Week in Review – September 13, 2019We had a quick return to summer weather this past week with steamy temperatures and humid air. We are so lucky to have a fully air conditioned facility where teaching and learning is not impacted by fluctuating temperatures and pop up thunderstorms. We did however have a very short power outage on Wednesday that caused a bit of a stir at school, but our staff and students handled it with ease. We do have protocol for such an event, but luckily the outage was for just a moment.
I want to thank all the parents who attended Curriculum Night last night. Our faculty is very proud of the progress that our students have made in the first three weeks of school and were very excited to share their plans for the school year with you. I hope you enjoyed meeting the teachers, learning about all the amazing plans for the school year and hearing a little about Overdrive and how you and your family can access online books.
On Tuesday, our 7th and 8th graders attended the JCC Annual Jewish Film festival and were treated to the film Belle and Sebastian. This was a wonderful opportunity for the group to participate in this amazing program sponsored by the Jewish Community Center. Students learned about the French Resistance who tried to guide Jewish refugees to Switzerland during Nazi occupation. I had the pleasure of attending a film Thursday evening and received very positive feedback about our students and appreciation for allowing them to attend.
We had a touching start to the day on Wednesday as we all stopped to remember September 11, 2001. The morning announcements included a short reflection about that terrible morning 18 years ago and included a beautiful Hebrew prayer read by Rabbi Berger. The Pledge of Allegiance took on a whole new meaning Wednesday morning. During middle school Social Studies classes, discussion continued about the impact that day has had on American history.
I hope that you have heard the words, “mindfulness, be your best self, kindness, love, relationships, be in the present moment, and grow friendships”. These are all words that are coming to life at Gross Schechter through the teachings of Debbie Friedman. Debbie is introducing the practice of Mindfulness to all grades this year as we focus on creating a culture of caring and respect throughout the entire school. It is a wonder to watch Debbie and how she engages the students with various activities focused on this important philosophy.
Have you joined SPA (Schechter’s Parent Association) yet? If not, please contact Courtney Fishman or Kim Levin and get involved in supporting our students and the activities that our wonderful SPA organization sponsors. This is a great way to make connections and build our Schechter Community!
We welcomed Alon and Ori, our new Shinshinim! We know it will be a wonderful year with them, who will inspire our students and strengthen their love and connection to the land of Israel. Thank you to the Jewish Federation for making this program happen, year after year.
Speaking of The Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Super Sunday is on Sunday, September 22! It is crucial that Gross Schechter has a strong presence. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland is the single largest donor to our school and this is one way that we, as a community, can express our hakarat hatov (gratitude). There will be kids activities throughout the day and of course, delicious food. Please click here to register for Super Sunday. Please come wearing your Schechter shirts!
Upcoming Dates to Remember:
Friday, September 20-21: 5th/6th Grade Shabbaton
Sunday, September 22: Jewish Federation of Cleveland Super Sunday
Friday, September 27: Chef Yuval Rosh Hashana Bake Sale
Monday/Tuesday, September 30/October 1: Rosh Hashanah, No School
Tuesday, October 8: Erev Yom Kippur 12:00 pm dismissal (No Lunch)
Wednesday, October 9: No School, Yom Kippur
Monday/Tuesday, October 14/October 15: No School Sukkot
Thursday evening, October 17: Sukkot Fall Fest 6:30 pm
Monday/Tuesday, October 21, October 22: No School Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah
Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend.
Randy S. Boroff
Head of School
Purchase your lulav + etrog through Gross Schechter! Sets are $40.
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Parashat Ki Teitzei—Miracles and Mitzvot All AroundIn the 1960s, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel often spoke to Jewish organizations. When delivering a lecture in the evening, he frequently began by saying, “Ladies and gentleman, a miracle just occurred.” After a pause, he continued: “The sun has just set.” A few people in the audience would understand, but most were confused, and some were dismissive. Was the rabbi trying to make a joke? If so, no one found it funny.
But he proceeded to talk about how religion can allow one to live with a sense of wonder. Is a sunset just a routine matter, best ignored—or is it a miracle to be recognized, appreciated and praised? The answer depends on our way of seeing the world. Judaism, according to Heschel, encourages us to see miracles all around us. We can find glimpses of God’s goodness wherever we look.
This week’s parashah, Ki Teitzei, contains a similar message with regards to mitzvot. It contains more mitzvot than any other Torah portion—and they can reshape the way we see the world. If we came across a flat-roofed house, a field at harvest time, or a bird’s nest, we’d probably take little notice. But our parashah instructs us to build a railing around the roof of a flat-roofed house, to leave forgotten sheaves of wheat in the field for the poor, and to shoo the mother bird away from a nest if we plan to gather the eggs. With Torah, everyday objects are alive with potential—all allow us to perform mitzvot that help other people and help us grow closer to God.
At Gross Schechter, we know that our students will learn new countless new facts, master exciting skills, create ideas and meaning, and feel a sense of joy as they learn. But a Schechter education goes beyond that; it shapes the way our students see the world. My blessing for all our students this year—and for us as well—is that we can learn to see miracles and opportunities for mitzvot every day. They are all around us!
Rabbi Jonathan Berger
Associate Head of School for Judaic Studies and Programs
Questions for the Shabbat table:
- Why might the Torah ask us to build a railing around a flat-roofed house? What general principle is the Torah trying to teach us?
- Can you think of a time when you said, “This is a miracle!” about something that you had previously ignored or not appreciated?