Outside of Hillel   
January 10, 2013                                                                              
28 Tevet 5773 
Candle Lighting: 4:56
Havdalah: 6:05

Parshat Vaera - Rosh Chodesh Shevat 
Dvar Torah
Parshat Vaera marks the beginning of our dramatic exodus from Egypt. In the early part of the parsha we read the famous "four expressions of redemption," which G-d uses to free Bnei Yisrael from the yoke of slavery. The first expression reads, "Ve-hotzeiti etkhem mi-tachat sivlot Mitzrayim," which is commonly translated as, "I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians." (6:6) The Sefat Emet suggests a less common interpretation of the word "sivlot," based on a different meaning of "sevel." He explains that the word sevel can mean tolerance, the willingness to withstand and endure. According to the Sefat Emet, Bnei Yisrael had fallen into the dangerous trap of habituation and routine. They became accustomed to slavery; they had reached the point where they no longer conceived of anything different. They had accepted their lot, they tolerated it, and they resigned themselves to it. Hashem therefore promises to extricate Bnei Yisrael from the "sivlot Mitzrayim," from this tolerance of the Egyptian bondage.
As parents and educators, it is important that we view our children without preconceived notions of what they are able to accomplish. We must never let this "sivlot" frame what our children believe they can achieve. We must constantly teach them to strive for the stars and help them develop the inner desire and strength to never lose sight of their vast potential.  


 Shabbat Shalom, 


Rabbi Weinberg

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Photos of the Week



The halls are alive with the sound of music in the Lower Level! The GHS is fully engaged in preparation for Production 2013. Practices run after school several times a week and on Sundays. Choir head Sara Nimchinsky says, "I love production! It definitely creates a positive atmosphere -- especially when the girls sing the songs in the hallway!"

Production preparation is a great bonding experience for the high school girls. It gives them the opportunity to display their unique individual talents and practice teamwork. The girls are having a lot of fun and working well together.  
This past Sunday, members of the choir had the special privilege of working with vocalist and professional singer Janet Mostow (mother of GHS alumnus Emily Mostow, class of '10), who helped us exercise our vocal chords and harmonize with each other. Save the date for the GHS production of "Once Upon a Queen" on February 19, 2013!  

Sarah Baila Gordon (aka Queen Esther) - 12th Grade

Hard at work during production practice.
Upcoming Events:
  • Jan 14-17 - Midterms


First Grade Chumash Presentation       
    There have been many activities happening in the first grade Judaic Studies classroom during the past few weeks. If you walked into the classroom, you could sense a feeling of happiness and excitement from the students. There is a good reason for this. The students have been practicing their parts and preparing beautiful songs for their Chumash presentation.
    When the students walked into first grade on the first day of school, they knew they had to work very hard to achieve one of the highlights of first grade: receiving their first Chumash. The students had to master the reading of Hebrew words as well as read with accuracy and fluency before receiving their Chumashim. They worked very hard to achieve this goal!
     The exuberance began the day they took their invitations home to their families. This was followed by receiving their parts and beginning to learn their songs. The students showed extreme pride and joy when Rabbi Nimchinsky and Morah Chana gave them their Chumashim. You could see it in the expressions on their faces. Many students hugged their Chumashim with love. Then the students took their Chumashim home so they and their families could make beautiful covers.
     As we got closer to the big day, the students started rehearsing in the shul. It was very meaningful to have the program in the shul. It made it even more special. The weeks and days went by quickly and excitement grew and grew. As the students brought in their covered Chumashim, their classmates applauded the creativity of each Chumash.
The day finally arrived! The students, dressed in their attractive Shabbos clothes, proudly walked into shul as everyone sang Siman Tov U' Mazel Tov. The students presented a wonderful program exploring the parshios in Sefer Beraishis. They each showed a sense of dignity, delight, and enthusiasm when they were given their first Chumash. They were attentive and respectful when Rabbi Weinberg and Rabbi Nimchinsky spoke to the class and then congratulated them on this special simcha. The presentation was followed by a lovely party with many delicious treats!
         The students will always remember this very special day in their lives. I am always elated when a middle school or high school student says to me, "Morah Chana, I remember the day I received my first Chumash!" We are very proud of their students and wish them and their parents a heartfelt Mazel Tov. It was a very wonderful day to remember!        

Morah Chana

 10 Minute Halacha in the BHS

With so much Torah available online, this year we decided to harness some of it to help our students learn a wide variety of Torah topics. Every Wednesday at the end of lunch, interested students from the BHS gather in the SMARTboard room to enjoy a soda and listen to a ten minute Halacha shiur given by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz. Rabbi Lebowitz is a rebbe in the DRS Yeshiva High School and the Rav of the Beis HaKnesses of North Woodmere. The shiurim are found on YUTorah.org and the students pick a new topic each week. So far, we have learned Halachos about Halloween, birthdays, microwave Kashrus, standing for elders, whether Tzitzis should be worn in or out, and many more. Roughly half the students in the BHS choose to attend this great program each week. Speak to any of the boys to find out the new Halacha they learned this week!   

Upcoming events in the BHS:
  • Friday night 1/11: Learning at PZ followed by an oneg at Rabbi Smith's house Saturday night
  • 1/12: Alumni vs. current BHS basketball game
  • Jan 14-17: Midterms
Riddles Me That!
We know that our readers enjoy challenges. Thanks to Ms. Myers in our English department, we bring you the weekly riddle. Email us your answers and winners will be published in the following week's issue. 
Ms. Myers with 8th grader, Rivka Mandelbaum.
This week's:

What does man love more than life

Fear more than death or mortal strife

What poor do have, the rich require,

And what contented men desire,

What misers spend and spendthrifts save

And all men carry to their graves?

Last week's riddle and answer:
Five  hundred begins it, five hundred ends it, 
                               Five in the middle is seen;
                   First of all figures, the first of all letters, 
                         Take up their stations between.
         Join all 
together, and then you will bring before you the name of
 an eminent king. 

Answer: David
Mrs. Ziff's Corner  

The weather certainly has been cold and snowy, but that shouldn't stop you from having lots of family fun.  Here are a few ideas that can take away the winter blues!
  1. Take a trip to Phipps Conservatory. It is nice and warm inside with many beautiful displays.
  2. Take advantage of all the museums in Pittsburgh, including the Aviary and Children's Museum.
  3. Don't forget about the Pittsburgh History Center, along with the Sports Museum ... a fun afternoon for all!  There is a wonderful history of the Jewish Community of Pittsburgh at the History Center.
  4. There are many outdoor skating rinks in and around the city: Schenley, North Park, South Park and Downtown.  If you are more of an indoor rink person, then check out Bladerunners in Harmarville or the South Hills Bladerunners. The Pittsburgh Mills has a synthetic rink inside the mall.
  5. Try the Toy Lending Library in East Liberty
  6. Many libraries have special programming, but even a trip to the children's section can be fun.
  7. Barnes and Nobles also has special children's story times.
  8. Michael's offers free kids' craft classes.  Check out specific times and store locations.
  9. Sledding and snowman building is ALWAYS a treat, especially when the whole family is involved! I have seen the most incredible snowmen in my neighborhood!
  10. Spend the day making family photo albums, scrapbooks, writing family stories and/or a family poem book!  Call your grandparents or even great grandparents and ask them to tell you a story from their childhood.  Write it down and start a family history book.


Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov to Board Member  Barry Faigen and Debbie Eisner on the birth of a  grandson, Abraham Eliezer, to Leba and alumnus, Seth Faigen!

Mazel Tov to  Hillel Academy Parents  Rabbi and Mrs. Akiva Grossberg  on the birth of a baby girl, Chaya!

Mazel Tov to the Gordon family on the upcoming marriage of Jessica to Matt Saunders!

Mazel Tov to the Silver family on the engagement of Yossel to Fraida Rochel Mandel of Passaic, NJ!
Mazel tov to  Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai Rosenberg on the birth of a grandson to Tehila & Yosef Karp! 

Werber's Words of Wisdom


Welcome to part six in my on-going series about the presidents of the United States.

Andrew Johnson: Johnson was one of only two presidents to be impeached (Bill Clinton is the other.) Impeaching a president is not, as many believe, to force the president to leave office for wrong doing. It is the trial to see if a president can be forced from office. He ended up very narrowly being acquitted, by just 1 vote shy of the 2/3's majority needed to convict him.


Unlike many Presidents who were born to wealthy families or married into them, Johnson was born very poor, after his father died trying to rescue three people from drowning. Johnson was so poor that he was self-educated. He taught himself to read and write and was taught Mathematics by his young wife.

Ulysses S. Grant: Grant's real name was actually Hiram Ulysses Grant, but he was mistakenly entered into West Point as "Ulysses S. Grant from Ohio" by the person who nominated him, Congressman Thomas L. Hamer.  Grant liked the name, though, as it gave him the initials "U.S.", which ultimately garnered him the nickname "Sam," after "Uncle Sam."

Grant is the first President known to have died of cancer.  He died of throat cancer, having smoked an estimated 20 cigars per day throughout much of his adult life.  He was even sent over 10,000 cigars during his later military career by well wishers who knew he liked cigars.

Unlike most, Grant attempted to run for a third term as President, but failed to be nominated.  After his Presidency, thanks to some bad business dealings, Grant found himself deeply in debt, but managed to pull out of it. With the help of Mark Twain, Grant's widow earned nearly half a million dollars (about $10M today) in royalties from Grant's memoirs, which he finished only a few days before his death.

Grant's last words were "I hope that nobody will be distressed on my account."

Rutherford B. Hayes: Hayes won the Presidency via the Compromise of 1877.  He had not actually won the popular vote, and possibly didn't even win the Electoral College.  There were 20 disputed votes thanks to voter fraud and close voting numbers, with the tally before the disputed votes at 184 to Tilden and 165 to Hayes. Hayes need ed all 20 to win the Presidency, and Tilden needed just 1. Despite this, an "independent" commission, thanks to 8 votes from Republicans, awarded all 20 electoral votes to Hayes, giving him the Presidency.  


Naturally, this didn't sit well with the Democrats, but a compromise was eventually worked out where Hayes would get the Presidency, if Hayes would agree to end the military's occupation of certain states in the South, which allowed the Democrats to take back control of those states.


Hayes died from complications due to a heart attack.  His last words were, "I know that I'm going where Lucy is." (His wife Lucy had already died.)

I hope you've enjoyed finding out more about the fascinating men who have been the executives of our country.
The Hillel Grid 

Enjoy "The Hillel Grid," a regular window into the minds of America's greatest students/teachers (obviously we're talking about Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh).

Elementary/ Middle school teachers in the mix

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

What do you do for fun/ What is your hobby?

Name one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

Mr. Garwood

A dragon slayer


I blow things up for fun.

Mr. Werber

A psychologist

Playing video games

I was paid to dress as a giant pickle and play tee ball in the old 3 Rivers Stadium.

Mrs. Ziff

A teacher


I canoed in Belize.

Mrs. Kirk

A veterinarian


I speak  Swedish.

Mrs. Erskine

Special effects makeup artist


I'm a big Science Fiction nerd.

Ms. Oz



I'm very practical.

Rabbi Lowy

A rabbi

Playing guitar

I can rock out on the guitar.

Mrs. Berelowitz

A teacher

Cake decorating

White water rafting and roller coasters.

Mrs. Yolkut

A mommy


I speak Russian.

Morah Dorsey

A teacher


I have a good sense of humor.

Morah Chana

A teacher


I'm a big Pirates/Steelers/Penguins fan!

Morah Irit

A teacher

Reading and hiking

I read Victorian novels.

Mr. Werber
Hillel Gear Spotted Here


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 hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org, and each week we'll select the best picture for inclusion in the Hillel Happenings.

Flashback Fridays
Can you figure this one out? Email us the names of those in the picture, and we will print 
your name in next week's Hillel Happenings. 

 This week's photo: 
Last week's photo:


Hillel Gear for Sale   

Food: Click MENU for the January 2013 Mordy Brown Catering lunch menu.

Click ORDER FORM for the January 2013 lunch order form. 


APPLE FOR STUDENTS: Thus far we have earned 376 points. Please ensure that your advantage card is registered for Hillel Academy to receive apple for students points. To register or check if you are registered call  1800.474.4777 or go to




HILLEL HERALD: The Hillel Herald is a world-class newsletter produced by the Boys' High School. If you would like to receive the Herald via email, or if you have any questions or comments, please contact the staff at hillelherald@hillelpgh.org.


Around Town


GIRLS ONEG: Oneg this Shabbos from 3:00pm to 4:00pm at PZ! We can't wait to see all girls in grades K - 7th there! For additional information email - onegpitts@aol.com.

BNEI AKIVA: Snif this Shabbat will be from 3:30pm-4:30pm at Shaare Torah. 

 ZUMBA@HILLEL ACADEMY:  Zumba with Ashley every Wednesday at 7:15pm in Hillel Academy - $5 a session. Ashely will also be offering Zumba on a select Monday nights. Contact her for information  jyarborough@gmail.com


Reminder: All parents must accompany their children for the duration of the program. 


sifriyat pajama  




We are now accepting new student applications for the 2013-2014 school year!  Please contact Chevi Rubin at crubin@hillelpgh.org for more information.    

hillel ad for 2013-2014







     of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

    Administered by:

    Jewish Family & Children's Service

  5743 Bartlett Street  Pittsburgh, PA 15217 (412)422-5627  Fax (412)422-9540


December 2012


Attention: Financial Aid Offices, Guidance Counselors, and Youth Organizations


Applications for need-based college scholarships for the 2013-2014 school year are available from the Central Scholarship & Loan Referral Service (CSLRS) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.  This program is administered by Jewish Family & Children's Service.  The funds are made available through the generosity of families who have established endowments through the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Jewish Community Center, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International of Pittsburgh (formerly B'nai B'rith Women), The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Rodef Shalom Congregation.


All awards are distributed on the basis of demonstrated financial need.  Depending on the scholarship fund, other factors such as academic achievement, field of study, school attending, and community involvement may also be considered. In addition, the applicant must be Jewish, reside in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Beaver, Butler or Washington County for at least two years, and need financial assistance to attend an accredited institution of higher education


We would appreciate your assistance in aiding local students by publishing an announcement about the work of the Central Scholarship committee. We are enclosing a brochure that explains our process. The 2013-2014 CSLRS on-line application is available athttp://www.centralscholarship.org.  All applications are due February 11, 2013.


If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (412) 422-5627 or e-mail me at alowenberger@jfcspgh.org.



Alayne Lowenberger, Director

Central Scholarship & Loan Referral Service


Want More Hillel Happenings?

Hillel Academy Thanks This Year's Athletic Sponsors    


The Ratchkauskas Family - Realty Choice Investments

Mark  Sindler, Criminal Defense Attorney 

Dr. Jeffrey W.  Martz, DMD



5685 Beacon Street 
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(P) 412-521-8131 
(F) 412-521-5150
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