The Hillel Happenings
The official e-newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parshat Beshalach - Shabbat Shira
Theme Week Part IX: Chumash 

Candle Lighting: 4:54                                                                       Havdalah: 6:03
 January 10, 2014                                                                            9 Shevat 5774
Dvar Torah


      This week we traditionally read the

Haftorah from sefer Shoftim about the prophetess and leader Devora. The verse tells us that she "would sit underneath the palm-tree of Devora" (4:5). The Talmud in tractate Megilla suggests two explanations as to why the passuk explicitly tells us that Devora sat under a palm tree. The first explanation is that Devora was careful to judge in an open place so that she would not be in seclusion with the men who came to her for judgment. The second explanation that the gemara cites is that, "Just as a palm-tree has only a single 'heart', so does Israel have only a single heart devoted to their Father in heaven." Most trees consist of branches that are similar in shape and appearance to the trunk of a tree, whereas the palm tree's branches are frail and flimsy compared to the

singular trunk. The single unified heart in this verse is a metaphor for the singular devotion that Bnei Yisroel had towards Hashem under Devora's leadership. 


     Later on in the story, after the victory over the Canaanites, Devora composes a song of triumph. Towards the beginning of the song she describes the horrific state of the nation as it suffered under Canaanites oppression, adding that this situation prevailed, "until I, Devora, arose, until I arose as a mother in Israel" (5:7).  Devora speaks of the "maternal" quality of her leadership, how she cared for the people as a mother tenderly and lovingly looks after her children.  It was through this care and devotion that she reached the hearts of the nation, and merged them into "a single heart" firmly committed and devoted to Hashem. 


    At Hillel Academy we always like to say we are a family.  What is a family? What makes a family different than a school or a work place? A family has a unified beating heart, full of love, care, and kindness.  A family is where you feel secure and free of judgement. No one embodies this more than Mrs. Aronson. Selma is our single unified heart. She cares for and loves our students the way a mother loves a child. This past week Selma and Bill Aronson tragically lost her daughter Fayth, Fayge Devorah, z"l.  Fayth was her mother's daughter in every way.  She was caring, selfless, and kind, values that she learned from her parents. Like Devora the prophetess, her gentle grace drew people together.  Through her care and devotion she reached the hearts of others and inspired them to be better. Fayth always remained optimistic and never lost faith in Hashem.


   This past week the world lost a source of goodness and kindness. If we all can try to replace a tiny bit of what was lost by being more kind, more positive, and more compassionate, we can hopefully continue Fayth's legacy of inspiring all those who she encountered.   


Shabbat Shalom,

ECC Pre-Shabbat Ruach Video    
Friday Oneg with Rabbi Lowy
Friday Oneg with Rabbi Lowy

Where Are They Now?


Hi readers. In an attempt to reconnect with our alumni, we have started a new column that focuses on our proud alums. We hope that this will help to strengthen our alumni network. This week we interview LCPL Yosef S. Williamson. He is stationed in Japan and has fond memories of Hillel. Enjoy the interview below. 


What year did you graduate? - I graduated from Hillel in 2011.


Favorite teacher and why? - I would have to say my favorite teacher was Mr. Marcus, who was my history teacher. He liked to look at history and asked why and what if. He brought a subject that is usually dull in high school, to one of fascination. I feel he is one of the main reasons why I study history on my own today.


Favorite memory?My favorite memory from high school at Hillel, would have to be when we challenged Rabbi Weinberg to stay within 4 square tiles for a full minute. He lost within 5 seconds.


You joined the Marines why? - I am a marine in the United States Marine Corps. This title wasn't given, it was earned. As to why I even considered the Military in the first place? It's simply something I always wanted to do, a dream I had since I was a kid. I can remember when I was 5 or 6, I had a babysitter whose brother at the time was going through Marine Corps 

Boot camp at Paris Island. She would read the letters he would send home about what was going on, the rigorous training, the strict discipline, and life as a recruit. Those letters were the foundation of what I looked for in the military. Trust me when I say there is no other branch that can come close to what the Marines have to go through to earn their title. I won't accept anything less than a challenge and so far the Corps has not let me down.

Where are you stationed and what unit are you in? - Right now I'm stationed in Okinawa, Japan. My parent unit is 9th Engineer Support Battalion, but as of now I'm temporarily assigned to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 1 in Camp Foster. 


What advice can you offer our students? High school is just a tiny stepping stone in life. If you aren't the best student it doesn't matter, just learn how to work hard. Lighten up and have some fun; it's not the end of the world if you aren't an A or B student. Just work hard, develop good study habits, and be willing to learn. 


Do you follow Pittsburgh sports while you are out of country? -  Yes I do. Not as often as I would like because of the time difference but if there is game on and I can watch, I will.

How has Hillel set you up for where you are today?
- I wasn't the best of students in Hillel and I needed to mess up a couple of times before I got my head on straight. Rabbi Weinberg and Rabbi Smith always looked out for us and they gave me a chance to redeem myself and graduate. It was the kick in the pants that I needed to get my act together.  


Share something interesting with our readers.  My Military Occupation Specialty is 1361 Engineer Technician, we are better known as Drafters and Surveyors. It's the civil engineering job for the Marines. The basics of my job are land surveying, drawing up blueprints using Computer Assisted Design, and construction management. Over time my job has expanded. I am making geodetic accurate maps off of satellite imagery, and for the past few months I have been supporting the civilian contractors surveying utilities. I make maps, conduct land and utility surveys, and design structures using AutoCAD. My MOS works hand in hand with 1371 Combat Engineers, we do whatever they are doing when we don't have work. If that's going to a demolition range, field operations or working in the construction shop, we are right beside them. 

Tzedaka in the Chumash 
Rabbi Rosenberg's BHS Chumash class just finished a unit on Tzedaka and all the boys were really into it. For part of their midterm they will be working on presenting a model Tzedaka project using the guidelines and considerations that they covered in this unit. 


 Family Feature  - The Green Family
New for this year: as our school continues to grow, we are happy to feature our new families in an attempt to formally introduce and welcome them to the Hillel Academy family. This week we talked with Uri and Molly Green. 
Welcome to Hillel Academy!  What brought you to Pittsburgh and to Hillel? We came to Pittsburgh so that Uri can take up a postdoc position at the University of Pittsburgh. Thankfully, Hillel just happened to be close by. 
What's the most fascinating thing you have found thus far about Hillel?
The folding tables in the main hall...they have wheels.


What's the funniest green joke you have heard? Editor's note:  Uri did not reply to this question with text he just send us this comic, enjoy!


You have two sons enrolled at Hillel, Noam in the tiny tots program and Nathanel in nursery. What do they love most about Hillel? Nathanel loves the arts and crafts and Noam....well, he just loves Morah Jessie.

You are both from Israel. Is school here much different than back home? There is a lot less sand in our kids shoes when they come home here. 
When the "winter" rolls around in Israel, do students look forward to delays and closings? Let's just smile and leave it at that... 

How does it make you feel that Hillel has a no close, no delay policy (unless it's -33)? Awesome! 
Uri, you have been spotted, with other Hillel parents, in the early hours of the morning at the JCC gym.  Our non-gym attendees would like to know how you get up that early in the a.m.  Does it have anything to do with being in the Israeli army? Well, to be honest, it has more to do with the US Marine Corps. Kidding aside, one of the best things this past year for me has beem working out with Berkowitz and Knoll. The morning dose of friendship really makes my day. 


Molly, you are the Bnei Akiva adviser, what's that like? Best thing about BA for me are the fantastic Madrichim. Coming from a slightly larger BA snif it is fun to see how a closely knit group of different ages interact. I am always learning and enjoy the stimulation. Thank you Linda Joshowitz!   


Anything else you would like to share with our readers? We would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank everyone who has made our move to the Burgh basically feel like coming home. Above all; Lani, Jeff, Howard and Ronit and the entire (extended!!) Averick family THANK YOU! Your constant love, support and advice are sincerely appreciated. 

Shavua Ivrit Gallery 
השבוע עברית - יום חמישי
השבוע עברית - יום חמישי
BHS Shavua Ivrit
BHS Shavua Ivrit



.לצפייה בתמונות נוספות משבוע העברית ותמונות מהלחץ בשבוע - תמונות

Faculty Interview - Mrs. Shelly Itskowtiz

This week we sat down with Mrs. Itskowitz. Did you know she was from Jersey and her favorite teacher was her Chumash teacher Mrs. Shoshanan Schechter at the Bat Torah School? To read more interesting facts about one of our amazing Hillel teacher read below and enjoy!

Hi, we never officially welcomed you to Hillel Academy, so, welcome. The office staff and I have been going back and forth about your title. Is it Morah Shelly, Mrs. Itz, Mrs. Itzkowitz or something else.  Can you please set the record straight. Sure, it's Mrs. Itzkowitz.

You have been part of the Hillel staff for a year and half now. What does that mean to you? I feel like I am truly part of a family here at Hillel. We all do what we can to help each other out. 

What's the best part about walking in the main doors at 7:45 everyday?
Seeing all the kids eager to get their day started. Believe it or not, all those kids there before 7:50 can't wait to go  back to the lunchroom to start their day.

What subjects do you teach? This year I am teaching 4 Chumash classes. To 5G, 8G, 9G and Ilana Kisilinsky. 

According to the Duquesne Law School website you graduated there.  Why the career change? When I was in high school, I was part of the debate team. That experience made me want to be a lawyer. However, once in law school, I realized I no longer wanted that for myself, but I stuck it out. I am MUCH happier with my current career choice. I love teaching, especially here at Hillel. 
This week's theme is Chumash. How do you make Chumash relevant to your students? We discuss lessons and themes that still apply today. Although, in my 5G Chumash class, we are learning about the 10 Makkos, and when we got to arbeh, locusts, we discussed how just this past year, Mitzrayim, Egypt, had been "plagued" with locusts. 

What's your favorite section in Chumash? I feel like that is choosing a favorite child- something I cannot do. 

So, I should not ask if you have a favorite student? Who was your most influential teacher and why? My Chumash teacher in high school, Mrs. Schechter. She really helped me develop my love for Chumash. I hope I am able to do the same for my students. 
Squirrel Hill Trivia (you can't ask Rob): There used to be a body of water in Squirrel Hill. Where exactly was it located? I have no idea- although asked like a true Pittsburgher ("...its where so and so used to be")

Very funny! Actually it's where the current Dunkin Donuts is, Forbes and Shady.  Good Shabbos and thanks for your time!

One last thing Reb Shaw, how come you did not ask me any sports related questions? Because, I feel like you get enough of that at home (Rob and his crew). 
GHS Chumash 

Recently, the 10th grade girls studied the Aseret Hadibrot, or Ten Commandments, that are written in Parshat Yitro.  Instead of their standard method of learning Chumash, in which the teacher leads the lesson and the girls participate through reading the text and asking questions, each girl was assigned a Commandment to research on her own and teach to her classmates. The goal of this assignment was to expose the students to different seforim and commentaries and allow them to research a Judaic topic, much like they would in one of their secular classes.        Additionally, the students had to produce a paper on the commandment, as well as conduct a well organized and informative lesson to their classmates.  While this assignment can be challenging for the students and require a  lot of work, all of the tenth graders did a beautiful job and gained skills that will surely help them in their future Torah study.  In fact, Shayna Stiebel, Hillel Academy alumna and student at Shaalavim Seminary for Women recently commented:
"Growing up, I only knew the P'shat level of the Aseret Hadibrot and never realized that there was anything more to it.  But when we worked on Mrs. Levari's project and I got to research the commandments and learn from my friends' research, I realized how much deeper each dibra was and how I could connect them to my life.  I used to think that most of them didn't really have any practical application in my life, but when I learned them a bit more in depth, I saw that they really have been so applicable throughout all generations since the time they were given.  And now in Seminary, I always sound super cool that I know all of them by heart and lots of information about each of them!"

We are saddened to announce the passing of Fayth Berkowitz, ob"m, 

beloved daughter of Selma and Bill Aronson, beloved wife of Mayer Berkowitz, and beloved sister of Marty and Adam Aronson.


Sign up to study Mishnayos in memory of Fayga Devorah Bas Zev by clicking below and selecting the mishnayos you will learn.
Tweet of the Week
This week's tweet came in via text from @RobDavis
Kudos to Dan, Sam, and Rabbi Levy -- HYPE logo , flier, and programming look great.  Elena already signed up.  Mazal Tov!! 

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. 

Mazel tov to Yosef Nimchinsky and his kallah Pessy.  While dancing the Horah, Yosef donned the 2011 Hillel Academy Winter Beanie. Nice work, the kallah loves Hillel Gear. 


 We think the bochrim in the back are jealous of the gear, #jealous.  


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 entry comes in via our Facebook page.

Sheila Gorbacz: My brother Ken Mangurtem is on the floor at the far right. Joel Ungar is next to him. Steven Joshowitz is on top. Robert Stein is in the middle to the right. Can't remember the others. Sorry.
Can anyone else name the rest of the crew?
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Last week's photo: 
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Around Town
 FYI: The deadline for submissions is Sunday at midnight for the coming week
MORDY BROWN CATERING: January Menu and Order Form 
Box Tops 4 Education: EASY AS A - B - C!!! If you shop in Giant Eagle in January, you can get 50 Bonus Box Tops instantly if you purchase any 10 participating products with your Giant Eagle Advantage card. Don't forget about site where you can clip valuable coupons but also, if you sign up, Hillel gets 2 bonus EBox Tops. Every box top counts!
Jr. NCSY Shabbaton for 7-8 grades on 
February 7th. Register at 
AGEWELL RIDES: AgeWell Rides, a NEW service of AgeWell Pittsburgh through Jewish Family & Children's Service, will offer rides for senior citizens who do not drive and who want to go to doctor appointments, shopping, to the hair dresser, or to attend religious services. We are currently recruiting drivers who have a couple of free hours and who want to make a difference in a senior's life. They are encouraged to contact AgeWell Rides at [email protected].org or call AgeWell Pittsburgh at 412-422-0400 (and speak with Maxine Horn or Ellen Leger). 
BOYS ONEG:  Boys for grades 1-4 in the PZ social hall from 3:00pm - 4:00   
GIRLS ONEG: Girls' Oneg in the PZ educational building from 3:00pm - 4:00pm for girls K-8. There is no supervision until 3:00, so any parents who bring their children to Oneg before then should please wait with them until there is an Oneg leader to accompany them to their room.  For more information and to join our email list, contact Girls Oneg at [email protected]
BNEI AKIVA: Snif will take place at Shaare Torah from 3:30-4:30 pm
MEN'S FLOOR HOCKEY LEAGUE: Tuesdays @ 10pm and Saturday night @ 9pm, both in the Hillel gym. Contact [email protected] for more information. 
WOMAN'S PICK UP BASKETBALL: Ladies Basketball is in search of some more experienced and committed players. Please contact Shayna Creeger for more information- 412 320 5859 -  Sundays and Thursdays from 8:15pm-9:30pm.
MEN'S PICK UP BASKETBALL: Wednesdays from 9pm-10:30pm in the Hillel gym


Want More Hillel Happenings? 

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