Hillel Happenings
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Hillel Academy
of Pittsburgh

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


January 14, 2011

9 Shevat 5771

Candle Lighting: 4:58 pm

Havdalah: 5:59 pm

Parshat Beshalach
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In This Issue
Food Zone
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Chance for a Glance
Help Hillel by Shopping
Awesome Kippot Available
Middle School Basketball
Scholarship Opportunities
Tu B'Shevat Baskets
Royal Catering
Dvar Torah
10,000 Pesukim
GHS Update
Howdy Neighbor
Sine of the Times
Hillel Pop Culture Grid
Interview with Mrs. Kirk
Hillel Gear Spotted Here

Special Addition


As a follow-up to last week's interview with Rabbi Eisen, several readers requested a continuing probe of Rabbi Eisen's immense knowledge of Jewish history. Thanks to the creativity and generosity of Rabbi Eisen, Reb Shaw, and the Hillel Happenings staff, beginning this week, we will feature a regular section dedicated to Jewish history. This section, titled "Eis on Jewish History," will appear as a regular sidebar in the Hillel Happenings. This feature, like the rest of the Hillel Happenings, should provide you with an enjoyable and informative window into the learnings and excitement we experience daily at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. 


 Adam Reinherz

Director of Community Relations
Dvar Torah

Jacob Wiesenfeld

6th Grader (and reigning Hillel Academy Geography Bee Champion) Jacob Wiesenfeld recently demonstrated his ability to use a Smartboard. Not only is Jacob tech-savvy, he can write a great Dvar Torah. Find out for yourself by reading this week's Dvar Torah. 

Eis on

Jewish History


In the Middle Ages, the Chinese word for Jews was "the people who do not eat the Gid HaNasheh" - the sciatic nerve of an animal. 

(Chinese words are pictograms.)

Teacher Feature

Hut in Snow

Mrs. Kirk spends her weekends hiking, camping, and engaging in outdoor sports. Travelers to Reb Shaw's backyard will discover that he spends three nights a week still sleeping in his sukkah. For more on Hillel Academy's talented staff, please read this week's interview.

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]
Food Zone

January Menu

January Order Form
Mordy Brown Catering

There is a pizza special for Sunday, January 16th, and Wednesday,
January 19th you won't want to miss. Click "pizza" for more details.
Quick Links
Refuah Shleima 

Mrs. Marcia Zlochower

Masha bas Sarah Itka

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

This weekend, Congregation Poale Zedeck and the JCC will be hosting the internationally celebrated Maccabeats. Click "we have amassed over 4 million hits on YouTube" for details regarding the weekend as well as tickets to Saturday evening's concert at the JCC. 

Interested in attending Shira Day Camp this summer?
If so, click "camp" for an application.

Bnei Akiva snif will meet this Shabbat at 3:30 pm at Shaare Torah. This will be the final snif before winter break. Also, the Tu B'Shevat festival has been tentatively rescheduled for this Sunday (1/16) at 3:00 pm at Hillel Academy.

Interested in some Shabbos afternoon fun? Oneg is for all girls in grades Kindergarten through 7th grade from 3:15 to 4:15 pm at PZ. Don't miss out!
 Chance for a Glance

Next week we'll feature something cool to keep your head warm. 
Want to know more? Talk to Reb Shaw or email him at [email protected]
Box Tops Flyer
Click "here" for information regarding Box Tops.

Steelers Gear Might Be Here

Are you a Steelers fan? Do you want to wear a jersey or team apparel to school? Well, if the Men of Steel win on Shabbos then Wednesday of next week (1/19) is a Steelers day. You may wear Steelers gear OVER your uniform. No hats may be worn.

Need Flowers for Shabbat?

The Boys High School can beautify your Shabbat experience by supplying you with gorgeous flowers. Click myrtillocactus for more details.

Who Wants an Awesome Kippah?


Hillel Academy Yarmulke


Have you seen the new Hillel Academy


If you want one talk to Reb Shaw.

Support Middle School Basketball

New hoody sweatshirts available!
Contact Reb Shaw for more information.
Go Heat!
Next middle school game: 1/20/11 against St. Edmund's Academy @ 4:45pm.
Special Scholarships Available 

The Central Scholarship and Loan Referral Service (CSLRS) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has scholarships available.

Click "scholarships" for more details.
Tu B'Shevat Baskets 

Are you ready for some baskets? 

Click "yummy way to support Hillel Academy" for more details.
Royal Catering 

On Tuesday, January 18th, Royal Catering will be offering lots of food at discounted prices. Click "delicious food with a savings" for a menu and 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]

Dvar Torah


Jacob Wiesenfeld - 6th Grade


 וַיְהִי, בְּשַׁלַּח פַּרְעֹה אֶת-הָעָם, וְלֹא-נָחָם אֱלֹהִים דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּים, כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא:  כִּי אָמַר אֱלֹהִים, פֶּן-יִנָּחֵם הָעָם בִּרְאֹתָם מִלְחָמָה--וְשָׁבוּ מִצְרָיְמָה.  


"And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that Hashem led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for Hashem said: 'Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.'" - Shemot 13:17


Following יציאת מצרים (the exodus from Egypt), the shortest route for the Jews to go to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) was through the land of the Plishtim. Yet, Hashem led Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) around the land of the Plishtim on their way to Eretz Yisrael. One possible explanation of "כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא" is that it refers to the land of Israel which was 'near to' Egypt. Although Eretz Yisrael was close geographically to Egypt, Hashem did not want to bring the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael immediately after the exodus from Egypt because He felt that they were still under the influence of the Egyptian culture. Also, Bnei Yisrael were not ready for the experience of true freedom since they had been slaves for so long. Therefore, Hashem took Bnei Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael via the longer route and avoided the land of the Plishtim.


Imrei Shefer explains "כִּי קָרוֹב הוּא" as "Because He is close" instead of "Because it was near." When a stranger gives someone a gift and it is rejected, it may not hurt the stranger's feelings. However, when a father, who is close to his child, gives his child a gift and it is rejected, the father cares deeply and is saddened by the rejection. Since Hashem is our father and He gave us freedom, He did not take us through the land of the Plishtim to go to Eretz Yisrael, because we may have wanted to go back to the land of Egypt out of our fear of the Plishtim.This would have been a rejection of Hashem's gift of freedom.


From these two explanations, we learn that we should spend as much time and effort as we can to distance ourselves from sin so that we may follow in the ways of Hashem.

Ten Thousand Pesukim and Beyond

Rabbi Brodie - [email protected]

This week, the Third Grade completed its 10,000th pasuk. Here's how it happened: There are twelve students in the class. Each time the class learned a pasuk it counted as 12 (because we have twelve students learning it). When the class reviewed the pasuk, it counted as another 12, etc. Completing this many pesukim is quite an accomplishment. This is the first time that any class at Hillel Academy has learned this many pesukim. The third grade class is highly motivated, and has a goal of reaching tens of thousands more pesukim. To celebrate this accomplishment, each student received a certificate; additionally, Rabbi Brodie treated the entire class to a pizza lunch.
Brodie Certificates

Proud students demonstrating their certificates.

Rabbi Yolkut Visits Girls High School

Mrs. Levari - [email protected]

A couple of weeks ago, the Girls High School had the privilege of getting a special sneak peek of Rabbi Yolkut's popular mini-series (given weekly at Poale Zedeck) on the historical and Halachic relationship between Jews and Gentiles. During his discussion at the Girls High School, Rabbi Yolkut focused specifically on the topic of being a Jew in a non-Jewish world during the holiday season. The riveting discussion ultimately ended with Rabbi Yolkut leaving the students with much food for thought. It is our hope to invite Rabbi Yolkut again to address another thought-provoking and heated topic.

R' Yolkut at GHS

"No, there will not be a quiz at the end of my talk."


Welcome to our Neighborhood

Morahs Leah and Devorah - [email protected] and [email protected]

This week, the Nursery classes learned all about the Community Helpers in our neighborhood. Here is a poem that we wrote to describe the experience: 


The Firemen came with their truck big and red

The Dentist reminded us to brush before bed

The Rabbi told us about kissing the Torah

We even learned all about being a Morah

The Nurse took our blood pressure and listened to our heart

The Librarian told us to read to get smart

The Custodian showed us how he uses his tools

The Secretary told us about important school rules

The Architect showed us to draw with a ruler

The Mailman delivers whether it's hotter or cooler

We met with a dry cleaner who owns his own shop

The learning continues, it just doesn't stop!


Nursery in January

"Seriously, don't try this at home."


The Sine of a Good Thing


Mr. Kingman - [email protected]


In the Girls High School Pre-Calculus class, last week, we studied the physical relationships of sine and cosine by creating unit circles based on dry spaghetti noodles. Unit circles are called "unit circles" because their radii are only one unit. For our "unit," we didn't use measurements of "foot," "cm," or "inch," but the length of one spaghetti noodle. When rotated around the circle, this spaghetti radius formed the hypotenuse of many right triangles. We measured the vertical sides of these right triangles with other spaghetti noodles, breaking them to the appropriate length. Transferred onto a separate graph, all of the different lengths of spaghetti formed the wave pattern of a sine function.



"This is an ironic turn from being a paperless school."


Grab Your Gavel...It's YUNMUN Time


Ms. Levine - [email protected]


The Hillel Academy Model United Nations team is getting psyched for the upcoming competition starting on February 1st. Both Hillel Academy teams have spent the past few weeks learning and practicing the confusing rules of parliamentary procedure. The teams have each practiced arguing for the choice of topic order. They have also practiced arguing for their solutions to the issues at hand. Each member is working on creating a working paper and resolution for each topic. All these steps will help our team be well prepared. Okay Hillel, "Bring home the gavels!"

Hillel Pop Culture Grid

Reb Shaw - [email protected]

This week, our students requested that the grid feature some of the Hillel office's finest.  

The office phone is ringing, it's....The ultimate office upgrade would be....Best office snack is...
Mr. Kraut
a wrong number calling for Hillel on Campusmassage chairspeanut chews leftover from a 1995 Hillel Fundraiser
Mrs. Aronson
Executive Administrator
7:30 AM and the caller wants to know if we are having a delay - I think hopefully not since I am already here answering the phoneour own executive bathroomchocolate and maybe some pretzels
Ms. Hartman
Finance Manager
a donor with a large checkbank chute between the main office and downstairs for sending paperwork pretzels
Mrs. Shayowitz
Administrative Assistant
it's a telemarketer calling for Rabbi Sacksa deadbolt on the supply closet

Mrs. Aronson's stash

Ms. Glazer
Administrative Assistant
Mr. Uri Butlermassaging office chairs for everyone!birthday cake
Mr. Davis
Chief Custodian
Heinz Ward asking for an autograph from Mr. Kraut spacepretzels
Mr. Uri Butler
Custodial Assistant
Dr. Shwann a loungepretzels
Rabbi Sacks
Likely not Coach Tomlin asking me to fill in for Polamalu this ShabbasStarbucks kiosk in the lobbyGiant Eagle bakery cookies

Readers, we want to hear from you. Is there a question that you want answered? Email [email protected] 

Interview with Mrs. Kirk


During a recent dismissal, two unnamed parents (both driving minivans) suggested to Reb Shaw that he interview Mrs. Kirk in an upcoming Hillel Happenings. Always one to meet the people's requests, Reb Shaw, while directing cars away from the Hillel Academy entrance, grabbed his walkie talkie and radioed in to Mrs. Kirk, "GK, good buddy, we got a request for an interview, over." Despite his call, there was no reply. Undeterred, Reb Shaw clenched his walkie talkie and said, "Breaker, GK, roger that, there may be a bear with ears aboard this line. Clearance to move to 1-9. Request, over." But again, nothing back. Willing to go to all lengths for a great interview, Reb Shaw pressed down on the call button of his walkie talkie and said, "There's a Tijuana taxi and a polar bear at 4 o'clock. Let's try to avoid an Evel Knieval and bring this puppy in." Seeing that Reb Shaw was completely serious, Mrs. Kirk (who throughout this entire ordeal was standing four-and-a-half feet from Reb Shaw) picked up her walkie talkie and agreed to conduct this week's interview over the Hillel Academy wires. For the benefit of our readers, excerpts of this conversation are provided below (without the walkie talkie lingo):    


Reb Shaw: Hey Mrs. Kirk, how long have you been at Hillel Academy?


Mrs. Kirk: This will be my third year at Hillel Academy.


Reb Shaw: Great. What were you doing before coming to Hillel Academy?


Mrs. Kirk: I was teaching at Pittsburgh Public, and decided I needed a break so I ventured into owning my own children's business, and realized after two years how much I missed teaching.


Reb Shaw: Last year you were a full time teacher. This year you teach at Hillel and Yeshiva. When I taught in two separate schools during the day, I found it a bit stressful. What's your take?


Mrs. Kirk: It's like running a marathon!


Reb Shaw: Speaking of both Hillel and Yeshiva, plans are underway for a middle school basketball game between the schools. What would be an ideal halftime show?


Mrs. Kirk: There is halftime in basketball?


Reb Shaw: Mrs. Kirk, you're a noted equestrian whose love of horses is well documented. 13th Century Norse mythology describes an eight legged horse called "Sleipnir." If Sleipnir and Pegasus competed in next year's Kentucky Derby, who would have a better shot of winning?


Mrs. Kirk: Wow! I think it would be neck and neck until the final lap, but wings would trump eight legs any day, so I pick Pegasus for the win.  


Reb Shaw: Squirrel Hill Trivia (because our readers love this stuff): When was the notorious Squirrel Hill tunnel completed? 


Mrs. Kirk: There is a tunnel? Is it anything like the north shore connector tunnel I hear so much about?


Reb Shaw: Other than updating Google Docs and reading old copies of the Hillel Happenings, any plans for winter break?


Mrs. Kirk: I am taking the mega bus to 3 cities in 6 days on a Benjamin Franklin quest: NYC, Philly, and DC. I know there is really not much to do with Benjamin Franklin in NY, but there is ice skating in Rockefeller Center, and I figured...why not. 


Reb Shaw: You're a past participant in the Semester at Sea program. I'd like to participate, but I have motion sickness. Any suggestions?


Mrs. Kirk: A lot of Dramamine, and stay on the upper deck.


Reb Shaw: Do you want to buy a Hillel Academy sweatshirt?


Mrs. Kirk: I love a good hoodie, so yes I would purchase a Hillel sweatshirt and hope to get my picture in the Hillel Gear Spotted Here section of the Hillel Happenings.


Reb Shaw: This Shabbos, the Maccabeats will be appearing in Congregation Poale Zedeck and later at the JCC. How awesome would it be if fellow YouTube sensation Ted Williams (Homeless Man with Golden Voice) introduced them?


Mrs. Kirk: That would be so awesome! Maybe when he is done we could get him to come to Hillel and get him on the walkie talkies at dismissal.


Kirk hiking

Mrs. Kirk is seen hiking Hillel Academy's newly renovated gorgeous grass play field. 


Hillel Gear Spotted Here


Last week, proud Isadore Joshowitz Early Childhood Center student Nate Itskowitz (left) was seen across the border, wearing his official Hillel Academy t-shirt, while visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada. Way to go Nate!


Nate Itskowitz at Hockey Hall of Fame

Now that's a t-shirt, eh.

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.
Camp Shira Flyer
Tu BShvat
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