Week in Review 02/09/18

From reading to sports to drama, we had a terrific week at Gross Schechter Day School. There was, as always, great learning too. And we celebrated a wonderful milestone too!

We had our annual book swap as part of our Read for Life program.

Students bowled all week in P.E.; “Schechter Lanes” is open for business! And after-school sports continued to be fun; our middle school teams played well, our intramural leagues helped middle-grades students to develop their skills and have fun, and our cheerleaders added ruach to the girl’s basketball game on Tuesday.

Kindergarteners through 3rd graders had a wonderful time working with the visiting artist from the Musical Theater Project’s “Kids Love Musicals” program on Monday and Tuesday. The students learned, performed, and had wonderful discussions. For example, in discussing Peter Pan, they talked about the relationship between Captain Hook and his pirates and why it is important to have rules. They also talked about Peter’s reluctance to grow up, and learned from their teachers that grown-ups can have fun in much the same way kids do!

Also under the “drama/entertainment” heading: the cast of Fiddler got their much-anticipated costumes and began working with some set pieces and props; 8th graders finished writing their very clever Purim Shpiel, and the middle school student government hosted a movie to help raise money for their field trip in June.

As an example of “regular” learning: fourth graders studied the Shema, the weekly Torah portion, and learned an Israeli song.

Finally, we marked a milestone: the preschool and kindergarten celebrated the 100th day of school!

We ended the week with a beautiful Buddy Shabbat for our oldest and youngest students. All in all, a terrific week.

Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom!  

Rabbi Jonathan Berger

Associate Head of School for Judaic Studies and Programs


Parashat Mispatim-From Sinai to the Instruction Manual

Last week, we read about the majesty of Mount Sinai—its thunder and lightning, its earthquakes and trumpets.  This week, our parashah is dominated by a mishmash of mitzvot—53 in all, more than almost any other Torah portion. What are we to make of this jarring sequence? It can feel like we put down Macbeth and opened a phone book.

To be fair, the contrast isn’t quite that extreme. There were many mitzvot in last week’s parashah, not just the drama of Mount Sinai. And at the end of this week’s mitzvah-filled parashah, we do read of another account of Moses’s encounter with God. Still, if you read the portions in sequence, the shift in tone from Revelation to instructions is impossible to miss.

It might seem like a let-down; we might want the dramatic closeness to God described in last week’s parashah to last longer. But in truth, Mishpatim represents the Torah’s biggest gift: how to put high-flying principles into practice on a daily basis. After the wedding comes marriage; after the bar/bat mitzvah comes adulthood; after Shabbat comes the work week. Special events can be beautiful and dramatic, but life is lived in the day-to-day. With the help of this week’s parashah, we can try to add holiness to our everyday lives — and that is more transformative than even Mount Sinai.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jonathan Berger

Associate Head of School for Judaic Studies and Programs

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. In Hebrew, mishpatim can mean “sentences” or “laws.” Similarly, in English, the word “sentence” can mean “words strung together, including a verb and its subject, that convey meaning,” but it can also mean “the penalty decreed by a judge.” Why do you think both languages use one word to refer to both grammatical speech and a legal decision?
  2. Which mitzvot do you think to make your everyday life most special?

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Ben Christ

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