Week in Review – August  30, 2019

It’s the Friday before the 27th Annual Totally Kosher Rib Burn Off and the school is abuzz with activity.  Thank you to all the volunteers that have been selling tickets, spreading the word, and even blowing up balloons!  We are still in need of volunteers on Monday, sign up here! – You can be a part of a very special day at your Gross Schechter Day School.  Let’s come together to make this the most successful RBO in our history. The weather will be great, bring your friends, family and appetite! And don’t forget to wear your Schechter shirts! 

This past week, we conducted our first emergency fire drill.  During the course of the school year, we will be conducting fire drills, a tornado drill and emergency drills.  Our students and staff practiced moving out of the building in an orderly and quick manner. We also practiced getting to a safe place and staying there until there is an “all clear” announcement.  We coordinate these drills with our local fire and police departments with assistance from the Federation Security Force. We are pleased to report that we now have security personnel at the ICC at B’nai Jeshurun as well as Officer Jim.

We had the opportunity to distribute Chromebooks to all of our 4th – 8th grade students this past week.  This One-to-One program will enhance our educational program and allow our students to access information pertinent to classroom instruction.  We also have a software program that allows our teachers to limit access to programs and websites focused only on their specific subject.

*Our updated and revised parent handbooks have been sent home – please check your child’s backpack.*

Our Middle School soccer program has started and they are looking forward to a great season.  Sheri Gross is already working with our lower school students for the production of The Sound of Music.  She is also casting for the middle school production of The Diary of Anne Frank.  Both productions will include lessons about the Holocaust in an age appropriate manner.

Once again…the RBO is on Monday from 12:00 – 4:00 pm!  We need you, your family, friends and neighbors to be there to support our amazing Gross Schechter Day School.  It’s also a lot of fun. There will be food, (including vegetarian options) kids games, entertainment, vendors..and there will be sunshine!  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone on Monday as Schechter shines as bright as the sun.

Congratulations to Avi Saidel on his upcoming Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, August 31.

Congratulations to Jaden Tsirlin on his upcoming Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, September 7

Upcoming Dates to Remember:
Monday, September 2: 27th Annual Totally Kosher Rib Cook-Off, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Thursday, September 5: Panoramic Picture Day, 8:30am – Please wear your new grey Schechter shirt! 
Friday, September 6: Picture Day- bring your smile  
Thursday, September 12: K-8 Curriculum Night, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm
Sunday, September 22: Jewish Federation of Cleveland Super Sunday
Monday/Tuesday, September 30/October1: Rosh Hashanah, No School

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom.


Randy S. Boroff
Head of School



Parashat Re’eh—Why were Israelites told to go to Jerusalem?

This week’s parashah describes an intriguing mitzvah called ma’aser sheni (the second tithe). The Torah says that every year, farmers had to bring a tenth of their harvest to Jerusalem and eat it there. If they were far from the capital, they could convert the produce into money, and use the money in Jerusalem. It wasn’t a donation; they were consuming their own harvest. So what was the reason for this mitzvah? 

Ialways assumed that the goal was to support the city’s economy. After all, the mitzvah basically compels people to travel to the capital and spend money! Even if they brought their own grain, olive oil, or fruit, they still would have paid for lodging, other food, and more. Jerusalem would benefit from the people seeking to eat or spend their ma’aser sheni.

But this week, I discovered a beautiful explanation in the Sefer Hahinukh, a medieval book that explains each of the Torah’s mitzvot. The author argues that the real purpose of ma’aser sheni was education. In ancient times, Jerusalem was the unparalleled center of Jewish learning; the priests in the Temple were teachers and judges. When ancient Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to fulfill the mitzvah, they would come back full of Torah. And, says the Sefer Hahinukh, if the entire family couldn’t go, even one young adult could represent the family and bring back knowledge and inspiration.

I love this interpretation—that the Torah, in ancient times, was trying to produce an educated populace by bringing people to Jerusalem. But what about today? The answer is clear: we don’t have to be tourists in Jerusalem to pick up some Torah for our families. All we have to do is send our children to a Jewish day school. Already this year, Schechter students have learned so much Torah. Kindergarteners have picked up a big piece of birkat hamazon, the prayer we recite after meals—and they sing it with joy! Fifth graders have started studying Mishnah, and eighth graders have begun important conversations about their connection to Jewish life.

Most of us won’t be making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem this year, but we can fulfill the goals of ma’aser sheni just by being a part of the Schechter community. May our children continue to bring home a love of Torah, every day.

Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Jonathan Berger
Associate Head of School for Judaic Studies and Programs

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. Two possible goals of ma’aser sheni were supporting Jerusalem’s economy and exposing people to Torah. What other benefits might there have been to the mitzvah?
  2. What Jewish learning has your child brought home so far this year?

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