We thought the weather was going to start to get warmer and then…bam!  As usual in Ohio, the weather will continue to bounce from winter to pre-spring so it is important to make sure children are dressed appropriately.  We are also still experiencing students coming down with colds, the flu and other assorted illnesses. Please help us by keeping children home if they are running a fever or display any symptoms of a cold.  It will be the only way to stop the spread of whatever is going around.

On a similar subject, below is the latest information about the coronavirus from the Ohio Department of Health:

General Information and Precautions
  • Currently, you are only at risk if you (1) are displaying symptoms; and (2) have traveled to China in the 14 days before feeling sick or have been in contact with someone who has confirmed COVID-19. By and large, travel history is key.
  • People who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have reported symptoms including fever, cough, and difficulty breathing that may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days after exposure to the virus. At this point you are more likely to catch the flu or a common cold, which both show some of the same symptoms.
ODH recommends precautions used for reducing the risk of infection for other illnesses, such as flu. Encourage staff, children, and families to follow these precautions at all times.
  • Frequently wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

There are only two more early Friday dismissals.  We move the clocks ahead on Sunday morning, March 8!

Purim is on Tuesday, March 10! We are encouraging everyone to wear a costume and join in the fun – Parents, Grandparents and community members are welcome to come to school to watch or participate in the parade that morning!

There are so many amazing events on the calendar in the next few weeks:
Tuesday, March 3: 1st Grade Parent Siddur Decorating
Sunday, March 8: Mishloach Manot Packing at GSDS sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/5080b4badaf2ba6fa7-mishloach2
Sunday, March 8: Daylight Savings Time Begins
Tuesday, March 10: Purim Parade and Celebration starting at 8:30am
Thursday, March 12: Second Grade Science Night 6:30pm
Friday, March 13: Read for Life Closing Ceremony, 9:40am/Regular 3:30pm Dismissal

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Mishpatim — Donations and Gratitude

We all know how institutions run building campaigns. First, the leadership seeks major donors to back the project, because construction projects are expensive; then comes an appeal to the broader community. Inspiring marketing campaigns will follow, including a grand vision: brochures, architects’ plans, an artist’s conception of the project. If all goes well, a beautiful building results, one that helps the school or synagogue or organization succeed even more at fulfilling its mission.

This week, we begin reading about the construction of the mishkan, or desert sanctuary—and discover that God does it differently. Naturally, there was no early appeal for major donors; none of the Israelites was especially rich. More surprising, though, is how God begins the campaign. The statement of vision does eventually appear (“They shall make Me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them”), but it doesn’t come first. Instead, God starts the campaign with a list of building materials. “Take gifts for Me: gold, silver and copper; blue, purple and crimson yarns; linen and wool.” How was this supposed to inspire generosity?

Imagine that you were an Israelite, freed only months ago after a lifetime of slavery. In Egypt, you lived in a humble hut, and had few possessions. Then came the Exodus, and Egyptians showered you with gifts as you departed. You crossed the Sea of Reeds, you sang with joy—but soon people started grumbling that they didn’t have enough water, or that their food wasn’t tasty enough. Perhaps you complained too.

Suddenly, Moses makes a special announcement: God was asking for gifts of precious metals and fabrics. “I’m a simple slave,” you think, “I don’t have anything like that!” But then you realize that you do; God has blessed you in ways you never could have imagined. You are filled with gratitude, and can’t wait to give.

We too can take what we have for granted, and when asked to give, we can focus on how little we have. Hopefully, though, God’s fundraising appeal can help us to appreciate our blessings!

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. The precious items that that were collected in this parashah went to construct the mishkan, or desert sanctuary. What are some reasons that sanctuaries and synagogues are supposed to be beautiful?
  2. Donating can feel like a chore or a special act. What can you do to make it feel more special? Could the organizations to which you donate do anything different to make the process feel sacred?

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