It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all out in the parking area participating in the amazing Totally Kosher Rib Burn-Off and here we are preparing for winter break. Time flies when you are having fun! Although people may think that we are winding down before the break, there are many activities, programs and learning opportunities planned for next week.

This past week was a busy one. Our basketball teams have tipped off their seasons with victories and losses. Every game comes with improvement and learning about technique and teamwork. We are proud of our young Shark players and their willingness to compete and represent Gross Schechter with great effort and sportsmanship.

Our 8th graders and their parents met to begin the preparation for the Annual 8th Grade Israel Trip. This three-week “trip of a lifetime” will occur immediately following Pesach in late April. Rabbi Ben Shlimovitz and Sheri Gross will chaperone our students on the amazing tour of Israel. Our students will have the opportunity to visit various cities, sites, beaches and even their pen pals. They will pray in beautiful mountains, in the desert and in a synagogue in Tzfat. They will climb Masada, “bob” in the Dead Sea, scan the landscape from the Golan Heights and have the opportunity to visit with relatives for Shabbat. This is a trip that our alumni refer to often and I am sure this year’s group will also have an unforgettable experience.

Congratulations to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland on their successful 2019 Campaign for Jewish Needs! At Wednesday evening’s closing celebration, they announced that $32,708,114 was raised from 10,058 donors. The funds raised during this campaign help to support Gross Schechter Day School and the outstanding educational experiences for our students. We are very grateful for the efforts of Schechter’s own Gary Gross, Chairman of the Jewish Federation and Erika Rudin-Luria, incoming President of the Jewish Federation. A special congratulations to GSDS alum and parent, Natan Milgrom, on receiving the 2018 Ambassador Milton A. and Roslyn Z. Wolf Young Campaigner of the Year Award!

We will be saying farewell to Lauren Butler, a teacher in our Nitzanim classroom, who will not be returning after winter break, as her internship for her Masters Degree requires a schedule change. We are sad to see Morah Lauren leave us and thank her for the wonderful experiences she has given the boys in the Nitzanim class. At the same time, we will welcome Sandy Skoro to Schechter in January. Sandy has a degree in education and is currently pursuing her masters degree in Jewish education. She has taught at both the elementary and preschool levels and is excited to share her knowledge and experience with our children. We also want to express gratitude to Emma Rose, who is completing her student teacher experience with Abby Greenfield in second grade. We are thrilled that Emma will be staying with us, as she be joining our ICC staff after the winter break.

Upcoming Dates:
  • Monday, December 17: Dial-a-Thon, 6:30 – 8:00pm
  • Tuesday, December 18: 5th Grade Meet the Explorers Program, 7:00pm
  • Friday, December 21: Last Day of School (full day)
  • Monday, January 7, 2019: School Resumes (ICC Opens Wednesday, Jan 2)
  • Thursday, January 31: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 6:30pm

Enjoy the warmer weather this weekend, Shabbat Shalom!

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Vayigash— On The Reasons We Don’t Reach Out

For at least nine years, Joseph kept his survival a secret from his family.  Ever since he was elevated by Pharaoh to the royal court, Joseph had the power to reach out to them.  He could have sent soldiers to Canaan to seize his brothers; he could have sent a delegation to summon his father for a reunion.  Instead, he kept his secret through the seven years of plenty and the first few years of famine.

Why didn’t he reach out to them?  Classical commentators offer many reasons; my favorite is that Joseph mistakenly believed that his father had abandoned him.  After all, we, the readers, know how the brothers tricked Jacob by bloodying Joseph’s coat—we know that Jacob thought him dead.  Joseph, though, never knew this; he must have desperately hoped that his father would rescue him, and when that rescue never came, he must have felt hurt, shame and anger.  Only at the very beginning of this week’s parashah—when Judah, in passing, describes how Jacob thought Joseph was dead—was Joseph able to put that resentment behind him and reach out.

How often do we find ourselves in a similar position?  Our lives may not be quite as dramatic as Joseph’s—but we too can feel like someone we care about has forgotten us.  In response, we close ourselves off. We let the relationship languish, mistakenly thinking that the other has cut off ties.  But perhaps—just as Jacob never forgot Joseph, but didn’t know how to reach him—our friend is grieving all the while at the loss of our companionship, unaware that reconciliation could happen in an instant with one outstretched hand!

How many rifts in our relationships are based on misunderstandings or ignorance?  How many of us, like Joseph, wait years for reconciliation because we made wrong assumptions about others’ motivations?  May Parashat Vayigash lead us to overcome those assumptions, reach out to others, and find peace.

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. If you were Joseph, and you had been waiting years for your father to rescue you, and you had just become Pharaoh’s second-in-command, what would you have done?
  2. Have you been mad at someone for not calling/writing/reaching out to you? Is it possible they see things differently than you do? What might happen if you reached out to them?

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