Week in Review – May  31, 2019

Can you believe that we only have 4 days of school left in the 2018-2019 school year?  Time surely flies by when you are having fun and this past week was full of various activities and accomplishments.  I hope that you have all enjoyed the weekly videos displaying the amazing experiences our students have had this past year.  Danielle Shainker has done a wonderful job collecting those photos and putting them to music. We truly believe pictures paint a thousand words and smiling faces at Schechter really illustrate the joy throughout the school.  We are busy planning for another exciting school year in 2019-2020 so please watch for communication throughout the summer.

Tuesday kicked off Kindness Week at Gross Schechter.  As part of our “No Place for Hate” affiliation, Laurie Gross Kammer, Steph Kundrach and Sheri Gross planned a week of kindness activities.  On Tuesday, May 28, it was “Just Do It” day at Gross Schechter. Students randomly picked a piece of paper out of a jar with a kindness task written on it and they completed the kindness task.  On Wednesday, it was “Give Back Day”. Students had the opportunity to participate in kindness activities such as making greeting cards for Menorah Park residents, and making snack bags for homeless shelters.   On Thursday, we were dedicated to “Erase the Hate”. Students found a sticky not with their name on it on the board in the main hall. As they removed it, a secret message was revealed. In the afternoon, to conclude the week, our lower school students watched the movie Wreck It Ralph and the Middle School watched the movie Wonder.

We also had a number of field trips.  Our 3rd graders took their annual field trip to downtown Cleveland as a culminating activity after studying about our city.  The toured Cleveland on Lolly the Trolley, went to the top of Terminal Tower, visited Browns Stadium, and even got a back side tour of Mitchell’s Ice Cream factory.  Students came back from their trip really energized and full of knowledge of the City of Cleveland. While the 3rd Graders were in Cleveland, the Pepper Pike Fire Department, with their trucks, came to Schechter to teach our ECC students about fire safety and show off the equipment.  I hope you saw those pictures of bright eyes and smiles on our Facebook page. And finally, on Thursday morning, our Middle School visited the Cleveland History Center.

On Friday afternoon, our 4th graders performed their special program called, Grade 4 TV Land-Native American Style.  They demonstrated what they have learned utilizing various television show adaptations. It was another great production arranged collaboratively by Donell Newman and Sheri Gross.  We ended the week with our Annual Sports Awards Program honoring all our grade 4-8 athletic teams and participants.

I hope you all plan to attend our Annual Meeting this Monday, June 3 at 7pm! We will be celebrating this year’s accomplishments and recognizing some special GSDS people. A delicious dessert reception will follow the program, Hope to see you all there!

Important Dates:  
  • Monday, June 3: Gross Schechter Day School Annual Meeting, 7:00 pm
    • Volunteer reception begins at 6:15p
  • Wednesday, June 5: Locker Clean Out
  • Thursday, June 6: 8th Grade Graduation, 9:15 am. (8th Grade Tefilah @ 815am
    • Last full day for ECC-8th Grade Students, Regular Dismissal at 3:30 pm
  • Wednesday, August 21: First Day of School

Have a great weekend, Shabbat Shalom.

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Behukotai

“It’s the last Friday of the school year!” These words could be heard today from teachers and students alike; everyone is excited but also a bit anxious. How will the year end? What will the next year bring? Times of transition bring excitement, but also anxiety. This Shabbat’s Torah reading offers two types of guidance to all of us who feel this anxiety.  

The parashah we’ll be reading, Behukotai, is the final parashah in the book of Vayikra, the middle book of the Torah. Towards the end of the book is a passage full of a few blessings and a lot of threats: if the Israelites maintain a strong relationship with God, God will grant them security and peace; if they reject God, God will reject them in return. The Torah’s tone is exactly the kind of tone that people take when they are afraid of endings: “Don’t leave, or else!”

But it’s as if God knew that this tone wasn’t the right way to end, because the Torah doesn’t stop there. Vayikra ends with a final chapter on the laws of vows. Why vows? Because the essence of the laws is that our words and commitments, which may seem ephemeral, are really powerful. The chapter contains procedures for annulling vows under certain conditions, but the general rule is that our promises bind us. Through our words, we can shape reality. God is not the only one who creates with words alone; human beings do too.

At year’s end, this is a powerful message for us as well. If we are nervous about the summer, and if we fear that our learning will be forgotten or our values left by the wayside, let us remember: the things we said and did this year changed the world. We formed a community, we shared Torah, and we created meaning. These things may seem ephemeral, but they are powerful. As long as we are committed to our values, our learning will endure.

The other guidance for how to handle endings comes not from the Torah itself, but from our synagogue rituals. When we end a book of the Torah, we say, “Hazak, hazak, ve-nithazek,” which has been explained as, “Strength (to the Torah reader), strength (to the one who had the aliyah), and let us all strengthen each other.” None of us is alone; we all strengthen each other. Over the summer, if we feel alone or anxious, all we need to do is reconnect, and our strength will return.

May we all have a shabbat shalom and a wonderful summer!
Rabbi Jonathan Berger
Associate Head of School for Judaic Studies and Programs

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. Under what circumstances do you think it is okay to break a vow or a promise? Why?
  2. How do you handle anxiety at times of transition?
  3. How does havdalah fit into this pattern of transition anxiety?

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