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

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


November 26, 2010

19 Kislev 5771

Candle Lighting: 4:38 pm

Havdalah: 5:38 pm

Parshat Vayeishev
Community Outreach Program


Parents and adults are invited to a community outreach program titled, "Understanding the Challenges Teens Face in Today's Society."
This program will take place Tuesday, November 30th, at 8:00 pm at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.
Thank you to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh and Yeshiva Day Schools for sponsoring this program.

Shh...it's a Silent Auction


Do you want Steelers tickets? Well so do we. You can support Hillel Academy by donating tickets to sporting events, gift cards, and/or NEW ITEMS to the silent auction. For more information, please call the office at 412-521-8131.
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In This Issue
Food Zone
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Chance for a Glance
Help Hillel by Shopping
Volunteers Needed
Hockey Clinic
Mordy Brown Catering
Go to Israel with Hillel
Dvar Torah
New Playground
Hillel States its Mission
Hillel Culture Grid
Library Wish List
Hillel Gear Spotted Here
Interview with Mrs. Harris
Dvar Torah

Yehuda Russell

Yehuda Russell wants you to know about pits, scorpions, and fissures. Curious to learn more? Read this week's Dvar Torah.
Support the Senior Girls

Need a quick batch of cookies? Support the Senior Girls by purchasing cookie dough.

Click "yum" to find out more details.
Interested in Writing for the Jewish Chronicle?

Please speak to Mrs. Levari for more details.

[email protected]
Going Away for Thanksgiving?

Don't forget to bring your Hillel gear. Send your pictures to [email protected] .org
Save the Date

Please note that the annual Hillel trip to the Schenley ice skating rink will take place December 2nd. More details to follow.
Quick Links
Food Zone

November Lunch Menu

November Lunch Order Form

Getting to Know Mrs. Harris


Reb Shaw once outran a dog in a citywide competition. Mrs. Harris owns a dog. To find out other incredible similarities between two of Hillel Academy's finest employees read this week's interview.

Mazel Tov

Rabbi and Mrs. Shimon and Chani Silver on the upcoming marriage of their daughter.

Leeba Silver on her upcoming marriage.

Would you like to share something with the Hillel Academy family? If so, please email us at [email protected]
Did You Know

Mrs. Shusterman's grandfather was Hillel Academy's Principal  for one year during the mid 1970s. 
Around Town

The Kollel is offering a women's learning class titled, "Decoding Rashi," on Tuesday nights from 8:10-9:00.
Click "learning" for more details.

Bnei Akiva snif this week is from 3:30-4:30 pm at Shaare Torah.

On Thanksgiving Morning (10:00 am) at the Kollel, Chaplain Nosson Sachs will be delivering a talk titled, "Shabbat in Saddam's Palace." Click here for more details.

Chance for a Glance

Here's a peek at next week's Hillel Happenings:

Feast and Famine: Sobering details from the Girls High School's Hunger Banquet. 

At the end of the week there will be no better read than this  Dvar Torah.

Volunteers Needed

Hillel Academy is looking for volunteers for Pre-School vision screening. Training only takes a few hours and is free. If you are interested, please contact Rina Itskowitz by phone at (412) 422-1179 or by email at [email protected].
Interested in Playing Some Hockey, Eh?

Mr. Steve Berman and Dr. Harold Wiesenfeld will be offering a hockey clinic for boys and girls ages 6-12.

Sessions begin November 28th.

Please click "zamboni" for more details. 
Mordy Brown Catering

Every Thursday night, Mordy Brown Catering will be selling pizza for $16.00 a pie.
$1.00 of each sale will be donated to Hillel Academy.
Help support our school!

Click here for a menu and more details.

Hillel Academy
of Pittsburgh
Administration and Staff

Mr. Daniel J. Kraut
Chief Executive Officer
[email protected]

Rabbi Avrumi Sacks
Principal and Education Director
[email protected]

Mrs. Elky Langer
Assistant Principal GHS
[email protected]

Rabbi Sam Weinberg
Assistant Principal BHS
[email protected]

Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky
Judaic Studies Coordinator Elementary/Middle School

[email protected]


Mrs. Deborah Oz-Halbritter
General Studies Coordinator Elementary/Middle School
[email protected]

Mrs. Yikara Levari
Administrator and Student Activities Coordinator [email protected]

Mrs. Phyllis Harris
Director of Support Services [email protected]

Mrs. Selma Aronson
Executive Administrator
[email protected]

Ms. Hadar Glazer
Administrative Assistant
[email protected]

Mrs. Adina Shayowitz
Administrative Assistant
[email protected]

Ms. Sarah Hartman
Finance Manager
[email protected]

Mr. Adam Reinherz
Director of Community Relations
[email protected]

Want to go to Israel?  
Raffle tickets are now available for the upcoming Hillel Academy Awards Night Dinner. Prizes include four round trip tickets to Israel or $4,000 cash, a 37" flat screen television, or $500 in Giant Eagle gift certificates. Purchase tickets online at www.hillelpgh.org or by clicking
Tickets may also be purchased by calling the office at (412) 521-8131.
Dvar Torah

Yehuda Russell - Fifth Grade

In this week's Parsha, it says that Yaakov liked Yosef the most "Because he was a child of his old age."

We learn in the parsha that one night Yosef had a dream and in the morning he told his brothers what it was. Later, he had another dream and again he told his brothers what it was. Needless to say, they became very jealous. One day he was looking for his brothers and was unable to find them. Yosef asked a stranger as to the whereabouts of his brothers. The stranger informed Yosef of their location. As Yosef approached the shvatim they agreed to kill him and throw him in one of the pits, which instead of having water in it was filled with snakes and scorpions. The brothers did not want to lie to their father and therefore planned on telling him that a wild beast ate him.
However, Reuven said they should not harm him and instead threw him in the pit and said he was eaten by a wild animal.

Why does the Torah mention that the pit did not have water, but did have snakes and scorpions? The Torah is teaching us that it is compared to water. When a person doesn't have Torah, all that is left in his mind are the snakes and scorpions, meaning bad middos. In Hillel, we are taught to aviod snakes and scorpions and help others avoid them as well. We are taught to only let the water in.

Have a wonderful shabbos!
New Playground is Welcomed by All

Mr. Reinherz - [email protected]

Last week, the final touches of the new Hilllel Academy of Pittsburgh playground were completed. Benefiting students as a means for recreation and improving upper body strength, the new playground has been eagerly embraced by members of Hillel Academy. Students have been seen enjoying the playground during recess, lunch, and before and after school. Seventh Grader Laivi Felder described the merits of the new playground by stating, "I think it is good because it helps you stretch out and air out." Second Grader Shira Wiesenfeld exclaimed, "I really like it. It's really cool." Beyond the students, the Hillel Academy staff has been spotted enjoying the new playground. During a recent recess, to the marvel of students and staff, Principal and Education Director Rabbi Avrumi Sacks was observed climbing through the tunnel and barreling down the slide. Whether Rabbi Sacks will move administrative meetings out to the playground is presently unknown; however, with winter on the horizon and snowfall certain to come, everyone at Hillel Academy is relishing these last warm days of playground fun. A special thank you to Rachee and Hershel Sacks, the Snow Foundation, and the Robinson Family Foundation for generously enabling the construction of the new Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh playground.
Rabbi Sacks on Playground
Youthful souls enjoying the new playground.

Mission Accomplished

Last week, members of the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Board of Directors adopted the school's new mission statement. This adoption followed a year long strategic planning process. Dr. George Szymanski, Associate with Cambridge Strategic Services, led the process and said, "The strategic planning process worked extremely well at Hillel Academy. The Beliefs and Mission Statement are very strong and describe a school built on strong values and a deep commitment to learning. The process worked so well because about 80% of the families at Hillel participated in the process in some way as members of the strategic planning team, action team leaders or members of action teams. A large number of people volunteered a lot of their time to make Hillel Academy a better place for our children. They recommended great ideas for improving the school. In doing so, I believe the community will be stronger because people came together, shared many diverse perspectives, and built agreement. I am extremely proud of all the participants who came forward in this process and especially the Board of Directors and Administrators who were willing to allow such involvement of the faculty and community in planning. Hillel Academy is a wonderful school and will continue to improve remarkably in the next few years because of all the input."

In addition to the new mission statement appearing below, the Amended and Restated Bylaws as well as the approved Strategic Plan are available by clicking BYLAWS or STRATEGIC PLAN.

Mission Statement:

The mission of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, an Orthodox Jewish Day School, is to graduate young men and women with unlimited capacity to compete in a superior manner in any challenge they undertake, who are G-d fearing, Torah observant models of exemplary character, who love G-d, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel and possess a love of learning, confidence and the ability to think critically and serve as active members and leaders of the Jewish community and of society.

We will accomplish this by guaranteeing

        dedicated, highly effective teachers and administrators,

        a rigorous Torah and college preparatory curriculum, and co/extra-curricular programming,

        an understanding of the significance of the State of Israel, and

        a personalized, respectful learning environment.

We will reveal the vast potential and greatness of Hillel graduates such that all who interact with them will say, "Blessed is their G-d; fortunate are their parents and teachers."

The Hillel Culture Grid

Reb Shaw - [email protected]

I can't tell you how many readers have been saying, "Hey Reb Shaw, we love the teacher interview. It's been awesome learning so much about the Hillel staff. Is there any way that we could find out more about the students?" So, you asked for it and we delivered. Below, please find a new addition to the Hillel Happenings. In an effort to inform you how the students feel about popular issues surrounding the school and community, we present The Hillel Culture Grid.

Students in the mix
Name I'd give my racehorse...
Next school physical plant improvement should be...
Rabbi Sacks should...
Josh Hertzberg
CookieHigher rock climbing wallHave an official no uniform day
Efraim Marizon
RacerA poolGet a pool
Shira Itskowitz
SpeedNew platform for the basketball outdoor courtHave one day of no uniform
Shayna Stiebel
Funny BoneRacquetball Court Give an oneg for the GHS
Moshe Wasserman
Thunder SmartBoards in every roomMake recess 30 minutes

The Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Library wish list is now available online. You may access it by clicking "book."

Bonnie Morris
Hillel Gear Spotted Here

Last week, Hillel gear took flight as Twelfth Graders Talia Landerman (left) and Leah Fuhrman (right) were spotted wearing their Hillel Academy uniforms at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. In Baltimore for the the 2010 Beis Yaakov Convention, Talia and Leah reminded everyone that Hillel nation spans the skies. Way to go!

Talia and Leah     
Hey Hillel Happenings readers, we all know that Hillel nation extends well beyond Squirrel Hill. So here's our chance to prove it. Send a picture of yourself in Hillel gear (uniform, t-shirt, etc.) to [email protected], and each week we'll select the best picture for inclusion in the Hillel Happenings.
Interview with Mrs. Harris

Reb Shaw wears many hats. He teaches Judaic Studies to Elementary and Middle School students. He's the Hillel Academy Middle School Athl
etic Director. He's also sixth cousins twice removed from Boris Valentinovich Volynov (the first Jewish cosmonaut). So when readers suggested an interview with Mrs. Phyllis Harris, Reb Shaw eagerly prepared for a conversation with a colleague whose diverse responsibilities rival those of any at Hillel Academy. For the benefit of our readers, excerpts of this conversation have been reproduced below:

Reb Shaw
: Hey Mrs. Harris, thanks so much for meeting with me today. So I know that you have been at the school now for three years, but many of our readers want to know where did you go to school?

Mrs. Harris: I graduated from Pitt with a Bachelor's of Science degree. This marked the beginning of my dedication to the Pitt Panthers! I got a Masters of Education degree from Penn State. This marked a re-dedication to the Pitt Panthers!  My Masters in Special Education is from Duquesne University. No team-conflict-of-loyalty there!

Reb Shaw: You do so much good for our school, and are the driving force behind so much of the day to day operations. Where does your inspiration come from?

Mrs. Harris
My energy level - which can be unnaturally low when cooking and cleaning are concerned - has been fueled by the faculty at Hillel. Working with colleagues who have no agenda item more important than "What can we do to better meet the needs of our students?" has been a privilege. The willingness, dedication, and enthusiasm of teachers inspire me to seek "worthiness!" Also, administrators always work hard and offer some comic relief at the same time!

Reb Shaw: Many people do not realize that you are the head of the Isadore Joshowitz Early Childhood Center; what is the biggest achievement that the preschool has accomplished under your leadership?

Mrs. Harris: We have integrated the preschool staff into the fabric of this school. They are included, consulted, and respected as professionals. The Nursery and Pre-K classes have literacy, reading and math curricula which meet Pennsylvania Learning Standards for Early Childhood. We are currently planning to pilot an Integrated Curriculum for Early Childhood Education. The new Kindergarten room was designed to promote a flow of instruction from center to center, with opportunities for a multi-sensory approach to learning. The art studio has been equipped with choices of supplies to be easily accessed by students as they are encouraged to experiment with textures, colors and materials. Our teachers keep ongoing anecdotal records of the children. These observations become the basis for assessments, enrichment, and parent communication. We have added new classrooms, new staff, and, most importantly, new families!

Reb Shaw: Your GPS records 35 trips to Michigan in the last 6 weeks. If I wanted to drive from here to The Big House, what's the best route to take?  

Mrs. Harris
Michigan...ask a "Michiganer" where he/she is from and the response will be "Michigan" - no town, no city, no neighborhood, just "Michigan." What is that about? We proudly say "The Burgh!"  Why can't they just own up and say "Detroit?" Oh, wait...I guess I know why. Anyway, Birmingham, Michigan is where our daughter (University of Michigan), her husband (Michigan State), and their two sons live. Ozzy is three and Lucas is three months old. Best route...drive to Toledo and make a right!

Reb Shaw: Squirrel Hill Trivia (because our readers love this stuff): What prompted the Zone 4 Police Station to undergo a renovation several years ago?

Mrs. Harris: The stores by the police station - Ruggiero's and Contemporary Concepts - threatened to move unless the station was "gentrified." Once the station started registering brides and selling pizza, it had to clean up its act.

Reb Shaw: What does a student have to do to get some face-time with you?

Mrs. Harris
I see most of our students without them ever seeing me! In the lunchroom, in the halls, at onegs, during recess, in the library! I'm telling you...they are everywhere!

Reb Shaw: What do you think of the Pirates new manager Clint Hurdle?

Mrs. Harris: Are you kidding me? I am the person who watched the Pirates win game seven of the 1960 World Series! I am the person who kept scrapbooks of articles, pictures and records of Roberto Clemente! Don't even talk to me about the fall of the organization - I was there for the rise of it. I was twelve - do the math!

Reb Shaw: Who would you rather accompany to Latin America: Dora the Explorer or Carmen Sandiego?

Mrs. Harris: My fans tell me that, now that I have completely dated myself with the Pirates question, Carmen Sandiego is the cooler choice. I don't know why.

Reb Shaw: I'm a big Ryan Gosling fan and you know that I've been trying to check The Notebook out of the library, when will you return it? 

Mrs. Harris: Does the library check movies out? I had no idea!   

Reb Shaw: I was walking with Mr. Reinherz on Saturday night on Forbes and could have sworn you drove by in a Squirrel Hill citizens patrol car. What would you have done if we were being too loud?

Mrs. Harris: First of all, a Volvo would never be a "citizen's patrol car." Also, it depends on whether it was before or after sunset. If you were being too loud, I would have let my threateningly vicious dog out of the trunk to chase you down the street into Point Breeze. Actually, our dog, Moe, is a thirteen year old golden retriever with really bad arthritis. Run Spot Run!

Reb Shaw: If I was spending Thanksgiving with your family this year, what could I expect? 

Mrs. Harris: My house this year promises to be very, very special. We are hoping to sit down around the dining room table, share what we are thankful for, listen to classical music, eat perfectly cooked turkey, and wear new/clean clothes. On the other hand...maybe we will be watching a football game on TV, sitting at aluminum tray tables, eating turkey and instant mashed potatoes served on paper plates. The reality will be...somewhere in between the two!

Reb Shaw: Being a special educator, maybe you can help me out with something. Every Thanksgiving Day, John Madden gives out a six-legged turkey to the Most Valuable Player(s) from that day's game. How does this make sense?

Mrs. Harris: A six-legged turkey is an anomaly. In my role as support services coordinator, I would want to test it, observe it, and meet its parents.
Mrs. Harris was recently seen completing paperwork in the basement of Hillel Academy.

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