We are approaching a short week in preparation for the Thanksgiving Break.  I know staff and students are looking forward to a long weekend with family and friends.  Some are traveling or expecting out of town guests. Just a reminder, school is closed Wednesday through Friday next week.  When we return to school it will be December! The school year is truly flying by.

Did you know some of our 8th grade math students received $1 million to spend by Tuesday?  They had specific guidelines that included purchases of a home, a car, college tuition, donations, and even a vacation.  This project included research skills, computation, check writing, and understanding costs in the future. Students used a number of skills and knowledge in this creative project.  Thanks to Mrs. Santoiemmo for introducing this activity to our students.

This past week, our Kindergarten and 1st grade students wrote letters to kindergarten and 1st grade students at Brent Elementary School in Washington, DC.  Katie Ferguson, our new secretary in the main office, worked at Brent prior to coming to Gross Schechter and helped to establish this “penpal” project. This is a great way for our students to improve their reading and writing skills as well as learn about students their age in another state.

On Monday, our staff began our self study which is an integral part of our ISACS (Independent School Association of the Central States) accreditation process.  Over the course of the next year, we will be taking a close look at our programs, procedures and overall operations of the school. During the next school year, we will host a visiting team representing other independent schools in our region to evaluate our school based on that self study.  Kudos to Laurie Gross Kammer and Lauren Henkin who are coordinating this year-long self study.

On Monday evening, our ICC and ECC teachers attended a professional development program sponsored by the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland.  The meeting focused on early childhood education and the importance of meeting the needs of the individual child.

On Thursday we welcomed back Teacher Debbie…it was so wonderful to see her back at Gross Schechter.  There was a lot of love in the hallways as we greeted her back to her Schechter Family.

Remember:  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.

On behalf of the entire Gross Schechter Family, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.  We should all be thankful we are part of this amazing school. Enjoy your family and friends.  If you are traveling, be safe.  

Upcoming Events:
Tuesday, November 26,  ECC Thanksgiving Feast 11:00am
Wednesday, November 27- Friday, November 29, Thanksgiving Break
Friday, November 29, Alumni Brunch 10:30 am
Monday, December 2, Return to School
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 Hayei Sarah–Acting kindly isn’t enough

Sometimes, real kindness and fake kindness look almost identical. It takes close observation to see the difference.

In this week’s parashah, Avraham’s servant travels back to Aram to find a bride for Avraham’s son Yitzhak. How would he know which young woman was a good match? Would he seek beauty, intelligence or wealth? None of those. He knew that Avraham valued hesed, kindness, most of all, so he prays that God send a kind woman to meet them at the well, one who would not only offer him water, but would offer water to his camels too. Rivkah appears on cue—and she offers water to him and to his camels. It’s clear: this is the right woman for Isaac.

We think we have learned that kindness to animals is the mark of a good person. But we soon learn that proper action, on its own, isn’t enough. 

When Rivkah comes home, her brother Lavan greets her. The Torah says that “When he saw the ring and bracelet on his sister’s hand, and heard her story… he said, ‘Welcome, blessed one of God; why should you wait outside, when I have cleared a space in the house [for you], and a place for the camels?’” At first, Lavan seems just like his sister! But as Rabbi David Kimhi (a 12th century Provençal commentator) points out, Lavan’s kindness only emerges after he sees the gold. Unlike Rivkah, his hospitality is driven by greed, not hesed

Motives matter. If we are kind for selfish reasons, it will eventually show. Lavan convinced others of his virtue for a little while—but his daughters came to hate him for his greed, and they and their families deserted him. On the other hand, Rivkah, whose hesed was true, became one of the matriarchs of our people; her success and happiness were hard-won, but enduring. May we always follow in her footsteps—in thought and in deed.

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

Questions for the Shabbat table:
  1. There are many ways to demonstrate kindness. Why do you think Abraham’s servant prayed specifically for someone who was kind to animals?
  2. Can you think of times in your life when you’ve been kind for selfish reasons? How does that feel different from being kind for caring reasons?

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