Hillel Happenings Logo

Official E-Newsletter Text


Hillel Academy

of Pittsburgh


5685 Beacon Street

Pittsburgh, PA


P: (412) 521-8131

F: (412) 521-5150




September 2, 2011


3 Elul 5771


Candle Lighting: 7:34 pm


Havdalah: 8:32 pm


 Parshat Shoftim

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Great Things to Read in this Week's Hillel Happenings:
Chizuk Corner
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Mordy Brown Catering
Dvar Torah
A Letter from Mr. Kraut
Mr. Kingman and Math
Pre-Nursery News
Hillel Herald
Sherut Leumi Program
Strategically Speaking
Hillel Gear Spotted Here
Hillel Academy Dinner Video

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.   


"Elul" means "investigating" or "inventory." This is the time of the year best suited for mastering those mitzvos and habits we need to acquire. Keep in mind that even a single thought of improving is powerful. The Talmud in Kiddushin states that if a wicked mans says to a woman, "Be married to me on the condition that I am  righteous," the marriage is valid. The reason for this is that he might have actually contemplated repenting and that thought made him into a tzaddick (righteous person). Let's be determined to improve on at least one mitzvah to better our service to our Creator.


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

New Line of Hillel Gear Available

More Reminders  


U turns in front of the school 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!
Quick Links
Mazel Tov

Dr. Michael and Mrs. Atara Kentor on the birth of a granddaughter


Mr. Dovid and Mrs. Rebecca (Kentor) Knoll on the birth of a daughter


Mr. Elhanan and Mrs. Eliana Abrams on the birth of their son Noam


Dr. Ya'aqov and Mrs. Cynthia Abrams on the birth of a grandson


Ms. Carol Lederer on the birth of a granddaughter 


Dr. David and Mrs. Serena Lederer on the birth of a daughter


Dr. Robert Lebovits and Dr. Jennifer Rudin on the upcoming marriage of their son 

Refuah Shleima

Fayth Aronson - Faygie Devorah bas Shulamit


Mr. Larry Rubin on the loss of his father

Dr. Leon Kohane on the loss of his brother

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

If so, please email us at 

Around Town  

NCSY welcomes back all teens and wishes everyone a successful new school year. Opening Seudat Shlishit: All high school students are invited to the home of Rabbi Ari and Rachel Goldberg this Shabbat for the opening chapter event. There will
be food, singing, divrei torah and games.  Feel free to bring your favorite game. 5:30pm-7:15pm 
Regional Kickoff: Central East NCSY will be going White Water Rafting in Ohiopyle PA this Sunday. There are still limited spots available for high school students. Register online at NCSYce.com 
Do you want to be on our 
Email List?Please send an email to [email protected] to be included on our list. This will keep you up to date and informed about future events and all that is happening in Pittsburgh NCSY.

The Kollel Jewish Learning Center

Dr. Ari Bleicher

invite the Community

to "From Idle Chatter to Atheism: The Rambam's Analysis of the Sin of Miriam." Dr. Bleicher's talk will occur on  Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 8:00 pm at the Kollel Jewish Learning Center

5808 Beacon Street

Lower Level, Perlow Hall. This event is for both men & women. For more info, call 412-420-0220.


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.

Box Tops for Education


Welcome back to school! Thank you to everyone for all you do to help our school. Together we can earn the much needed cash for our PTAO.

Now we have to gear up for a traditional campaign with the grand prize of tickets to Kennywood awarded at the end of the school year. If you would like your name to be entered in the raffle, please label your bundle/envelope/baggie with the last name. In the past we've received a lot of unsigned Box Tops. Remember that for our winter/spring campaign, every name is entered in the raffle.

Thank you to every family that is contributing.

Click here to read the entire Hillel Happenings 

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

Curriculum Coordinator

Grades K-12

[email protected]


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Assistant Principal

Grades 7-12 Boys and Girls

[email protected]


Rabbi Dov Nimchinsky

Judaic Studies and Educational Program Coordinator

Grades 1-6

[email protected]


Mrs. Yikara Levari 

Mashgicha Ruchanit

Grades 7-12 Girls

[email protected]


Rabbi Yisroel Smith

Masgiach Ruchani 

Boys High School

[email protected] 


Mrs. Phyllis Harris

 Director of Special Services

Grades K-12

 [email protected]


Mrs. Barbara Chotiner

Early Childhood Coordinator

[email protected]


Reb Danny Shaw

Coordinator of Athletics and Student Life 

[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]  


Additional contact info for faculty and staff available by clicking here

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Dvar Torah


Michael Sohnen - 7th Grade


In the previous parsha, Re'eh, it talks about a navi sheker, a false prophet. In Re'eh, it describes a navi sheker as a person who advises people to stray from the path and worship other gods. Despite this description, Parsha Shoftim takes it a bit further and describes a navi sheker as not only a navi that speaks in the name of other gods, but also speaks falsely in the name of ours. Hashem said that the naviim (prophets) would only say what Hashem commanded them to say. A navi sheker is a navi that speaks words that Hashem did not command him to say. Bnai Yisroel asked, "How do we know if a navi's words are lies?" Hashem responded, "If he says something and it does not become true, he is a navi sheker. At Hillel Academy, we are taught to always tell the truth and if we disagree with someone to do so respectfully. Have a great Shabbos!
If you're interested in writing a Dvar Torah for the Hillel Happenings, please email [email protected]

Welcome from the CEO

Mr. Kraut - [email protected]

Dear Hillel Academy Families,


Welcome back.  I trust that your summer was restful and enjoyable.   

As many of you have observed or heard, over the summer Hillel Academy underwent significant renovations. Within the Isadore Joshowitz Early Childhood Center, we reconstructed most of our facilities. We now boast four new classrooms, complete with all of the amenities that a revolutionary early childhood center deserves. On the first floor of our building, we also updated two Girls High School classrooms and renovated two bathrooms. Additionally, behind our school, we just completed phase three of our playground project. This enterprise enables our students to enjoy a beautiful outdoor basketball court (along with the gorgeous grass play-field and magnificent playground that our students have enjoyed for over the past two years).  


Much of the impetus behind these endeavors was to accompany our growing student body. For the fourth consecutive year, I'm pleased to report that our enrollment has increased. Thanks to the nearly forty new families who joined us at Hillel Academy, this year, we are welcoming over sixty new students. On behalf of the Board of Directors, and everyone at Hillel Academy, welcome to the newest members of the Hillel Academy Family.  


In closing, welcome back. May we all enjoy an enriching and exciting new school year,


Dan Kraut


7th Grade Math Reaches New Heights


Mr. Kingman - [email protected]


As an opening lesson, students in the 7th Grade Boys math class studied measurement and employed algebraic thinking to determine how many cups are needed to equal Mr. Kingman's height. The students were divided into groups of two. Each group received a ruler, three cups, and were told that Mr. Kingman is 5' 11." This exercise was thoroughly enjoyed by the class, and enabled the students to begin the school year developing partnership and problem solving skills.  


Mr. Kingman and Students

In the epic battle of who's taller, Mr. Kingman wins again.

Parents, please return your outstanding paperwork/forms to the office. Thanks.

Pre-Nursery Update


Morah Leah - [email protected]


This past week, we had an exciting Monday as we began our second week of school. We met Morah Elaine, the science teacher. She taught us about seasons and leaves (and brought in lots of different kinds of leaves - some were bigger than we were). We also met Morah Danielle for Hebrew. As a special treat, Morah Danielle wore her Hebrew hat. When she wears this special hat, she only speaks Hebrew to us! Each morning, our day includes davening with Morah Chani. Finally, this week, we welcomed the Ratzersdorfer triplets to school. With the additions of Ahuva, Chaim, and Dovid, our class in now complete! Thanks for a great week.  


Mike Karoll saying Shema

"Look, I'm saying Shema...or hiding."

Hillel Herald Heralds Readers


Ben Kohane - Hillel Academy Alum


A new year has begun for the students of Hillel Academy High School for Boys, and with it comes a new year of extracurricular activities and clubs. One of the most anticipated is the newest version of the popular school newspaper, The Hillel Herald. An effort founded and headed by recently-graduated student Ben Kohane for three years, the publication is now handed off to the extremely-capable hands of 11th Grader (and brother of the former editor-in-chief) Steven Kohane and 10th Graders Binyamin Skaist and Peri Sohnen. The new leaders, confident in their abilities after a quick introduction session from the elder Kohane this summer, seek to continue the Herald's success, while constantly looking for new innovations to further the Herald's exceptional reputation.

Have ideas for the Herald? Comments, suggestions for future articles, and readers' contributions are always welcomed and appreciated. You can reach us at [email protected]. 

Birds, Beaks, and the Sweet Sounds of 

Pre-K Science


Morah Elaine - [email protected] 


Students in Pre-K learned about bird beaks in Science this week. We first gave each student a tool, such as a spoon, clothespin, tweezers or tongs, and a plate. Then we had to use our tools to pick up sponges, straws, packing peanuts, and rocks and put them on the plates - no hands were allowed! When we had picked everything off the floor, we sorted our collected items onto graphing mats: It turned out that the people with the tweezers or the tongs picked up the greatest number of items and the people who had the clothespins picked up the least. Next, we read a book about beaks that explained how different types of birds have different types of beaks that are good for eating different types of food. Then, everyone got a picture of a bird. We matched the pictures with the type of food the birds eat. They are all birds, but they have very different beaks to eat very different things. We thought that the beaks were pretty interesting! Last, we reviewed our first activity - each tool that we used was shaped like a different type of beak. (spoon = spoonbill, etc.) The shape of each beak made it easier or more difficult to pick up each type of 'food' - just like the beak of a real bird.


Birds and Beaks

Baruch Haba (Welcome) Bnot Sherut 

(Girls of National Service)


Mr. Reinherz - [email protected]


Each year, for more than fifteen years, two young female Israeli representatives have served the Pittsburgh Jewish community by assisting in school and communal projects, while offering instruction about Israel. This year, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh will begin hosting the Sherut Leumi Program on behalf of the entire community. In this capacity, Hillel Academy will oversee the program's objectives and ensure that its mission is successful. The Bnot Sherut will be active participants in educating the community and imparting a knowledge of and a love for the State of Israel. At Hillel Academy, by working in both classroom and tutoring environments, the Bnot Sherut will bolster Israel awareness through curricular programming and Ivrit instruction as related to tefillah (prayers), chagim (Jewish holidays), and the Chalav U'dvash Program.  Additionally, the Bnot Sherut will collaborate with faculty on the weekly Shabbat Oneg, bulletin board designs, and Yom Haatzmaut programming.  In addition to their involvement with Hillel Academy, the Bnot Sherut will continue other successful communal programs, including Cafe Ivrit, a coffee, Israel, and Ivrit program at Hillel on Campus, programming in the Synagogue Sunday Religious Schools, partnership with Pittsburgh Bnei Akiva, working at Community Day School, and assisting with community-wide Israel related events. Through innovative programming, the Bnot Sherut will continue to make a strong and lasting contribution to the youth and young adults of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.    

Over the years, the Bnot Sherut have been talented artists, musicians, educators, programmers, and innovators. This year's Bnot Sherut feature the finest qualities of our previous volunteers.

Rivka Hofman comes from Jerusalem, studied art and Tanach, regularly visited hospitals and organized programming for children with cancer, and served as a counselor in her local youth group. Rivka enjoys traveling and studying art. Meira Selavan comes from Jerusalem as well, and more precisely, from the Old City. Meira spent the past year in National Service working as an educator at the primary and high school levels, organizing activities for disadvantaged children and leading Jewish enrichment programs and family programs in the community center. Additionally, she has volunteered with severely disabled children and has been a leader in Bnei Akiva for several years. Meira enjoys art, reading and baking. 


Having arrived this week, Rivka and Meira have already met with Morah Irit Taasan and begun working with students, faculty, and administrators at Hillel Academy. Finally, a special thank you to Mrs. Ronit Wiesenfeld, who is leading the Sherut Leumi Committee. To learn more about the Sherut Leumi Program at Hillel Academy please contact Dan Kraut.  


Bnot Sherut

Meira (left) and Rivka (right) would like you to know that apart from Israel, Hillel Academy is the greatest place in the world!


Within this section of the Hillel Happenings, you'll find brief updates regarding Hillel Academy. These updates all have GRAVITAS. 


SAP Meetings


Over the summer, representatives from Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC trained and certified Hillel Academy teachers to become Student Assistance Professionals.  As such, Hillel Academy employees will become better equipped to handle behavior related issues.


New Students


Over sixty new students and forty families joined Hillel Academy this year. Enrollment has increased for the fourth straight year. 


Minute to Win It


The time is now to support the Hillel Academy Athletics Department. We are putting a wind-up clock in a locked box. At some point, the clock will stop. If you pick the time that the clock stops, you will win your choice of either a complete set of the Schottenstein Daf Yomi Edition of Talmud Bavli or $720 cash. Contact the office at 412-521-8131 or [email protected] to learn more. 


Sherut Leumi Program


Beginning this year, Hillel Academy will oversee the Sherut Leumi Program. This year's representatives are Rivka Hofman and Meira Selavan. For more information regarding the Sherut Leumi Program and Hillel Academy, please read "Baruch Haba (Welcome) Bnot Sherut (Girls of National Service)" in this week's Hillel Happenings. 


Welcome Barbara Chotiner


Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh welcomes Barbara Chotiner as the new Early Childhood Coordinator. She recently moved back to Pittsburgh from Northern California where she had directed the Early Childhood Program of the Contra Costa Jewish Community Center. Prior to moving to California, she was Director of the Early Childhood Program for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. Mrs. Chotiner is married to Tito Braunstein and has two sons who live in Texas and three wonderful grandsons. She is excited to be at Hillel Academy after several years of retirement. Her office is in the Girls High School wing, and she encourages visitors to stop by and introduce themselves. Mrs. Chotiner looks forward to a wonderful year together with you and your children.


Thank You


A special thank you to the many volunteers who facilitated the amazing Welcome Back BBQ. In particular, thank you to Shelly Itskowitz, Heather Vidmar-McEwen, Chaya Gitty Morgan, Elan Sokol, and Ami Marizan. Details regarding this great event will follow in next week's Hillel Happenings.

Hillel Academy Library is now accepting volunteers for the 2011-2012 school year.

No previous experience necessary.

Please respond to the school office for more details - (412) 521-8131. 

Strategically speaking


A Section of the Hillel Happenings 

That Looks at Our Strategic Plan 


Mr. Reinherz - [email protected]


Over the summer, the Strategic Planning team met to review progress made on the current plan. The team shared thoughts about what occurred during the past 12 months, anticipations for the next 12 months, progress made on the action plans and annual operational plan, as well as threats and opportunities still prevalent. Action plans for the 2011-12 operational plan school year will be presented for board approval on September 26.


During the first teacher in-service day at Hillel Academy, the administration worked with faculty to begin developing measurable outcomes for evaluating actual progress on the Strategic Plan. Efforts are underway to identify metrics for creating baseline data to better measure progress on the objectives of the Strategic Plan. Dr. George Symanski, educational consultant, exclaimed,  "The Strategic Plan at Hillel Academy is very much alive and improvement is occurring in the school. We are very much indebted to the individuals who served as the planning team, action team leaders, and action team members." 


One of those members, Rabbi Daniel Yolkut, Rabbi of Congregation Poale Zedeck and Hillel Academy Parent, related, "As a relative newcomer to the Hillel community, it was inspiring to see the seriousness and integrity with which our leadership takes the mission of leading Hillel into the future." 


We will continue to update you regarding Hillel Academy's ongoing efforts to implement the Strategic Plan. 

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] 

The Hillel Minute (Changes).wmv

Click above to learn more Changes at Hillel Academy 

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



Hillel Gear Spotted Here Text

During a recent trip to the Pittsburgh Zoo, proud Hillel Academy students Coby Shaw (left) and Rami Shaw (right) were seen protecting themselves from harmful UV rays, while wearing awesome new Hillel Academy baseball hats (see giant red arrows for specifics). Way to go Shaw brothers!  

Hillel Gear - Rami and Coby Shaw

Editor's note - A closer picture would not have allowed us to use the giant red arrows.


 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 Gear Text2
Hillel Gear Models  Email [email protected] to get your Hillel Gear today!

 Looking for a set of encyclopedia? 

Hillel Academy Library is giving away 4 sets!!!!

We have a set of World Book 2000, 2001, 2003, and World Book Discovery Encyclopedia 2000. Just let the office know by Tuesday Sept. 6th, and pick them up in the library.


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

Creative Kosher Catering Menu
UJF Logo
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.