Did you hear about the Read for Life Multi-Age-Activity this past Wednesday? Or the Faculty Dive Into the Decades Fashion Show?  It was quite the day –  filled with fun, and numerous hands-on creative activities.  Special thanks to all the parent and grandparent volunteers who spent a few hours assisting at the various activity centers.  Read for Life is one of the highlights of the school year and these special programs help to make the few weeks memorable for all of us.  Kudos to our faculty committee who planned the day and to the staff members who participated in the fashion show…it was quite a walk down memory lane and a “dive through the decades!”

Check out the main hallway…it’s starting to look a lot like Purim!  Purim is always  a fun time at Gross Schechter and I want to remind all of our families to encourage your children to 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.  Also, come bake Hamantaschen with the SPA on Sunday, March 1 in the Merkaz.  Sign-up here.  Guaranteed to be a good time!

The Schechter Parent Association (SPA) is sponsoring a Parents Night Out on Saturday evening, February 22 at 8:00 pm.  Join your fellow parents and friends at The Bottle House Brewery, 2050 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. This is a great opportunity to be part of Kehillat Schechter!

Next week, we will be providing very important safety information to our Kindergarten through Grade 5 students.  The Safety Kid program is a 45-minute presentation, designed to raise awareness and empower children with knowledge and skills to remain safe and recognize any dangerous situation. This curriculum was developed by the Magen Yeladim Child Safety Institute and is specific for Jewish Day schools. The curriculum will be presented by trained volunteers.  Thank you to Dr. Shiri Katz for coordinating this program.

A special message from Mayor Bain of Pepper Pike:

Dear Friends and Neighbors, Friday sometime around Mid-day to early afternoon, the Shaker/Brainard Circle should reopen. 

PLEASE, do not jump ahead  and try to ignore the detours you are now familiar with until the “all clear”  is issued by the city so that we avoid conflict at the circle with the evacuation of the final equipment and your finding that you will not be permitted to enter the circle. We will signal the “all clear” to resume normal traffic patterns by issuing a Code Red announcement to the city.

I think we all deserve a large congratulations for the patience and generally great attitude demonstrated as we together dealt with this inconvenience. I think many held in mind with gratitude that no was killed or injured and no houses were burned down.  Since November 15, it will have been 108 days of detour and inconvenience. (Some  folks on sections of Gates Mills, Brainard  and Shaker might however miss their temporary cul de sac).  A tremendous amount of underground construction, safety checks  and infrastructure restoration has occurred during that time. There is still work to be done as Dominion continues to contract and pay for  the restoration of the final roadway surfaces  and circle restoration. That will occur in warmer weather.  My thanks to our wonderful Engineer, Police, Service,  Fire, and Administrative personnel who played critical roles throughout this time. And of course, thank you for your wonderful cooperation and spirit during a challenging time.

Sincerely,
Richard Bain

Upcoming Events:
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
Sunday, March 1, Hamantaschen Baking
Friday, March 6,  Last Early Friday
Tuesday, March 10, Purim Celebration at Schechter


Randy S. Boroff
Head of School



Parashat Mishpatim — Rules and Exceptions

Few things infuriate us more than when people cut the line. If we’re waiting to check in at the airport, and someone just waltzes to the front, we feel our blood pressure rise. “Who does he think he is?!” we ask ourselves. After all, lines are fair—first come, first served—and cutting them is manifestly unfair.

On the other hand, when we are in a rush, waiting on long lines is torture. We arrive late to the airport because we got lost on the way, or couldn’t find parking, and we may miss our flight; then, we want to cut, and we hope everyone understands that we need an exception. 

So which should we favor, fairness or mercy? This week’s parashah seems to offer conflicting advice. First, we are told to make exceptions for poor people: “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you… and take your neighbor’s garment in pledge, you must return it to him before the sun sets.” In other words, when lending to the poor, we must return their collateral even before they repay us! Here, mercy outweighs fairness.

But a few verses later, we read something different: “You shall not show deference to a poor man in his dispute.” When a poor person is in conflict with a rich person, we might be inclined to favor the poor, even if he is wrong; here, the Torah tells us that we must be governed by fairness, not mercy. So which is preferred, and how should we act?

Perhaps the Torah is saying that our society and our justice system must be impartial, but that as individuals, we should make exceptions for the needy. (This message is especially important at a time when respect for the rule of law has been dwindling at the highest levels of government.) Let us pray for a society that is governed by the rule of law—and let us, as individuals, always strive to be merciful!

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. We might have expected the Torah to tell us not to show deference to the rich (and it does say as much elsewhere). Here, though, the Torah tells us not to favor the poor. Why might that be?
  2. As an individual, what are some ways you might try to treat the poor with extra mercy?

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