Hillel Happenings
Brought to you by Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Hillel Academy
of Pittsburgh

5685 Beacon Street
Pittsburgh, PA
P: (412) 521-8131
F: (412) 521-5150

Parshat Nitzavim-Vayeilech

24 Elul 5770

Candle Lighting: 7:32 pm

Havdalah: 8:31 pm

In This Issue
Sheirut Leumi and Hillel
Friendly First Day Faces
Girls High School Orientation
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Dvar Torah
Getting to Know Rabbi Nimchinsky
Senior Special
Hillel Gear Spotted Here
Help the Gym
Brunch Welcomes New Families
New Beginnings for Boys High School
Hungry for Change
B'ruchim Habaim
Sheirut Leumi Girls
A special welcome to Achinoam Nay (left) and Ela Sharabi (right).  Achinoam and Ela have traveled here to Pittsburgh from Israel to serve as our Sheirut Leumi representatives.  We wish them the best of luck with the upcoming year.
Quick Links
Feature Article
Rabbi Nimchinsky
We know that Rabbi Nimchinsky brings nearly twenty-five years of educational experience to Hillel Academy, here are some things you might not have known about our Judaic Studies Coordinator.  
Join Our Mailing List
First Day Smiles
Rabbi Nimchinsky


Cooper Arriving for School

Shira Wiesenfeld Arriving to School

Yolkut Girl Arriving to School
Welcome Back Brunch

Hillel Academy's Welcome Committee greeted new famlilies to our school at the "Welcome to Hillel" brunch on Sunday August 22.  The new Hillel families mingled with current families over bagels, cookies, and juice.  The students got to know each other over arts and crafts projects and a few games of ping pong.  We were happy to meet the following new families and hope you will also introduce yourself over the coming year: the Brookmans, Browns, Gelmans, Hazons, Nimchinskys, Reichmans, Sacks, Vidmar-McEwens, and the Yolkuts.  As part of the Welcome Comittee, Aviva Klein and Faygie Marizan would like to thank the following families that joined us in making our newest students and parents feel at home at Hillel: the Berelowitzs, Goldbergs, Kaminskys, Kisilinskys, Krauts, and Weisenfelds.
Interested in Writing for the Jewish Chronicle?

Please speak to Mrs. Levari for more details.
[email protected]

Around Town

Bnei Akiva BBQ

NCSY Davening on Rosh Hashana

Pizza Available Tuesday Night September 7th

Mazel Tov

Mr. and Mrs. Joel Ungar on the bar mitzvah of their son Ben.

Mr. Ben Ungar on his bar mitzvah.

Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Milch on the bat mitzvah of their daughter Riva.

Ms. Riva Milch on her bat mitzvah.

Greetings Friends of Hillel Academy!

Welcome back to what has already proved to be an incredible new school year.  With so much changing, one thing remains the same here at Hillel - you.  Your suggestions and support for the Hillel Happenings have been incredible. 

Over the summer, many of you submitted valuable recommendations for the Hillel Happenings.  Something that most of you suggested was that the Happenings become more eco-friendly.  For several years, numerous reams of paper were consumed by the Hillel Happenings.  Well, as you can detect, with your recommendations and a renewed commitment to environmental friendliness, we have decided to go green.

With this edition of the Happenings, we present to you a completely electronic version of your school's news.  As always, the Hillel Happenings is a work in progress.  Please feel free to submit any suggestions or recommendations for furthering this publication. 

Respectfully yours,

Adam Reinherz 
Strategic Analyst
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Dvar Torah

Jordy Kraut 8th Grade

In Parshas Netzavim, the Torah tell us:

רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַיּוֹם, אֶת-הַחַיִּים וְאֶת-הַטּוֹב, וְאֶת-הַמָּוֶת, וְאֶת-הָרָע.  ...  וּבָחַרְתָּ, בַּחַיִּים

"See - I have placed before you today - in your mouth and in your heart - to perform it...and you should choose life."
The question one could ask on this verse is that it would seem that it would have been better to write "and choose good," because in fact "good" describes the action that we should choose to do; so then why did the Torah say, "You should choose life?"

Reb Chatzkel Levenstein, the Mirer Mashgiach explained, that sometimes people become so accustomed to doing mitzvos that they begin to do them by rote, without thinking about what they are doing, or, something even worse, people do mitzvos for other reasons.  For example, they want to receive honor for their seemingly good actions.  For this reason the Torah wrote, "choose life," in order to teach us that "good actions" are not everything.  Hashem wants us to choose LIFE, He wants us to feel that the Torah and mitzvos are our lifeblood and that we should perform them with enthusiasm. 

At Hillel this week, we have been learning not only about the importance of Mitzvos but how important they are during the month of Elul.  We want to ensure that we are doing these Mitzvos for the right reasons, and as best as we can, so that we can connect to our Creator.
Getting to Know Rabbi Nimchinsky

The newest addition to the Hillel Academy team is Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky.  Arriving from Houston, Texas, with nearly twenty-five years of educational experience, Rabbi Nimchinsky has already brought great insight to his students and staff.  While the students, parents, and staff will learn, and gain, much from Rabbi Nimchinsky's educational expertise, we here at the Happenings were more interested in learning about Rabbi Nimchinsky the man.  So, thanks largely to the creativity of Reb Shaw, and the patience of Rabbi Nimchinsky, we bring you a candid interview with Hillel Academy's Judaic Studies Coordinator and Director of Student Programs Elementary and Middle School, Rabbi Nimchinsky. 

Reb Shaw: Rabbi Nimchinsky, thank you so much for sitting down with me today.  First question, after a week at Hillel Academy, what has surprised you most about our school? 

Rabbi Nimchinsky: That only two days have actually passed.

Reb Shaw: What was the worst part of your 17 day drive from Houston to Pittsburgh?

Rabbi Nimchinsky
: It only felt like it was 17 days; in reality it only took 3 days. The worst part was that two of my kids got sick and developed a fever on the road.

Reb Shaw: Rumor has it that you're pretty tech savvy - how do you plan on utilizing this strength at Hillel?

Rabbi Nimchinsky
: I would love to find ways to use technology to enable teachers and students to teach and learn more effectively, and to enable teachers to communicate more efficiently with students, parents, and each other.  I don't believe that technology can replace teachers but I do believe that it can be used to automate a lot of the drudge work that teachers have to do and thereby enable them to focus on their students.

Reb Shaw: Have you ever experienced Steeler nation?  If not, brace yourself.

Rabbi Nimchinsky: What is Steeler nation?

Reb Shaw: What do you like to do for fun?

Rabbi Nimchinsky: If I am not learning or reading, I enjoy playing with technology and computers.

Reb Shaw: Waren Moon or Mike Scott, bigger Houston icon?

Rabbi Nimchinsky: Yes. 
Hello to Goodbye:
A Perspective on the Senior Year at Hillel
Reb Shaw remembers a time when the Buccos had only been losing for 3 straight seasons.
Pictuer of Shaw with Buccos Hat

Ten years ago, I was privileged to attend and graduate the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh, Hillel Academy's Boy's High School in White Oak, PA.  More so than any other year, I remember that one.  Maybe it was the friendships, maybe the teachers, I don't know.  But as many of you can relate, twelfth grade provides an incredible moment in the high school experience.  All of a sudden, you start to hear, "This is my last..." more than any other phrase throughout the year.  Whether it's the last high school orientation, student council meeting, basketball game, or production, a little nostalgia creeps into all school matters.  In an effort to capture the uniqueness of the Senior Year, and most especially its experience at Hillel, we are looking to interview students, parents, teachers, and even siblings.  If you have an anecdote, photograph, or suggestion, please feel free to send it my way to [email protected]
Hillel Gear Spotted Here
Chief Executive Officer Dan Kraut was recently photographed outside of Kether Torah wearing a Hillel Academy t-shirt.

You know the experience.  You're driving somewhere - maybe the North Side, maybe Ohio - and all of a sudden you see a Hillel Academy magnet on the back of a car.  "Awesome," you think, "I never would have expected to see one here."  Truthfully, we all know that Hillel nation extends well beyond Squirrel Hill, but here's a chance to prove it.  We're asking our readers to submit pictures of themselves or willing participants in Hillel gear (uniforms, t-shirts, etc.).  Each week, we'll select the best picture for inclusion in the Happenings and award a prize.  To start things off, here's an example of what we're talking about.
Sports Equipment Needed
Gym Image
Dear Parents and Hillel Academy Friends:

Hillel Academy is striving to create the richest possible physical educational experience possible for your children.  In the next few weeks, thanks to a grant from the Highmark Healthy High Five, we will be installing a new Traverse Rock Climbing Wall in the gym.  The rock climbing wall will present new physical challenges which will help your children develop strength, stamina, and problem solving skills.  

Two years ago, we used a similar grant from Highmark to purchase, kickballs, hockey sticks and jump ropes.  As we enter a new school year, we wish to replace some of these items which have been worn out from extensive use.  These items come at a cost, and as we successfully did two years ago, we are asking parents and friends of Hillel Academy to purchase and donate new: basketballs, wiffle balls (large size), floor hockey sticks with balls, a batting tee stand, and jump ropes for the physical education program.  The items can be dropped off in the school office, and a tax-donation letter will be provided.

Thank you for supporting physical education at Hillel Academy.


Jeffrey Peters and Stephanie Stanley
PA Certified Physical Education Instructors
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Girls High School Orientation

Mrs. Levari

On Monday, August 30, Hillel Academy welcomed back the Girls High School from their relaxing, fun, and hopefully reinvigorating, summer breaks.  Though the high school is relatively small, and there are several new faces in the crowd, the Girls High School has declared themselves "Team Hillel' and there are strong feelings of teamwork, camaraderie, and cooperation in the air.  It may seem like a daunting task to create teamwork in a very eclectic group of very strong-minded women.  So how did we do it?  We took them on an odyssey - to Outdoor Odyssey that is! 

Following a packed morning schedule, including a very fun ice breaker game planned by our Student Council and fascinating shiur by Rabbi Daniel Yolkut on the purpose of Simanim on Rosh Hashana, we loaded the bus for the two hour trip to Outdoor Odyssey in Boswell, PA.  Outdoor Odyssey is a boy scout site that offers a multitude of team-building and leadership initiatives through physical activities.  They cater to schools, camps, corporations, sports teams, and more.  We worked together with them throughout the summer to create a custom-designed itinerary for our orientation day to fit the needs of our school.  Our goal was to find new ways to work together as a group, break down barriers and cliques, become a cohesive team, and HAVE FUN!  And not only did we succeed in having fun, but the girls high school also succeeded in  bonding tremendously and have learned to work together as a team.  One particularly challenging, yet extremely rewarding, initiative was when a group of 15 high school girls had to figure out how to stand on a narrow log swing while holding hands and singing the first verse of "Row Row Row Your Boat." While this may not seem very difficult, it proved to be quite challenging and did not work into all members of the group were included.  It was fascinating to observe this activity - the group went from chaos where everyone was barking opinions and there were girls left out, to quiet and focused teamwork that allowed them to succeed in this task.

We concluded this rewarding trip with a BBQ and boating on a small pond. While the girls may have left exhausted, the school as a whole left as a team.  We hope to continue to work together through the year through the many exciting courses, programs, and activities planned in the Girls High School.  Stay tuned and for more details please contact me at [email protected]
Boys High School Enjoys Orientation

Ben Kohane, '11

Another amazing year at the Hillel Academy High School for Boys began this Monday with orientation.  The afternoon began at the JCC, meeting up with all our friends, catching up on each other's summer stories, and settling into the new academic environment in our second-floor wing. Afterward, we gathered in one of the classrooms to hear welcoming remarks from the principal, Rabbi Weinberg, as well as student council president Daniel Sax.  After going over school policies and rules, Ms. Lieberman, Director of Senior Services at the JCC addressed us, expressing her interest in involving the student body in various Chessed programs at the center. We hope to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. Finally, we heard from Mrs. Tipton, who is our new Student Services Advisor, helping out academically in a variety of different areas, in addition to her continued teaching of English in the BHS.

We then split up into three groups.  As one group met with Mrs. Pollack, the school's college counselor, to discuss what to focus on this year with regards to post-high school options, others toured the JCC with Rabbi Smith, and others went with Mrs. Tipton to the JCC's Membership Services office to make student ID's for building access.  After reconvening to daven Mincha, we changed into athletic apparel and headed out to Wightman Park for a great game of softball.  The teams were the seniors and Rabbi Smith versus everybody else and Rabbi Weinberg.  Although the lead vacillated back and forth, as the challengers took an early lead, the seniors battled back with several strong innings at the plate and in the field, and by the final inning it was all tied up.  Several defensive lapses gave the underclassmen a one run lead with an inside-the-park home run by Shimi Biton.  A one-two-three inning posted against the seniors sealed the victory.  The seniors contend that the game was a welcome gift to the new school for the underclassmen, and that they should not get used to it.
The final part of orientation was a barbecue at Hillel's main campus, complete with hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, and corn, coupled with a bonfire and marshmallows, which was enjoyed by everyone.  With a Dvar Torah from the VP of communications on student council, Adir Shimon, and one from Rabbi Weinberg, as well as inspirational singing, we felt ready for the new school year.  We would like to extend a big thank-you to the administration, faculty, and the student council for organizing the entire event.
Letter Regarding Lunch Program

Dear Parents and Hillel Friends:

Last year, Hillel Academy began to offer hot lunches as a service to our families and students.  These lunches were provided by Alladin Food Services, which operated out of the JCC. 

This year, in order to further improve Hillel's hot lunch program, I am pleased to announce that Hillel Academy has brought all of its food services in-house, under the management of Mordechai

Chef Brown is seen here in the newly renovated Hillel Academy kitchen.
Mordechai Brown in Kitchen
Brown.  Mr. Brown moved here with his family from Postville, Iowa over the summer, has been in food services for many years, and will bring an exciting new flavor and style to the Hillel lunches. 

Upon reviewing our kitchen situation, it became clear that some improvements were necessary in order to ensure the kashrus and cleanliness of our kitchens and the food being provided.  These changes are as follows:
  • Hillel Academy's food services are now under the supervision of the Vaad Hakashrut of Pittsburgh.
  • The Hillel Academy kitchen is now exclusively a dairy/milchig kitchen.
  • The renovated Kether Torah kitchen is an exclusively meat/fleishig kitchen.
  • The Hillel Academy cafeteria is not under the VHP supervision, and therefore there have been no changes regarding the kashruth of items and meals brought from home for your child's lunches.
Mr. Brown will be operating the canteen as well.  As a result, all canteen accounts and monies will be handled by him.  I ask that you contact Mr. Brown to make arrangements for funding your child's canteen account.

You can enjoy Mr. Brown's food this Tuesday evening as he features his first Dinner To Go - a weekly take-out dinner special.  Please see the attached flyer by clicking on "Pizza Available Tuesday Night September 7th" in the Around Town Section (blue box) of this email.  
We hope both parents and students will be pleased with our new food services arrangement, and we will continue to look into ways to improve our food services. We want to hear from you if you have any suggestions for improvements.

Please contact Mordechai Brown at (651) 558-1725 or myself with any comments you may have.

Daniel J. Kraut
Chief Executive Officer
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
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