The Hillel Happenings
The official e-newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parshat Shmini - Parah

 Candle Lighting: 7:15                                                                                 Havdalah: 8:24
 March 21, 2014                                                                                            19Adar II 5774
Dvar Torah


Parashat Shemini begins with a description of the events that took place on the eighth and final day of the consecration of the Mishkan.  Moshe assembled the nation on that day and declared, "This is what G-d commanded of you. Do it and the glory of G-d will be revealed to you (9:6)".  While the Torah seems to be referring to the offerings that were now going to brought on the Mishkan, the Torat Koanim explains that Moshe told the people, " You shall eliminate that evil inclination from your hearts, and you shall all be united in fear of Hashem and in the intention to serve before the Almighty."

 It is unclear why the medrash felt the need to deviate from the simple reading of the text and assume that the Torah was not referring to ritual sacrifice. Perhaps, the medrash is referring to a time when the Beit Hamikdash no longer exists and korbanot can no longer be brought. The medrash tells us the we will still be able to bring the Hashem into our midst through serving Hashem.

 The medrash here is speaking to the timeless nature of our relationship with Hashem. While in the desert the Jews had the Mishkan to connect with G-d. Then, in Israel, they had the Temple. Now that those are gone we must find other ways, different ways, to connect with Hashem. As the world around us changes we must use all the different media and tools at our disposal to create a lasting relationship with Hashem.

To that end, we wish you a meaningful and fulfilling Shabbat. 



 Shabbat Shalom,                                    


Student Torah 


After seven days of celebrating the building of the Mishkan, tragedy strikes the family of Aharon and Israel. A review of the opinions expressed in the Talmud and the commentators do not, at first glance, reveal any major transgressions on the part of Nadav and Avihu. Their sins seem to be almost minor human foibles-unwillingness to bear the responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, personal ambition to lead the people, and over zealousness in their worship of G-d and the service of the Mishkan by introducing a ritual of fire on the altar which was not commanded by G-d.


One concept we do see here is that the Torah places great emphasis on the small things in life. It is the details that count, not only the grand scheme of things. Small mistakes often lead to great tragedies. The Torah teaches us that personal failures that can be tolerated in most humans are magnified and are not overlooked when they occur to people in positions of power and leadership. The scale of Heavenly tolerance is a sliding one, so to speak, dependent on the status, accomplishments, abilities and public position of the person being judged.


There is a special sin offering reserved for the leader of Israel. The usual sin offering is insufficient for the sins of leadership. Hashem's justice is personal and exacting, and Nadav and Avihu are among the prime examples of this. This is one of the key lessons of this parsha.


Good Shabbos!


Efraim Marizan - 6th Grade


Maftir Reminders - 4th Grade


We wanted to remind you that this week we are going to add a special maftir called Para.

It is about the para aduma which is a red cow that makes a person who is tamei-- tahor.

The para aduma is done by mixing water and the ashes of the para aduma which is a completely red cow. Why is this read two Shabbosim before Rosh Chodesh Nissan? The answer is simple-- because somebody who is tamei cannot  do the Korban Pesach, and it takes one week to prepare to become tahor.  This reminder is done so that there is plenty of time for people to be ready for the Korban Pesach.  This year, Parshas Para will be read on March 22\Chaf Adar Beis.


Moshe Nimchinsky

Yehuda Rosenstein

Nechama Schwarz


YUNMUN - Peri Sohnen - 12th Grade

February 9th marked the start of the 24th annual Yeshiva University National Model United Nations (YUNMUN) competition in Stamford, Connecticut. I represented Hillel Academy in this year's competition along with Yael Itskowitz, Adina Kisilinsky, and Josh Hertzberg.


YUNMUN is exactly what its name implies: an imitation of the proceedings of the United Nations. Participating schools are assigned a country to represent. Each school then selects students to act as delegates and assume the goals, opinions, and positions of their appointed country. The delegates divide into committees to advocate their countries' views on specific topics related to each committee's goal, which were decided and announced before the competition. In order to properly represent their country, students research the issues outlined in the topics.


YU designs the committees to resemble those found in the real UN. I had the privilege to be on the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) lead by Chair David Weiss and Assistant Chair Michelle Sabbagh. Yael was part of the Security Council (UNSC), Adina took part in the Human Rights Council (UNHRC), and Josh took part in the International Telecommunication Union (UNITU).


This year Hillel was assigned the Republic of Yemen, a small Middle Eastern country. Yemen was an interesting country to represent in the UNEP because, unlike most countries and individuals, it resists efforts in environmental protection.


YUNMUN wasn't easy. It took a lot of preparation and a lot of courage and quick thinking to speak in front of all the people, but after making some new friends and a little bit of time it became fun, exciting, and infuriating. All three days of competition were filled with achdus and friendship, despite all of the competitiveness.


I had a great time at YUNMUN. This was my second and last time competing, but if I could do it again, I would. I hope that Yael, Adina and Josh continue to participate and finally bring home a win. A huge thank you goes out to Mrs. Kraut for her guidance and hard work as our coach all these years. Good luck!

Follow us on Twitter Like us on FacebookView our videos on YouTube
Shushan Purim Museum


On Shushan Purim, the third grade hosted the Kindergarten and second grade in a hands-on museum where they learned about the mitzvos of Purim.  Third grade worked for weeks to prepare and implement this exhibit.  They began by brainstorming everything that they already knew about the mitzvos of Purim (Mishloach Manos, Mikra Megillah, Matanos L'evyonim, Seudah, and the minhag of wearing costumes).  They listed questions that they could ask to find out more about each mitzvah.  Then they were split into groups, with each group being responsible for one of the mitzvos.  They researched their mitzvos, using resources provided by Mrs. Yolkut.  The groups had the opportunity to consult with a guest expert -- Rabbi Daniel Yolkut.  Each group met individually with Rabbi Yolkut and had in-depth discussions with him about their topic.  According to Rabbi Yolkut, the third graders asked probing and intelligent questions.  They used their information to write a script and film videos to teach about their mitzvah.  Finally they planned a game or activity to do with the younger students, using their mitzvah as the theme.


This all culminated on Shushan Purim with an amazing product when the other classes came to visit.  Each group showed their video and then ran their game with 6-8 different groups of younger students.  What was truly amazing about this process was the extent to which the students took the initiative and ran with it.  Although there was guidance available as needed, for the most part the third graders came up with their scripts and games on their own.  They also took the lead in running the stations for the younger students on Shushan Purim.


When asked afterward, the students enthusiastically agreed that this was an amazing way to learn about Purim.  One student said that he learned much more than with worksheets, because on a worksheet you can just write the answer and then you forget it, but with this activity, he had to really understand and use the information to be able to explain it to the younger kids.                                             

                   Mrs. Yolkut



Alumni Reunion in NYC - March 27, 2014

Faculty Interview - Morah Chava Benjamin


Hi, welcome to Hillel Academy!  How did you hear about us?   From Morah Devorah. I've been friends with her daughter-in-law for a long time. Morah Devorah heard that Hillel was looking for some help and she let me know.

What's your favorite part of working here at Hillel?   Meeting so many great people. Ijust moved here this past summer and I barely knew anyone. Now I know so many different people.

Over the year we have heard different methods used to keep kids calm, what's your tactic?   I think it's most important to remember that what works for one kid might not work as well for another. And of course that you have to remain calm as well.
Many of our readers have Tweeted in the same question, does the quad stroller have power steering?   I wish!

You're from Baltimore, Mama Leah's or Tov?   Tov's.

Really? I worked at Mama Leah's and loved their pizza. If you could trade places with one person in the building for a week, who would it be?   One of our infants. Those babies have got it made! I wouldn't mind if someone took care of me like that.
Tell us about yourself, where did you go to high
 school and college?   I went to TAG (Torah Academy for Girls) in Far Rockaway, NY for high school. Then I earned my bachelor's at Stern College and my nursing degree at Johns Hopkins.
What's your teaching philosophy?   Interaction. We always make sure to get down on the floor and play with our infants, individually and as a group. We also read stories and sing songs together. The babies all love it. As soon as they see the books come out or hear someone start to sing they stop what they're doing and get as close as possible. 

How ready are you for the 2014 MLB season?  O's or Bucs?   I'm not really a baseball fan. I prefer football. Go Ravens ;) 

Did you really just say that in Pittsburgh? Will you participation in a NCAA bracket pool this year, do you have your final four?  Honestly, I have no idea what that even means.

Share an interesting fact with our readers.  Sneezes travel at approximately 100 mph.

How did you know that?  I Googled it, but actually one of my friends learned it in nursing school. 

Thank you for your time!  
Check Us Out On YouTube
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Purim Rap 5774 - Rabbi Nim & The Nimets
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Purim Rap 5774 - Rabbi Nim & The Nimets
March HYPE Family Learning
March HYPE Family Learning
Ever see ECC students Israeli Dance.
Ever see ECC students Israeli Dance?

Past Videos: 
DSC 0965
2014 Alumni game 
HYPE Family Learning - Feb 2014
HYPE Family Learning
 - Feb. 2014

Shushan Purim Ice Skating
Shushan Purim Ice Skating

Did you miss our Flipgram, you can view it HERE

View our videos on YouTube 

Purim Pics
View the entire alumni basketball gallery - HERE 
and the HYPE ice skating HERE    


Students in Morah Devorah's class help one another prepare for Purim 
Can you guess what the B'not Sherut's costumes were?
We used our very own bounce houses for the first time on Shushan Purim. 
The fifth grade girls pose during ice skating. 
Middle school and high school studentsdaven mincha together during Shushan Purim color war. 


Where Are They Now -  Ilya Bratman

I currently work as the Executive Director of the Hillel at Baruch College. I originally came to Hillel Academy in 1992 when my family immigrated to Pittsburgh--I went straight to Hillel! My fellow students and various Hillel families are among my fondest memories at Hillel Academy. The amazing foundation of Jewish knowledge and the Jewish way of life that I received at Hillel really prepared me for my job and life post-school. After I graduated Hillel Academy, I attended the University of Pittsburgh after which I went to Israel and attended Haifa University. I served in the Israeli Army for a few years. I came back to Pittsburgh for a bit and then moved on to New York, Philadelphia, and now I currently live in New Jersey. Mrs. Faigen, Rabbi Chinn, Rabbi Langsam, Frank Casorio and Rabbi Eisen were all teachers from Hillel who were had a big impact on my life. 
Around the world!
More Photos
ECC students in Morah Ilana's class finger paint Purim decorations. 
GHS girls with Edith Blau at Weinberg Village

Clubs Updates
Click SCHEDULE to check it. 
Shop club with Mr. Jason Small began this week. The students are building tetras book shelve units.
Ever wonder what goes on in Music Club?
Ever wonder what goes on in Music Club?

Mrs. Ziff's Corner


Did you know that the 2nd grade made the cutest felt covered chocolate bar clowns that doubled as mishloach manot gifts?  Did you know that the Kindergarten class made their very own megillah that rolled up into an enclosed tube?  Did you know that the 1st grade is working on an observation journal, looking for signs of spring and Pesach?  The Kindergarten, First and Second grade classes are busy learning and creating wonderful projects that make school so much fun!


Have you been wondering about how to make your child's day just a bit more extra special? Here are some ideas...

1. Write a special note and put it in their lunch box.

2. Write a special note and put it on the bathroom mirror so they see it when they brush their teeth.

3. Buy colorful straws, paper umbrellas, fancy toothpicks or colorful plastic wear and napkins and use them at your next meal. The kids will want to know what the special occasion is and you will tell them you are celebrating them!

4. Make time to have them take a bubble bath.

5. Everyone loves to get a letter in the mail, so mail them a letter or card.  What a surprise for them when they receive it! 

                                                                                                                                                                    Mrs. Ziff
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.  

Alum, Steve Kohane ('13) emailed this wonderful photo of him on a
tiyul near Meron and Tzfat. Steve is sporting the 2012 ringer tee. 
 Next photo contest: Pesach Break

 HYPE March Events 

Follow us on Twitter 
Like us on FacebookView our videos on YouTube
Pop Grid - Elisheva Friedman - 6th Grade  


How long have you been working at Hillel?

On a scale of

1-10, 1 being the worst, how do you rate Hillel?

Which school did you learn in? What was your favorite class?

Where did you grow up? Was it nice?

What's your favorite food?

When you were a kid, did you like being sick so you could miss school?


Mr. Werber

15 years




Pittsburgh I loved it!


It depended how sick I was.

Mrs. Erskin

1.5 years


Deer Lake High School





Pittsburgh - West Deerwood


I loved it!



Mrs. Grossberg

9 years...

with a 3 year break in the middle


YOB in Brooklyn, NY



Brooklyn, NY

I loved it!



Mrs. Wiesswasser

6/7 months


Yeshiva Darchei Torah



Detroit, Michigan



Chocolate and Pizza


Morah Ilana

6/7 months


University of Tel Aviv




Fillet mignon



Reb Shaw

8 years






Wings and Sushi


By Elisheva Friedman 


 Follow us on Twitter 

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. 
Like us on Facebook
Last Week's Photo:                                  
This Week's Photo:  
Mazel Tovs - Much nachas to you All
Send Mazel Tov's to [email protected]
Mazel tov to alum, Edo and Rena Pollack on the birth of their daughter, 
Leora Rachel, last week! 
Mazel tov to Dr. Dean and Chaya Pollack and the entire family!

Belated mazel Tov to alumni Bobbi (Wasserman - '10) and Ari Gordon on the birth of a daughter, Devorah Hadassah!
Belated Mazel tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Daniel and Judy Wasserman and Mrs. Elain Gordon and their families on the birth, Devorah Hadassah!

Toda Rabba -Thank you very much!
Thank you to Heather Vidmar McEwen (who took charge of the Grandparent  mishoalach manot), Ariella Wiesenfeld, Rebecca Knoll, Susan Jablow, Chantal Belman, Yardena Smith, 
Ronit Wiesenfeld, Rabbi Wasserman, Molly Green, Abby Schachter, Becky Weinberg, 
Shoshi Butler, Atara Kentor, David Knoll, Bryna Chinn, Kira Sunshine, Rabbi Goldberg, 
Elena Davis, and Shelly Itskowitz. 

Also a special thank you to Mrs. Aronson, Mr. Davis and Mr. McFadden for all their help!


Tweets of the Week 

Elmo and a Pittsburgher Chasid both trying to hide their identities and dodge the draft outside of

@HillelAcademy1 reserved tix for May 25 #pirates vs #nats game. Can't wait to show which school boasts the best #bucco fans! #bucn#ruach 
 Follow us on Twitter

Hillel Announcements
The deadline for submissions is Sunday at midnight for the coming week



PICTURE DAY: Picture day will be March 25 and 26, 2014!

NYC ALUMNI EVENT: March 27, 2014 at 7pm email [email protected] for more info. 
MORDY BROWN CATERING: Pizza for dinner on Monday call the main office at 412.521.8131.
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

HYPE is Going to the Pirates Game 
  All Hillel Academy Families, Grandparents, Administrators, Board Members, Faculty and Staff, Supporters and Friends are invited Sunday, May 25 at 1:35pm for a Sunday out at the Buccos game, as they battle the Washington Nationals! 
It is also a Kid's Day at PNC Park, so all kids age 14 and under will receive free Andrew McCutchen N.L. MVP Wristbands. Stick around after the game when all kids are invited to "Run The Bases" down on the field (weather permitting). Sure to be a great time for all. Don't forget to bring your hats and sunscreen!  
A limited number of tickets are available. To reserve your discounted Grandstand $15 tickets for the specially designated Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh section, please click below:



Or you can call the Hillel Academy Office at 412-521-8131.


Your tickets will be available for pick up a month before the game at Hillel Academy.  We will notify you as soon as they are available for pickup. See you at the game!


If you have any questions, please contact Dan Kraut or Reb Shaw.

Around Town
 The deadline for submissions is Sunday at midnight for the coming week.
PZ: OK, so the website is now live, and the link to signup is at
Please share this information ASAP (if possible, today or Leil Purim). A suggested text would be "This year, xxxxx is excited to partner with other instititions in our community in sponsoring the Pesach project, a 30 day journey to a more meaningful Seder experience. Join your friends and neighbors in a daily exploration of the Haggadah through very short daily videos by leading Rabbanim and educators in our community (including xxxxxx) available daily on our website, and feel free to explore the many links available there to both electronic resources to help deepen your understanding of the haggadah. You can sign up at"
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send your videos, Pesach class schedule etc. ASAP, so that we can make good on the idea that this is a collaborative effort.
BOYS ONEG:  NO ONEG this week.    
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 4pm-5pm.
NCSY: Local Shabbaton March 21-22. NCSY Video Game Tournament Fundraiser- On March 30th at 3:30PM join NCSY in a Halo 3 Tournament (RSVP by joining the event on facebook "NCSY 3:30 on 3.30 Video Game Tournament Fundraiser", or by e-mailing Ben Ungar at [email protected])
MEN'S FLOOR HOCKEY LEAGUE: Tuesdays @ 10pm and Saturday night @ 9pm, both in the Hillel gym. Contact [email protected] for more information. 
WOMEN'S PICK UP BASKETBALL: Ladies Basketball is in search of some more experienced and committed players. Please contact Shayna Creeger for more information- 
MEN'S PICK UP BASKETBALL:  Wednesdays from 9pm-10:30pm in the Hillel gym























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