July 1
-Session 2: July 5-July 8
For more information about any of our summer programs, please go to our camp info page
Community was the paramount theme as 45 seniors joined the ranks of Maimonides School alumni on June 19, highlighting the school’s 59th Commencement.
“I believe that our greatest accomplishment as a class is the community that we have built,” declared Daniel Poritz of Brookline in his English address.
Addressing his classmates, he continued, “Each of you holds the power to improve yourself and to improve those around you. The amount of good we have done as a group has proven that to me.”
“We have proven that we have the power to come together,” read the translation of Tamara Kosowsky’s Hebrew valedictory. The Brookline resident emphasized that the school has provided a sacred context.
“Sometimes we must participate in and contribute to modern society. Other times we must fight to hold our ground and even distance ourselves to defend and preserve our Jewish values,” she said. “We always must fortify ourselves with prayer – we must strengthen ourselves internally in order to maintain our identity and stand up for our religious beliefs and commitments.”
Both student speakers are children of Maimonides alumni, two of 10 such scions in the graduating class.
Judy Boroschek, Upper and Middle School principal for general studies, talked to the graduating class about “what I have learned about you as a community.” She applauded the seniors for “your grand capacity to accept and include individuals,” as well as for “extraordinary assertiveness” and “good manners.”
In his opening remarks to the class, Rabbi Yaakov Jaffe, Upper and Middle School principal, cited important interpretations from Masechet Sanhedrin, which seniors have been studying with him.
According to Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik, he said, judges in Talmudic times – and Maimonides School today – stress the importance of “the values of social harmony and promoting peace among friends and other people.” Another lesson Rabbi Soloveitchik derived from Sanhedrin was “if we have prepared you well, you will never find a moment where you feel that Judaism cannot weigh in on the issues you are facing.”
Diplomas were conferred by Jeffrey Swartz of Newton, chair of the Board of Directors, whose youngest son Noah was among the graduates. “The world awaits you, and you are prepared, in no small part due to your teachers, who are the heart of the school,” he stated.
Two other seniors were honored with speaking parts during Commencement. Sarah Jacobs and Jonathan Robison, both of Newton, read excerpts in Hebrew and English from the writings of the school’s namesake, the Rambam.
Other graduates were Avishai Alge, Noach Blechner, Akiva Katz, Max Naggar and Yael Toren, all of Brookline; Elan Baskir, Leah Geller, Brittani Hirsh, Sara Itkis, Zachary Jaffe, Ariella Kasmer-Jacobs, Julia Packer, Meir Schechter, Menachem Schindler, David Swartz, Yitzchak Snow, Rachel Weinberg, Alexander Wiener, Ezra Wyschogrod, Benjamin Zak and Aaron Zwiebach, all of Newton; Sophie Edelman, E. Paige Hamer, Betzalel Kosowsky-Sachs, Samuel Larson, Dalya Lerner, Yardenna Milgram, Tifara Ramelson, Ari Schaffel and Moshe Zisblatt, all of Sharon; Rivka Rumshiskaya and Esther Sokolinski of Brighton; Seth Katzman of Malden; Tzukit Cohen of Watertown; Aviva Wolfson of Natick; Oryan Barta of West Roxbury; Ariel Noorparvar of Pawtucket, RI; Batya Franklin and Jacob Stark of Providence, RI; and Lily Wilf of New Haven, CT.
Several members of the Class of 2011 accepted academic, extracurricular and leadership awards as part of Senior Recognition Night June 16.
Betzalel Kosowsky-Sachs received the Faculty Award, emblematic of overall scholastic, religious and moral excellence. Several seniors were honored for distinguished work in limudei kodesh, including: Menachem Schindler, Tanach; Meir Schechter, Talmud; Samuel Larson and Avishai Alge, middot. Noah Swartz was cited for excellence in Hebrew.
Recognized for their superior achievements in general studies were: Daniel Poritz, mathematics; Yitzchak Snow, science; Ariella Kasmer-Jacobs, history; Tamar Kosowsky, Spanish; Lily Wilf, French; and Sarah Jacobs and Ariella Kasmer-Jacobs, English.
Elan Baskir and Batya Franklin accepted the Ezra Lightman Memorial Award for Student Leadership. Rachel Weinberg was presented a recently-endowed award in memory of Shulamith Meiselman, sister of Maimonides School’s founder, Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik. Yael Toren was presented the Chesed Award, sponsored by Levine Chapel.
An award in memory of Rabbi M.J. Cohn, principal emeritus, endowed by three anonymous alumni to honor a student proficient in the arts, was presented to Yardenna Milgram. Elan Baskir received the Ahavat Israel Award. Honored as top student-athletes were Tifara Ramelson and Aaron Zwiebach.
A veteran teacher and educational administrator will be Maimonides School’s assistant principal for the Middle School, beginning in July.
Brian Cohen of Newton succeeds Rabbi Avi Bossewitch, who has accepted a position with a Jewish day school in Florida. [Sidebar: Students, parents, and colleagues are invited to submit personal notes of farewell to Rabbi Bossewitch by Monday, June 20, 2011.]
“Brian’s experience as a classroom teacher, a supervisor of faculty, and a leader of student support has prepared him well for daily leadership in our Middle School,” said Nathan Katz, executive director, in announcing the appointment.
Mr. Cohen is assistant headmaster at TechBoston Academy, the public school in Dorchester visited by President Obama in March. Mr. Cohen supervises and evaluates teaching and non-teaching staff, and is also responsible for student support, technology, and the safety and security of the school.
The new Maimonides administrator spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem en route to receiving an undergraduate degree from Indiana University in 1999. He also holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education School Leadership Program.
Mr. Cohen spent eight years in the San Francisco public schools, first teaching language arts and social studies at a middle school and then serving as an instructional facilitator, working to improve instruction in a low-performing high school.
Maimonides Middle and Upper School teachers are beginning a process that will add a new dimension to their efforts to maximize student learning.
The school administration is initiating a student feedback survey through which students in Grades 6-11 will report how they experience a wide range of student-teacher interactions.
During this first year every teacher will receive feedback from at least one class using a standardized questionnaire -- one for Middle School and another for Upper School. The surveys are conducted entirely on paper, and anonymity is protected.
The surveys are part of a long-term effort by the Maimonides administration to "expand our sources of data regarding teachers' performance, to best support them in their growth," said Barry Ehrlich, Director of Curriculum and Instruction and primary organizer of the project.
"This year we've put a great deal of energy and resources into a classroom observation system so we can get the most relevant data on teacher performance," Mr. Ehrlich said. "What best serves teachers and students is to expand that pool of data. A crucial source is student feedback -- input on how they are experiencing their classes."
A key catalyst for this initiative has been an ongoing national study on teacher effectiveness funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "One crucial tool they're using is student surveys," Mr. Ehrlich said, "and their research identified about 150 questions where affirmative answers to those questions are shown to correlate with the highest levels of student achievement in the classroom."
The survey consists of a series of statements, with five graduated responses, ranging from "always" to "never." Examples of these include: "The teacher respects my ideas and suggestions"; "The teacher explains difficult material clearly"; "In this class we learn a lot on most days."
"What has been shown to be most valuable," Mr. Ehrlich said, "are concrete statements about how students experience specific aspects of a teacher's practice. This is far more valuable than, 'Would you recommend this class?' or 'Did you have a good year'?"
The research group at Harvard University that developed the survey questions for the national study has authorized Maimonides School to use them internally, Mr. Ehrlich said. Subcommittees of Upper and Middle School teachers chose from the larger list about 35 items to be used in this year's survey.
The plan for coming years is to formalize the process, utilizing the Harvard research group to analyze the results and report findings based on a number of factors. These results will provide a basis for discussion with individual faculty members about goals and ways to support their growth as teachers.
"We discussed this plan at a faculty meeting, and teachers have generally been receptive to the usefulness of this kind of information in increasing student learning," Mr. Ehrlich said. "It's not that we don't already get student feedback, but we get it in from a very limited number of individuals on a limited number of issues."
He added that a byproduct of the new process is "getting positive feedback that we wouldn't normally hear. Generally you only hear from parents and students when there's a problem, and you wind up having large holes in the data about a lot of the good teaching that we know students are experiencing."
Michael Schockett, chair of the Mathematics Department and leader of the faculty in years of service, endorsed the idea of soliciting student input. "As we look for new and better ways to help our students, it is much to our advantage to know how they view the teaching/learning enterprise," he said.
Maimonides School senior Menachem Schindler finished seventh in the country in a year-long series of five tests connected to a special Yeshiva University Talmud progam for high school students.
Menachem and Yoni Nouriel, a junior, attended a siyum at the university this week to mark the conclusion of the program, which features the bekiut style of Gemara learning.
Two other Maimonides seniors, Dani Poritz and Meir Schechter, also successfully completed the series of tests.
Over the course of the year, students were learning a page each week of Mesechet Megillah, and were tested on their learning.
Menachem, son of Daniel and Terry Schindler of Newton, was the 2009 national champion of Chidon HaTanakh. He plans to study at Yeshivat Har Etzion next academic year.
As the sun set on Yom Ha’Atzmaut 5771 on May 10, three generations of Maimonides School saluted the contributions and legacy of two beloved and respected teachers who have decided to retire.
Rabbi David Shapiro, rosh yeshiva and former principal, and veteran teacher Rabbi Jon Bloomberg graciously accepted accolades and good wishes during a warm and emotional evening at the school. Almost 400 people attended, with scores more watching on live video over the internet.
The formal tributes by speakers, and the honorees' responses, reflected a declaration of the core values of Maimonides School, many at the celebration agreed.
Rabbi Shapiro’s Maimonides career began on the faculty in 1970. He was named assistant principal in 1974 and principal in 1978, retiring from that position 21 years later but continuing as a Judaic studies coordinator and then the school’s first rosh yeshiva. Rabbi Bloomberg joined the Judaic studies faculty in 1985 and has taught Tanach, Talmud, Jewish history and Israel advocacy. He is the author of two Jewish history textbooks written for high school students.
Both retiring teachers plan to make aliyah, joining children and grandchildren who are residents of Israel.
Speaking as a former student, 2001 graduate Rachel (Chiel) Katz began the formal program by lauding Rabbi Bloomberg’s scholarship and patience. “You are unfailingly modest about your many academic and personal accomplishments, and your kindness toward every student in the school has left a lasting impression on the many students you’ve taught,” she said. “Your contributions here are truly enduring, and Maimonides will certainly be different without you.”
Social Studies Department Chair Roberta Wright recounted how Rabbi Bloomberg was her mentor, providing invaluable orientation on Jewish culture, history and tradition. “He helped pioneer the use of technology for student presentations,” she said. “This was done to be a better teacher to his students, to use the technology they used, to meet them in a place where they could best learn. That is Rabbi Dr. Jon Bloomberg, a man who always strives to be a better teacher by connecting to his students.”
Formal tributes to Rabbi Shapiro began with Elliot Salinger, a student in the rosh yeshiva’s 11th grade Talmud class. Mr. Salinger described the intellectual quality and intensity of the class, then noted, “But beyond simply teaching us the material, Rabbi Shapiro also conveyed themes, ideas, and values that comprise the basis of halachic living. Rabbi Shapiro would speak of the need to ‘connect oneself to the Mesorah’ and to conduct oneself by what he once referred to as ‘the interlinear dimension of the halacha’.”
Dr. Jennifer (Kosowsky) Michaelson ’85, a current Maimonides parent and director, continued on that theme. Rabbi Shapiro, she said, is the “embodiment” of the Tradition’s mandates to teach the new generation. “His defining philosophy emanates from the teachings of the founder of our school, Rav (Joseph) Soloveitchik, zt”l, and Rabbi (Yitzhak) Twersky, z”l. These core philosophies are what defined the mission of the school at its inception more than 70 years ago,” she said.
“As the principal of Maimonides for over 20 years, it was Rabbi Shapiro’s personal mission to ensure the propagation of these core values, and to instill them in generations of Maimonides students. And we, the recipients of this Mesorah, the alumni of the school, have been inculcated with this guide, to lead a life of Torah and halacha, and to allow it to define our everyday lives and interactions in the real world.”
Michael Bohnen, a volunteer communal and philanthropic leader in Boston’s Jewish community, provided a different perspective. Mr. Bohnen spoke on behalf of the adults who learn from Rabbi Shapiro at a weekly shiur he delivers. “His broad erudition, his welcoming nature, his careful preparation, his skillfulness and patience as a teacher, his openness to adults with a range of backgrounds, and his humility and kindness have all endeared Rabbi Shapiro to his students,” Mr. Bohnen said. “He treated each of his students with great respect, and that respect was always reciprocated by all who attended the class.”
Dr. Atarah Twersky, chair of the Maimonides School Committee for many years, spoke warmly of both rabbis. “Their lives are suffused with ahavas Torah and yiras shomayim,” she said.
Mrs. Twersky, daughter of Rabbi Soloveitchik, pointed out that the Torah never designates Moshe with titles, but simply as an eved Hashem, a servant of God. That label applies to the two retiring rabbis, she said, according to three criteria: subjugating desires, lifestyles and actions; committing to the Torah’s eternal truth; and serving as a teacher of Torah “in the broad sense of the word – formally or informally, by instruction and by example, exemplifying the beauty and truth of Torah and inspiring others.”
Rabbi Bloomberg acknowledged the tributes, saying, “These past 26 years at Maimonides represent a very meaningful time of my life. I have made very special friendships with faculty, especially Rabbi Shapiro, and with staff. I have taught, and learned from, many students. I shall always be profoundly grateful for the privilege to have been enriched by these relationships.”
He said he and his wife Miriam “are furthermore grateful to Maimonides School for helping us to inspire our three children to love Eretz Yisrael. Our two daughters have already settled there, and our son is now making aliyah with his family this summer. Miriam and I were married in Israel, and have always yearned to live there. Our children’s initiatives have now prompted us to follow them and our grandchildren, and to realize our own dream.”
Rabbi Shapiro offered his unique perspective on the school, which he first encountered as a part-time teacher while engaged in graduate study at Harvard with Rabbi Twersky.
“His unified, totally integrated, religious and intellectual personality taught me by personal example what I knew from students of the Rav about the man they knew so well: that we serve God with every facet of our being, and that one should not suppress or deny one’s intellectual and cultural drives for fear that they will undermine one’s commitment to meticulous observance of our halachic tradition,” he said. “We need only filter the values of these other pursuits through the prism of unadulterated, uncompromised Torah principles. This is, not surprisingly, the credo of Maimonides School.
Referring to commentary on shmittah, Rabbi Shapiro said, “The lesson of parshat Behar is thus the humbling one that each of us is but a transient sojourner – sometimes for even as long as 49 years – but that we must then step aside and recognize that the ultimate destiny of the land transcends our involvement with it. Rabbi Bloomberg and I, similarly, now step aside with the confidence that the continued success of Maimonides School transcends the role that we have played in its development.”
He continued, “As Rabbi Bloomberg and I now take leave, and as our long-term colleagues that I identified have already approached or will soon approach their own personal decisions to retire, we can each look back with gratitude for having been part of the vision that is Maimonides School, and look forward with optimism and confidence in the knowledge that our many junior colleagues that have come on board since 1985, and a few as recently as within the past very few years, will continue to shepherd the school into the third major phase of its history.”
Rabbi Shapiro noted recent concern that “with the continued passage of time, we feel ourselves less secure in our ability to know with certitude how the Rav or the Talner Rebbe would have advised us on any given issue. This could be a cause for pessimism. I believe, however, that those who will now lead Maimonides School forward into the next 74 years will continue to benefit, as Rabbi Bloomberg and I have, from the foundation laid by these two giants.”
The school presented the retiring rabbis with a promise of special Maimonides School mezzuzot, now being designed. Also, a seven-foot map of Israel in Saval Auditorium was dedicated in their honor. Colored pins on the map designate residences of almost 230 Maimonides School alumni who have made aliyah.
Virtually all members of the Class of 2011 have received responses to their applications for admission, according to Tamar Gelb, Maimonides director of college counseling.
Mrs. Gelb said dozens of colleges and universities have accepted Maimonides seniors, including Barnard College, Binghamton University, Boston University, Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Chicago, Clark University, Columbia University and Drexel University.
Also, The George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill University, University of Michigan, New York University and Northwestern University.
Also, Princeton University, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rutgers University, University of Southern California, Wellesley College, Washington University (St. Louis) and Yeshiva University.
April 10-15 has been designated Arts Week in the Upper School, with an agenda that includes the Drama Club play, the sixth annual Poetry Slam and an art exhibit.
The play, student director Naftali Ehrenkranz’s original Awkward, will be performed Sunday and Monday at 7 p.m. in Fox Gymnasium. Tickets are available at the door, $10 per adult and $7 per student.
Tuesday at 12:30, students in the Upper School music theory elective will present a screening of the film Music and Passion, featuring conductor Benjamin Zander.
On tap for Wednesday is a mysterious segment known only as the "Maimo Mixtapes". More information is forthcoming.
The Upper School Poetry Slam, organized again by English teacher Jonathan Hartt, with assistance and support from Library Director Elisabeth Zygadlo and the literary magazine editors, will be held Thursday in Levy Library during lunch and X-block. “This year will be a reading, not a contest as in previous years, and poetry doesn't need to be original to be read,” said Mr. Hartt, who noted that April is
National Poetry Month. “All are welcome to participate.” The Maimonides Jazz Band will open the proceedings, and juniors Eitan Kahn, Naftali Ehrenkranz and Zack Strunin will serve as masters of ceremonies. (The Middle School Poetry Slam, organized by teacher Jack Fidler, will be held on Friday.)
Sara Herst, coordinator of student activities, who originated the Arts Week designation, noted that a student art exhibit is on display in Saval Auditorium.
The radiance emanating from a hilltop south of Boston during the evening of March 13 reflected a resplendent celebration of a Maimonides School education.
More than 300 Maimonides seniors, parents, teachers and administrators, graduates, friends and supporters convened in the banquet facilities at Granite Links Golf Course in Quincy for the school’s Annual Gala. The theme of the Gala was “community,” intended to reflect the school’s underlying commitment to service, responsibility and enlightenment.
This event, a tradition that began in the 1940s, was centered this year on Maimonides School students, past and present. From the introduction of the Class of 2011, senior by senior, to the art project in the lobby, the focus was on the school’s core mission.
Recognition was a highlight of the Gala, as the school honored Rabbi David Ehrenkranz and Robert A. Wolff with Pillar of Maimonides Awards, emblematic of exemplary service to Jewish education.
Rabbi Ehrenkranz, a respected and beloved Judaic studies teacher, is also coach of the girls’ softball team and a teacher in Hebrew College’s Prozdor supplemental school. In his acceptance remarks, he noted, “I have come to realize that this is an unusual community in the sense that there is serious thought given to how to nurture, not only the minds of the students, but also their souls.” He observed that “the unifying feature of all the teachers and that was -- and is -- the idea of helping each student contemplate his or her own role in this world through the thorough examination of ideas, concepts and actions.”
Mr. Wolff, a 1959 graduate who has served on the school’s Tuition Committee for more than two decades, told the assembly that although scholarship awards are confidential, Maimonides is “a school where the majority of every past, current and future students will need some form of financial support. My parents never forgot and none of us should forget what Maimonides has done for us.”
The three seniors who serve as presidents of the Student Council spoke consecutively about the theme. Betzalel Kosowsky-Sachs pointed out that “the mitzvot of Purim literally bring the Jewish community together…. This theme behind the mitzvot of Purim is truly reflected in the student experience at Maimonides.”
Batya Franklin talked about the central role of the faculty. “At Maimonides, the relationships between students and teachers are unlike those at any other school I know. As funny as it sounds, our teachers are our friends. They know more about us than our skill levels in their classes. They genuinely care about helping us accomplish our goals, both in and out of school.”
Elan Baskir’s focus was on chesed as part of the school’s culture. “This community has been so generous in all the chesed projects I have undertaken in my Maimo career,” he said. “Maimonides encourages chesed for everyone.”
Following the seniors, seven Maimonides graduates described their community-centered professional and charitable activities and how the school influenced their choices.
Speakers were Dani Baronofsky ’04, who teaches emergency medical skills; Rebecca Jacobs ’74 on serving as a Jewish Big Sister; Tova Katz ’01, who worked for several years with the Foundation for Jewish Camps; Sarah (Lamport) Lee’03, who is a social worker for the deaf; Melody Michaelson ’07 on presenting music to the elderly; Ezra Waxman ’06, one of three U.S. delegates to an international peace conference; and David Zizmor ’99, a life-saving stem cell donor.
Also on the Gala itinerary were two selections by the Elementary School Choir, including the school song that was written by an English teacher during the 1950s.
Acceptance remarks, Pillar of Maimonides Award
By Rabbi David Ehrenkranz
If someone had made a bet with me when I was a child, growing up in New York that I would deliberately, consciously and willingly surround myself with Red Sox fans in the future, that person would have made a lot of money.
Let me explain why I would now be happy to pay out that fictitious wager. Like most New York Jews I believed that, next to Yerushalayim, New York was the center of the spiritual and cultural universe. After all, we had beautiful shuls, many yeshivot, Central Park, fine museums, Broadway and a variety of kosher restaurants. Ilyse and I had no intention of moving.
But life has a way of broadening our perspectives. While working for Rabbi Avi Weiss in Riverdale, NY, I was charged with teaching public school children on Sundays who wished to have more of a connection to Judaism. The program was called Pardais and one of its components was to expose the students to other children their age in various Orthodox communities.
In 1995, we took the Pardais children to Newton for a Shabbaton. I don’t remember all the particulars of that Shabbaton, but one thing I do remember is that on Shabbat morning when the Pardais students entered shul and were beginning to show signs of anxiety because they were disoriented and confused regarding the davening, the Maimonides students who were part of the Shabbaton sat down in between each of the Pardais students and directed them through all the davening of the day. At the end of davening I asked two of the Maimonides students if their parents had told them to do this and they responded by saying, “no…it is just the right thing to do.”
Thus began my changing perspective on Red Sox fans. I was later privileged to teach those Maimonides students the following year after I was hired by Rabbi Shapiro, whom I cannot thank enough for giving me that opportunity.
Let me explain what I mean when I use the word privileged. I like the fact that I can come to school on any given day and walk into the math office and have an enlightened conversation about English grammar and syntax. I like the fact that I could walk into the science department and talk about the United Nations or sports. I like the fact that I can walk into the history department and discuss the weekly parasha even though we don’t all worship in the same houses. And in each case I leave the office with new ideas I hadn’t thought of.
But I love the fact that I can walk into any class and discuss the past and present with my students and understand together how it affects our future. I love the fact that when the students leave the classroom they say “thank you” even if you had just handed back tests or essays and I love the fact that when I walk around the hallways, the students say “hello” and ask you how you are…..and mean it! I have come to realize that this is an unusual community in the sense that there is serious thought given to how to nurture, not only the minds of the students, but also their souls. And I had the good fortune to learn how this unique community achieved this goal while teaching at Maimonides.
During my first year at Maimonides I would walk around the hallways during my free periods and I would listen outside the classrooms of the veteran teachers carrying out their lesson plans. I discovered that though there were differing pedagogical methodologies there was one unifying feature of all the teachers and that was (and is) the idea of helping each student contemplate his or her own role in this world through the thorough examination of ideas, concepts and actions.
Our children are not groping in the dark at Maimonides to find answers to their questions. They are given various kinds of powerful flashlights in order to assist them. Some flashlights are fashioned by the Socratic method, some are fashioned by cooperative learning, some are fashioned through acting, some are fashioned by bumper stickers and yet others are fashioned through a dialogue that never seems to end, even after the bell rings.
My colleagues, through their methodical work ethic, natural curiosity of the world, compassion and their creative powers, which are outstanding, help our children to transform at their own individual pace into noble and dignified human beings. I say this not only as a Maimonides teacher but also as a Maimonides parent of five children who have had the great fortune of learning from the most talented human beings I have ever had the honor to work with.
My children, who have great respect for their teachers appreciate every precious moment of the learning process, whether it occurs in the classroom, in the gymnasium, through emails, on the phone, or through chaperoned trips to Shabbatonim, Model UN, plays, museums and a myriad of other places. The creative process that occurs in your classrooms has not only touched my children but also all the children of the Maimonides community that continues to echo in their journey through life.
And wherever Maimonides students travel, their journey is not complete without you. As one student once told me, “I wish I could take Mr. Schockett to college with me so if I am ever confused by the professor, Mr. Schockett can explain to me why I am confused and what I can do to better understand what is going on next time.” From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all of my colleagues for the sacrifices you make for our children, the dignity you instill in our children, your tireless efforts and the professionalism you consistently maintain day in and day out. Thank you.
I would also like to thank the parents for sending me students who have taught me that not every difference of opinion is a difference of principle. Our students do believe in God and Torah and love their parents. Their challenging questions are motivated by the innate desire to have the courage and confidence to become closer to all they hold dear, which of course, is what we hold dear. They appreciate the halachic system and understand that halachic knowledge triumphs over diversity of habits and over myopic thinking. And once they fully understand this, they hold their heads up high and take that self-respect and Divine respect with them the rest of their lives.
Now I have a slight problem with the last person I would like to thank as she does not like to be talked about, especially in public, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the person who has allowed me to develop into the teacher I have become. I want all my students, past and present (and God willing, future as well) to know, that any lesson I have taught you that has inspired you, any complex halachic question that I was able to answer and any insight that you have found profound in my class is due solely to my wife Ilyse.
I do not know how one person can consistently and efficiently manage to organize the household, our five children and the maelstrom of life that occurs on a daily basis. Ilyse has allowed me the precious gift of time that I needed in order to prepare all of my lessons. The extra hours that you give me, Ilyse, on a daily basis can never be repaid but please take pride in the Torah you have taught to so many children during our 20 year marriage. On behalf of all my students I thank you.
By Robert A. Wolff ‘59
Thank you for this honor and your kind words. Let me begin by acknowledging my family members who have come to this event: My true ezer kenegdo, my wife, Gladys; My sister, Marian Gutman, class of 1963; My son, Danny, and his wonderful wife, Chaviva, and their daughters, Shira, Leora, and Tali. The rest of our family could not be here because neither Egged nor Mega Bus have yet established an easy route from Jerusalem to Boston.
My dear wife, Gladys, recalled a true story concerning our son, Josh, then a junior high school student at Maimonides. It is not apocryphal, but it might explain why I am standing at this podium tonight. Back in 1985 or 1986 when Maimonides undertook to build a magnificent new library and a number of additional new classrooms, Josh was telling his mother about the construction project which he and his friends were watching during recess and he described this huge hole in the ground. Gladys told him not to play close to that area because, she said, “do you know what could happen if you fell in that hole?” Josh, never at a loss for words, said “Then I’ll be a pillar of Maimonides!”
So, while Josh was a pillar in his own right, I stand here tonight because I couldn’t say no to Naty’s offer, and back in about 1985, I couldn’t say no to Mr. Joseph Solomont, a”h, who had totally immersed himself in the welfare of Maimonides School .
When my esteemed colleague, mentor, committee chairman, and previous honoree, Mr. Joseph Abelow, congratulated me on receiving this honor, I asked him if I could borrow his speech. Joe said, “I just spoke about my father.” I replied, “That’s fine, I’m going to speak about my mother.” The history of my great-grandparents, grandparents, and extended family in Germany is one of organizing and running the Orthodox minyanim in their home cities. I have in my personal papers copies of obituaries written about them in the 1930s.
Fast forward to the United States and circa 1950. For the annual Maimonides scholarship campaign led by the Rav’s wife, Dr. Tonya Soloveitchik, a”h, my mother became a solicitor for the Ad journal, traveling by public transportation to downtown Boston, Chelsea, and who knows where else, to scrape together whatever amounts she could collect from local businesses to help the school – my school, my sister’s school, our school My mother outlived most of her clients, but for nearly 40 years, she pursued whoever she could locate, to do what she believed was the proper hakarat hatov for the school that gave us our education.
I’ll never know if we were a scholarship family. Students never know if they are beneficiaries of tuition support. But let me say to this year’s graduates, their parents, and any other parents and graduates within earshot: Maimonides is not some amorphous entity. It’s a school where the majority of every past, current, and future students will need some form of financial support. My parents never forgot and none of us should forget what Maimonides has done for us.
The strengths of academic leadership and faculty provided all we needed to pursue advancement in almost any area. Under the leadership and guidance of the Rav and Rabbi Moses J. Cohn, my principal, Rabbi Wohlgemuth, Rabbi Simon, a”h, and Rabbi Stefansky; Rabbi Abrahm Shonfeld, may he live and be well, my third and fifth grade teacher, and our general studies faculty, featuring Mr. Ralph Thomas Tucker, our English teacher for six years, we learned and we thrived.
I am confident that virtually every student who has graduated or spent any significant number of years at Maimonides would echo these sentiments. The parent and student body should be eternally grateful.
So, while I thank the school for tonight’s recognition, I have to thank the school more for the education it provided to my sister and me, my boys, and, at least for a few years, my grandchildren. May Maimonides continue to fulfill its mission for many more years to come.
Introductory remarks by Student Council presidents
By Betzalel Kosowsky-Sachs ‘11
This year’s theme for Gala (as you all probably know by now) is community. With this theme, the Gala could not have been held at a more appropriate time. Purim is just one week away, and as such many of us are already busy making preparations for what is arguably the most community oriented Jewish holiday of the year.
The mitzvot of Purim literally bring the Jewish community together. Everyone comes to shul together to hear the Megillah reading (twice), we exchange mishloach manot with all of our friends, and we even ensure that everyone in the community is included regardless of financial situation, with the mitzvah of matanot la’evyonim.
This theme behind the Mitzvot of Purim is truly reflected in the student experience at Maimonides. As a 13-year veteran of the school, I can attest to the strong communal environment that is fostered at Maimo. Rabbi Ehrenkranz, one of tonight’s honorees, exemplifies this quality. Rabbi E is not the kind of teacher who leaves his ties to the Maimonides community at the door when he leaves the building at the end of every day. Rather, he hosts Shabbatons for his classes, attends grade trips, and shows support at numerous sports events throughout the year.
He also devotes his time on Shabbat -- the one day a week he gets off from teaching -- to be the rabbi of the Young Israel of Sharon Teen Minyan, which is comprised mostly of Maimonides students. And to seal the deal, Rabbi E will be hosting the entire senior class for a Purim Seudah next Sunday, a tradition that he has held for years. Thank you Rabbi E.
By Batya Franklin ‘11
It’s the fall of 2007. A group of freshmen sits in Talmud, having just arrived to class. The rabbi begins with the usual discussion of his newborn baby. The students comment on the absolutely adorable infant pictured on the rabbi’s laptop, which is projected onto the whiteboard. The rabbi brags modestly about how fast the baby has been discovering her toes, fingers, and nose. “But enough about babies,” he announces. “Next on the agenda: a bit of housekeeping. We need to pick a date for you to come to my house for Shabbos.”
One girl, new to Maimo, sits in shock, sure she has misheard her teacher. First of all, how could everyone in the class come to the rabbi’s house in Brookline for a Shabbos meal? After all, this particular student hails from the far-away land of Providence, RI – practically light years away in most students’ minds. Clearly, this girl has not yet grasped the concept of ‘staying over in Brookline’ or Newton, for that matter. Next on her mind, why is he inviting us over? He’s a teacher, and we’re students. Our relationship exists within the walls of this classroom and on our online class Wiki. Other than that, why would he want us at his house?!
Firstly, I’m sure you can all guess by now who that new-to-Maimo girl was: yours truly. Second, I don’t have to explain to you what had to be explained to me four years ago: that it’s actually quite normal for a Maimonides teacher to invite their students over for a Shabbos meal, a Purim seudah, or even a weekday dinner. At Maimonides, the relationships between students and teachers are unlike those at any other school I know. As funny as it sounds, our teachers are our friends. They know more about us than just our skill levels in their classes. They genuinely care about helping us accomplish our goals, both in and out of school.
Flash forward a year and a half. A teacher leaving Maimo to pursue her Ph.D. tells me I will have forgotten about her by the following September, and I swear to her that she is wrong. Come September, she and I have a running thread on Facebook – catching up about our respective school experiences, families, friends, and other details.
To this day, I regularly refer back to a packet that very same teacher gave us in one of the last weeks of sophomore year. The packet includes effective methods to de-stress, including, “Treat yourself: Eat a chocolate bar.” She recommends Twix, but says that if you don’t like caramel, Kit Kat is definitely the way to go. She goes on to reference an episode of The Office, one of my personal favorite TV shows. Later in the packet are, “Make a list of things that you’ve done in your life that no one can take away from you, no matter what happens,” and “Put yourself in a healthy environment.”
As someone who often finds herself under extreme stress, this packet has gotten me through multiple near-mental-breakdown situations, and helped me refocus onto what’s truly important. Coincidentally, I’m the girl who gets called to the College Counseling office on a regular basis, sometimes more than once a day, and often simply to vent to Ms. Gelb about senior year stress.
Without our fantastic teachers, I honestly can’t imagine what kind of high school experience I, or any of my classmates, would have had.
A famous writer once said, “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Regarding Maimonides teachers, this statement does not only highlight academic education, but also the education that involves demonstrating to us what it means to be true menschen.
The Maimo faculty includes some of the most intelligent, dedicated, and compassionate people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet; it has been a privilege to learn from them. They teach us chagim-related songs that we can’t stop singing, chaperone our Shabbatonim and truly enjoy the time they spend with us, give us life advice, and on top of all that, are leaders in their fields of academia.
I truly believe that each member of the Class of 2011 owes more to our team of teachers than we could ever imagine, realize, or give back to them. As we approach the end of our years at Maimonides, we all express our appreciation to them. We look forward to applying to our lives all that they have taught us. And I hope that, as we draw on their teachings, they feel rewarded and fulfilled for how they have helped us become who we are today.
By Elan Baskir ‘11
When people join the Maimonides community, they do so for just thata community.
I love the warm Maimonides community. I came to Maimo in ninth grade from Schechter. Even before the school year started, Maimo decided to end vacation early for soccer tryouts. All the kids were so friendly that by the time the first day of school rolled around, all my new teammates (even the seniors) would come up to me to talk about the upcoming season and see how things were going. I felt like I belonged. You know, just like one of the cool kids.
As anyone in this room that has ever passed through Maimo as a student knows, the most important thing about the first day of school is not finding out which teachers you have, nor is it finding out whether or not there’s a fifth grade gym class during your fourth period free. Arguably, the most important thing is your seat in davening, decided by one of Rabbi Stein’s complex algorithms involving the square root of the third letter of your mother’s maiden name raised to your house number divided by the sof zman kriyat shema on the day you were born. I’m pretty sure that was the algorithm for one of the simpler years. Are you with friends? But most importantly, did you somehow merit a highly coveted armrest?
Anyways, so first day of school, I lucked out: I found myself sitting next to a fellow who introduced himself, “Hello I’m Benjamin Zak.” Each day, we used to say Tachanun together, two freshmen huddled together. It was a small thing, but the small things make this community what it is.
Maimonides encourages chesed for everyone, not just if you’re a chesed rep. Most people don’t even know that a group of students have been disappearing from ninth period every Thursday to volunteer at soup kitchen for the past 15 years. There are so many projects students undertake. Last Sunday, the Maimonides Shul rec league and high school students participated in a Yachad 3 on 3 basketball tournament which raised hundreds of dollars for Yachad, an organization that helps people with special needs.
On Thursday, as one part of the national program America Eats for Israel, through the generosity of the entire community, and all your hungry bellies, we raised over $600 for Meir Panim, which helps impoverished Israelis with a range of food and social service programs. In January, the entire community helped me raise over $5,000 for Yachad when I ran the Miami Half Marathon. And last January, the community, from kindergarteners to seniors, teachers to alumni raised over $10,000 for Haiti to provide tents for about one thousand homeless Haitians, pioneered by the HEART-4-HAITI necklace drive started by my classmate Noah Swartz and myself.
These aren’t just random projects, it is the culture at Maimo. In fact, the Boston Globe even featured an article about the sportsmanship of our athletic program a few months ago.
This culture has permeated six decades of Maimonides School alumni. Hundreds of graduates personify the Rav’s emphasis on chessed, through their professional and volunteer service, throughout the US and Israel. Here are a few examples: Professor Simcha Katz, class of '61, was recently installed as president of the Orthodox Union; Dr. Hanna Bloomfield, class of '73, a research physician with the VA and serves on the Board of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation; Batya Leidner Ehrlich '78 coordinates all of the housing programs for the mentally Ill in Israel; Dr. Chen Reis '90 works on women's issues for the World Heath Organization in Geneva; Josh Perry '95served for several years as a public defender in New Orleans; and
Elie Hassenfeld '99 founded GiveWell, which evaluates charities to help donors decide where to give.
Maimonides School bestowed its prestigious Pillar of Maimonides award to faculty member Rabbi David Ehrenkranz and alumnus Robert Wolff at its Annual Gala held recently.
The Pillar of Maimonides award is given to individuals who exemplify the philosophy of the school and is traditionally bestowed upon a community leader as well as a member of the school faculty or staff. The two men were honored at the school’s Annual Gala on March 13 at Granite Links Golf Club, Quincy, MA. The Gala, with its program honoring the Pillars of Maimonides, is an integral component of the school’s annual campaign.
“We are so pleased this year to honor Rabbi Ehrenkranz and Bobby Wolff,” said Naty Katz, Executive Director of Maimonides School. “Rabbi Ehrenkranz has long inspired our students, whether in the classroom studying Torah or on the playing field as the coach of our girls’ softball team. Bobby Wolff, who served on our board, has been a tireless volunteer and an instrumental member of our Tuition Committee, ensuring that a Maimonides education was available to all – regardless of financial circumstances.”
Rabbi Ehrenkranz, who is known to his students as Rabbi E, has been a Judaic Studies teacher in the Middle and Upper Schools and has served as a grade dean. He is the founding coach of the girls’ softball team, a role he holds to this day. In additional to his roles at Maimonides, Rabbi Ehrenkranz is a teacher in Hebrew College’s Prozdor supplemental high school program and is the boys’ head counselor at Camp Nesher, an overnight camp in Pennsylvania. He received his undergraduate degree from Yeshiva University, a Masters degree in Education from City University of New York and Rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University. Rabbi Ehrenkranz resides in Sharon with his wife Ilyse and their five children, all of whom attend Maimonides.
Robert Wolff, who graduated from Maimonides in 1959, has served on the school’s Board of Directors and been instrumental as a longtime member of the Tuition and Financial Aid committee. At Northeastern University, Mr. Wolff earned both an undergraduate and a graduate degree in industrial engineering. He worked for many years at Sylvania in Danvers, retiring nine years ago. Mr. Wolff has also been actively involved with Young Israel of Brookline, having served as president and finance chair. Mr. Wolff, who resides in Brookline with his wife Gladys, has three children who all attended Maimonides. He and his wife have 12 grandchildren.
Maimonides School, New England’s largest Jewish day school, was founded in 1937 by the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. Maimonides educates students in kindergarten through high school with a comprehensive dual curriculum of Judaic and general studies.
Four members of Boy Scout Troop 54 were recognized this morning with a high award for achievement by Jewish Scouts. Yoni Nouriel ’12, Avinoam Stillman ’12, Alexander Kahan ’13 (in Israel with his family) and Joshua Shepherd received the Ner Tamid award, emblematic of Jewish learning and service to others. Scouts led Shacharit at Upper School davening, with the presentations and breakfast following.
Troop 54 is chartered to Maimonides School, allowing full participation in the Scouting program with provisions for kashrut, Shabbat, tefilla and learning. The Ner Tamid is awarded by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.
St. Mary's of Lynn raced to a 23-10 first-quarter lead and never looked back, winning in the quarterfinals of the MIAA Division 4 North tournament, 82-54.
The game was played at Brookline High School on Motza'ei Shabbat.
St.Mary's seemed to have interchangeable parts, as 11 Spartans saw action in the first half. But no matter who was in the lineup, the offensive barrage continued, including five baskets from outside the arc.
Maimonides trailed 44-28 at halftime, and cut the lead to 14 a few minutes into the third quarter. But the Spartans went on an 8-0 run to ice the outcome.
The M-Cats' "Big Three" seniors finished their Brookline careers with 46 of the team's 54 points. Zack Jaffe played every minute and was immense with 23 points. Avishai Alge added 13 and Ben Zak, playing on a tender ankle that has kept him out of action for more than a month, scored 10.
Junior Yoel Polack took an elbow to the face, left the game long enough to stop the bleeding and get cleared by medical personnel, then returned to the court to score his team's remaining eight points.
Maimonides finished the season with a record of 12-5.
We are excited to announce our Elementary School spring concert entitled "One Small Voice". The concert will take place on April 6th at 4:30 pm and will feature our 4 elementary/middle school music groups:
We look forward to sharing our music with you in a few weeks! Please email Ms. Rebecca Fisher, ES Music Teacher, at email@example.com with any questions regarding the performance.
The Maimonides School varsity girls’ basketball season ended Tuesday night in overtime, with a disappointing loss -- but also prospects for a very bright future.
North Shore Regional Vocational pulled out a 48-46 overtime win in the opening round of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 4 North tournament. The game was held at Brookline High School. The Lady M-Cats, with no seniors on their roster, finish the season with a record of 8-7.
“I told them in the locker room after the game to take this feeling we have now and learn from it,” said Coach Kristen Fucarile, who also teaches kindergarten in the Elementary School. “We have no seniors, and will be coming back with a stronger united group next year. Maimo girls are going to be the team to watch next year.”
Maimonides played a strong first half Tuesday and emerged with an 18-15 lead. North Shore pressed the entire game, and it started to affect the Lady M-Cats in the second half, when the game became a battle of defensive stops.
Freshman Capt. Michal Alge finished a stellar season with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Junior point guard Yael Pomper, who sets the pace on both offense and defense, added 12
Freshman guard Keren Starobinski had a memorable game with eight points, including two clutch free throws that send the game into overtime. “She came out huge for us,” said Coach Fucarile. “It was amazing to watch.”
“As hard as it is to watch your team work extremely hard all year and not be able to finish with a win, I hope these girls realize each season they are getting closer and closer to goals they thought were unreachable a few years back,” said the coach.
A Maimonides School graduate with a unique perspective on the politics of the Middle East acknowledged to an audience at the school on Feb. 26 that Jews in Israel and the Diaspora are anxious about the implications of popular uprisings throughout the region.
Rabbi Dr. Marc Gopin ’75 feels the big picture is promising. “I believe in the long run this democratization is going to help, even though it will be uncomfortable for Israeli policy makers for a time,” he said. At the “very basic level,” he said, such protests “naturally give birth to democracy, and building civil society.”
Rabbi Gopin is director of the Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, where he is a professor. His remarks, entitled “Revolutions and Evolutions of the Arab World, Egypt, Jordan and Syria: One Rabbi's View from the Front of Citizen Diplomacy,” were sponsored by the Maimonides Alumni Council.
“We’re watching history unfold every hour,” Rabbi Gopin said. “We’re still shocked by the explosion of honesty on the street, the sophistication of how they’re revolting… Every day I am astonished by the level of sophistication and non-violent protest. Across the region there seems to be a kind of learning going on that the untrustworthiness of ideology.” That’s because ideology “doesn’t get you a job, or safety, or security.”
The result, he predicted, “is going to be much messier than the moment of liberation. In Egypt, they’re probably living in a fantasy land right now. There is a kind of ‘morning after’ for democratization, when you wonder what is really going to happen.”
Israel and its friends are concerned because “obviously Egypt will no longer be a rubber stamp” for U.S. policy, he said. But he added that the countries are still close militarily. The entire region will be “multi-vocal,” with “liberation coming in many different strains.” However, he anticipates a “sense of solidarity” with Palestinian Arabs.
Rabbi Gopin said he has been involved with what he calls back-channel diplomacy in the Middle East for 27 years. He explained that the field of conflict analysis and resolution delves into the reasons “why people fight.” Equipped with such expertise, “I felt it was possible to start working on the most impossible conflict of all: Israel and the Palestinians.”
The speaker, who received ordination from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University, said a “series of halachic” values guides his peace-building efforts. They include “benevolent care of yourself, the concept of self-searching that leads to teshuvah -- a daily halachic value -- empathy with pain, pursuit of peace, pursuit of justice,” as well as greeting people with pleasantness and showing respect for others.
The most dramatic locale of Rabbi Gopin’s citizen diplomacy efforts is Syria, where he first set foot about seven years ago and has since developed a personal relationship with the Assad family.
He called Syria “the most successful and controlled police state in the world,” and massive protest rallies there are unlikely. However, there have been demonstrations against corrupt police, as dissidents are “trying to push the envelope on the police state rather than regime change.” The landscape includes an old guard overseeing “bureaucratic fiefdoms.”
Rabbi Gopin described Syria’s relations with Israel as “very dangerous.” The country has stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, and the leadership is “defiant and confident.” The economy is growing. “The idea that negotiations can be based on surrender is not realistic,” he said. The alternative has to be a negotiated settlement.
He detailed some of his experiences in Syria, including his relationship with the religious leader known as the grand mufti. The Bashar al-Assad regime is engaged in “a cultural struggle with the Islamists.” A majority of Syrians are not focused on the welfare of Palestinians, he added, but wants to regain the Golan, which it feels would restore national dignity lost in 1967.
Rabbi Gopin said he is troubled by Assad’s providing a home for Hamas leaders and his long alliance with Iran, as well as support for Hizbollah, which he called “an addiction to violence.”
He also offered some insight on other regional uprisings.
Libya, he noted, is home to almost 100 tribes. But throughout the region, over the past generation young people have moved from tribal lands to urban areas. Their priorities now are education and employment rather than loyalty to tribal leaders, he said.
Yemen, at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, is also a concern because “Saudi Arabia has a vested interest in Yemen. Al Qaeda does as well... Al Qaeda’s number one enemy always has been the Saudi royal family. This is a vendetta,” he pointed out. “To get a foothold in the gulf is a dream of bin Laden.” Regarding Yemen, “the question is: How is the world going to react?”
For grades K-8 (ES and MS), parent-teacher conferences are coming up again! Conference dates are:
The signup site for conference times will open at midnight Sunday night and be available Monday 2/28 through Friday 3/4. Click on the link below to schedule your conference times:
Each spring, graduating Maimonides School seniors and their parents have the opportunity to undergo bone marrow screening at the school, through the Michael E. Osband Gift of Life Program. A participant in last June’s screening has matched a 64-year-old man suffering from myelodysplastic disorder. According to Suzi Fuld, New England recruitment coordinator for the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation, sponsor of the drive, prospective donors can choose to remain anonymous for one year.
Plans are under way for screening the Class of 2011, a program that also includes a learning component.
Maimonides School hosted its first bone marrow screening in August 2003, in response to the illness of teacher Sharon Steiff, z”l. Screenings for the graduating seniors began in 2007. Overall there have been 35 matches, most of them from the first screening, when more than 600 persons responded.
Mainstream Protestant denominations and institutions during the Third Reich encouraged the anti-Semitic policies and practices that led to the destruction of the European Jewish community, a noted scholar of Jewish-Christian relations in Europe told a Maimonides School audience on Nov. 8.
Dr. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, spoke at the school’s annual community commemoration of Kristallnacht.
The series began some two decades ago with remarks by Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, z”l, a beloved Maimonides teacher whose synagogue was damaged during the pogrom. Prof. Heschel noted that her father, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Rabbi Wolhlgemuth were students together at the Hildesheimer Rabbinical Seminary in Berlin.
Prof. Heschel shared details of research for her recent book The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Much of the information came from recently opened archives.
The churches’ response to Kristallnacht exemplifies the problem, Prof., Heschel said. The pogrom was “a moment of rejoicing for Martin Sasse, the bishop of Thuringen. The Nazi regime was finally getting rid of the Jews and Jewish institutions.” She noted that Nov. 10 is the birth date of Martin Luther, and the bishop said Kristallnacht was the fulfillment of Luther’s anti-Semitic goals.
The Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Religious Life opened on May 5, 1939, in the castle where Luther translated the New Testament into German, she continued.
The institute tried to prove that Jesus was Aryan and his goal was the destruction of Judaism. Among the institute’s goals were the elimination of the Old Testament as part of the church canon, and expunging any references to Judaism from the Bible and hymnal (such as the word “Hallelujah”).
Prof. Heschel emphasized that the institute was part of Germany’s religious mainstream. There were as many as 80 professors associated there, the institute never had financial problems, and its de-Judaized hymnals were sold to hundreds of thousands of churches throughout the Third Reich. Other theologians went so far as to call for the elimination of Paul from Christian texts because of his Jewish roots.
“At the end of the war, all who had been involved with this institute retained positions of authority,” Prof. Heschel continued. For example, Rev. Martin Redeker became dean of the theological faculty of the University of Kiel and subsequently was awarded West Germany’s highest civilian honor.
Prof. Heschel also asserted that the Vatican not only was aware of atrocities against Jews, but also ignored appeals. Pope Pius XII “permitted Catholics and Catholic institutions to hide Jews, but he never spoke out.” Individually, Protestants helped Jews, the speaker acknowledged. Yet “I never found evidence that German Jews appealed to Protestant leaders for assistance. I think they felt it was hopeless.”
In his introductory remarks, Harvey Gertel of the Maimonides Board of Directors, who chairs this annual lecture, said, “We are here to remember the evil that was perpetrated on millions of people… We are fulfilling the commandment to remember what Amalek did by doing this every year.”
The lecture was underwritten by the Theodore and Anna Schoenfeld Holocaust Studies Endowment at the school.
Rabbi Joshua Spinner told Maimonides Upper School students on Nov. 10 that his work with the Jewish community of Germany – particularly its young people – is “an incredible inspiration for me, every single day.”
And one doesn’t have to go to Berlin to find the same fulfillment, he added. “I’ve been able to make a small difference in the lives of these people, because I was lucky enough to have the benefits of a Jewish education and Jewish values from a community like this,” he told the students.
The speaker addressed two groups of students to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom.
Rabbi Spinner, a graduate of Columbia University, is a vice president of the Lauder Foundation and director of its yeshivot, camps and outreach programs in Germany. He was recruited by Ronald Lauder several years ago while spending a year in volunteer service in the Jewish community of Minsk, Belarus.
Following World War II, some Jewish survivors in Europe sought safety in the American occupation zone in Germany, Rabbi Spinner related. But their children did not remain. After the reunification of Germany in 1989, the country welcomed Jews from the former Soviet Union. Today’s Jewish population of 120,000 comprises mostly those refugees and their children.
The speaker profiled several teenagers in Berlin who have made sacrifices to establish their Jewish identities. “This is not easy. The level of conflict that they have top deal with is so incredible,” especially within their own families, he said.
Germany is “the strongest friend of Israel in the Economic Union,” but “there are real problems. There are real issues… Many of the average people still operate with anti-Semitic stereotypes,” Rabbi Spinner said in answer to a question. Life for the Jewish community is “better than other places in Europe – but that doesn’t mean it’s very good.”
Yet he doesn’t question the decision of Jewish families to live in Berlin, or their long-term outlook. “This is the way it is. What can I do to make sure this community stays with the Jewish People?”
Prof. Eliot Cohen has returned to academia after two years serving at the highest echelon of American foreign policy. He says he emerged from government intact – “knowing who you are and what your values are” – thanks to his foundation at Maimonides School.
Prof. Cohen, a 1973 Maimonides graduate, is director of the strategic studies program at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. During the last two years of the Bush Administration, he held the position of State Department counselor.
He talked of his experiences at an Oct. 31 program at his alma mater, sponsored by the Maimonides Alumni Council.
“I think the boss felt that I served her well,” Prof. Cohen said. “I think I helped move the ship of state a degree or two in the right direction.”
The "boss" was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with whom he conferred daily and traveled every three months to Iraq and Afghanistan. Other areas of concentration ranged from Pakistan and Iran to Georgia and Somalian pirates.
Prof. Cohen recalled his high school days when rabbis would sit together at breakfast in the auditorium reading The New York Times. “You never know when you’re teaching, and those rabbis were teaching as they sat around that table,” Prof. Cohen declared. They exemplified the school’s philosophy of uncompromising observance and engagement with the world, he added.
Prof. Cohen said he excluded himself from one foreign policy area: the Arab-Israeli conflict. “I didn’t think it would be good for the U.S. government to have a prominent Jew involved in this,” he said. He also noted that he told Rice, “I don’t think this is going anywhere.”
But later in his remarks, while assessing the administration’s foreign policy record, Dr. Cohen asserted, “Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than George W. Bush.”
State Department counselor is a unique position, said Prof. Cohen: equivalent to an undersecretary, but without authority. He served as a liaison with the intelligence and defense officials, and handled a variety of special projects, including leading State’s response to the discovery of a nuclear reactor in Syria.
“One might think this was a pretty cool job – being able to give advice and not having any responsibility,” Dr. Cohen said wryly. But then there’s the realization that “the secretary of State may actually take your advice." Decisions at that level are usually 51-49, he added – and often lives are at stake.
One thing he learned, Prof. Cohen related, is that “the consequences of policy choices are frighteningly uncertain. One must act with as much integrity and responsibility as possible.”
Prof. Cohen said several components of the Bush foreign policy had positive outcomes, including relations with China, India and Japan. In Africa, the U.S. foreign aid program was very successful, he said. Failures he cited included Iran policy and omissions in Afghanistan.
Prof. Cohe, an early critic of the conduct of the war in Iraq, said that over the long haul, “we achieved something consequential, even if fragile. There really has been tremendous progress, and the war on terrorism has begun to pay dividends.”
A retired Israeli general who helped lead the heroic 1976 mission to liberate hostages in Entebbe, Uganda told Maimonides Upper School students Oct. 29 that if diplomacy and economic sanctions fail, Israel should launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The alternative, said Effi Eitam, could be “the ultimate surrender of the free world to evil.”
Gen. Eitam, a member of the Knesset from the National Union Party and a ba’al teshuva, visited Maimonides as an emissary of the prime minister of Israel, through a Jewish National Fund speaking tour.
Purveyors of radical Islam “are not just people who don’t behave in a nice way,” he told the students. They represent “an effort to undermine the foundation of the world moral order.” If such an ideology possesses weapons of mass destruction, the results could be horrifying for the entire world, he said.
Should Iran develop nuclear weapons, one result will be their “rapid proliferation” among terror groups in the region, including Al Qaeda, the speaker continued. Suitcase-size weapons could bring the world to its knees. Israel, he added, cannot live under such a threat, because the country is too small to absorb even a limited nuclear attack.
The mutual deterrence that marked the Cold War succeeded because, in the end, the U.S. and the Soviet Union “share the same moral principles,” Gen. Eitam told the students. The government of Iran does not subscribe to that system of morality. A suicide bomber, he said, is a concept that is “against the moral order of nature.”
Should Israel attack, “You will have to prepare yourselves to defend the State of Israel,” the speaker told the students. And what that really means is “to maintain and protect the morality, security and freedom of the whole world.”
After the presentation, Gen. Eitam continued the conversation with several students. In answer to a question, he said the reported dispersal of Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a deterrent to a pre-emptive strike. Top Israeli military officials know their location, he said.
During his remarks, the general also commented on the recent United Nations report accusing the IDF of war crimes in Gaza. Eitam was indignant over the allegations, declaring, “I served for 30 years in the IDF. Not an airplane, not a cannon, not a rifle ever shot at civilian targets deliberately.” He acknowledged that the IDF, like any armed force, can err. But in many of those cases victims or their families were compensated. And there are “endless examples” of how combat operations were aborted because “we heard the cry of a baby in a house where the ground floor was filled with weapons.”
“We can fight a war and yet remain within the boundaries of Jewish morality, of Jewish justice,” he stated.
He also related details of the planning and execution of the hostage rescue at the Entebbe airport, a mission that has been immortalized in books and films. At the time, military planners knew little about Africa. “I went down to a store and bought a globe,” said Eitam, who headed a commando unit. “We found Africa and then we found Uganda, and at the bottom of Lake Victoria we found Entebbe.”
The task was made easier when they discovered that an Israeli company had built the airport there, he said.
Maimonides will commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom Sunday, Nov. 8 with a public lecture by Prof. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, beginning at 7:30.
Her remarks are entitled, "Race Became Faith: The Nazi Conversion of the Churches During the Third Reich, and Its Consequences for European Jewry."
Prof. Heschel, currently on sabbatical on a Carnegie Foundation grant, is writing a book on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam. Her areas of expertise include Jewish-Christian relations in Germany, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism.
She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania.
The annual Kristallnacht lecture is underwritten by Mamonides School's Theodore and Anna Schoenfeld Holocaust Studies Endowment Fund.
Write firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-232-4452, ext. 405 for details.
We would like to call your attention to two special opportunities to hear insightful and knowledgeable guest speakers at Maimonides School over the next several days.
This Motza'ei Shabbat, Oct. 31, Prof. Eliot Cohen, a 1973 Maimonides graduate, will share his experiences and insight as counselor for the Department of State during the last two years of the Bush Administration. His remarks are scheduled to begin at 8:30. Dr. Cohen is a professor and director of the Strategic Studies Program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, where his areas of expertise include Afghanistan and Iraq. Prof. Cohen has entitled his remarks "Pardes and the Counselor: Experiences in the Department of State." The program is sponsored by the Maimonides Alumni Council.
On Sunday evening, Nov. 8, Maimonides will commemorate the 71st anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom with a public lecture by Prof. Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, beginning at 7:30. Her remarks are entitled, "Race Became Faith: The Nazi Conversion of the Churches During the Third Reich, and Its Consequences for European Jewry." Prof. Heschel, currently on sabbatical on a Carnegie Foundation grant, is writing a book on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. She received her Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. The annual Kristallnacht lecture is underwritten by Mamonides School's Theodore and Anna Schoenfeld Holocaust Studies Endowment Fund.
RSVPs are welcome, but not required. Contact Mike Rosenberg, Maimonides School's Director of Community Relations (email@example.com, 617-232-4452, ext. 405), for more information or to RSVP.
Maimonides School launched its 73rd year Sept. 8 with an enrollment of close to 600, an array of new staff members, and a series of goals embodied in the school’s fourth Annual Operating Plan.
The school’s top administrators have identified six areas of emphasis as key initiatives for the year: improving all channels of communication, enhancing religious self-awareness, addressing critical social issues, understanding individual student needs, strengthening curriculum and program review, and improving staff evaluation.
These priorities are explained in the Annual Operating Plan, which has been distributed to members of the school family. The plan was developed by the school’s administrative leadership team, including not only principals of the Upper, Middle and Elementary Schools but also the rosh yeshiva, learning center director, executive director and the new director of curriculum and instruction.
The primary goal in examining channels of communication is “to foster productive, healthy dialogue between our teachers and parents in order to maximize student growth and learning,” according to the operating plan. The upgrades also include weekly email communications to parents and the Maimonides website.
In the religious dimension, “our ambitious goal is no less than to create a thoughtful Jew – one who tries always to do what is right rather than what is convenient or satisfying.” The plan adds that “our criteria for ‘right” or ‘appropriate’ are derived, of course, from our traditional halachic sources.”
Special year-long efforts in the Elementary and Middle School are targeted to “sustain a positive social culture that supports all children.” The programs foster a cooperative classroom environment, build positive relationships and address students’ interpersonal problems.
The plan also outlines the beginning of “a multi-year process of improving each teacher’s ability to understand individual student needs, and to broaden each teacher’s repertoire to meet those needs.” The effort is underway in kindergarten and first and second grades, with Judaic and general studies teachers collaborating with learning specialists.
Another initiative is a review of the entire mathematics program at the school, including recommendations from a visiting team of experts. The evaluation criteria are being developed by a new curriculum review committee that includes parents, teachers and school administrators.
The plan also calls for a new oversight committee to examine supervision and evaluation processes for teachers and administrators.
Three Maimonides School seniors have qualified as National Merit Semifinalists, based on outstanding scores on the 2008 Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.
Zachary Avigan, son of Drs. David and Michelle Avigan of Sharon, Ben jamin Niewood, son of Drs. Eliahu and Joanne Niewood of Newton, and Gabriel Rosen, son of Dr. Hillel and Mrs. Amy Rosen of Newton, are among some 16,000 semifinalists nationwide.
They will be eligible for Merit Scholarships awarded next spring.
The 2009-10 school year is upon us!
By popular demand, we have added a number of student health forms to our Parent Resources page. Please print the relevant forms to fill out and return to the school nurse.
Additionally, parents can download the latest information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health regarding Flu in Schools (revised 8/31/2009).
We wish all our students and families a happy, healthy, and productive year!
Student speakers captured the spirit of Maimonides School’s senior class, as the graduates of 2009 accepted diplomas and joined the ranks of the alumni during the school’s 57th Commencement Sunday, June 14.
The program featured three original student speeches instead of the usual two, as a pair of seniors was virtually tied for highest scholastic performance, and each was honored as valedictorian. They were followed by the traditional English address.
Delivering her valedictory in Hebrew, Leah Sarna explored the role of questioning in education. The diverse backgrounds of members of the graduating class led to arguments and discussions that “are the foundation of development and progress in our world,” her translation read. “Now, as we are leaving the nest and entering the larger world, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to keep asking questions...”
Marissa Schwartz, in her English valedictory, looked at a particular question, “What’s in a name?” Often a name defines one’s identity, she said, and the name Maimonides “embodies the spirit of Modern Orthodoxy.” As students of Maimonides School, “we immediately identify ourselves as observant Jews... The challenge each graduate faces is “to incorporate what we learned at Maimonides into our own character.” Each valedictorian stood as the other delivered her remarks.
Presenting the English address was senior Tova Ramelson, whose talk was selected by a committee of teachers and administrators from among several submitted. She recalled a series of episodes during a fifth grade field trip that were illustrative of “the challenge of having to integrate halakhic precepts with daily life.” The graduating class, she asserted, “has been blessed to have attained significant achievements, but even more compelling, is the fact that we have learned from our school and our teachers to strive for success in the secular world while working within the boundaries of halakha.”
Talia Deitsch and Yoni Matz enhanced student participation in the ceremony by reading selections from writings of the Rambam.
Jeffrey B. Swartz, chair of the school’s Board of Directors, who handed each graduate his or her diploma, lauded members of the faculty and “the love they have invested” in the class. He encouraged the seniors to recognize “the infinite possibilities of every day and every adventure” experienced by living “a Torah-centered life in a very modern world.”
The Maimonides Upper School principals also offered praise and counsel to the graduates.
“You guide your way to the future by looking at the past,” explained Rabbi Yair Altshuler, principal. “Never forget to be grateful to your parents ands grandparents… Above all, always remember that you are part of a long chain that links us forward to the past. Parents, we pass that chain to your children.”
“You set a tone in the school this year of maturity, cooperation and substance,” said Ken Weinstein, principal for general studies, as he closed the program. “Each one of you has so much to offer, it’s overwhelming… You made the entire school a happier place for all of us.”
The other 2009 graduates are Meira Altabet, Avital Bailen, Deborah Bellin, Leslie Black, Joey Blechner, Rebecca Boroda, Asher Cheses, Harry Chiel, Talia Deutsch, Jesse Ebner, Adam Edelman, Ellie Epstein, Eliana Frim, Avi Fuld, Zehava Gale, Avi Geller, Zevvy Goldish, Pnina Grossman, Dahlia Gruen, Joseph Hasson, Reava Ishkahov, Rachel Jaret, Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs, Aliza Katz, Natan Kawesch, Jona Koplow and Michael Kosowsky.
Also, Malka Langermann, Sara Miriam Liben, Benjamin Marks, Jonathan Milgram, Benjamin Miller, Ariela Modigliani Caviglia, Avi Packer, Pinchus Polack, Gabriel Rozman, Hanna Rubin, Aaron Schacht, Joseph Schacht, Nicole Schlesinger, Yosef Segal, Michael Shrager, Oren Shuchatowitz, Erica Singer, Lauren Singer, Hana Snow, Aliza Stein, Jesse Turk, Shoshana Weiner, Michelle Wiener, Ariella Wolfson, Josh Yarmush, Asher Zimble and Eliza Zisblatt.
A complete photo gallery may now be viewed online.
Members of the Maimonides School Class of 2009 will celebrate the culmination of their secondary school careers by participating in a Gift of Life bone marrow registry screening on Thursday evening, June 11. The voluntary screening will be part of Senior Class Night activities.
This is the third year that Maimonides seniors have received this unique graduation gift, which consists not only of sampling for potential matches but also a learning component.
The program has been endowed by the Osband Family, in memory of Michael Osband,
z”l, father of four Maimonides graduates and a dynamic volunteer leader who was
renowned in the field of pediatric hematology-oncology. The Michael E. Osband Gift of
Life Program is considered the culmination of the school’s efforts to instill the
importance of chesed, social responsibility, and giving back to the community.
Gift of Life, a public bone marrow and blood stem cell registry, facilitates transplants for persons suffering from many life-threatening diseases, including leukemia and lymphoma. Maimonides’ relationship with Gift of Life began in the summer of 2003, when a bone marrow screening was held in response to the illness of Upper School English teacher Sharon Steiff, z”l. Miss Steiff passed away in January 2004.
“While she hoped and prayed that a match would be found for her, she was sure that matches would be made for others as a result of her drive,” said her friend Suzy Fuld, who organized the screening for the Class of 2007, the last class to have had Miss Steiff as a teacher. Indeed, that screening has resulted in one successful transplant thus far.
Another stem cell donor, Yitzi Zisblatt ’05, is scheduled to speak to members of the Class of 2009 as part of the Senior Class Night agenda. The sampling process, consisting of a series of swishes inside the cheek with a cotton swab, will continue throughout the evening.
Earlier this spring, the seniors learned about bone marrow and stem cell donations from scientific and religious perspectives. Speakers were Dr. David Fisher, a Maimonides parent and cancer researcher and department chair at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Rabbi David Shapiro, Rosh Yeshiva.
All seniors at least age 18 are eligible for the screening on June 11; those who are 17 will receive information on screening after their next birthdays. Parents of the seniors will also have the opportunity to give samples during the event.
A Maimonides School graduate who serves as a senior official at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum told 11th graders May 19 that a purpose of the museum is “to help people understand that they have a responsibility to prevent future genocide.”
Arthur Berger ’62 declared, “The history of the Holocaust is relative to the teaching of ethics. If you build a museum that is responsive to the future, that memorial is a living memorial.”
Mr. Berger is senior adviser for external affairs at the Washington, DC museum. His responsibilities include overseeing international relations and aspects of public and media relations and development. A former Foreign Service officer, he joined the museum in 2000 as director of communications.
"For six years, Nazi leadership tried to test the world, asking, ‘What are you going to do about it’?” Mr. Berger told the students. What did the world learn from the Holocaust? “Unfortunately, not much. The problem of genocide is a continuing problem," he said. To change that, "Each individual should ask, ‘What can I do’?”
As a Maimonides student in the 1950s, the Holocaust was not an academic subject. “Two of my teachers were survivors. They didn’t talk about their experiences, because they wanted to move on." He recalled his childhood in Providence, when one day “a number of families moved in, and everyone said, ‘Don’t ask them anything’.”
The establishment of a presidential commission on a national memorial in the late 1970s marked a turning point in this outlook, Mr. Berger said. Today the museum, which opened in 1993, houses artifacts and records that give the Shoah authenticity, that provide visitors with “a sense of connection.”
Mr. Berger also outlined the museum’s international tracing service, and displayed a copy of the death certificate of a member of his wife’s family – a Jewish slave laborer at Auschwitz. Similar documents for thousands of slave laborers were discovered recently in a previously unknown archive.
“They were human beings. They had lives,” he declared. “We have a responsibility to talk about those lives.”
Menachem Schindler, a Maimonides School sophomore, took home the high school championship in the National Bible Contest -- Chidon HaTanach -- held May 17 at Ramaz School in Manhattan.
Menachem, son of Daniel and Terry Schindler of Newton, registered the highest score on the 117-question Hebrew exam, covering 75 chapters in the Bible.
He will represent the United States at the International Chidon in Jerusalem on Yom Ha'Atzmaut next year.
Menachem was one of almost three dozen Maimonides students in Grades 6-11 to travel to New York for the test, culminating months of preparation coordinated by Mrs. Atarah Gale, who chairs the Maimonides School Tanach Department.
The nine students of the Maimonides School delegation to the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Atlanta have returned to the Bay State with not only a 20th place ranking, but also admiration and respect for their uncompromising stand on religious principle.
The contest took place May 7-10, with trials scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Back in April, when the school’s request for alternate trial times was denied, the students were prepared to forfeit rather than violate observance of Shabbat. However, an 11th-hour policy reversal opened the door to a full competitive experience for the team–not to mention a memorable Shabbat in the Atlanta community.
After winning the Massachusetts championship March 27 in a classic courtroom battle (in Faneuil Hall) against Sharon High School, the Maimonides team embarked on a six-week ride that culminated with television appearances, compliments from judges and coaches, and freewheeling discussions with fellow students late into the night. Oh yes, there were also two scrimmages and four trials packed into 33 hours.
The 27-member state roster was pared down to eight for the nationals: Captains Harry Chiel, Michael Kosowsky and Leah Sarna, fellow seniors Avi Fuld, Pnina Grossman, Natan Kawesch and Hana Snow, and juniors Steven Fine and Benjamin Niewood. The delegation also included David Fredette, the Suffolk County assistant district attorney who serves as attorney-coach, and Rabbi Roy Rosenbaum of the limudei kodesh faculty.
While the students developed strategies and practiced courtroom techniques in response to new case materials, adult supporters confronted the National High School Mock Trial Board’s policy prohibiting changes to the tournament schedule to accommodate religious obligations. Still, as the group departed for Atlanta, it was expecting to take part only in two Friday trials, then celebrate Shabbat in the community as the tournament continued on Saturday.
The team had scheduled three scrimmage trials for Thursday, May 7, trying to get as much as it could from what it understood would be a truncated tournament. Then, around 9:15 Wednesday evening, the students learned that the national organization had consented to scheduling four official trials – one Thursday afternoon and three on Friday. It turned out that Judge Doris L. Downs, chief judge of Fulton County Superior Court, had decided to close the courthouse to Mock Trial if Maimonides was not accommodated.
The word came by telephone to the room of Rabbi Rosenbaum, where team members had gathered. “We were all practicing, when he got a phone call. The room became silent, then he told us, then we cheered for a couple minutes, and then went right back to practicing – we had to be able to do our best,” Michael recounted. “After we got all the good news, Harry gave the team a quick pep talk. He told us that now, all of a sudden, we were ‘in it to win it,’” Leah said. “When we found out … I felt an adrenaline rush,” added Avi. “We began to utilize every minute, perfecting everything.”
From 10 a.m. Thursday to after 6 on Friday, the Maimonides team packed in two practice trials and four actual ones (not to mention a photo session and negotiations with courthouse security to clear Shabbat clothing on hangers). "I didn't think the first day was too bad because the trials were in the hotel," Steven commented. Friday, in the courthouse, "trial after trial after trial got a little tiring. Yet by the third trial, I felt more casual."
“The back-to-back-to-back trial day was amazing and exhausting at the same time,” said Pnina. “I would have never thought it possible before we actually did it.” Leah acknowledged that on Friday afternoon, “once I was done with my stuff, I totally zoned out. I'm normally super alert during trials, but after nearly three trials, my attention span was exhausted. I drew pictures of the scoring judges on my legal pad.”
“We usually have a week to prepare between Massachusetts trials. Here we had to make our changes almost instantaneously and be prepared to use new material 20 minutes later,” Harry pointed out. “It was pretty difficult to adapt, but our team was pretty good at thinking on its feet.” The students also discovered that “the national competition is a lot more about performance than the law,” Harry added. “We mostly stuck to our game, but we knew not to make certain objections, and that we could get in things that normally would be objectionable.”
How was the Maimonides delegation received after days of escalating publicity? "From the second we arrived, everyone knew who we were because of our kippas, and people would just walk right up to us and tell us they hoped everything worked out,” Ben recounted. “The other teams were super nice and friendly. Before we got accommodated, they all wished us luck when we passed them and they saw the boys' kippas,” said Pnina. “The other teams were extremely encouraging,” Avi added. “Multiple times throughout the week, team members and coaches approached us and told us how proud they were of us, and we did the right thing by fighting it.”
The students took a van to their hosts’ neighborhood; on the way, “we celebrated Pesach Sheini with some matzah that Pnina brought,” Leah noted. “Our hosts were great. The whole community was extremely supportive,” Michael reported. “They all welcomed us with open arms and lots of food, and we had an amazing Shabbat experience there.” "They really showed us the true meaning of Southern hospitality," said Natan. Pnina added, “The Atlanta community was adorable. They were totally shepping nachas from us.” Friday night dinner was at the home of former Maimonides School parents Jeff and Barbara Weener, and the seniors had a nice reunion with their former classmate Kobi Weener.
Rabbi Adam Starr of Young Israel of Toco Hills hosted a lunch that included students from Yeshiva Atlanta. “We got to know some really nice kids, and hear all about their lives and school,” Leah said. After mincha at Young Israel, the students conducted a panel about Mock Trial. “The community was so gracious, asking polite questions and commending us on our menschlichkeit,” Leah said. “Everyone on the team got to answer at least one question.” Ben added, “The rabbi just kept telling us over and over how much of a kiddush Hashem it was, and it made us all feel great to know that the support of the entire Jewish community was behind us.”
“Our community will be talking about and remembering this visit for a long time to come,” said Jeff Weener. “The students represented Maimonides in a way that all here want to model. The menschlichkeit the team exhibited, in their interactions and when questioned as a panel, showcased their upbringing and schooling. The school couldn't have asked for better ambassadors of its mission than this group.”
Returning to the hotel late on Motza’ei Shabbat, the Maimonides students “hung out for the rest of the night with the friends we made from New Hampshire, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Delaware, Alabama, Hawaii, California, Virginia, and more,” Leah reported. “Slowly, conversation evolved into a discussion about religion and religious schools. We were out in the hallway, and more and more people joined us. Atheists, a Reform Jew or two, Catholics, Protestants, all came to discuss God, faith, the Bible and religious practices… Iowa[’s team was from] a religious Catholic school. We really hit it off with them, talking about our faiths and our schools and our states and communities.” Michael noted, “Iowa was really supportive, and we all had a great time hanging out with Iowa.”
Sunday morning, the students learned their scores. “Most of them seemed, well, fair,” Leah observed. “We are all ecstatic with how well we did,” Michael declared, “and I hope that next year's Maimo team will do even better.” Steven won an Outstanding Witness Award for his performance in the first trial, and Leah an Outstanding Attorney Award from the second.
Steven and Benjamin are the only underclassmen in the Atlanta delegation. Next year, "It will be tough to live up to this year's team," Steven acknowledged. But he emphasized that, because of the Nationals, "I think I have doubled my understanding of Mock Trial. Just seeing all these other teams playing at such a high level helps me understand the system more."
March madness, indeed.
The Maimonides School Mock Trial team won the Massachusetts championship Friday in a thrilling courtroom clash with Sharon High School before a packed Faneuil Hall in Boston.
The defense team of lawyers Harry Chiel, Leah Sarna and Hana Snow, all seniors, juniors Benjamin Niewood and Gabriel Rosen and sophomore Yitzhak Snow, plus witnesses Avi Fuld '09, Natan Kawesch '09 and Aaron Zwiebach '11 turned in a nearly flawless performance.
Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead, presiding justice, said at the conclusion that the trial was the best he has seen in 28 years of involvement with the program.
Mock Trial, an educational program of the Massachusetts Bar Association, gives high school students the opportunity to prepare and deliver actual cases in courtroom settings. More than 120 Massachusetts high schools take part.
The 27-member Maimonides team qualified for the 16-team state tournament after winning its region, through three trials and a tie-breaking win against Cambridge. The students continued their march to the championship, eliminating Algonquin Regional, Newton South and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts, leading up to Friday's triumph in the historic setting.
Throughout the season, the students try the same case -- a first-degree murder charge against an Iraq War veteran who claims post-traumatic stress disorder as a defense. Once the tournament began, the team did not learn whether it would have the role of prosecution or defense until a pre-trial coin toss.
Judge Whitehad was joined by Superior Court Judge Peter Agnes and Probate and Family Court Judge John Casey in scoring the trial. The outcome was close -- a split decision. When the result was announced, the packed hall erupted in applause and cheers. The team accepted an engraved silver bowl.
Mock Trial at Maimonides began in 1999, introduced by Dr. Garry Katz, former high school principal for general studies. He coached that first team to the regional tie-breaker; several of those students are now in law school. In 2006 the team reached the "Sweet 16" for the first time, and several of those alumni were on hand for Friday's dramatics.
Other students on the 2009 Mock Trial team are seniors Pnina Grossman and Michael Kosowsky, juniors Zachary Avigan, Steven Fine, Benjamin Fisher, Sam Fisher, Samuel Ming-Sum Fisher, Daniel Lasman and Esther Petrack, sophomore Jonathan Robison and freshmen Annie Davis, Yonina Frim, Jonathan Michaelson, Gabriela Mizrahi-Arnaud, Tess Niewood, David Rubinstein, Elliot Salinger and Chana-Sophie Vester.
The students are coached by volunteer David Fredette, an assistant Suffolk County district attorney, with volunteer assistance from parents Miriam Kosowsky and Amy Rosen, both attorneys, and retired Judge Isaac Borenstein.
Mass Bar Association's Mock Trial Central
Among the innovations at Maimonides School's 2009 Annual Gala was a "Virtual Adbook". While the Adbook is the traditional culmination of the Scholarship Campaign, this year's version was distributed to Gala attendees as an electronic file for viewing on a computer. The Virtual Adbook is now available to view on the Maimonides School website. Readers can even use the "Search" button to find specific names anywhere they occur in the document. Click here to view the Virtual Adbook.
Another highlight of the evening was the video tribute prepared in honor of Joseph and Greta Abelow. This, too, is now available online to be enjoyed by all friends of Maimonides School, near and far. The video requires a QuickTime plugin. Run time is approximately 10 minutes. Click here to view the video.
Lastly, the professional photos from the event have been posted! Click here to view the complete photo gallery.
Reena F. Slovin has been appointed assistant principal of the Maimonides Elementary School, beginning July 1. She succeeds Dr. John Billings, who served for the past two years, after several years as an Upper School social studies teacher and grade dean.
Mrs. Slovin, who brings three decades of educational experience to the position, is currently client services coordinator for the Jewish day school programs of Gateways: Access to Jewish Education. Gateways (www.jgateways.org) provides on-site special education services, works with teachers on curriculum modifications, and provides professional development including weekly coaching.
As a Gateways consultant with Maimonides over the past two years, Mrs. Slovin worked closely with both Judaic and general studies teachers, support staff, and administration in the Elementary and Middle Schools.
“Is she awesome, or what!” grinned Rabbi David Saltzman, Elementary School principal, noting that Mrs. Slovin was an integral contributor in the development of the Chumash and English language arts curriculum now in use at Maimonides.
“Currently, she is training our limudei kodesh staff in the methodologies and applications of differentiated instruction. She also works with our first-grade and seventh-grade staff implementing the ‘Hidden Sparks’ program,” which aims to increase understanding and support for teaching to diverse learners.
“Her involvement with teacher coaching, training and consulting at Maimonides has been a very positive and rewarding experience for our staff and has already given her the opportunity to work closely with administration, faculty and students,” added Rabbi Yair Altshuler, principal of the Middle and Upper School.
“I am eager to continue my work with Rabbi Saltzman, with whom I have already had the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas and plans for the future,” Mrs. Slovin said. “It is clear to me that both Rabbi Saltzman and I love working with children, supporting teachers, and finding many good reasons to smile.”
Mrs. Slovin was on the staff of the New Jewish Academy in Worcester for 20 years, including five years as Director of Judaic Studies. She also served as special needs coordinator and instructor, a position and program that she initiated at the school.
Her multiple roles at NJA afforded her many opportunities to develop a wide range of leadership and management skills, as she was integrally involved in day-to-day operations as well as long-range planning and development.
Mrs. Slovin is a graduate of the Ramaz School in Manhattan and of Cornell University. She earned her master’s degree in special education at Boston University and is certified in elementary special education in Massachusetts. She also completed Harvard University’s Department of Reading and Language Advanced Graduate Study Program.
The new assistant principal also has experience as an educational specialist and psycho-educational diagnostician for students with special learning needs at Boston Children’s Hospital, Clark University, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and the Learning Laboratory at Lesley University. She and her husband Saul have three children, all day-school graduates.
“I believe that Maimonides gives children access to the best of both Jewish and general education,” Mrs. Slovin declared. “I am thrilled to contribute to helping Maimonides deliver this education in the best way possible.”
Dr. Billings is departing to head a progressive public elementary school in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
The Maimonides School Mock Trial team will compete for the state championship Friday beginning at 10 a.m. at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston. The opposition will be provided by Sharon High School.
The 27-student contingent qualified for the match Monday, prevailing over Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School of South Hadley at a trial held in Worcester. Pioneer Valley was last year's runner-up and a past state champion.
Maimonides is a real Cinderella story in this season and tournament, disposing of teams from Brookline High, Cambridge Rindge and Latin and defending state champion Newton South.
Mock Trial, which is a program of the Massachusetts Bar Association, tests students' courtroom talents and teamwork. The Maimonides students, with help from their advisor, Assistant District Atty. David Fredette, as well as retired Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein, process case information and prepare to take either side, as determined by a pre-trial coin flip.
Only the 2006 Maimonides team has advanced to the state tournament since the program began at the school 10 years ago.
Friday morning's championship trial, which is open to the public, will be judged by a three-member panel, comprised of a presiding judge, who will conduct and score the trial, as well as two additional scoring judges.
Members of the Maimonides team are seniors Harry Chiel, Avi Fuld, Pnina Grossman, Natan Kawesch, Michael Kosowsky, Leah Sarna and Hana Snow, juniors Zachary Avigan, Steven Fine, Benjamin Fisher, Sam Fisher, Samuel Ming-Sum Fisher, Daniel Lasman, Benjamin Niewood, Esther Petrack and Gabriel Rosen, sophomores Jonathan Robison, Yitzhak Snow and Aaron Zwiebach and freshmen Annie Davis, Yonina Frim, Jonathan Michaelson, Gabriela Mizrahi-Arnaud, Tess Niewood, David Rubinstein, Elliot Salinger and Chana-Sophie Vester
As part of Maimonides School's current Annual Campaign, a volunteer committee has put together a wonderful array of prize packages, offered for your bidding through the format of a Chinese Auction.
Prize packages will be awarded at the school's Gala on Sunday evening, March 22, at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge. We would love to see you there -- but you don't have to be present to win. Supporters of Maimonides all over the world can browse the 22 amazing prize packages and purchase tickets online at the auction webpage:
For Maimonides School’s Class of 2009, last month’s “community day” found fulfillment right at home.
Each month, the 59 seniors fan out to various community agencies – soup kitchens, nursing homes, child welfare offices – for chesed in action. But this time, “we wanted to do something within the community and create a relationship with the younger students,” said Marissa Schwartz. “It gave us a good opportunity to bond.”
So the class planned and executed a one-hour program with the 200 students in the Elementary School, exploring Israel through hands-on activities, including a Tu B'Shvat seder. “The goal of this time is for the seniors to spend their ‘community day’ building relationships with younger children, and simultaneously delivering a take-home message about Israel, and idea of what certain elements of Israeli culture are like,” said Marissa.
Marissa said she and her co-chair, Aliza Katz, met with Tomer Ben Shoham, Grade 12 dean, and Rabbi David Saltzman, Elementary School principal. “The four of us came up with the activities. We developed the ideas with help from the administration.”
The entire population in kindergarten through fifth grade was divided into “families,” with each spending three 15-minute blocks at the three activities. Fifth graders helped the seniors at each station, “explaining things to their groups, helping pass out supplies, and encouraging the kids to get involved, so that the fifth graders could feel involved and the younger kids get extra guidance,” Marissa explained.
The activities were dynamic. The gym resounded with Hebrew commands from the senior “drill sergeants,” as they organized the younger students and directed them along obstacle courses, relay races and exercises in a simulated Israeli Defense Force “basic training” experience.
Down the hall, in the art room, the atmosphere was quite different, as teams put together large maps of Israel, using a variety of media to illustrate topographical features. And on the third floor, an assortment of Israeli fruits were the attraction as youngsters learned about the holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the appropriate blessings, and the importance of trees in Israel.
“I saw the seniors really stepping up to the task, and the kids seemed to really enjoy it,” Marissa said after the activities. Aliza praised her classmates’ efforts and enthusiasm. “I hope in the future we can do more like this -- go into the Brener Building and help with integration between elementary and high schools, especially on the subject of Israel.”
Marissa, recalling her own experience in Elementary School, said it is important for older students to serve as role models on Maimonides’ K-12 campus. “A positive role model is a vision of the future for them,” she pointed out.
“We are very proud of how our seniors were able to give back to our Elementary School,” said Rabbi Yair Altshuler, Maimonides principal. “Seniors built relationships with younger children, and did some very important teaching about life in Israel. I find this to be one of the special things about Maimonides -- the way relationships are encouraged across buildings and grade levels, both in, and out of school.”
Scores of current and former parents, graduates spanning the decades, grandparents and staff members have joined the pilot weekly Internet Talmud shiur called Maimonides School Family @ WebYeshiva.
The free one-hour learning experience by Rabbi Chaim Brovender will begin Wednesday, Jan. 28, at 10 p.m. (EST) and will continue each week at that time until Pesach. Topics will parallel the sixth chapter of Bava Kamma that Maimonides Upper School students are studying at the same time.
The program is offered to the school’s extended family; write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details on accessing the lectures, either live from Israel or from the archives.
Each participant will be assigned a user name and password, and each may choose to just listen to the shiur, type in questions that Rabbi Brovender will address, or join the interactive group by using a webcam.
Rabbi Brovender, founder and director of WebYeshiva, also established several distinguished institutions and initiatives for learning in Israel -- Michlelet Beruriah (now Midreshet Lindenbaum), Yeshivat HaMivtar, and Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions (ATID).
Using state-of-the-art remote-learning technology, Rabbi Brovender will highlight on the screen passages of the Gemara as he teaches them, and will indicate with a pointer the specific Rashi he is expounding.
Participants may receive technical support if needed by calling New York 212-920-8844 or writing email@example.com. (Please provide your name, contact information and a detailed description of your problem when contacting technical support.)
Maimonides has contracted with WebYeshiva to conduct this pilot program for American day schools. Beth Epstein, Maimonides School parent and former PTA president, envisioned the program and worked with Rabbi Jeffrey Saks, director of ATID, on its implementation.
Maimonides School is recognizing one of its most distinguished couples as the centerpiece of its 2009 Annual Campaign.
Joseph and Greta Abelow, whose years of devotion, service and generosity to the school would fill several volumes, will be honored at the Maimonides Gala, scheduled for Sunday evening, March 22.
The school also will present a Pillar of Maimonides Award to Michal Bessler, beloved and respected Elementary School teacher. The award is emblematic of exceptional service to Jewish education.
The Abelow Family has been part of the fabric of Maimonides School since its inception. Rabbi Leo Abelow worked closely with Rabbi Dr. Joseph Soloveitchik, zt"l, who established Maimonides in 1937.
Joseph Abelow served with his father on the school’s Board of Directors, and continues as a member of that Board. He also has chaired the Tuition Committee for some 30 years, and has worked on a wide range of committees and as a dedicated fundraiser.
Mrs. Abelow was a tireless Maimonides volunteer leader during the 1960s, serving as co-president of Women’s Auxiliary and president of the Parent-Teacher Association in successive years. She began a 30-year career on the Maimonides Elementary School faculty in 1973, teaching fourth grade general studies and then moving to student support services.
Morah Bessler was born in Jerusalem and joined the Elementary School faculty in 1995. Her gentle teaching style, her knowledge and commitment have endeared her to a generation of students and their parents.
Besides teaching Judaic studies and Hebrew in third grade, Morah Bessler for several years also coordinated and helped teach “Growing Up,” an eight-session program addressing adolescents’ biological, social and emotional issues.
The following message to the Maimonides School faculty, as it returned from Midwinter Recess, was written by Rabbi David Shapiro, Rosh Yeshiva; Rabbi Yair Altshuler, Principal, Middle and Upper School; and Rabbi David Saltzman, Principal, Elementary School:
We welcome each other and our students back to routine school days in a week when no Jew -- indeed, no human being -- should adhere to routine. Empathy for the suffering of innocent people -- Jew and non-Jew -- should jar us from ‘business as usual.”
Tragically, years of gratuitous shelling into Israeli cities -- with the attendant maiming and killing of many innocent civilians while the world stood by without protest -- has now forced Israel to free itself unilaterally of this relentless threat to its civilian population.
President Bush and Secretary of State Rice have repeatedly asserted that “Israel had no choice but to do what it is now doing” and “Hamas must stop shelling Israeli civilian settlements before Israel can stop its current defensive assault.”
As members of a faith community that teaches the sanctity of all human life, we pray that God will grant a speedy victory to the IDF, so that hundreds of thousands of Israelis can again live their life without worrying about missiles intended to take their lives, and so that Palestinians and Israelis can begin to build a life side-by-side in harmony and cooperation.
In our school’s mission statement we declare that one of our goals is “to forge in our students a spiritual bond and sense of identification with the State of Israel.” Now more than ever we need to focus on that goal.
Unfortunately our ability to help is limited, but we must try to sustain our students’ focus on the war and to update them regularly as much as we can. We must encourage our students to keep the welfare of our Jewish soldiers, who have now been forced “into harm’s way” by the apathy (and, truth to tell, enmity) of most of the world’s leaders, uppermost in their thoughts and prayers.
We should remember that among the Israeli soldiers there are alumni, and relatives of current students, and we pray for them particularly within our prayers for the welfare of all soldiers.
Our vision of a Hamas-free and Hezbollah-free Middle East in which Jews and Arabs cooperate to extend and enhance life-on-this-earth is part of the religious worldview of our school, and we -- as a faculty -- should utilize the current unfortunate situation as a “teaching moment” to advance this vision.
The Maimonides School Alumni Council will host a free screening of the documentary film “The Lonely Man of Faith” on Saturday evening, Jan. 17, beginning at 7:45 p.m. at the school in Brookline.
The 99-minute film is subtitled “The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik.” It concentrates on the Rav’s years in Boston, including his establishment of Maimonides School in 1937.
More than a dozen former students, family members and admirers of Rabbi Soloveitchik and builders of Maimonides School are featured in interviews. The film also showcases hundreds of photographs from that era.
Ethan Isenberg, producer and director, introduced the documentary at the Boston Jewish Film Festival in November 2006. Since then it has been shown throughout the world, but returned to the region only on two afternoons in late June 2008.
The Jan. 17 presentation will be followed by a panel discussion of alumni and former parents reflecting on the Rav’s presence in the school over the years. Participants will include Rabbi Reuven Cohn ’65 of the Maimonides Upper School faculty.
RSVP for this event to firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-232-4452, ext. 105.
By Anna Massefski ‘13
Although Maimonides School’s varsity volleyball team was eliminated in the state tournament this year, players and their coach are proud of what they feel was a successful season.
Their tournament opponent was Sutton High School, where the game was played on Nov. 2. The final scores were 25-16, 25-16 and 25-15. The M-Cats played hard and it showed, but Sutton had a few extremely skilled players who gave them trouble.
Varsity volleyball plays up to five games per match. Each game continues until one team has 25 points. The first team to win three games wins the match.
Some athletes on this year’s team participated for the sake of playing and making long-lasting friendships with students in other grades (anyone in Grades 7-12 can try out for varsity and junior varsity). “I liked it because both teams connected to each other, and everyone improved a lot over the season,” said Sophie Edelman, a sophomore on the varsity.
Both Maimo teams worked all season under the supportive and encouraging eyes of Coach Tyler Walsh. “Making the state tournament was a great achievement. We posted a strong regular season record (9-5) and the tournament games against Sutton were hard fought. I was very proud of each player on the team for her contributions during the season and in the playoffs.”
The varsity made it to the state tournament for the first time since 2003. Every member of the team was thrilled to be going to the tournament, especially Coach Walsh and the seven seniors -- Ariela Modigliani-Caviglia, Tova Ramelson, Avital Bailen, Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs, Leah Sarna, Hanna Flesh and Zehava Gale.
Leah says, “A state tournament game was a good way to end my volleyball career. The other team had more height and more practice, but we played well and went down with dignity.”
The rest of the team includes junior Rachel Renz and sophomores Sophie Edelman, Tamar Kosowsky and Julia Packer. All of these girls worked hard all season and have enjoyed it very much.
(Anna is preparing reports on the successful fall soccer teams at Maimonides.)
Pakistan, not Iran, is the most likely crisis flashpoint that will test the new administration, Dr. Matthew Levitt told an audience of fellow Maimonides graduates and other members of the school community in a talk Nov. 12.
Dr. Levitt, a 1988 Maimonides graduate, is a senior fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is a former counterterrorism analyst for the FBI, and also served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the U.S. Treasury.
He travels widely throughout the Middle East, and is the author of two books, most recently "Negotiating Under Fire."
Dr. Levitt explained that Pakistan, already a nuclear power, has a weak civilian government, an intelligence system replete with radical elements, and an instability that could make pressure from the U.S. counterproductive.
Iran remains a “huge problem,” Dr. Levitt acknowledged. He presented a scenario in which Israel, “believing the timeline (for Iranian nuclear capability) is shorter than everyone else believes,” launches a pre-emptive attack. Israelis, he said, have acknowledged to him that the result would be no better than buying more time. The “long-simmering Iranian hegemonic intent over the region” is perceived as a threat by Arab countries as well, he noted.
“We have a whole slew of problems, and we’re going to have to walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said. The situation requires “much more strategic thinking about how to implement our tactical counterterrorism so that it’s not just military,” he continued. “I don’t think ‘diplomacy’ has to be seen as a bad word… I don’t believe you necessarily look weak by offering to sit down with a state.”
That doesn’t apply to terrorist units like Hamas or Al-Qaeda, he stressed.
Dr. Levitt said he is less concerned with U.S. tactical measures than about strategic counterterrorism – “our ability to win the battle of ideas.”
Asked why there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Levitt said there is no definitive answer. Any analysis has to include failed attempts, he added. “We all know that Al-Qaeda is very patient. The fat that they haven’t attacked yet doesn’t mean they’re not planning one.” What is more puzzling is why some copycat terror organization hasn’t tried. He noted, however, that over the past seven years, ‘we have done a lot of things that would make them think twice.”
Al-Qaeda is a problem at different levels, he told the group. Besides the reinvigorated core entrenched along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, there are spinoff cells in many parts of the Middle East. In addition, he warned of “home-grown, radicalized terrorists who feel they’re part of a larger group and are eager to do something.”
Dr. Levitt also spoke to students in Grades 10-12 during his visit, describing his career path that began at Maimonides and continued at Yeshivat HaKotel and Yeshiva University.
He said his interest in international relations culminated with a three-track doctoral program at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy – “a big cholent of conflict resolution, strategic studies and the Middle East.”
The speaker also described in detail how he has pursued his career opportunities without compromising his Orthodox way of life.
Maimonides School is gearing up for special activities and observances in celebration of Chanukah. The festival begins at sundown on Sunday, Dec. 21.
The holiday will open on a high note as Upper School students and teachers gather Sunday evening for the annual Maimonides Chanukah Chagigah. The event is a highlight on the student calendar, and many attend in formal attire. The agenda includes time for socializing, dinner and entertainment.
Monday, Dec. 22, Upper School students will take some time off to take part in or watch the first Student Council “Gradel Dreidl” dodgeball tournament, with boys’ and girls’ teams from each grade matched against each other. Student Council has asked male faculty members to compete against the winning boys’ team in a climactic match.
A special event is planned for students in Grades 3-8 Monday afternoon, as Maimonides PTA sponsors a screening of “Shadow Ball,” a chapter in the Ken Burns epic film “Baseball.” The installment chronicles the stars of the Negro Leagues.
Students in Grades 9-12 will close each full school day during the week with the communal lighting of Chanukah candles, as well as mincha and ma’ariv. Dismissal is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and noon on Wednesday.
Tuesday, Dec. 23, Maimonides Middle School students will; celebrate Chanukah with a festive lunch of Chinese food, accompanied by musical entertainment from the eighth grade’s own "Etai and the Others.” During the afternoon, students in Grades 6-8 will hear a guest speaker from the Boston Kollel, play some “Chanukah Jeopardy,” learn about the science of Chanukah with teachers Nate Berman and Tamar Sternlicht, and culminate with the first Middle School Student Dreidel Challenge.
Tuesday for an hour beginning at 11:30, Elementary School students are scheduled to celebrate at a Chanukah Mesibah, featuring music by the Maimonides Jazz Band and latkes provided by the PTA. The following day, Elementary School students can enjoy sufganiyot, compliments of the PTA.
Thursday morning, Dec. 25, will feature learning opportunities with Judaic studies teachers for all students.
Middle and Upper School students are collecting toys to benefit children of Ohel and local charities. Depositories are placed outside the Saval Campus and Brener Building main offices.
Drs. Paul and Anna Ornstein experienced the Shoah in all of its horror. As teenagers in Hungary, they witnessed the sudden and brutal destruction of their families and community. They endured forced labor, starvation, humiliation.
Yet their ultimate message to Maimonides Upper School students on Nov. 10 was uplifting.
The Ornsteins, renowned educators in the field of psychiatry, spent a couple of hours with Grades 9-12 in observance of the 70th anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom. They also shared another hour with students in Grade 6-9, offering remembrances and eliciting the students’ thoughts and questions.
The couple’s five years as medical students in Germany immediately after World War II “helped us not to hate,” Mrs. Ornstein said. “We had to distinguish between our persecutors and people caught up in the regime.” As displaced persons in 1945, the Ornsteins found themselves stuck in Germany, so they decided to resume their studies -- a central part of their families’ values and expectations. As medical students in Heidelberg, they were assigned housing, first in the residence of a former SS officer, and later with a “magnificent” clergyman who saved Jewish children during the war. "We can't hate into the third generation," Mrs. Ornstein said; the future demands that we "build a better world."
Reparations paid by the German government helped the nascent state of Israel survive, which also mitigated their anger, Mr. Ornstein added. A native of Budapest, he spoke of the “vibrancy of Jewish life” in Hungary prior to the war. “We thought we were living in a country where we could pursue our Jewishness without much interference… We believed there was free collaboration and free observance, no matter which brand of Judaism…”
Anna Ornstein, who grew up in a small town, said Shabbat was the nucleus of the community’s existence. “By Monday, my father was ready to prepare for the next (Shabbat),” she recounted. “I had to figure out which chicken was ready to be slaughtered,” and subsequently it also was her responsibility to clean it. “The focus on religious life gave us immense emotional strength” when the community was engulfed in the Shoah.
Hungary began a series of increasingly restrictive anti-Jewish laws in 1938, but Mr. Ornstein said the Jewish community rationalized them. “We said, ‘OK, if that’s all that can happen, we can live with it’. We could never imagine they would become murderers.” Word of the destruction of the rest of European Jewry filtered in, but “when it’s not happening to you just then, you begin to get a false sense of security,” he told the students.
The German occupation of the country in March 1944 changed everything. Mr. Ornstein, who was studying at a rabbinical school, recounted, “From the window or my dormitory I could see the march of German soldiers through the center of Budapest. By then we were fearful that it would lead to our destruction.” The school was occupied and transformed into a transit center for deportations. Within two months, he told the students, 600,000 of Hungary’s 800,000 Jews were gone.
Mr. Ornstein was sent to a nearby forced labor camp in June, then to the Ukraine. He and a friend, fearful of death from hunger or cold, took advantage of a Russian bombardment and escaped, making their way to partisans fighting the occupation. “To have the courage to escape – I find that extremely honorable and amazing,” Mrs. Ornstein said.
She remembered being in her home town school at the start of the occupation. “We all wanted to get back to our parents,” but after she returned the town’s entire Jewish population, about 200, was consigned to a ghetto – a single house. And on June 6, the day of the Allied invasion of France, they were transported to Auschwitz.
Although Mrs. Ornstein and her mother were spared the immediate death sentence on arrival, mere survival was a constant challenge. “You lived in the moment, and you had that much space in which you lived,” she told the students. Most important, she said, were “relationships with other people.” Inmates knew each other, or knew people or places in common, and “that was enough to create a small social group. In these groups, people acted as they do in families. They depended on each other.”
May 8, 1945, the day of liberation, is etched into her memory. At Auschwitz, “there was no way for us to know where the war was going. When it did come to an end, it came as a surprise.” She recalls seeing troops planting mines around the camp “to erase any sign of the horror they created,” and SS officers tearing off their insignia and rising away on horseback.
Her husband said he was back in Budapest when word came of the liberation of Auschwitz – and the sighting not only of his father but also of Anna. They were reunited in Hungary, and “were totally on our own.” But they immediately realized that “our goal was to get out of Eastern Europe and get into the west.”
After they were married, the Ornsteins studied medicine in Germany, initially living in a displaced persons camp, and both attained their degrees. They immigrated to the United States, where they entered the medical profession in Boston. Drs. Ornstein are among the pioneers of self-psychology, one of the first psychotherapy movements to emphasize listening to patients and entering their inner world, as treatment. Professors emeriti at The University of Cincinnati, they now are lecturers on psychiatry at Harvard University and co-direct the International Center for the Study of Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology.
The program was underwritten by Maimonides School’s Theodore and Anna Schoenfeld Holocaust Studies Endowment Fund.
Dr. Matthew Levitt, a 1988 graduate, will present "From Brookline to Gaza and Back: A Maimonides Alum's Travels in Pursuit of Peace in the Middle East," on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in Saval Auditorium, Philbrick Road, Brookline.
Dr. Levitt, one of the nation's leading experts on terrorism, is director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
A graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Dr. Levitt served as an FBI counterterrorism analyst during the period that included Sept. 11, 2001. From 2005 to 2007, he was deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of the Treasury.
His new book is entitled, “Negotiating Under Fire: Preserving Peace Talks in the Face of Terror Attacks.” In 2006 he published “Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad.”
RSVP to (617) 232-4452, ext. 105 or email@example.com. The free program is sponsored by the Maimonides School Alumni Council.
A sea of smiling, swirling students enveloped Maimonides School with the jubilation of Sukkot Thursday morning, as the school community commemorated the mitzvah of Hakheil in the Saval Campus courtyard. Dozens of teachers and some visiting parents and grandparents joined the gathering.
Students in Kindergarten through Grade 12 sat by grade in designated spaces to share the experience. “Let us all try to imagine that we are assembled in Yerushalayim, in the Beit HaMikdash with all the rest of our nation,” said Rabbi Yair Altshuler, Middle and Upper School principal, as he introduced the Hakheil.
Seniors Zehava Gale and Natan Kawesch served as narrators, explaining each individual commemoration of the ancient ceremony, including the formal opening with trumpet blasts (played by Ken Weinstein, Middle and Upper School general studies principal).
Seniors Michael Kosowsky and Josh Yarmush entered the courtyard with a Sefer Torah, which was held by Rabbi David Shapiro as he led the assembly in the first section of Kriat Shema (Devarim 6:4-9). After the scroll was returned, senior men led the crowd in singing “Hinei Mah Tov,” followed by a half-hour of animated dancing, highlighted by clusters of older and younger students together and embellished by a plethora of Israeli flags.
Two Maimonides School seniors are semifinalists in the 2009 National Merit Scholarship Program.
Harry Chiel, son of Judith and Jonathan Chiel ’75, and Hana Snow, daughter of Stephanie Pollack and Dr. Kenneth Snow, are eligible for Merit Scholarship awards, to be announced in the spring.
Harry and Hana are among the top 1 percent of the 1.5 million students who took the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test/ Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test in the fall of 2007.
Maimonides School has opened its 72nd academic year with a total student enrollment exceeding 615, an expanded and enhanced Middle School, improvements to technology, buildings and grounds, and restoration of a renowned high school curriculum component.
Planning for the new Middle School configuration, adding Grade 6 to Grade 7 and 8, has been ongoing for months, engaging school administrators and teachers and a broad-based study committee. Rabbi Avi Bossewitch is coordinator of the expanded Middle School, and Mrs. Stephanie Samuels serves as assistant coordinator.
The three grades occupy the lower level of Saval Campus, and include a discrete core faculty, an independent learning center and advisory staff. The entire Elementary School -- Kindergarten and Grades 1-5 – is now housed in the adjacent Brener Building.
Students in Grades 9-12 are beginning instruction in Beurei HaTefila, the weekly class on interpretation of prayer that was taught by Rabbi Isaiah Wohlgemuth, z”l, for most of his 45 years in the Maimonides faculty. Also, daily Talmud classes now include a new program of Halachah Yomit. A number of other new academic and extracurricular initiatives will be presented during the next fe