Week in Review – September 20, 2019

This past week began with the always meaningful FIDF Annual Dinner on Sunday evening, chaired by Gross Schechter parents Bev and Rich Uria.  The evening was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the outreach efforts of Cleveland FIDF and the impact that Cleveland has on Israeli soldiers.  We were proud that many Gross Schechter families and school representatives were in attendance and showed support for the Urias and especially the FIDF.  This is another example of the positive impact that Gross Schechter has on our entire community.

The Schechter Shark Soccer Team is back in action this fall. They play a full schedule and compete against local day schools and independent schools.  We are proud of their efforts and invite parents and students top come out and watch them in action!

On Tuesday morning, our Pre-K class made the annual trip to Patterson’s Fruit Farm to study the fall season and get in the Rosh Hashana mood.  Students, staff and parent volunteers were able to learn a little about farming, apple picking, as well as enjoy the various activities at the farm.  The highlights were a ride on the trailer pulled by a tractor and sampling apples.

On Wednesday morning, our middle school students traveled to various locations to participate in community service activities which is part of our Tikkun Olam Program.  Students assist in different facilities such as the Cleveland Food Bank, Menorah Park, local daycare centers as well at the Infant Care Center. Our middle school teachers chaperone these monthly trips and I received the following report from Lauren henkin about her experience with students at the Cleveland Food Bank.

“Over my past three years at Schechter, I have accompanied our middle school students to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank more than 10 times as part of our monthly Tikkun Olam Program (TOPS), but today was my most memorable, most meaningful experience, largely because of the amazing group of students.

The difference between today’s visit and my other visits was the incredible compassion, dedication, and heart the students showed. I was, more than ever before, wowed by their genuine desire to help kids who are less fortunate and ensure that these kids would not go hungry. It was so clear that everyone there understood the magnitude of the mitzvah we were tasked with today. They stepped up to form an efficient assembly line, supported one another, and were always more than willing to swap places with a fellow classmate for a ‘more fun’ job (like using the sticker gun to date the lunches we bagged). They asked amazing questions about how the charity works and the groups it helps. They diligently counted the number of bags we put together – more than 700! – and kept wanting to increase the number! And, they managed to have fun and keep their spirits up while working to process their emotions about kids their own age who may not know where their next meal comes from. 

I am so grateful that I got to experience our first TOPS of the year with this group, and am wowed by the potential they have to change the world. Thank you again, as always, for sharing this amazing group with the Schechter team. Even at their age, they’re already changing lives – mine included!” Lauren Henkin

We talk proudly about our TOPS program and the importance of “repairing the world” through community service.  There is no better example of the actions of our students than what was shared by Ms. Henkin. This is another example of the impact that a Gross Schechter education has on our students and staff.

On Friday, our 5th and 6th grade students headed to Camp Wise to participate in a Shabbaton.  Rabbi Berger and Sheri Gross have planned an amazing experience for our students. Students will enjoy a night out at camp, participate in numerous activities and games, as well enjoy Shabbat in a beautiful, natural setting.

This Sunday is the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Super Sunday! Gross Schechter benefits directly from the funds raised during the Federation Campaign so we ask that parents and students attend at some time during the day to help with the campaign.  There are plenty of tasks that need to be completed and a strong Gross Schechter presence is important. So, put on some Schechter gear and come out to the Federation building on Sunday to help the Federation and Gross Schechter Day School. You still have time to register at https://www.jewishcleveland.org/.

Important Dates:
Sunday, September 22: Jewish Federation of Cleveland Super Sunday
Friday, September 27: ECC Grandparents Shabbat, 10:00 am-11:00 am.
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: Yom Kippur, No School 
Monday/Tuesday, October 14/October 15: Sukkot, No School
Thursday evening, October 17, Sukkot Fest 6:30 pm
Monday/Tuesday, October 21, October 22: Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, No School  
Please note the change in dates:
Monday, November 18, Professional Development, No School for ECC through Grade 8.  ICC will be in session. This is a change from Friday, November 15.

Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend.

Randy S. Boroff
Head of School



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Parashat Ki Tavo

This week, an election took place in Israel; the votes have been counted, and efforts to form a coalition are now underway. And the election wasn’t just about personality; it was about the meaning of Zionism and the future of the State of Israel. 

At the heart of the Zionist debates in the late 19th century was a question: should a Jewish state make the Jews like all other nations, or should it embody something distinctly Jewish, serving as a “light for the nations”? The first perspective was captured by the poet Hayim Nahman Bialik, who reportedly remarked that Israel’s goal will be achieved when a Jewish policeman arrests a Jewish prostitute—in Hebrew. And if Israel’s sole purpose is to protect against antisemitism, then all that’s needed is a powerful Israeli military.

But others, among them both religious Zionists like Rav Kook and secular Zionists like Ahad Ha’am, argued that Israel must aim to be distinctively Jewish, as a setting for Torah to come to life or as the place where Jewish values would enlighten the world. If Israel was just a pale imitation of western nation-states, they argued, it would have scant reason to exist.

Acknowledging that the world of the ancient Israelites was vastly different from the world of modern Israel, it’s important to note the answer found in a passage in this week’s parashah. Moshe is close to the end of his life, and he describes a ceremony that B’nai Yisrael will enact when they cross the Jordan River. Before they begin to conquer the land, before they fight even one battle, they are to plaster huge stones and inscribe on them all the words of the Torah. Why? Because God only gave us the land of Israel so that we could bring the Torah’s values and vision to life. Otherwise, how were we any different from the Canaanites?

From our vantage point—post-Holocaust, still amidst Israel’s struggle to live in peace with her neighbors—we know that a strong army is crucial. But in our world of trumpeted intolerance and violence, we also know how crucial are the Jewish values of human dignity, seeing ourselves as custodians of God’s world, et cetera for our society and the world. May our leaders, both in Israel and in America, remember that our countries exist for values and for higher purposes.

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

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