We are already in mid February and preparations for Purim are well underway.  Hallways are getting decorated, Megillah reading practice is underway, costumes are being planned and Mishloach Manot are being ordered.  Purim is always a highlight at Gross Schechter and I want to remind all of our families to make sure all students wear costumes for our Purim parade on Tuesday, March 10. If you need to order your Mishloach Manot, you can do that here.  Please e-mail bchrist@grossschechter.org with any questions.

Our 3rd Grade Tu B’shvat Seder, which has become a truly legendary milestone of the Gross Schechter experience was a highlight for parents and students alike on Monday. Mrs. Yehudit Sharaby always does an incredible job infusing ruach and fun into the program.

This past Tuesday, our Judaic staff participated in a professional development day developing lesson plans based on the JTS Standards and Benchmarks.  While our Judaic staff members were engaged in their professional development, our General staff organized a day of learning focused on President’s Day.  There were numerous, creative hands on activities and projects that had every student engaged. It was a wonderful day of learning for our staff and students.

Once again this year, the Great Lakes Theatre Program brought classic literature to life for the 4th through 8th grade students. And for our K-3 Grade students,  Kids Love Musicals, part of the Musical Theatre Project brought a musicals to life – it was enjoyed by all!

Our JV and Varsity basketball team ended their seasons with great efforts during the annual basketball tournament.  Although they did not get past the first round, both teams played valiantly and showed great sportsmanship. Both teams demonstrated great progress throughout the season and our coaches did an amazing job getting every player into the games.  All in all, it was a very successful season with a number of memorable highlights.

On Wednesday evening, our middle school students and parents met with Rabbi Ben and Rabbi Berger to discuss the quickly approaching Israel Trip.  The students have developed relationships with students from Beit Shean as well as the students from Kellman Brown Academy in New Jersey with whom they will be traveling.  This is one of the great experiences for our graduates and creates memories that last a lifetime.

On Thursday morning our SPA sponsored a morning of donuts, coffee, and juice to celebrate Father’s Day in February!  Our fathers and their children packed the Media Center before classes started, where they enjoyed conversation and “fathership” with their children and their children’s classmates.  It was a wonderful scene and a great way to start the school day in the midst of snowy weather.

Read for Life has been a big focus of the winter months and students and staff have been busy reading and celebrating “Diving into the Decades”.  Next Wednesday, we will have a multi-age activity involving the entire school. The highlight will be a staff fashion show illustrating the fashions from the 1940’s  through the present year. All parents are welcome to attend the Fashion Show on Wednesday, February 19 at 10:00 am.

Upcoming Events:
Monday, February 17, NO SCHOOL, Presidents Day
Wednesday, February 19, Read for Life Faculty Fashion Show, 10:00 am, current Kindergarten Parent Meeting, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, February 25, All School Rosh Chodesh Service
Wednesday, February 26, Middle School TOPS program
Thursday, February 27, 3rd Grade Field Trip to Maltz Museum, 5th Grade Meet the Explorers Program, 6:30 pm
Friday, February 28, Shabbat Shabang, 2:05 pm

Have a great weekend, and Shabbat Shalom

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School


Parashat Yitro—Modesty and the Ramp

In our society, discussions about modesty tend to focus exclusively on girls’ clothing, and everyone believes that modesty means “how our clothing looks to others.”  How unfortunate! Boys wrongly learn that modesty isn’t really their concern, and we all focus too much on appearances.

The Torah’s most important verse on modesty offers an entirely different perspective.  In this week’s parashah, following the Ten Commandments, we read: “Do not ascend My altar by stairs, that your nakedness may not be exposed upon it” (Ex. 20:22).  At first glance, the concern seems to be that if robed priests climbed steps to the altar, they would reveal their bare legs—so ramps were to be used instead of stairs.

Rashi, however, points out that something else is at stake. The priests wore pants; exposed skin could not have been the Torah’s concern.  Furthermore, even if the priests’ skin was showing, it would be visible only to the stones of the altar! Why would the Torah be concerned about giving a bad impression to stones?

His answer: to climb stairs, the priests would have had to take big steps, which might lead to feelings of pride.  The ramp forced them to take small steps, which would cultivate a sense of modesty.

In other words, this verse teaches us that modesty is not primarily concerned with hemlines, tight-fitting material, or the impression we give others.  Modesty is a goal for men and women; it helps us to be self-confident but not self-absorbed.

At Gross Schechter, our dress code has twin purposes.  The first, directed outward, is to create a Jewish, academically-focused atmosphere.  The second, directed inward, is to lend students a sense of dignity and to strengthen their Jewish identity.  My hope is that as our students grow from infants to eighth graders, they absorb the lessons of modesty found in the altar’s ramp. 

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

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Ben Christ

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