What a great week for Gross Schechter Day School.  Our student’s achievements were the shining lights during an otherwise week of cloudy weather.  We are so proud of our students and staff who work so hard each day resulting in such positive experiences and accomplishments.

On Monday, we celebrated Rosh Chodesh with a school wide Tefilah.  You could hear the joy in the voices of our students throughout the halls as they celebrated the beginning of the new month of Sh’vat.  The week will end with our annual Buddy Havdalah program on Motzei Shabbat, Saturday evening, when more than 120 parents, students and teachers will come together to recognize the end of Shabbat.  Even if you have not signed up, all are welcome to this beautiful ceremony.

The Read for Life program is well underway and we are encouraging our students to “Dive into the Decades” and read as many books as they can during the next 6 weeks.  Last year our students read a little over 2,000 books…let’s keep the streak going. Reading lasts a lifetime and opens up new worlds of discovery, imagination, and joy.  Please encourage your children to read at home and take time to read along with them.

Our 7th grade students displayed and presented their Science Projects on Wednesday evening. They did an incredible job and ten students will be taking their projects to the regional competition. Some of the topics were:  “Do Age and Gender Affect Color Preference” by Isaac Gorodeski, “Implicit Bias Through the Decades” by Kiva Jacobs, and “Specific Heat Feat” by Charles Stadlin. All the projects are on display in the main hallway. Headed to the 67th Annual Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair held at Cleveland State University on March 13th, are the following ten award winners:

Superior Rating

Issac Gorodeski

Kiva Jacobs

Excellent Rating

Dominick Kravchenko

Elijah Kriwinsky

Jude Landes David


Alex Messeloff

Avi Saidel

Jonathan Sosonov

Charles Stadlin

Other Award winners:

Adina Berger: Excellent rating

Maurice Kaplan: Honorable Mention

Dani Gilad: Honorable Mention

On Friday, eight of our Middle School students participated in Power of the Pen competition.  Power of the Pen is a creative writing competition for middle school students across the state of Ohio. Students compete individually against those from other schools at a district, regional, and finally  at a state level by writing short stories based on prompts revealed the day of the competition. They have 40 minutes to complete a story and write three stories at each competition. The ‘team’ aspect comes in to play for awards based on the overall composite scores.

Vision and hearing screenings will be conducted on January 16th, 17th, 23rd, and 24th to all 3 – 5 year old preschool, Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th grade children as required by state law. This is a screening and if the PSI staff suspect any issues you will be alerted with a letter and asked to follow up with a Doctor.  If you have any questions about this process please contact our clinic aid Shenee at clinic@grossschechter.org.

And finally, on Thursday evening, the Merkaz was transformed into our own Schechter Little Theater for the performance of “The Sound Of Music”.  Over 90 students participated in the multilingual production directed by the incomparable Sheri Gros with assistance from Carolyn Clerget and K-4 teachers.  Leading up to the production there was much discussion about the story and the impact of the Holocaust. We are all so very proud of everyone’s effort in making this another night to remember at Gross Schechter.

*Mishloach Manot information will be out early next week – please be on the lookout!*

GSDS Grandparents: Please join us at next week’s Shoresh Society lecture! Click the link to RSVP or e-mail bchrist@grossschechter.org


Important Dates:
Saturday, February 1, Buddy Havdalah, 7:00 pm. For Kofim, Dagim, Prachim, Tziporim and Kindergarten classes and 5th-8th grade students
Lock-in-Read-a-Thon, 8:00pm-10:30pm 4th-8th Grade
Monday, February 3, SPA Meeting 7:00 pm
Tuesday, February 4, K-2 Art Club
Friday, February 7, Preschool Vision Screening
Sunday, February 9, JEC Annual Meeting 5:30 pm
Monday, February 10, 3rd Grade Tu B’Shvat Seder 2:25 pm
Tuesday, February 11, K12 Art Club
Wednesday, February 12, 8th Grade Parent Meeting (Israel Trip)
Monday, February 17, NO SCHOOL Presidents Day

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Bo—Whom do we serve?

One of the world’s most resonant cries for freedom comes from this week’s parashah: “Let My people go!” In two powerful Hebrew words, shalah ammi, Moses identifies with the Israelite slaves, asserts their status as a people, and demands that Pharaoh submit to God. It is no wonder that other enslaved peoples have cried out “Let my people go” as they called for freedom.

But the Hebrew phrase doesn’t stop with “Let My people go.” It concludes with the word ve‑ya’aveduni, “that they may serve Me.” The purpose of the Exodus wasn’t for us to be free, exactly; it was for us to trade masters. Instead of Pharaoh, we would obey God. At first glance, this seems like a much weaker request. Moses wasn’t demanding freedom; he was just seeking a change in management. Why not true freedom—why “freedom to serve God”? True, God was, and is, a kinder master than Pharaoh. God demands no pyramids, and God’s Torah has sought to protect human dignity in ways that no human leader ever has. But why wasn’t full emancipation the goal of the Exodus?

The answer, I think, is that Judaism doesn’t really believe in total freedom. If anything, a lack of obligations is seen in Judaism as a sign of subservience, of lesser significance, of unimportance. In Judaism, the true measure of growing up—of becoming bar or bat mitzvah—is attaining responsibility, being commanded. But responsibilities only elevate us if they come from a respectable source, and if they guide us towards the right goals and priorities. Moses was saying that if we are to matter in life, as individuals and as a people, we have to see ourselves as servants. Our real task—as educators, as parents, and as masters of ourselves—is to make sure we are serving the right master.

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. Moses was speaking to Pharaoh and his courtiers, but word of the interaction surely spread to the Israelites. How do you think the Israelites  felt when they heard the sentence “Let My people go, that they may serve me”?
  2. Some responsibilities can drag us down — but others can elevate us. In your life, which responsibilities are you proud of? How do they elevate you? 

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Ben Christ

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