We all leave Gross Schechter today for an extended break.  Some families are traveling, some are staying home, some have relatives coming to Cleveland.  This time of year allows us to enjoy family and friends as well as change our routines and have some time for fun.  

This past week, the 5th graders participated in a fabulous “Meet the Explorers” program.  Students researched various famous explorers, studied their biographies, drew maps of their voyages, and presented what they learned in a wax museum format in both English and Hebrew.  The group also entertained the audience with a skit written by Sheri Gross introducing each of the explorers while they were searching for Gross Schechter Day School. The students were very creative in designing their displays and their costumes, they used their presentation and speaking skills in English and Hebrew, and they exhibited a lot of joy during their program and for their accomplishments.  It was a wonderful evening for all in attendance.  

On Friday, we had a great last day before vacation.  Crazy hair was everywhere! In the morning, our ECC students participated in a number of activities including an obstacle course in the gym, singing, celebrating Shabbat and viewing a movie.  I’m sure students came home excited about the day’s activities. In the afternoon our lower school and middle school students attended a program called “Are You Smarter than Your Students”. Randomly selected students in each grade and randomly selected teachers were asked grade appropriate questions to see who could answer correctly.  The pressure was definitely on our teachers! And the highlight of the afternoon was a game called “Guess Who”. Teachers submitted their baby pictures and students had to guess which teacher belonged to each picture. There were many laughs as we revealed their identities!  

After break we will begin re-enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year.  Look out for details in early January.  

Finally, on behalf of the entire staff at Gross Schechter I wish everyone a very enjoyable winter break and a very happy and healthy 2019.  If you are traveling, be safe. See you on January 7th!
Upcoming Dates:
  • Monday, January 7, 2019: School Resumes (ICC Opens Wednesday, Jan 2)
  • Thursday, January 31: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 6:30pm
  • Sunday, February 24, JEC Annual Meeting 5:30 pm at the JCC, Jesse Ebner will be honored with the Steiger Family Education Grant

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Vayehi 5779

“Who are they?” asks the grandfather, looking at his grandchildren.

To me, these words conjure up a sad scenario of failing memory or dementia. But when Jacob asks this question in our parashah about his two grandsons, it is clear that his memories are strong and intact. So why was he asking who they were? Maybe the problem is blurry vision; Jacob’s father Isaac lost his sight in his old age, and we read only a few verses later that Jacob did too. But the verse specifically states that he saw them — and then asked who they were. How do we understand his question?

Consider how we talk about our kids. It’s so easy to complain: “My kids? You mean the ones who keep me up all night?” Or “the ones who never listen to me?” Or “The ones who are eating me out of house and home?” And it may be that each of those statements is true. But if those are our answers when asked, “Who are your children?” then we are looking at the world with dispirited and clouded lenses.

Ultimately, I think, Jacob wanted to see how Joseph looked at his sons; he was testing how Joseph saw the world. Would the trauma of Joseph’s youth lead him to focus only on the negative? But Joseph answered beautifully: “These are my sons, whom God gave me through all this.” He saw his children as gifts from God—he saw them as blessings. And Jacob’s response was to offer a blessing of his own. May we too always see our children as the God-given gifts they are; may we too then offer them blessings.

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. If Joseph had complained about his sons, instead of seeing them as a gift from God, how might Jacob have responded?
  2. What’s true for parents can also be true for children. Children can say, “My parents? You mean the ones who always tell me to clean my room?” Or they can say, “My parents? You mean the ones who take care of me and always help me if I need it?” How do we help them to see the blessings in their lives?

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Ben Christ

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