Hillel Happenings 
Brought to you by Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh  
Mazel Tov to all of our Graduates!  
Outside of Hillel

Hillel Academy

of Pittsburgh


5685 Beacon Street

Pittsburgh, PA


P: (412) 521-8131

F: (412) 521-5150




June 17, 2011


15 Sivan 5771


Candle Lighting: 8:34 pm


Havdalah: 9:34 pm


 Parshat Shelach

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In This Issue
Chizuk Corner
Syntactical Superheroes
Food and Non-Alcoholic Wine Critic
Teacher Feature
Did You Know
Food Zone
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Mordy Brown Catering
Dvar Torah
Hillel Herald
Origami and Fourth Grade
The Hillel Minute
More Torah
Library Update
Interview with Mr. Kraut
Reflections on the Pirates Game
Hillel Grid
Hillel Gear Spotted Here

Eis on

Jewish History


According to secular historians, the First Bais HaMikdash was destroyed in 586 BCE. Rabbinic tradition puts the destruction at 421 BCE. Entire volumes have been written addressing the 165-year discrepancy.


Want more Jewish History?

 Email Rabbi Eisen at 

Chizuk Corner


Through the Hillel Happenings, we try to provide our readers with a sense of the exciting, engaging, and meaningful work that happens at Hillel Academy. Chizuk, which is Hebrew for strength, is vital to Hillel Academy. This section, thanks to the weekly insights of Rabbi Brodie, is intended to give our readers a little extra strength. Click here to send us your feedback.   


Rashi, in Chumash Devarim, Chapter 11 Pasuk 13.
quotes Megillas Chasidim, which says, "If you abandon Me for a day, for two days I will abandon you."  

Imagine two people back to back, they each walk forward one step, and they are two steps away from each other.  Each day away from learning Torah, is two days apart. Practically speaking, we have to assure that our children have Torah study sessions during the long summer break. Have a pleasant vacation.  


Want more chizuk? Email Rabbi Brodie at [email protected]

Syntactical Superheroes

The great minds behind Hillel Academy's exemplary English Department would like you to know:


commas and coordinating conjunctions


Apropos of our tip a few weeks ago, students often get confused about comma usage. One time that a comma is definitely needed is when two independent clauses (complete sentences or thoughts) are connected by a coordinating conjunction. An easy way to remember the coordinating conjunctions is through the use of the acronym FANBOYS:

F ... For
A ... And
N ... Nor
B ... But
O ... Or
Y ... Yet
S ... So.

If you use a comma to connect two independent clauses, then these are the only conjunctions that may be used with it.

For example:

Beatrice's hair started smoking in the middle of dinner, and it later burst into flames.

My hamster loved to play, so I gave him a hula-hoop. 


For more on good grammar, please email [email protected] or [email protected]

Es Gezunterheyt!

Boaz Bachrach


As a special addition to the Hillel Happenings, we are pleased to feature the discriminating palate of fifth grader Boaz Bachrach:


With summer approaching, I was asked to to write about barbeque's. Truthfully, I have been to lots of barbecues at the Bachrach casa in Chicago, Far Rockaway, Atlanta, and of course in Boston (actually it was in Brooklyn, but Boston is down the street). However, I've also had barbecues 

in school and around town, like with Reb Shaw, the NCSY Garden Sizzler, the Kollel BBQ, and of course the PZ youth versus gramps softball & BBQ. Yet, none of these are as good as my favorite, which is every Wednesday night at Mogen Av. We built a giant bonfire there and roasted foods. Have a GRRRRREAT summer vacation, and if you are making a barbecue, let me know.

Teacher Feature



There's so much green going on at Hillel Academy. Everyone is recycling. Everyone is eating organic. Everyone is conserving energy. Inspired by the school's desire to "go green," Reb Shaw and Mr. Kraut agreed to forgo their use of cars last Sunday. Fifteen minutes into their emissions-free day, both remembered that they were supposed to play in a competitive softball game miles from their houses. Recognizing the devastation of their potential carbon footprints, Reb Shaw and Mr. Kraut saddled up two mules and a wagon to make the journey. After repairing a broken axle, battling snake bite, and avoiding dysentery, typhoid, and exhaustion, Reb Shaw and Mr. Kraut arrived. For more on the fascinating lives of Hillel Academy's faculty and staff, please read this week's interview.     

Hillel Academy in the News


Hillel Students in the Library  

Recently, Hillel Academy 10th Grader, Sara Nimchinsky, authored an article about students and technology in The Jewish Chronicle. Click "Hillel Academy students are the best" to see the article. 

Did You Know?   


Friday is the last day of school for K-12 (really, who didn't know that).

New Line of Hillel Gear Available
Shira Day Camp


Yay! An extra week of day camp! Shira Day Camp is adding the week of June 27th - July 1st, making 7 weeks of awesomeness!!
There's only a few days left to vote on a t-shirt color on the SDC blog:


What was your favorite part of Shira Day Camp 2010?

Rachel Luzer - Color War!

Rachel Cohen - Balloon day!

Elisheva Unger - Color War!

Chana Kaminsky - Reily's Summer Seat Farm!

Nechama Rodkin - Kennywood!

Elisheva Rosenberg - Swimming!

More Reminders  


U turns in front of the building are a No No and potentially very dangerous. 

 Click here to read the entire   Hillel Happenings 

Help Hillel  


Please donate new items to Hillel Academy's Silent Auction. It is never too early to donate, and now is a great time to get it out of your house.  Please bring your tax deductible donations to Hillel Academy. 

Don't have the time, or need an item picked up in the Pittsburgh area?  Please contact Aviva Kelsey at 412-421-5589.  Thank you in advance for your support!
Food Zone

June Menu

June Order Form
Quick Links
Mazel Tov

Rabbi Shimon Baruch and Mrs. Miriam Weiss on the engagement of their son Yossie 


Mr. Ari and Mrs. Danit Kanal on the birth of a daughter


Dr. Manny and Mrs. Judi Kanal on the birth of a granddaughter


Mr. Amir and Mrs. Sylvia Pilch on the birth of a granddaughter


Rabbi Yonah and Mrs. Dena Greenberger on the birth of a baby boy


Rabbi Yosel and Mrs. Devorah Chana Silver on the birth of a son


Rabbi Shimon and Mrs. Chani Silver on the birth of a grandson


The fourth grade girls on completing the Lamed Tet Melachot. The girls have been applying their learning by helping younger siblings and other younger children keep Shabbat properly. They are having a siyyum to celebrate this great learning achievement

Former Hillel Academy student Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks on their recent dismantling of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals 

Viti Felder, Sari Joshowitz, and Tamar Skaist on their recent induction into the Hillel Academy Chapter of the National Honor Society

Ilana Kisilinsky, Sara Nimchinsky, and Viti Felder on their recent election to serve in the 2011-2012 session of the Girls High School Student Council

Mr. Mischa and Mrs. Gelman on the birth of a son

Refuah Shleima

Mrs. Jackie Stein - Yetta Dina bas Rivka

Fayth Aronson - Faygie Devorah bas Shulamit

 Would you like to share something with the Hillel Academy family? 

If so, please email us at 

Around Town  

Final Bnei Akiva snif of the year: Shabbat Shelach, 6/18, 4:30-5:30 @ Shaare Torah. Extra special snack as we wrap up!
Thank you all for a great year!
-Ben, Rachel, Shira, Ela & Achinoam

Hillel Academy 6th Grader, Michael Sohnen is starting a club where he teaches Chinese and then takes your child to pizza for free. Max is 3 dollars cost without tax.  One extra dollar can be brought, but no more.  The club will meet at the Sohnen house from 6:45 pm to 7:30 pm and then go to pizza until 7:45. Afterward, the club will return to the Sohnen house at 8:15 pm for pickup. If your child cannot walk home then you must pick him/her up before 8:15, or you will be charged $1.50.  There are only eight spots available. The club will meet on Sundays June 19, June 26, July 3, July 10, July 17 and July 24. The club is open for students in grades 4-8. 

Women and girls are invited to join Israeli dancing at Hillel Academy. The costs are $3 for adults and $1 student. Beginners are welcome. Classes do not meet every week - please email pittsburgh.israeli.dance
for more information.


Girls Oneg at PZ

Come join us for an hour of Shabbos afternoon fun! Oneg is for girls in Kindergarten through 8th grade at PZ from 3:15 pm to 4:15 pm. Can't wait to see you there!


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

Check out Shira Day Camp's awesome blog

Who Wants an Awesome Kippah?


Hillel Academy Yarmulke


Have you seen the new Hillel Academy


If you want one click "I want an awesome kippah" or 

email Reb Shaw at [email protected].

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]  

 If you are reading this in Gmail then you may not be receiving the entire Hillel Happenings. Click here to read the entire   Hillel Happenings. 

Dvar Torah


Adir Shimon - 12th Grade, BHS


V'Avdi Kalev Eikev Hayisa Ruach Acheres Imo Vayimalei Acharai... 


(My servant Kalev, because he possessed in him a different spirit, and followed Me fully...) 

Shlach, 14:24


Hashem says that Kalev will be rewarded. What about Yehoushua? The Shalal Rov brings from Rav Yehuda Kahana the gemara (Brachos 34b) that says, B'Makom SheBaalei Tshuva Omdim Afilu Tzaddikim Gemurim Ein Omdim Sham (Baalei Tshuva - those who return in repentance - ascend to high levels that even Tzaddikim - righteous people - cannot reach).


Moshe davened for Yehoshua, and therefore Yehoshua was a tzaddik from the beginning of the mission until the end, without wavering for a second. Kalev felt pangs within him drawing him towards the mistakes of the rest of the meraglim (spies). He fought off these temptations relentlessly and broke away to shed tears on his own behalf before the Avos HaKedoshim in Chevron. He struggled against his yetzer (inclination) and emerged victorious. He was a true Baal Tshuva, and for this earned a special place that Yehoshua could not reach.


In Hillel Academy, I have accomplished many goals, and grown into my character. I appreciate all the opportunities and experiences Hillel Academy has given to me, from Basketball to Student Government, all the Gemara skills I learned, and even Rabbi Weinberg's Chumash class. You can say I had it all.


One of the most important things that I learned from Hillel Academy, like this week's parsha, is that a lot of times we feel pressure from our friends to act a certain way, and we know deep down that it's not the right thing to do. Nonetheless, don't do something just because everyone else is, even if you're the only one taking a stand. When we daven (pray) in the morning, we need to ask Hashem to help us with our daily struggles and to do the right thing, even if we're the only ones doing it.

Check out the final issue of the award winning Hillel Herald by clicking here. A special thank you to Hillel Academy 12th Grader, and editor-in-chief, Benjamin Kohane for his years of service to the Hillel Academy community. 

Fold Forth Fourth Grade

A hearty thank-you to Emmy Silk and Ronna Blumenfeld, members of the Pittsburgh Origami Club, for instructing the fourth graders in the ancient art of origami, which is Japanese paper folding. The students read Grandfather's Journey, set in Japan. This activity was an excellent tie-in to the curriculum. Ms. Silk and Ms. Blumenfeld gave the students background information on the history of origami that fascinated the students! Did you know that paper was actually invented in China, or that origami is actually two words: ori (to fold) and gami (paper)? Students were taught the basics of origami including the proper folding method: MATCH, HOLD AND FOLD.  We also learned that the magic of origami is turning a 2-dimensional piece of paper into a 3-dimensional object which is useful, playful, or decorative. The students also learned that the ever-popular fortune tellers they've been making recently were used in ancient Japan as spice savers which held salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon. The class made the spice saver that they were then able to convert into a picture frame. They also made a pocket box, kite, and swan. Finally, they made a mini-book with  basic origami folds/instructions. Everyone really enjoyed this exciting experience and would love to share what they have learned! Ask any fourth grader to show you an ancient Chinese magic trick they learned that changes a triangle into a diamond-abra cadabra-presto!!
Rachel Luzer

We finally found something that Google Docs can't do, origami.

Thank You

My sincerest thanks to the administration, faculty and students for the honor given to me at the annual dinner. It brought back many shining and fond memories.


Wishing all of you a happy and healthy summer, 


Gert Brog

The Hillel Minute

With each section of the Hillel Happenings, we try to convey the excitement and energy that fills the classrooms and hallways of Hillel Academy. While we all know that Hillel Academy is the greatest school in the world, there are certain aspects of Hillel Academy that are largely unknown. In this section, titled "The Hillel Minute," we present a minute long video dedicated to a particular aspect of Hillel Academy. The objective of "The Hillel Minute" is to provide our readers/viewers an opportunity to enjoyably learn more about one component of Hillel Academy. If you would like to see something featured in an upcoming "Hillel Minute," please email [email protected] 

Hillel Minute (Dismissal).wmv

Click above to learn more about Dismissal 

at Hillel Academy.

Watch them here or visit us online at  www.hillelpgh.org



Please remember that if your normal dismissal arrangements change, please notify the office by noon of that day, by phone or email.

Another Dvar Torah

Michael Sohnen - 6th Grade

Shavuos has recently passed, but we still have that freshness, and that feeling of Torah renewal. However, there is another holiday I must highlight, and that is Simchas Torah. On Shavuos, we stay up all night and learn Torah, celebrating the giving of the Torah. On Simchas Torah we rejoice and celebrate finishing  the Torah.  

Since both holidays so strongly relate to the Torah, why do we not celebrate them closer together? The Dubno Maggid provides us with an awe-inspiring answer, and tells a parable. "There once was a king, and he wanted a husband for his daughter. The king wanted to make sure that the husband was a wise and thoughtful person, so he made a test that goes as follows. 'Only the man that will marry her without meeting or seeing her is worthy.' All the men took this statement to imply that the princess was flawed in some way, except for one man. He said that the princess must be beautiful and wise because she is the daughter of such a great king. So, the man told the king that he was willing to marry the princess, without even meeting her. They got married and she turned out to be not only exceedingly beautiful, but extremely smart as well.  

L'havdil (This term shows that the comparison will be more holy than the parable's), the king of that story is Hashem, The princess is the Torah, and the man was the Children of Israel. All the people of the city were afraid to marry the princess because they thought it would make their lives worse. When Hashem asked every non-Jewish nation if it wanted to accept the Torah, each one refused because it thought that the Torah would make life less pleasurable. But, the Children of Israel said, "Naaseh Vinishma" (we will do, and we will listen), and accepted the Torah without a word of argument.

The same can be said about keeping any mitzvah. A person begins by considering the possible drawbacks, but still goes on to do the mitzvah anyway. Then, after doing the mitzvah, he realizes that he didn't lose out on anything, but actually gained from it physically and spiritually.

Shavuos celebrates the fact that we accept the Torah, without suspecting any drawbacks or consequences. On Simchas Torah, we celebrate completing the reading of the Torah, and beginning it anew.   

Aish.com was consulted for use in this dvar torah.

Michael Sohnen

Hillel Academy teaches its students Torah, and the students are always happy. 

Thank you to this year's Girls High School Student Council for all of their hard work!


Sarah Baila Gordon

Maayan Shimon

Rachel Wiesenfeld

Library, Scholars, and Scholastic Books 


Ms. Morris - [email protected]


In Library class, the second grade has begun to do research using Scholastic Science Discovery Books. Rivky Grossberg and Mendel Morgan discovered the following information about the book Cats: The Manx is the only cat without a tail. There are many breeds and each breed is special. When the kittens are tiny, their mother carries them gently in her mouth. Noah Luzer investigated Under the Ground. He found out that some animals build cities underground and that there are bugs and other animals underground. The students found the work fun and fascinating. Hopefully, their love of research will last them throughout their school experience!


Library Art 

 Library Cat Picture


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Interview with Mr. Kraut


For months, our readers have requested an interview with Mr. Kraut. Finally, with but hours remaining in Hillel Academy's 2010-2011 school year, we tracked down the CEO of America's greatest Jewish Day School. Squeezing us in between high powered meetings with tycoons, moguls, and global executives, Mr. Kraut waxed poetic on his fondness for Hillel Academy and its rise to national prominence. "It's a simple story of noses and grindstones," said Mr. Kraut. Requesting further clarification, Reb Shaw pressed on with a barrage of questions. Evasive, yet articulate; mysterious, yet edifying; Mr. Kraut was well worth the journalistic pursuit. Proving to be more Buffet than Gatsby, Mr. Kraut left an indelible mark on Reb Shaw. At the conclusion of the meeting, as they rose from their seats, both engaged in a firm and vigorous handshake, locking stares, without blinking, and understanding that neither was sure what exactly had been discussed for the previous twenty-two minutes. For the benefit of our readers, excerpts of this conversation have been reproduced below:


Reb Shaw: How long have you been working at Hillel Academy? 


Mr. Kraut: 3 incredible years.


Reb Shaw: What does your average work day look like? 


Mr. Kraut: I enjoy davening in the Pfeffer Beis Medrash, then I eat a wonderful breakfast served by Mordy Brown in the Rose & Max Engelberg Auditorium, I then visit with our terrific students in the incredible Winnerman Kindergarten Room, and the Tova and Joel Weinberg and Family Science Room, and spend the remainder of my day fundraising, budgeting, recruiting, and meeting with community members in the Lee & Liora Weinberg and Family Administrative Offices.


Reb Shaw: With the addition of the school-wide digital thermostat in your office, you can regulate the climate of the entire school. So I guess with great power comes great responsibility? 


Mr. Kraut: Actually, it only controls the gym, science lab and 2 pre-school rooms, but my goal is to expand it to the classrooms which my children use.


Reb Shaw: Squirrel Hill Trivia (because our readers love this stuff): Other than Rite-Aid patrons, who else is permitted to park in the southwest lot on Forbes and Murray?  


Mr. Kraut: Rite-Aid employees, and the owner of some sort of huge crane device.


Reb Shaw: If you could take the entire faculty and staff on a summer vacation, where would you bring them? 


Mr. Kraut: Israel, of course.


Reb Shaw: When will we see a SMARTboard installed in your office? 


Mr. Kraut: What is a SMARTboard?


Reb Shaw: On the rare days that I've been unable to administer dismissal, you've served as my substitute.  What's been your greatest challenge in serving this role? 


Mr. Kraut: The pre-pickup tailgate bbq parties in the pick-up line, and the dangerous exhaust fumes from the vehicles.


Reb Shaw: What changes can we expect at Hillel Academy next year? 


Mr. Kraut: Two expanded pre-school classrooms, a new look for the administrative offices, brand new sportscourt, some new SMARTboards if I can figure out what they are, and 20 amazing 2-year olds.


Reb Shaw: At the recent Hillel Academy dinner, you delivered a great address. I particularly loved the parts about me. When do we get to hear a speech about you? 


Mr. Kraut: As soon as someone nominates me for the Gordon Professional Achievement Award or some other Pittsburgh organizational award (hint, hint).


Reb Shaw: What's the best part about working at Hillel Academy? 


Mr. Kraut: Seeing the incredible work of our teachers and staff, and the smiles on our students, as we ensure the future of the Jewish people, and the mesorah of the torah.

Kraut and Shaw

Mr. Kraut and Reb Shaw are seen celebrating another successful 

Hillel Academy dismissal.

Reflections on the Bucco Game 

Boaz Bachrach - 5th Grade

This Monday night, thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Tipton who sponsored tickets to see the Pirates, Reb Shaw, my 5th grade classmates, and I went to a baseball game. The Pirates started off strong by turning the Met's Murphey's hit to a double play. Jose Tabata scored a run late in the first. The game was a pitching duel, until 3rd baseman Brandon Wood hit a solo shot to right in the 6th. In the 7th inning, both pitchers were taken out. In the 8th, Cedeno scored, but Veras gave up a run. Then, it was Hammer time! Joel Hanraham got a quick two outs, then Bay came up. He hit it high, deep, and and... caught by Xavier Paul. Raise the Jolly Roger and drive home safely.
* Editor's note - As of print time, the Pittsburgh Pirates were a game over .500. At this point of the season, this is the first time that the Pirates have held this mark since 1999.

Click here to read the entire    Hillel Happenings

The Hillel Grid

This week, The Hillel Grid caught up with some of Hillel Academy's students. Check out the great things that these talented young minds offered by reading below.   

Students in the mix

What's on your summer reading list?

What's the best thing that happened at Hillel Academy this year?

Where are you taking your Hillel Gear this summer?

Leora Goldberg


What summer reading list?

The ice cream in a cup we ate before graduation started this past Wednesday  

Kansas City to visit my Sabba and Savta, Grandma and Grandpa, Bubby and Zaidy

Bluma Rodkin


Four Book

The Back To School BBQ

Maybe to Bungalow

Leah Fuhrman

Graduating Senior

New York Times with a cup of Joe.

I graduated!

The VA where I will be conducting research

Aviva Itskowitz


A lot of different series

Ice Skating for Rosh Chodesh Adar

Maybe to Washington D.C.

   Do you want to see someone/something featured in an upcoming grid? Email The Hillel Happenings at [email protected] and let us know.
Hillel Gear Spotted Here

During a recent Bnei Akiva Shabbaton in Detroit, MI, several Hillel Academy students gathered for a friendly, yet competitive, game of bowling. While the scores have yet to be tallied, it is safe to assume that Hillel Academy 7th Graders Adina Kisilinsky and Yael Itskowitz, due to their stylish and breathable Hillel Academy sweatshirts, trumped the competition. Way to go Adina and Yael!
Bnei Akiva Shabbaton

Earl Anthony would be proud.

  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.

Hillel Academy Dinner Video 2011

Originally airing at the 64th Annual Hillel Academy Dinner, which honored Dr. Robert and Mrs. Lillian Brent for ensuring the future of the Boys High School, this video demonstrates how Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, an Orthodox Jewish Day School, is at the forefront of the battle against intermarriage, instills its students with a love of Torah, and ensures a future for the Jewish people. Watch the video that captivated a dinner by reminding people that Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, with its Jewish Day School education, is the guarantor of a successful Jewish future.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh:A Blueprint for a Jewish Life

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh:

A Blueprint for a Jewish Life

End the Madness Flyer
Mordy Brown Subs Your Way Flyer  
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Create an everlasting legacy with a gift or bequest to the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Endowment Fund. The Hillel Academy Endowment Fund insures Jewish Continuity by providing a Jewish education to all children regardless of their financial capabilities. Additional dedications and opportunities are available.