We survived the first snowfall this past week.  I can only imagine how many students (and a few staff members) were involved in the “snow day” rituals Monday evening.  I am sorry to disappoint you! But, even with the snow and cold weather, we had an amazing week of learning and activity at Gross Schechter.

On a sad note, our collective thoughts and prayers are with Teacher Debbie Friedman and her family as they mourn the loss of Debbie’s husband, Steve Friedman.  The outpouing of love and support from staff, students and community is a reflection of all the love that Debbie has brought to Gross Schechter and the larger Jewish community.  Please keep her in your thoughts and we look forward to her return to Gross Schechter.

This past Monday, our Judaic staff attended a professional learning program at the JEC.  In order to accommodate their absence, our General Studies teachers developed lessons focused on Veterans Day.  After a morning of academic studies, the afternoon consisted of various activities, speakers and videos related to Veterans Day. Special thanks to Petty Officer  Zahari Stolley for speaking with our middle school students about his military experience. Our Shinshinim also talked about their upcoming IDF service when they return to Israel.

On Thursday morning, a committee of administrators and local safety forces met to review our security procedures at school.  The safety and security of our staff, students and parents are high priorities and we appreciate the efforts of Officer Jim, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland security team, and the Pepper Pike Police and Fire Departments.

Please make sure that your children are dressed appropriately each day for the cold and wet weather.  We do go outside for recess as much as possible even when it snows.

In the coming months, there may be days that we close school due to inclement weather.  That decision is made in collaboration with the local public school districts. We try to make the call as early as possible but we all know the weather in Cleveland can change quickly.  We notify our community with a phone call/text message using the robo call system as well as posting the information on TV. If you haven’t received any of the robo calls/text messages to date, please contact Molly Rosenberg in the office to have your information updated.

Upcoming Events:
Monday, November 18, Professional Development, No School for ECC through Grade 8.  ICC will be in session.
Thursday, November 21, Picture Retake Day.
Tuesday, November 26,  ECC Thanksgiving Feast 11:00am
Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29 : Thanksgiving Break
Thursday, December 5, The Diary of Anne Frank Performance 6:30pm 
Wednesday, December 11, Grades K-4 Winter Concert 6:30pm 
Thursday,  December 12, ECC Winter Spectacular 6:00pm 
Have a great weekend, Shabbat Shalom

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School

Parashat Vayera—Did Abraham lose faith?

Midway through our parashah, God tells Abraham of God’s plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness. Perhaps because his nephew Lot lived there, Abraham stands up to God: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?!” He convinces God not to destroy the cities if fifty righteous individuals live there; God agrees. Abraham bargains him down to forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, and finally ten good people. His courage is inspiring.

But towards the end of the parashah, God asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son—and Abraham utters not a word of protest. What happened to him? Has he lost his courage? The answer, I think, can be found in what happens after Abraham bargains with God. “Surely,” he must have thought, “God will find ten good people and spare my nephew.” But the next day, Abraham woke up and went to a hill that overlooked the cities—and he saw only fire and ashes.

We, the readers, know that God sent angels to save Lot and his family. We know that the cities were indeed full of evil people—and so, in the end, the guilty perished while the righteous escaped. We see that the Judge of all the earth did deal justly with Sodom and Gomorrah.

But Abraham didn’t know any of this. He probably concluded that Lot was dead, and that his society was so corrupt that there were fewer than ten righteous individuals in all the cities of the plain. It must have been devastating. From that point on, he may have continued to be a good person, but his loss of faith in humanity crippled his relationships with both God and his family. He bound Isaac on the altar without a word of protest.

We too can look at our society and despair. The rule of law have been shaken, and old hatreds have flourished. It’s easy for us to doubt the goodness that lies inside most people. But if we look beyond the headlines, we can see what we are missing—and what Abraham may have missed. In times of economic struggles, so many people strain to give extra tzedakah. Volunteers give precious time to feed the hungry, and students collect coats to give warmth to the needy. Abraham may have found himself saying, “The world is crumbling”; may we always see the good people around us.

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. Why do you think God didn’t tell Abraham that he didn’t save Lot? Do you think it was on purpose, or did God just not think things through from Abraham’s perspective?
  2. What makes you lose hope for our society? What gives you hope?

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