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Official E-Newsletter Text


Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh 

would like to thank 

Leah'Spa and Salon and Mordy Brown Catering 

for being this year's Athletic Department  

Major League Sponsors.


Thank you as well to: 


Mark  Sindler, Criminal Defense Attorney 
and  Dr. Jeffrey W.  Martz, DMD
for being this year's Athletic Department 
Minor League Sponsors. 
Please Patronize their businesses.

- Leah'Spa and Salon - http://leahspa.vpweb.com
- Mordy Brown Catering - 651.558.1725
- Mark Sindler - Criminal Defense Attorney
310 Grant Street, Suite 2330
Pittsburgh PA  15219-2264
- Dr. Jeffrey W.  Martz, DMD - Dental Anesthesiology - (724) 939-7024

Hillel Academy

of Pittsburgh


5685 Beacon Street

Pittsburgh, PA


P: (412) 521-8131

F: (412) 521-5150




November 11, 2011


14 Heshvan 5771


Candle Lighting: 4:49 pm


Havdalah: 5:48 pm


 Parshat Vayerah

Join Our Mailing List 
Great Things to Read in this Week's Hillel Happenings:
Chizuk Corner
Food Zone
Syntactical Superheroes
Mazel Tov
Around Town
Mordy Brown Catering
Letter From CEO
English News
Early Childhood Reminder
Nursery Update
Chol HaMoed Was Great
Hockey Story

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.   




The Meshech Chachma explains that when Avraham made this statement he was asking if there were 50 people who are tzadikim compared to the other people of Sodom. Avraham was saying that even though the 50 people are NOT tzadikim in comparison to other people of the world, Hashem should still spare Sodom. Hashem agreed.
This teaches us that if we are righteous in comparison to our surroundings, we too can protect our community.


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: 


May vs. Can 


The word "may" asks permission:
May I use your pencil for the test?

The word "can" means you are able to do something:
You can use my pencil for the rest of the day.

Therefore when students ask to be excused to use the restroom, they should always use the word may:

May I please use the restroom? or May I please get a drink of water?

It is always a good idea to remember to use the word please, as well, when asking for permission!

For more info on good grammar please contact [email protected] or [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. 

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

Ms. Sarah Hartman on the adoption of her son Elijah 


Refuah Shleima

Ms. 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  

Bnei Akiva announces that 7-8th grade Boys Movie Night will be November 19th, 7:00 pm at the Ungar's House; 4-6th grade Boys Movie Night will be November 19th, 6:30 pm at the Kraut's; 4-6th grade Girls Movie Night will be November 13th, 2:00 pm at the Kisilinsky's
There will be snif this Shabbat at Shaare Torah from
3:30-4:30 pm (new time!!!!!)
Be there or be square!!!!
Mazel Tov

Reb Danny Shaw on completing his first marathon in a blistering time of 3:57. Way to go 

Reb Shaw!



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


Our first collection period has ended. Although we did collect an impressive amount, we have fallen short of our goal. However, the school year is just starting and collections are gratefully accepted. Box Tops for Education has a 13-year history of helping our school earn cash we need - from books and computers, to playground equipment. Take advantage of the bonus opportunities each month in Giant Eagle to earn extra Bonus Box Tops. It is not too late to use October offer (Buy 4 General Mills cereals - get 15 Bonus Box Tops) or you can just clip and save. Don't forget to send your collection to the office. Remember that our grand prize is Kennywood tickets, so although it is chilly outside, we can look forward to next summer. 

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

Coordinator of Curriculum and Instruction, 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]

Mrs. Chevi Rubin

 Administrative Assistant to the Principal

[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

Dvar Torah


Ezra Kraut - 6th Grade 


In this week's parsha, Parshat Vayeira, it says in Perek (Chapter) 20, Pasuk (verse) 2 Vayomer Avraham al Sarah ishto achosi he (and Avraham said about Sarah, his wife, that she was his sister). The Gemara, in Bava Kama on page 92a, writes, "Deeds that you have done to me." What deeds has Avraham done? One explanation is that this is a morale judgment for calling Sarah his sister. But that is only a deed, and not deeds. Another explanation is that it is the deeds of his lies to Avimelech. He is held accountable because Avraham always tried to avoid lies, but here he lied willingly. Here at Hillel Academy, we learn the importance of our deeds and especially to trust others as much as we trust ourselves. I hope that you have a great Shabbos!  
If you're interested in writing a Dvar Torah for the Hillel 
Happenings, please email [email protected]

Another Dvar Torah


Ben Kohane - Alum ('10) 


Ben Kohane, a Hillel Academy alum who is currently studying in Israel, recently submitted this Dvar Torah to the Yeshiva University S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program e-newsletter. At the end of the year, this Dvar Torah will be published in a book entitled, 

Divrei Torah for the Shabbos Table. 

Congratulations to Ben, and all of our alumni in Israel, who demonstrate the exceptional education and values that 

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh instills in its students. 


The sixth aliyah of Parshat Vayeira concludes with the following p'sukim (21:33-34):


"ויטע אשל בבאר שבע ויקרא בשם הא-ל עולםויגר אברהם בארץ פלשתים ימים רבים."


"And Avraham planted an "eshel" in Beer-Sheva and there he proclaimed the name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe. And Avraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many years."


It is often said that the Torah is neither a storybook nor a list of laws and commandments. Each and every passage is important and is meant to teach us something. What then, is the significance of Avraham's gardening habits, this small tangent placed between the high-profile stories of the expulsion of Yishmael and the Akeidah. Furthermore, the word "אשל" is a curious choice. Research of the word's etymology throughout Tanach identifies theאשל  as a tamarisk tree; why does the Torah distinguish this species and not any other?


The Gemara in Sotah 10a addresses this issue. The Sages are split in the exegesis of the word "".אשל One opinion holds that the word refers to a "פרדס," an orchard, full of fine fruits. Bereishit Rabbah clarifies these fruits to be dates, grapes, and pomegranates - three of the seven species of Eretz Yisrael. Rashi explains that the fruits would provide pleasure to passersby as well as Avraham's neighbors.

The other opinion understands the pasuk to mean that אשל refers to a "פונדק," an inn, which Avraham built to entertain dozens of guests at a time. Rashi further explains Avraham Avinu's tremendous deed and construction project. The wordאשל  is actually an acronym - א for "אכילה," eating, ש for "שתיה," drinking, and ל for "לויה," escorting. These three actions are what make up a truly hospitable experience. Whenever travelers would stop by the inn, Avraham would wine 'em and dine 'em, before escorting them on their way.


His deeds were not merely chessed for chessed's sake, but an authentic attempt at outreach.  The Gemara in Sotah continues on to explain the second half of the pasuk: "ויקרא שם בשם הא-ל עולם" - "And there he proclaimed the name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe." The Gemara instructs us to read "ויקרא" as "ויקריא" - meaning "Avraham caused him to call." What does this refer to? His guests, after being treated to a delicious meal, (perhaps capped off by a wondrous desert of grapes and pomegranates), stood to bless and thank Avraham for all his kindness. Avraham quickly interrupted and asked them rather to recognize the true source of the sustenance - Hashem, the G-d of the Universe.


This outreach is quite amazing. Single-handedly, Avraham spread the word of the true G-d in a world pervaded with polytheism and idol worship. He was not just planting the foundations of his inn - he was implanting in his guests the foundations of a true theology, helping others recognize the G-d he had come to know and trust. He did not just escort his guests on their physical journey - he pointed them in the correct spiritual direction, escorting them to a more fulfilling path in life.


The last pasuk in sefer Micha literally attaches the attribute of chessed to Avraham Avinu. In the Mishneh Torah, Rambam tells us that after recognizing Hashem, our forefather traveled from city to city throughout the ancient world, proclaiming G-d's name. It is no coincidence that Avraham is both the paradigm of chessed and the ultimate embodiment of outreach. Authentic kindness is incomplete when it takes account of physical needs while ignoring the emotional and spiritual aspects of the guest's life; outreach is selfish and doomed to fail when it does not incorporate genuine concern for the individual's physical necessities.


Avraham's tremendous endeavor was founded on the attribute of kindness. The beginning of the parshah also exhibits Avraham's passion for hospitality. The Torah tells us that Avraham was sitting "פתח האהל כחם היום" - "at the entrance of the tent in the heat of the day." The Gemara in Bava Metzia explains that Hashem had made the sun shine intensely in order to prevent Avraham from being troubled with guests so soon after his painful milah. However, since Avraham still sat at his tent's entrance, eagerly searching for guests, Hashem brought the three angels to him in order to satisfy his intense desire to perform hachnasat orchim. As soon as Avraham saw the potential guests, "וירץ לקראתם" - "he ran to greet them." Avraham's fervor teaches us that we must not wait for mitzvot to come to us; we must go out to meet the mitzvot.


This message is echoed in the second pasuk quoted above. The Torah tells us that Avraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines "ימים רבים" - "many days." Rashi uses Bereishit Rabba to explain that he stayed in this foreign land longer than he lived in Chevron, his hometown. After establishing his inn, Avraham stayed put. He remained dedicated to his cause of spreading G-d's name for twenty-six long years, a lesson we can all appreciate. Sometimes we must venture out of our comfort zone in order to achieve our true calling.

Reaching out to others and taking them in as our guests is universal. A story is told about the Chofetz Chaim, known for his efforts to strengthen Torah observance, which highlights his trait of hospitality.

A rabbi who had never seen the Chofetz Chaim before came to Radin to meet with him. Arriving toward evening, he met a Jew in the street and asked where he could find an inn. "I will take you there," said the Jew, whereupon he took the rabbi to his own home and proceeded to wait on the rabbi as an innkeeper waits upon his paying guests.

The next morning in shul, the rabbi asked someone to point out the Chofetz Chaim. A shudder passed through the rabbi when the man pointed out to him turned out to be none other than the "innkeeper." The rabbi hurried over to the Chofetz Chaim and begged his forgiveness for allowing the great rav to serve him. The Chofetz Chaim replied simply, "Am I exempt from the mitzvah of hospitality?"


As we continue our journeys through life, each and every one of us has an opportunity and an obligation to continue the tradition of outreach through hospitality that began with Avraham Avinu. This is especially true for a Yeshiva student undertaking the experience of a lifetime with an inspirational year in Israel. Even if our last name is not Hilton or Marriott, we can still learn from our zealous forefather and build our own "אשל" and always strive to accomplish chessed and outreach.


Message From the Chief


Dear Hillel Academy Parents and Friends, 


As many of you know, for the fourth straight year our enrollment has increased. In becoming Pittsburgh's fastest growing Jewish Day School, we should all feel a sense of pride. There are so many people who have facilitated our growth. Our teachers, staff, volunteers, parents, students, and supporters all deserve a tremendous thanks.


Over the next few weeks, you will see a series of reminders regarding our annual raffle. This event helps support various programming and initiatives throughout our school, including individualized and age-appropriate Judaic and General Studies instruction, innovative curricula, technological advancements, and a myriad of outlets for promoting the unique talents of each of Hillel Academy's students.

I encourage you to support our raffle today. Let's continue growing and providing more students with the warmth and nurture that only Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh can provide.  


Call the office today at 412-521-8131 and be a part of our success. As in past years, your raffle purchase will entitle you and a guest to attend the Annual Awards Night Dinner, December 12, 2011. To house our new families, this year, the event is taking place 

at the JCC's Levinson Hall.  

Have a great Shabbos,


Dan Kraut



Bats in Hillel (it's not as bad as it sounds)


Morah Elaine - [email protected]


Today in Science we learned about bats. First, we found out that there are two types of bats: 1) Megachiroptera (also called Fruit Bats, flying foxes, megabats, big bats), which eat fruit and/or flower nectar. Megachiroptera tend to have long noses and a strong sense of smell, which help them find fruit and flowers in the dark; and 2) Microchiroptera (small bats), most of which eat insects, although a few eat fish or small animals. This type of bat uses echolocation to find moving food in the dark and also to avoid flying into obstacles. Echolocation is the process of sending out sound waves and listening for, and interpreting, echoes. Sound travels outward from its source in circular waves. If we add a drop of water to a shallow tank of water, we see circular ripples that are very similar to sound waves. What happens to the sound waves if there is a tree nearby? We add a 'tree' to the tank: When we add a drop of water (bat sound), the waves move out in circles, but bounce off of the tree and return to the bat. How does the bat hear the echoes? Microchiroptera have very sensitive ears. Today, everyone got to try on a pair of bat ears: We could hear all kinds of things. Bats are amazing!


"Can I get Wi-Fi with these things?"
Please join Barbara Chotiner and Michele Batch on Thursday, November 17  from 8:00 - 10:00 in the Hillel Academy Library for coffee and conversation.  Barbara, our Early Childhood coordinator and Michele, the Pre-K Counts PATHS coordinator will talk about children's behavior. Topics for discussion will be Temper Tantrums, Sharing, Potty Training, Biting, Dealing with Children's Anger, how to do the "Turtle," and various parental concerns when interacting with their young children.

Please R.S.V.P. to Barbara at
412 - 521 - 8131 ext 216
by Wednesday, November 16
Hope to see you there.
Parents, please notify the office and teachers of any early dismissals as far in advance as possible. 

Fun Times in the Nursery


Morah Devorah and Morah Leah 

This week, we learned about the letter F. Here is a small poem regarding our studies:


F is for Flood ---- We have been very busy learning and acting out the story of Noach.  We made a great big Taiva (ark), which is in the hall right outside our classroom. We are working on individual Taivas as well. We even made a Mabul (flood) inside of our classroom. Some of us got nice and wet, but it was enjoyed by all. We are still working on making very colorful rainbows.

F is for finger painting --- messy and fun.  

F is for flip on your coat --- we learned how to 'flip' on our coats all by ourselves (Well.. maybe with a little help from the Morahs).

F is for fingers --- we ate fruit cups with our fingers to see how it would feel and  talked about different Mitzvos our fingers help us do.

F is for feelings --- we talked about things that make us happy and things that might make us sad

F is for food --- we ate funny faces (yummy yum)  We are also eating a lot of fruit and learning the Bracha, Borai Prie HaEitz. We had a fabulous fruit salad this Friday.
In Nursery, the Fun never stops.


It's Fascinating how Fast Friends Fly down the slide. 
Weird white space on your email?
Click here and read the entire Hillel Happenings. It's that simple.
We are looking for at least one new talis for our shul. Call the office if you can help. 
Kindergarten Goes on a Voyage


Morah Pfeffer - [email protected]


In order to better understand what Noach experienced when he built the ark, Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Kindergarten students completed their own construction task. With the help of teachers, duct tape, cardboard, and figurines, the students created a large and instructional ark. Inside of the ark, the people were on the top floor, the animals on the middle floor, and of course the garbage was on the bottom! 
Kindergarten students and their ark
"Can you imagine 40 days on this ark, wow!"
Interview with Morah Leah


Recently, Morah Leah Ackner, Hillel Academy's 2 Year Old Program Coordinator, met with representatives from the Hillel Happenings for a candid discussion on life, liberty, and happiness (which Hillel Academy provides, pursuit free, to all of its constituents because it is America's Greatest Jewish Day School). Over the course of the conversation, it became increasingly evident how fortunate the Hillel Academy family is to possess Morah Leah. While we considered disseminating this interview via Smilebox, we at the Hillel Happenings are traditionalists; so, for the benefit of our readers, excerpts of this conversation are provided below: 


HH: Morah Leah, thank you so much for meeting with us today. The life of a teacher is exhausting, couple that with the demands of being a mother. Have you ever considered napping on the cots next to the 2-year-olds? 
Morah Leah: Absolutely! But once you see the size of the cots, you realize its much more rewarding to just help the 2 year olds fall asleep.
HH: Fair enough. You're an incredibly creative person. Who's your inspiration?
Morah Leah: My mom. She's the mom who woke us up in the middle of the night to see a meteor shower, coached softball and created a kids book club for our friends. She is able to see the best in people and make the best of any situation. Her influence is a major reason I'm a Jewish educator today.
HH: This time of the year is extremely stressful for our twelfth graders as they prepare their college and yeshiva/seminary applications. Reflecting on your own post-secondary education, what would you advise students to look for after they leave the friendly confines of Hillel Academy?
Morah Leah: I would advise students to look for a friendly and supportive community - one where they may have some family or friends. Nothing relieves stress like spending Shabbos with good food, friends and family!
HH: So true. On a different topic, if a nursery rhyme is read to Pre-Nursery students, is it still a nursery rhyme?
Morah Leah: Yes, but only if Morah Dvorah or Morah Leah Brown reads it.
HH: Speaking of people, who is the last person that you Googled?
Morah Leah: Handy Manny. My son is obsessed with him and his tools.
HH: Pittsburgh has many great farms, including Reilly's Summer Seat Farm and Simmons Farm. What's a more enjoyable Fall activity for families: taking a hayride at Reilly's or running through a Mini Corn Maze at Simmons?  
Morah Leah: Actually, my family loves Soergel Orchards in Wexford. They have a great market, tours, farm animals you can pet and feed, and great outdoor play areas and activities for kids of all ages.
HH: On a Sunday afternoon, are Hillel Happenings readers more likely to find you screaming at Heinz Field or ice skating at the PPG ice rink?
Morah Leah: Neither - they are more likely to find me playing or baking with my kids or in my fuzzy PJ's doing the NY Times crossword puzzle.

HH: Squirrel Hill Trivia (because our readers love this stuff): How many records are located inside Jerry's Records store on Murray Avenue?
Morah Leah: Well, I'm sad to say I've never actually been inside of Jerry's Records, so I can't help your readers out on that one.
HH: We've covered so much, but one final question. What would you like to see your students doing by June?  
Morah Leah: In the Pre-Nursery we set the bar high. By June, we would love to see all of our children using their words, sitting in a circle, eating at a table, and able to line up at the door. Of course, we want to see them all back at Hillel in the Fall in our Nursery classes.
Morah Leah is seen here joined by students from
America's Greatest Jewish Day School (obviously we're talking about Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh).

Hillel Gear Spotted Here Text

Proud parents Adina and Yosef Shayowitz recently introduced their son Avi to an incredible world complete with joy, love, and amazing Hillel Gear. Upon sporting this fashionable Hillel Academy onesie, we could only imagine that baby Avi cooed, smiled, and demonstrated other newborn signs of total happiness. Way to go Shayowitz family!


We're pretty sure that he's thinking, "I love Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. It's America's Greatest Jewish Day School!"


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.



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



Apples for the Students


$1.1 million dollars in educational awards are available from Giant Eagle. From October 1, 2011 through March 17, 2012, you can earn points for Hillel Academy by registering your Giant Eagle Advantage Card and shopping at Giant Eagle, Giant Eagle Market District, Giant Eagle Express, and GetGo. If you have any questions, please call 1-800-474-4777. 


Now is the Time 


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. 

Parents, please call the office by 8am if your child(ren) will be absent or late. Thanks.
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] 
Under Maintenance Picture 
The Hillel Minute is Under Maintenance.
 Pardon the disruption. 
Thank you for your patience.

You can watch them here or visit us online at  www.hillelpgh.org








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. 

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


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

This is not a Hillel Academy event.

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.