April 19,
9 Iyar 5773 
Candle Lighting: 7:45
Havdalah: 8:54

Omer 24

Parshat Achrei Mot - Kedoshim
Dvar Torah

Parashat Kedoshim presents the ubiquitous command of "ve-ahavta lerei'acha kamocha" - "you should love your neighbor as yourself" (19:18). This imperative was made famous by Rabbi Akiva who suggested in the medrash that, "Zeh Klal Gadol BaTorah - This is the great principal of the Torah."  It is very difficult to understand why such a seemingly egocentric and self-centered world view is one that is celebrated by Rabbi Akiva. Perhaps we can approach this statement in the context of a few other well-known stories about Rabbi Akiva.


The Talmud in Berachot relates that Rabbi Akiva was once traveling and not able to find lodging. He was forced to spend the night in the forest where wild animals ate his chicken and donkey, and a gust of wind extinguished his only lamp, but at every stage he insisted that it was all for the best.  In the morning, he discovered that pillagers had ransacked the city and killed its inhabitants.  Rabbi Akiva realized that his life was spared as a result of the townspeople's refusal to offer him lodging, and by the loss of his light and animals.


Rabbi Akiva's optimism resurfaces again in the final passage of Masekhet Makot. There, we read about a group of sages, including Rabbi Akiva, who passed by the ruins of the Temple and witnessed a fox scurrying about at the sacred site. While Rabbi Akiva's colleagues wept, he smiled, noting how the fulfillment of the prophecies warning of Jerusalem's destruction confirmed the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies foreseeing its restoration.  Once again, when placed in a situation that would ordinarily evoke feelings of anguish and despair, Rabbi Akiva responded with hope, optimism, confidence, and serenity.


 The most striking example of Rabbi Akiva's optimism is perhaps the Gemara's account of his final breaths of life (Berakhot 61b).  During those moments of unfathomable suffering, Rabbi Akiva described to his students how privileged he felt to be able to finally fulfill the obligation to love G-d "with all your life."  Even in his dying moments, and even in the face of inhumane brutality and as the future of Torah was in question, Rabbi Akiva could not be broken.  He found the silver lining in the darkest, thickest cloud of all, experiencing and expressing his love for God amid deadly torture.


 While it is still not clear what Rabbi Akiva meant when he designated "ve-ahavta le-rei'akha kamokha" as a "great principle of the Torah," it is logical that this mitzva is associated specifically with Rabbi Akiva. How does a person "love his fellow as himself"?  The answer, perhaps, is that we must view people the way Rabbi Akiva viewed every situation in life - which is the way people generally view themselves.  All people have positive and negative character traits, but we are able to "love ourselves" by tolerating our imperfections and focusing on our finer qualities.  Just as Rabbi Akiva was able to find the hopeful, encouraging aspects of even the most dreadful circumstances, similarly, we must identify the positive, admirable qualities of even those who do not immediately present a positive, admirable image.  This, perhaps, is the "great principle of the Torah" - viewing the world's people and events from a positive angle, approaching life with our eyes focused on all that is good.


 Shabbat Shalom

  • Just in time for spring, we are launching the new Hillel Gear Website.  Click here to check it out! -
  • Click HERE to view the 2013-2014 Hillel Academy academic calendar
  • May 1, 2013 - Science Fair
  • Hillel Gear Pesach Break Photo Contest email [email protected] with your photos
  •  Kibbud Av V'eim Essay Contest for grades 5-7  Click here for the contest flyer.  
  • A very big thank you and yashar koach to BHS  and the 7-8 boys for all of their hard work with the Yom Ha'atzmaut program, they did a great job, באמת! And a big salute to the teachers who helped out and last but not least to Hadassah and Dalia who rocked it up!   
Snapshots From the Week               
Jacob and Mendel read about 
a fallen IDF soilder during the boys' Yom Hazikaron  program. 
Rena Harmon lights a candle during the Yom Hazikaron program. 
Sarah Nimchinsky and Hadasa Burenstein teach facts about Israel to Morah Pfeffer's kindergarten. 
Morah Elaine teaching fan technology to Morah Jesse's one year old class (although some are now two years old). 
"I see you."
You know why all of these Hillel students are smiling, besides the fact they were taking part in a exciting Yom Ha'atztmaut program? They are smiling because Hillel Academy has a new website where you can customize your own gear, mylocker.net. Check it out!

Preschool students dance along with their morahs and 
students of the GHS in honor of Israel's 65th birthday. 
Brotherly love is a common scene at Hillel Academy.  
Thank you volunteers!

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 [email protected], and each week we'll select the best picture for inclusion in the Hillel Happenings.

Last call to submit your Hillel gear photos from Pesach break. Email d[email protected] to submit your photo. 

The HH staff went to pet the goats and feed the sheep at the JCC Yom Ha'atzmaut program and look what we found at the petting zoo, Rami Shaw and Alex Small. More importantly, we spotted Hillel Gear! Alex is sporting the 2011 Hillel Basketball kippa.

 What are the chances they sampled the trail mix looking animal feed before giving it to the animals?


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 Senior Feature - Josh Brent
This is the fourth week of a nine week feature where we showcase one graduating
 high school senior. Our objectives are to demonstrate how proud we are of them, for you, our readers, to get to know them a little better, and lastly, to offer them the opportunity to share some facts about themselves. Enjoy! At the end of nine weeks, you will be able to vote on Facebook for your favorite senior. (Relax, we are just kidding)!
 Josh flying to the hoop as Jacob Goldberg attempts to
 block it in the alumni game. 
Nicknames: JB and JMoney


Yeshiva he plans on attending: Chai Israel


University he plans on attending: Brandeis University


Hillel Memory:  Hitting the game winning shot against Auburle this past season. #winnerwinnerchickendinner  


What is important in a shidduch: Looks


Where do you see Hillel going in the future: Places


Fun Fact: I like to play ball, but I might run track at Brandeis. I know I am small, but all I can say is #watchout, #ifyourereadingthisyoureeatingmydust.  
(Editor's note: this is a phrase generally seen on the back of sprinters t-shirts).  
Favorite Quote:"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." -Muhammad Ali



Werbers Words of Wisdom

  Welcome to part 14 of my presidential series. We are nearing the end and it makes me a bit sad that our trip through presidential history is almost over.

    Facts:  Richard Nixon endangered, and then was saved by, famed reporter Jack Anderson. Here's the fascinating story. Anderson was very good at uncovering government secrets. So good, in fact, that when he died, the FBI seized his files in the interest of national security. Anderson reported on many of President Nixon's actions and frustrated the president by bringing to light many stories that he would have rather kept in the dark. President Nixon reportedly told his aides, "we have to get rid of this Anderson guy." They, apparently, took this literally. Two members of his administration G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt  planned to kill Anderson and make it look like an accident. Luckily, for Anderson, both were arrested just a few weeks later in an unrelated scandal called Watergate. As it turned out, it was lucky for President Nixon too. A man by the name of Samuel Byck planned on taking over an airplane and crashing it into the White House. He mailed a letter outlining his plan to Jack Anderson, apparently believing Anderson would approve of his plan. Anderson did not and alerted the airport thus foiling Byck's plan.
   President Nixon installed a bowling alley in the White House due to his love of that sport, he also opened up relations with China by accepting an invitation to a Ping-Pong tournament in Beijing, and he ended the Vietnam War by pulling our troops out of Vietnam.

   Despite his good actions, President Nixon will always be remembered as the only president to resign his office. He was facing a Senate hearing over his action during the Watergate scandal. If he hadn't resigned, it is likely he would have been impeached.
Richard Nixon once said, "If I had my life to live over again, I'd like to have ended up a sportswriter."
Facts: Gerald Ford was actually born "Leslie Lynch King, Jr."  He changed his name later in life to be named after his stepfather, Gerald Ford. His birth father, Leslie Lynch King, was abusive so naturally President Ford did not want to be named after him.
Gerald Ford is the only president who was not elected by the electoral college. Richard Nixon chose him as vice-president when the former vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned. Then, when Richard Nixon resigned, he became president. In fact, President Ford is the only president who was never elected to any public office.
   While his time as President is the shortest of any President who didn't die in office, Ford currently holds the record for the longest lived President at 93 years and 165 days.
James Carter Facts: Jimmy Carter was the first President ever born in a hospital.  Before politics, Carter was a peanut farmer.  His family had been quite wealthy, but upon his father's death, his father had canceled many of the debts owed to him and had widely distributed his remaining wealth, leaving Carter with little.  Carter even for a while lived in public housing because of it, making him the only President to ever live in subsidized housing for the poor. Once he took over management of the family peanut farm, though, it blossomed and by 1970 he was relatively wealthy.

During a partial meltdown of the NRX reactor in Canada's Chalk River Laboratory, Carter led a team of U.S. soldiers to help shut down the reactor by disassembling it, which Carter and his team did. Each person, including Carter, was lowered one at a time into the reactor for a short period before being replaced by the next person.


Carter is the only President to receive a Nobel Prize after leaving office, being awarded one (a Peace Prize) in 2002.  Presidents who have received such a prize while in office are Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Barack Obama.


   Stay tuned to my 15th presidential installment appearing here, next week.



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Faculty Profile - Rabbi Nimchinsky 

Now You See Him; Now You Still See Him: Rabbi Nimchinsky


Rabbi Nimchinsky is one of the more visible members of the Hillel Staff, being that his office, which he has dubbed the "Nim-quarium," is made almost entirely out of glass. This visibility has pros and cons. For example, while I was interviewing him, I was acutely aware that those passing by probably thought that I was in trouble. I was also distracted by the smiles, frowns, and waves. (No, not the underwater kind.)


    The various important phone calls he had to answer during the interview made it clear to me that Rabbi Nim has his "tentacles" in all the school, although when asked what kind of sea creature he is, he wasn't so sure. This shows at home too - his work doesn't end at 4:00; on the contrary, often it ends at 10:30 or 11:00. Seeing as he works so hard, many people wonder - what got him involved in teaching? Let's take a look:

Rabbi Nim loves his job, but how did it all get started? Well, for one thing, his father taught in a college and he had many great teachers. But this is not what he says really got him started- it was a job as a long-term substitute that got Rabbi Nim hooked.   

   Rabbi Nim has taught in many different schools in the past. For example,

20 years ago Rabbi Nim taught my father in the Chofetz Chaim of Rochester.

    Some teaching advice from Rabbi Nim is, "Care for each kid as if they're your own" (which sometimes means saying no).

    He would know, because as the father of nine, he knows more about raising children than plants.

    When the Nimchinskys moved to Pittsburgh from Houston, they brought many plants, for which Rabbi Nim takes no credit, saying "I do not have a green thumb, I have a dry, gray, desiccated thumb."

    However, Rabbi Nim has other occupations - as you can tell if you scroll to the bottom of the Hillel Website. When asked about his computer skills, he replied "it was self-taught...I was going for a degree in engineering, [but] that did not have much to do with it."

    Computers aren't the only thing he does - besides teaching and administrative work, Rabbi Nim is an avid reader, having trouble answering what his favorite book is because "I like a lot of books." He did list some favorites for me though, like Lord of the Rings and various other fantasy books.

    But let's not forget the work he does for the school, all with much outside distraction. Rabbi Nim says the fact that he can see everyone is usually a bonus - kids are less likely to talk, run, or do anything frowned on in the hallway (this phenomenon is called the Hawthorne effect: if someone is watching you, you'll probably do better than if you were alone). 

    What is one of the things that makes Rabbi Nim so approachable? Perhaps it's that despite everything, he still feels like he "will never really grow up." One of the things that might support this statement is if he got the superpower he wishes for - the ability to save time. I think the students of Hillel Academy would agree, however, that we like Rabbi Nim just the way he is.


Rivka Mandelbaum - 8th Grade

The Ziff Corner

I have written about the topic of Executive Functioning (EF) before, but I want to revisit it this week.  Among the enriching workshops I attended at the conference, the one I attended on EF was a very hands on workshop, and I brought back many ideas to share with parents and teachers.


I want to share some information that may help you understand EF and therefore, help your child who may have some issues in this area.


    1. Students who are specifically impaired in their ability to organize, plan and monitor their work have deficits in the brain based skills that are collectively known as executive functioning.  Executive weaknesses affect the ability to manage the flow of  information and the tasks necessary to succeed in school.

    2. Interventions to help these students must be taught, just like any other skill.  The skills need to be practiced and reinforced.  Teachers work on these organizational skills in school, parents need to follow up and reinforce them at home.  All children want to be successful, but some just need that extra help and practice.  They don't acquire the skills when they are a certain age.

    3. In new research (S. Kaplan and M.G. Berman "Directed Attention as a Common Resource for Executive Functioning and Self-Regulation," Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2010, 5(1), 43-57) Kaplan and Berman report that viewing nature or simply taking a walk in nature for as little as 20 minutes per week provides just the right amount of cognitive input to allow our brains to "recalibrate" to a restful level. They also talk about refueling our bodies with snacks.  Hillel already recognizes the importance of this and offers students snack time!

    4. Help your student keep a planner. I am recommending that the middle and high school teachers encourage their students to email them on Thursdays.  This email will serve as a way for the student  to double check that they are all caught up with their assignments. This idea serves as a checks and balances system.

    5.  Don't be afraid to give your child help on their homework and follow up with assignments.  Be a part of their school day at home for as long as they need the guidance.  Soon, the routine of how to do homework will filter into their  long term memory and it will be a natural fit. (Remember, if you spend too much time on homework, contact the teacher right away!)

Please fill free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about this topic.

Lower School


This past Friday, at a special oneg for grades K-4, we launched the latest Middah in our Better LYFE initiative; Kibbud Av V'eim, "honoring one's parents." Mrs Ziff presented Better LYFE  Kibbud Av V'eim pins to students

 who participated in the  Pre-Pesach-Helper photo contest. Students who submitted photos of themselves helping their parents get ready for Pesach had their photos posted on the Kibbud Av V'eim tree in the lobby and received a pin at the pin ceremony. "I liked seeing the pictures on the tree" said Kindergartner  Yossi Cohen.                                                                   



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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. 


This week's riddle:

Q: What is half of 2+2?

Last week's riddle

Q: If I say "Everything I tell you is a lie," am I telling the truth or a lie?

A:  A lie. Why? Because if it was the truth, it would contradict itself. Hang on: if it's a lie, then isn't it actually the truth? No - because some of my statements can also be lies.

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. 

Last week's photo:  


This week's photo:


 Hint: Mesivta


Dear Parents,


Hillel Academy will administer the IOWA tests to grades 2-8, during the week of April 22. These yearly tests provide the school with valuable information to better serve your child(ren). While it is not possible to "study" for these tests, it is important to remember a few pointers to help your child(ren) be as successful as possible.

1. Get your child to school ON TIME each day.  Students may miss valuable information about the tests if they are late.  A student  can not start a test mid-way.  If a student  misses the beginning of a section, he or she  will have to wait until the whole section is completed and then make up the test at a later date.

2. Ensure that your child eats a nutritious breakfast and receives plenty of rest at night.  Please be sure to send healthy snacks.  

3. Students should come to school feeling relaxed and unpressured about the tests.  The results are not used to "grade" the students.  They should be encouraged to do their best at all times.

4. Please avoid scheduling medical, dental or other appointments during the week of the testing.  Research shows that students do better when tested with their class rather than in a make up session.

5. Be sure your child has a book to read or a puzzle book to work on.  If they finish a section before the end time is called, students must sit quietly at their seats. Students may NOT bring electronic devices or games to use during IOWA testing week.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the tests, please feel free to email or call Mrs. Ziff or Rabbi Nim.


Thank you in advance for your help and support at home to make this a successful experience for your students.


Rabbi Nimchinsky    Mrs. Ziff 

Mazel Tov
Mazel Tov to Tamar (alumna) and Daniel Kahn in Jerusalem on the birth of a daughter in Jerusalem. (weight 7lb.)
Mazel Tov to grandparents, Drs. Tova and Joel Weinberg (alumnus). 

Baruch Dayan HaEmet
With great sorrow, we regret to inform you 
of the passing of 
Frances Stein OB"M


Beloved Wife of Murray Stein
Mother of Marty, Steven and Marcia (Stein) Fiedler, all alumni of Hillel Academy.

Social Media

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. We give out prizes, announce news and share photos of our rapidly growing school.  Additionally, our favorite posts and tweets will be posted in this section. #HillelAcademy1, #HillelGear. Click on the links below to follow us.
 Forget about nanotechnology and drip irrigation - did you know that an Israeli invented Rummikub?!?  
For the first time in 20 years, a non-Israeli has won the International Chidon HaTanach... MTA's very own Yishai Eisenberg ('16)! 
Mass General doctor: Israelis helped us set up disaster team  
Thank you @HillelAcademy1 for the alumni post cards!!! #we'llget'emnextyear 


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Our second collection period is coming to an end. Please drop off your Tops in the school office now. We will finish the tallying process by the end of the month. After a wonderful start in the beginning, our collection is nearing its goal. 



Around Town


HS HOCKEY TRYOUTS: Vince Sacca, [email protected] for more information. 



FOOD & CLOTHES PICKUP Spring Cleaning? During April, Yoni Ratchkauskas will be collecting food and clothes. He will pick up from your house and will deliver to the kosher food bank and goodwill. Email: [email protected]

BOYS ONEG:  Boys Oneg, grades 1-3, this Shabbos is from 3:00pm to 4:00pm at PZ! For additional information email Zev Kraut, [email protected].
GIRLS ONEG: Oneg this Shabbos is from 3:00pm to 4:00pm at PZ! We can't wait to see all girls in grades K - 7 there! For additional information email - [email protected].

BNEI AKIVA: Snif this Shabbat will be at Shaare Torah from 4:30-5:30pm. See flyers for all the upcoming programs. 
[email protected] ACADEMY:  Zumba with Ashley every Monday and Wednesday night at 7:30pm  on Monday and 7:15 Wednesdays in Hillel Academy - $5 a session.  Contact her for information  [email protected]
 IN NEED OF DONORS: Adam and Jill Brufsky would like to encourage everyone to donate to the Central Blood Bank. Jill has been struggling with Leukemia. Your participation will benefit all cancer patients in need of blood and platelet donors. If you have not already been tested for the National Bone Marrow Registry, please do so to assist those in need of a marrow transplant. Click HERE for the sites available, please mention Temple Emanuel's code, G0020018 when registering. Thank you so much for your consideration and your action.


  • April, 2013 Mordy Brown Menu
  • April, 2013 Mordy Brown Order Form  
  • Buy a pie of pizza from Mordy Brown and $1 will be donated to Hillel.     
We are now accepting new student applications for the 2013-2014 school year! Please contact Chevi Rubin at [email protected] for more information.  
hillel ad for 2013-2014 



Click HERE for the SDC link. 




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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