The Hillel Happenings
The official e-newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
 Parshat Emor
17th day of the Omer

Candle Lighting: 7:58                                                                         Havdalah: 9:07
 May 2, 2014                                                                                   2 Iyar 5774
D'var Torah   


     At the onset of Parashat Emor, we read about the laws that pertain to the kohanim, the priests during the time of the Batei Hamikdash. At the end of the Parasha, we read about the festivals and how they were to be celebrated in Jerusalem. At first, it is unclear why these two sections are juxtaposed with one another. However, when one thinks about the festivals as they were celebrated in the Temple, it is clear that they are deeply tied to the service of the kohanim. The kohanim were an exalted people. They were able to serve Hashem in ways that no others were allowed, but when you read about the festivals it does not seem that their lives were exalted ones. While the rest of the nation gathered the kohanim worked. When the rest of the nation feasted, the kohanim worked. And when the rest of the nation sinned, the kohanim bore the burden of their repentance. 


     In the role of the kohane, we see the role of the Jewish leader. The role of the Jewish leader is to serve. If you are given a gift, you must use that gift to lead and to serve. At Hillel we are creating the future leaders of the Jewish people. Hopefully our students will grow to lead like the kohanim and lead through service to the community and bringing others closer to Hashem. 


Have a wonderful Shabbat,


                         Rabbi Weinberg

Where Are They Now? - Dr. Lee Weinberg
Dr. Weinberg with his wife Liora, children and grandchildren over Pesach. 
Hi Dr. Weinberg, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. When did you attend Hillel Academy?
In middle school and high school.  I graduated high school in 1968, 46 years ago...that's pretty scary.
What's your fondest memory  of Hillel Academy? The good times and lifelong friends that I made at Hillel.
What was your favorite subject? Biology with Mr Tomko.
What's it like to have a famous son? Famous? I'm proud of what Rabbi Weinberg is trying to accomplish at Hillel.  Hopefully his positive energy will be channeled into an exciting Jewish and educational experience for the students, and Hillel will continue to grow. But famous....Really?
In your wildest dream did you ever think your son would be the principal of Hillel Academy? Like one of his former Rebbeim told me,"Hashem does have a sense of humor."
Do you ever offer Rabbi Weinberg advice on running the school? No. Based on the job I did as President, I think Rabbi Weinberg will do fine without my help.
Do you keep in touch with your classmates? Yes. We had a small class and are still in close contact.
You are a gastroenterologist for UMPC. Tell us about your position. I'm a clinical gastroenterologist  at Shadyside, and I have the usual GI job description. I see patients in consultation and perform diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic procedures.
Can you offer some advice to our students? Take advantage of the tremendous opportunity and privilege you have at Hillel to master tools in both secular and Jewish studies that will prepare you for future growth as a Torah observant Jew in whatever profession you choose.
How did Hillel prepare you for life? By giving me a strong education, and more importantly, by instilling in me a love of Torah and its values that provide the matrix to navigate in the secular world.
There is a new Jake Weinberg in town. When he starts to walk, what is the first place you are going to take him? If he's anything like his father or his namesake, his great-grandfather, Jake will decide for himself where he's going to walk.
What's your favorite Hillel event to attend? The alumni basketball game.
Thank you for your time!

       Reb Shaw
Restroom petition is valuable lesson for Hillel Academy second-graders

When students from Hillel Academy's second grade wanted a restroom installed at one of their favorite parks, they traveled downtown.

"It started with a story in their reader, and then we came across something in social studies," explained their teacher, Chaya Berelowitz.

Berelowitz and her students had studied government. In an effort to promote project-based learning, a pedagogical enterprise where students gain knowledge and skills by exploring real-world problems, Berelowitz challenged her students on the notion of citizenship. She questioned how individuals affect each of the government's branches. She asked what changes could be made locally and how they could be accomplished. Immediately, students determined a bathroom was needed at Davis Playground, the park located on Hobart Street between Murray Avenue and Wightman Street. With Berelowitz's help, a petition was started.

The students traveled from classroom to classroom, then dispersed throughout the neighborhood collecting signatures from parents and community members. Within days, nearly 400 people had signed the petition for a bathroom at Davis Playground.

Berelowitz contacted City Councilman Corey O'Connor and arranged a meeting between the parties. On Tuesday, April 8, the students traveled downtown by bus, arrived at the City-County Building, rode the elevators to the fifth floor and entered the council chambers. In a courtly room bearing the names of Pittsburgh's former mayors, the students observed pre-digitized copies of city laws. Members of O'Connor's staff greeted the students and described the efforts of the legislative branch. Finally, O'Connor arrived and listened as the kids recited prepared remarks.

"Councilman O'Connor ... Davis Park was recently redone. The courts are smooth and fresh, and the equipment was repainted. It is truly a beautiful place. The only problem is that there aren't restroom facilities. When a family goes to play, the amount of time they can spend there is limited. If there are preschool kids in the family, sometimes they have to leave a few minutes after they come," said one student.

Upon concluding their presentation, the students presented O'Connor with the stacks of signatures.

"Now I have a big job ahead of me today," O'Connor said.

He informed the students that he would talk to the Department of Public Works and Parks director, write a letter and see if a bathroom could be installed.

He also explained that often in government, compromise must be reached, and perhaps the solution might be a portable toilet, similar to those in Frick Park.

Following the meeting, the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance and introduced themselves to other council members.

O'Connor and his staff noted the students' work.

Judy Trombetta, O'Connor's chief of staff, stated, "It is important to us to have constituents involved in the legislative process."

O'Connor agreed: "It is great because they understand what we do and how it impacts their lives. The kids get to learn about their city and make a difference."

The students thanked O'Connor and members of the City Council and returned to Squirrel Hill. On the bus ride back, Ella Ziff, Hillel Academy's director of special services for grades kindergarten through 12, praised the exercise. "The students were part of the planning process," she said.

In projects like these, Ziff added, "kids discover for themselves that it's the experience. They see the concrete come to life."

(Adam Reinherz, who writes about life in Jewish Pittsburgh, can be reached at [email protected].)
Staff Feature - Mrs. Rebbeca Pollack
Welcome to Hillel Academy. You are one of our wonderful administrative assistants. What's it like being a part of the fastest growing school in the country? It's great! Sitting at the front desk gives me the opportunity to get to know everyone who walks through the door and I really enjoy that. It was a really quick and easy way to get to know the community!

Being at the front desk, you are the first line of defense. What's your technique? Only open the door for people I recognize. Worse comes to worse, I ask Mrs. Aronson before opening the door. 

The 'open door' button holds a lot of power. Does it ever go to your head?
I'm not sure what open-door-button-power-going-to-your-head would entail, but generally I'm pretty humble about my door opening powers. It is a gift that not many people have. 

What's the most interesting phone call you have received thus far? A computer company called claiming I called  to fix my computer because it had too many viruses on it. After trying to ask a list of questions about my computer, it turns out they were looking for a specific person (someone I've never heard of) and they thought they were calling her house and not a school. 
You see almost all of our 316 students on a daily basis. Do you know all of their names yet? Almost! I'm still working on the preschool students. 

You married a Pittsburgh family, what's that like? It took a few months for people to stop asking me if I was related to Dean Pollack when they met me and most people usually go through the list of Pollack boys to figure out which one I married--but that's to be expected in a small city. I love being a Pollack!  
Good answer! You grew up in Denver, Colorado-- how does it compare with Pittsburgh? Denver's Jewish community is a little bigger and much more spread out, so I was surprised when I figured out that the entire Pittsburgh Jewish community mostly lives in one neighborhood. Also, Denver has a very dry climate and is sunny almost every day of the year (even when it's snowing). So, the rain, clouds, and east coast winters have been a bit of an adjustment. But I really love that most things are in walking distance in Squirrel Hill.  I also really like the unity of the Jewish community here and how everyone works together! 

What's the best part of warm weather? I don't have to schlep around a heavy winter coat any more (well, most days at least).

Squirrel Hill trivia: Two new trees were planted over Pesach break. Where were they planted? I'm not sure, but I know that a bunch of trees were cut down on the corner of Murray and Woodmont--does that count? 

No, not really, that does not count. Survey says X. Share something interesting about yourself with our reader. I'm the fourth child in a family of eight kids. Also, even though I grew up in Colorado, I have only been skiing one time in my life. 
No way, one time. How is that possible? My parents never took me.  
It's good to get to know a little more about you. Thanks for your time!



Reb Shaw
Day at the Museum 
  As part of an Art in Literature unit, the fifth grade girls explored art and artists. We read two non-fiction selections about sculpture; we experienced the joy and tribulations of the artistic process by creating our own clay models; and we read the novel, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which is set in New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art and explores Renaissance Art and artists. 

  Our capstone to this unit was a trip to the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History, where students examined and explored several works of art. The trip began with a guided scavenger hunt, based on clues written by fellow classmates. We then practiced sketching techniques on various sculptures in the museum. After this intense study of artwork, we headed over to the Museum of Natural History, where we embarked on a wondrous tour of the Hall of Minerals and Gems. There was time for a quick lunch break before exploring the North American and African habitat exhibits for our upcoming ecosystems unit in science.   


Back in the classroom, we had a great discussion about everything we saw and explored at the museum. The trip to the museum gave us a wonderful new perspective on the world of art outside the classroom.


Thanks to the administration for making this trip possible and to Mrs. Langer for providing transportation and chaperoning our trip.


Hillel Academy and the Pittsburgh Pirates 

To the Entire Pittsburgh Jewish Community:
Everyone is 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. 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 Dan Shaw.
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]org, and each week we'll select the best picture for inclusion in the Hillel Happenings.  
Photo contest: Pesach Break - LAST CALL. Send the photo to [email protected]  We will post the photos on Facebook. The photo with the most likes on the Hillel page within the time period of the contest wins a dinner courtesy of Mordy Brown. 

The Itskowitz boys with their Great-Grandparents, KA"H!

New HYPE Classes - Register Here
SPRING SEMESTER began this past Thursday with "PARSHA TALK"

New Jewish Philosophy class begins next Monday night! Sign up now for any class; it's never too late to join in the learning! Click #TorahisOrah to register for classes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Rabbi Levy
Hello to Goodbye:
A Perspective on the Senior Year at Hillel
Fourteen years ago, I was privileged to attend and graduate the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh, Hillel Academy's Boy's High School in White Oak, PA.  More so than any other year, I remember that one.  Maybe it was the friendships, maybe the teachers, I don't know.  But as many of you can relate, twelfth grade provides an incredible moment in the high school experience. All of a sudden, you start to hear, "This is my last..." more than any other phrase throughout the year.  Whether it's the last high school orientation, student council meeting, basketball game, or production, a little nostalgia creeps into all school matters.  In an effort to capture the uniqueness of the Senior Year, with the help of Rivka Mandelbaum, we interviewed this year's senior class. Each week we will feature one of our proud seniors. Enjoy! 
-DShaw ('00)
Binyamin, who is the student council president, and his 2013-2014 council. 
Tell our readers something about yourself.  Hi, my name is Binyamin Skaist, I am a senior at Hillel Academy, and am currently being interviewed for the Hillel Happenings. 

List as many nicknames for yourself as you can. Go! Binz, Binny, B-man, Bin-Bin, and Freddy (That last one has a long story behind it). 
Where will you be next year? Chofetz Chaim of Jerusalem - I am going from the JCC to the CCJ.

What is your favorite Hillel memory?  Oh man, I could probably fill a 22 volume book with all the great memories at Hillel Academy (I would title it "High School"). But number one is probably our BHS onegs/tishes.

What is your favorite Hillel memory involving Rabbi Weinberg? Beating him 12-10 in a hard fought basketball game.

What city do you want to live in? Why? Anywhere in Kansas, because any time I leave I can say, "we're not in Kansas anymore"
Give current Hillel students some advice for their years here. School will be the greatest time of your life, have fun.
If I am a hungry Hillel student looking for food, who do I go to? Rabbi Smith.  Just tell him the code, and he will pull a suspicious bag of chips out of his drawer.

I have $20 and I need to spend it in Squirrel Hill. Where do I go? Dunkin Donuts - it could get you a cup of water, and one hash-brown.

What's your dream job? The opposite of your dream job? Being a super hero. A seamstress 
Best Adar prank ever played on teachers/other students? We stole Rabbi Smith's desk and brought it down a flight of stairs. We also shook up Mr. Werber's soda in 5th grade.                                                                                                                                                                                         
HYPE Scholar-in-Residence Weekend- RSVP TODAY!
Bagels and Bibles with Dr. Harold Rhode  

The Iraqi Jewish Archives: The story of discovering and preserving an ancient treasure of the Jews of Bavel

Dr. Harold Rhode received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in Islamic History, specializing in the history of the Turks, Arabs, and Iranians. In May 1982, he joined the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon as an adviser on the Islamic world with a special emphasis on Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. He retired from this position in 2010.

Recently, Dr. Rhode has been in the news regarding the Iraqi Jewish archives. While Rhode was in Iraq during the war, he received a tip that hidden inside Saddam Hussein's palace was a trove of ancient Jewish texts and artifacts. He gathered a group of Americans and was able to save and eventually preserve those artifacts by bringing them back to America. Recently, the American government has been preparing to return these items to Iraq. Dr. Rhode is leading a push in Congress to have those items either given to Israel or to at least remain here, in the United States, to be preserved and cared for.

When: Sunday May 4th at 10AM (Note new time)
Where: Hillel Academy 
Cost: $18/couple
Free babysitting for ages 0-8, reservation required.

Click Bagels and Bibles to RSVP                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rabbi Levy

Plant It!


The Boys High School's 11th grade Earth/Environmental Science class is currently working hard to build a garden project at Hillel Academy.  Our goal is to create a garden to make the school look more appealing, incorporate hands-on learning across the gardens, and provide the experience of nature for generations to come.


To begin the project, each student was given bean seedlings.  Imagine our surprise when they germinated practically overnight. For three weeks, the boys took measurements and tested their hypotheses about seed crowding, depth of planting, seed saturation and soil composition.  In addition to this project we are going to learn more about climate

The growing plants. 

 and crop cycles, drainage, invasive species and the nutritional benefits of the crops that we are growing.  We are also learning a lot about responsibility and incorporating math and some of our mapping skills along the way. We sincerely hope that the location we selected will get enough sun, and that by the summer's end there will be tasty vegetables for all to share! 


If anyone is interested in aiding the project, we need help gathering supplies such as garden tools or anything handy that you have around your house to build the BHS Garden for future generations!


Ms. Cunningham


Better LYFE 
As part of the Better LYFE initiative, the students in grades 3-8 got down and dirty with the middah
of Nekiyus
(cleanliness). Seven classrooms competed head to head for 4 weeks to see who could maintain the cleanest classroom. Classrooms were inspected daily and scored on how well the students maintained the floors, storage areas, furnishings and their personal effects. The winners of the MSB division were the 7th and 8th grade boys for maintaining room 214. In the lower division, the 3rd grade won for maintaining room 206. Those classes will receive a special lunch in the coming weeks to recognize their efforts. The 4th grade will also be recognized for their efforts having come in only one point behind the 3rd grade.                                                                                                      

Club Updates  

BHS Intramural Football League has begun. 

Game 1: Team Skaist 44 - Team Wasserman - 12
Game 2: Team Skaist 22 - Teacher Ungar - 0
Game 3: Team Ungar 24 - Team Wasserman 0.
Game 4: Team Skaist 37 - Team Wasserman 6.
Team Skaist 3-0, 
Team Ungar 1-1, 
Team Wasserman 0-3

- Please note that Middos Club final session is June 9
- Awards Luncheon is May 29 at noon for students in grades 4-12 and their parents.  Parents please RSVP by May 25 by clicking here

Hillel Academy Pop Grid

 Students in the Mix

Where did you go for Pesach?

What was your favorite part of Pesach?

What was the first chametz you ate after Pesach was over?

Elisheva Friedman

Treasure Island, Florida

The ocean. I felt like reliving the slavery.


Avital Segal

Stayed in Pittsburgh


Dunkin Donuts sandwich

Grace Kasaback

Stayed in Pittsburgh and my grandparents came to my house

When it was almost over

Dunkin Donuts

Aviva Itskowitz

Stayed at home

My cousins coming

Dunkin Donuts

Sarah Hertzberg

A Farm

Going to a farm


Esther Rochel Grossberg

Stayed home

All of it


Bracha Berelowitz

Stayed home

All of it


Elisheva Friedman - 6th grade
Hillel Academy on YouTube 
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Purim Rap 5774 - Rabbi Nim & The Nimets
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Purim Rap 5774 - Rabbi Nim & The Nimets
The Chicken vs.Steely Dance Off
The Chicken vs. Steely Dance Off

View our videos on YouTube 

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.  

Rabbi Brodie leads a model seder back in the day. Can you name any of these former students?
Mazel Tovs - Much Nachas to You All
Send Mazel Tovs to [email protected]
Mazel tov to our very own Dr. and Mrs. Zlochower and their family on the birth of a grandson!
Mazel tov to Dr. Avrumi ('00) and Dr. Meryl Zlochower on the birth of a son! 


        [email protected]

Dear Friend:
Please consider making a  special gift to Hillel Academy on the Day of Giving, Tuesday, May 6th between the hours of 6:00 am and 12:00 midnight.  Traditionally, the event was held in October, so please mark you calendars for May 6th.  Your kindness will allow us to continue to ensure Jewish continuity through Jewish education.


Your financial contribution will have an even bigger impact if you give on the Day of Giving!


Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh will receive a pro-rated portion of the match pool. The match will be capped at $1,000 per donor transaction per organization.  Any individual gift of $25-$1,000 will count towards the match pool.  If a donor gives a gift to an organization in excess of $1,000 (for example $1,500) only $1,000 will count towards the match pool.  This is not a dollar-for-dollar match.
Tweets of the Week 
 replay confirmed he was safe and the Bucs run scores. Replay, like the second day of Yom Tov.
@HillelAcademy1 the Karban Pesach has to be barbecued. Like on a Jason Grilli! 
Hillel Announcements
The deadline for announcement submissions is Sunday at midnight for the coming week.


2014-2015 School Calendar: CLICK HERE
THE DAY OF GIVING: MAY 6, 2014 - click 
here to donate to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh using Mastercard or Visa only.  No donations via check, cash or stock will be accepted.  Discover and AMEX donations will not be accepted or matched.   The cardholder must make the donation; no donations will be accepted by third parties.
Hillel Academy Goes to the Pirates game: May 25 - CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
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

Around Town
The deadline for announcement submissions is Sunday at midnight for the coming week. All flyers should be in JPG format please. 
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]. 
NCSY: Spring regional shabbaton for 8-12th grade from May 23-25. Register at Glow in the dark capture the flag on Saturday night of May 10th. 
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

Want More?    


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