The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
September 5, 2014

10 Elul 5774

Parshat Ki Teitzei

Candles: 7:28
Havdala: 8:26

Dear Hillel Academy Family,


As the remainder of our students trickled out of Hillel Academy last week, I could not help but be overwhelmed by a sense of excitement for the year that awaits us. This past summer, our dedicated faculty and staff worked tirelessly to ensure that the school year was ready to start without any hiccups or glitches. Sure enough, at 8:00 AM Wednesday morning, the halls were filled with the sounds of tefilah, learning, and joy. The excitement grew as the day progressed, and the positive energy was palpable during the first day of school, programming and orientations.


This was a very difficult summer for Am Yisroel. When we ended school last year, we had only just heard of the kidnapping of Elad, Gil-Ad, and Naftali z''l. The war in Gaza, where close to seventy Israeli soldiers would lose their lives, had not begun. And blatant antisemitism was thought of to be a thing of the past. This past summer has been one that left many of us glued to the news wondering what we could do to help and how we could make a difference. We participated in an incredible community rally for Israel, and hosted our own children's rally where students were able to write letters, make care packages, and design a gift for a hospital in Ahskelon. (See photos of Mr. Kraut delivering our sign to the hospital, and read the incredible story of how the Knoll's letter ended up in the hands of their cousin). This year we will continue with Israel awareness programs and Israel advocacy programs in all of our divisions. While it is very hard to be in America during these times of crises, we must use this as an educational opportunity and show support for our brothers and sisters in Israel.


In this week's Parasha we read about the Mitzva of hashavat aveidah- returning lost objects.  Interestingly, this Mitzva actually counts as two of the Torah's 613 commandments. It contains the positive imperative, "You must take it back to your fellow" (22:1), as well as a negative prohibition, "Lo tukhal le-hit'alem, You must not remain indifferent" (22:3).  Commentators are puzzled by the expression "lo tukhal le-hit'alem," which is literally translated as, "You cannot remain indifferent," as opposed to the expected wording, "You must not remain indifferent." "Lo tukhal" suggests that one literally does not have the ability to overlook his fellow's lost object. Rav Moshe Alshich suggests that "Lo tukhal le-hit'alem" alludes to the ultimate function this Mitzva is to serve: the Torah seeks to bring a person to the point where he treats the property of others with the same concern and vigilance as he does his own possessions. Though at first a person might return a lost item only due to the Torah obligation, ultimately, he should reach the point where he simply cannot ignore and overlook the crisis of his fellow. He literally "cannot remain indifferent" to the circumstances of his friend.


This idea mirrors our goal as educators. Children are taught at a very young age to perform certain actions, not necessarily because they understand their importance, but simply because we tell them to. While this is an important stage, it should only be the beginning stage of their development. The hope is that through their devotion to the rules, eventually they will begin to understand the beauty and reasons behind what they are doing. Ultimately, they too will be "lo tukhal le-hit'alem"- unable to remain indifferent. 


This year we will reboot our Better LYFE (Love Your Friend forEver) initiative. In this program, we will attempt to improve our interpersonal Mitzvot. We will focus on the positive traits of achdut (unity), arvut  (mutual responsibility), hashba'ah (peer pressure), and redifut shalom (conflict resolution). Through various programs, contests, and a new advisory program that is being instituted in K-12, our students will incorporate this idea of "lo tukhal le-hit'alem"- unable to remain indifferent. 


With G-d's help, this will undoubtedly be an incredible school year. On behalf of the entire Hillel administration, faculty, and staff, I would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to help educate your children. 


Shabbat Shalom,


Hillel on YouTube - The Video Center 
  • First Day of School
    First Day of School Slideshow
    First Day Aug 2014 Video
    First Day Aug. 2014 Video
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Annoucments and Reminders 
  • Meet the Teachers Night, K-12 - Wednesday, September 10 at 7:30pm.
  • Please it is dangerous for our students, No U turns in front of school.
  • Infant and 1's parking along the building
  • Please remain in your car during the car dismissal line for 4pm dismissal M-Th and Friday at 2:15pm
  • All mini clubs begin next week, full clubs will be sent out mid-September and begin after Sukkot
  • We are a peanut free school
  • Check our online calendar for Yom Tov/days off schedule
  • School Webiste 
  • Facebook Page
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Alumni Spotlight 
Over the summer, we got in contact with Rachel Firestone. She attended  Hillel in the '80s.  You might know her parents who still live in Pittsburgh.  She has fond memories of Hillel  Academy  and credits her former teachers with her comfort level in shul  and  following Torah  reading.  To  find out  more, check out the  interview below. Enjoy! If you are an alum, or know  one who we  can  interview please, send Dan Shaw an email at  [email protected]. You can  also always call the  main office at  412.521.8131.

When did you attend Hillel Academy? 
K - 7th grade, from 1982-1990.

Share a favorite Hillel memory or two with our readers? One of my favorite and earliest memories of Hillel is raising chicks in Morah Butler's Kindergarten class. I also remember Risa Brustein's mom bringing in cow tongue for us to taste - my first culinary adventure!


What organizations are you currently involved in? Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco and Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland. 

How do you earn a living? I am a Senior Architect for one of the top cloud computing companies called Workday. However, I am also a professionally trained pastry chef.


How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? I am comfortable davening in any shul and following the Torah portion on Shabbos because we learned how to daven at such a young age at Hillel. I am also an expert at the Biblical categories on Jeopardy!


Share some info about your family. My husband, Jason Binder and I have a son, Zachary, who is approaching his first birthday. Every Shabbat we sing Shalom Aleichem, bless him, and do Kiddush, before he goes to bed. He loves challah and chicken soup!


What do you do in your free time? In my free time, which I don't have much of these days, I enjoy cooking, baking, and dancing. I also am excited for the Steelers' season.

Hillel Trivia - How many students are currently enrolled: infants -12th grade?318? (344 is the correct answer).

Who was your first Hillel teacher? Morah (Nina) Butler

What was your favorite class? I always loved Hebrew language classes because our Ivrit teachers were so wonderful, especially Mrs. Shuldiner.


Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? There were so many teachers I enjoyed, including Morah Chana, Mrs. Dorsey, Mrs. Hoffman, Mrs. Butler, Mrs. Milch, but I especially remember Mrs. Jacobowitz. She and Rabbi Jacobowitz used to live near me, and long after I was her student, I would visit her at her home. She was a wonderful and caring teacher.

Middle School GO
The girls in grades 5th-8th gathered at Schenley Park to work together as a middle school group, and as a class with activities that show
achdus - unity.


We began with a game featuring "everyone is special and unique - we make up a great group" - everyone shared what they thought was unique about them, and if it was truly unique, they received a point.  We then hunted for pieces of paper - each class had a color and they designed their own class symbol.  

  • 5th Grade - Sweet as cotton candy
  • 6th Grade - Cheerful cherries
  • 7th Grade - Stick together like glue
  • 8th Grade - Shalom graduates.

Last, we played a unification game.  The rules included no talking and the students had to put themselves in order of their birthdays. We were treated to smoothies when we returned to school -  we'll blend together for a smooth start.





Mrs. Grossberg


Welcome Bnot!

Hello Readers! We are Anat and Yuval, the new Bnot Sherut here in Pittsburgh! We both studied at "Haroeh" high school in Ramat Gan, we both chose computer science as our major in high school and we both are the youngest and only girls in our families, after two older boys. 


We were leaders in Bnei- Akiva in Israel, Anat in Tel- Aviv and Yuval in Bnei- Braq. We did our sherut leumi last year together, at the ministry of defense in Jerusalem, at the Disabled Rehabilitation Division. We worked alongside psychologists and social workers, helping soldiers and ex-soldiers who got hurt during wars and missions in the army. It was a very interesting and challenging year for both of us.

So, after working with the Israeli society for a whole year, we decided we want to spread the beauty of Israel and its society abroad. We think it's important to learn about the history of our country and the importance of having one, especially during hard times like now. We're very excited and looking forward to getting to know all of you and we are sure it is going to be a great year for all of us! 

The Bnot

Teacher Feature - Mr. Sam Finder
Are you ready for the Teacher Feature? We are! We worked with different professionals over the summer to come up with a variety of questions to ask our new teachers.  We think you will be intrigued.  If you want us to ask something feel free to send it to 

To start the year, we interviewed Mr. Sam Finder.  He is the only Hillel employee to have his first name in his e-mail address.  Can you figure out why?

Hi, any relation to Mrs. Finder? Indeed! Mrs. Finder is my aunt. In fact, her sister (my mother) married her husband's brother (my dad)! Needless to say, we're thrilled to be co-workers!
What brought you to Hillel Academy? I moved to Squirrel Hill in August 2013 and worked as a long term sub in Butler county last school year. After over 12,000 miles of commuting to school, I really wanted to find a workplace closer to home. Hillel is within walking distance and it's a lovely community to be a part of!
 What do you teach? I teach Algebra 1, Pre-calculus, Chemistry, and Physics.
Where did you receive your training? I have a BS in Physics from Allegheny College and an MAT in Science Education from Columbia University Teachers College.
What's your favorite subject? I love science, but especially Astronomy!
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Nashville, TN. My parents moved to Los Angeles after I graduated from high school and it has since become my adopted second home.
What's the most interesting thing you have found about Hillel Academy, thus far? 
I love the communal, personal feel of the classes here. Last year I had 100+ students in four sections -- this year I have less than 50 students in seven sections!
Share some big plans you have for your students this year?  I don't want to give too much away, but my physics students can look forward to some fun and competitive projects, and my chemistry students can expect a lot of good learning in a lab environment!
Can you offer some advice to struggling math students (parents)? 
Succeeding with math is all about practice! My suggestion for students and parents of students who are struggling with math is to communicate with the instructor. See if he or she can fit more opportunities for practicing new skills into lessons. Difficulties may be assuaged simply by allowing for more structured practice in class!
Whole wheat or white? That's a tough one. I enjoy baking bread in my spare time and I find that whole wheat is a real pleasure to work with (and eat!). Still, nothing can really beat a fresh baguette or batard of French bread!
Sunny side or scrambled? Scrambled for me, please!
Pumper or Hook & Ladder? When I think "fire truck," I picture a pumper truck in my head, so I've got to go with that one.
Come hear your choice of shiurim given by leaders in our community. Each night's presentation will be given consecutively and be 15-20 minutes of interactive learning relating to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Open to men and women; refreshments will be served.

!שנה טובה ומתוקה
Click HERE for dates and to register or sponsor - all lectures are at 8:30pm.
  • Pre-Rosh Hashanah Family Learning and Breakfast! - Sunday, September, 21st - Click HERE to RSVP

We would like to publicly welcome our 18 new families (and counting) to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh! 

Pablo and Mali
Ilanit and Sharon
Akiva and Chana
Aaron and Devora
Ariel and Jake
Amos and Sygal
Samantha Pivar
Yoel and Rina
Aaron and Rebecca
Faigy and Joseph
Dan and Jen
Seth and Lisa
Shalom and Leah
Mickey and Penina
Nizan and Heidi
Yosef and Yocheved
Karine and Chuck
Robert and Cecilia


15 girls showed up for the first run of the season with Coaches Jazz and Butler. 
Clubs - FYI: You must be registered to participate in the above clubs. Contact Dan Shaw at [email protected] or 412.521.8131 for information or to register. Go to www.hillel.pgh

 for the Google calendars

Next week begins: baseball, soccer, arts and crafts and  girls chaburas

These clubs continue next week: mishmar and XC teams 
Flashback Fridays

We are so proud of our alumni!  We continue to strive to keep them current on Hillel news and we want to know what they are up to.  One of our more simple ways is to post a photo from back in the day.  You think you know the people in the photo?  Great, e-mail us your guess and we will publish your name if you guess correctly. 


Hashgacha Pratis 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: david knoll <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 5:08 PM
Subject: Letter to natani
To: Wasserman <[email protected]>, Daniel Berkowitz <[email protected]>, Daniel Kraut <[email protected]>

Gentleman -
Your trip to Israel reaps even more rewards. During the Pre Israel Kids Hillel Rally, the kids wrote a letter to their cousin Natan (my first cousin) who is a lone soldier. I put his name and Givati on the front figuring that of course it would be impossible for it to ever get to him, but the kids were happy and why not.  Just got this email from my Aunt.  See below.  Hashgacha Pratis at its best.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mary Steinberg 
Date: Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 7:41 AM
Subject: Letter to Natani
To: david knoll <[email protected]>

You're not going to believe it but the letter your kids wrote got to my friend in Israel. Just got a call from Hillel Wasserman in Israel that his brother Rabbi Wasserman from Pittsburgh is visiting and brought a pile of letters for the soldiers.  One was for Natan Steinberg Givati. He asked me if I know Caleb, Azriel and Ayelet Knoll. I said of course, my nephew's kids. Hillel will get it to Natan. He called this morning that he had received the letter. It's in his wallet now.

What a small world!  Thank your kids for the letter. 



Hillel Gear Spotted Here

Hillel Gear is back and better than ever! We are ready for our fifth year of bringing you Hillel Academy apparel from around the globe sported by people you know or maybe those you don't know. But, we can't do it without you!  If you're going out of town, to a ball game, to learn or maybe a back yard BBQ, grab your shirt or a magnet and snap a pic on your phone and send it to [email protected].  Remember. we have the winter break Hillel gear contest among others, so get ready! We are also looking for #HillelGear to start trending, so feel free to post to social media and use the #HillelGear or any clever ones.  Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter

We start off the year with everyone's favorite VP of Smiles, current employee of Hillel Academy, the JCC and Murray Avenue Kosher, Uri Butler! He was the cool uncle who took his niece and nephew, current students, Mikey and Lily to the pool on one of Pittsburgh's beautiful sunny days! And as a true Hillel Academy fan, he grabbed his Hillel Tee with him. Thank you Shoshie for snapping this memorable photo!

Curriculum Update with Mrs. Langer

Hillel Academy has transformed its  lower school math curriculum in a process that began last year and continued to expand this year. The new program, Math in Focus, provides an authentic Singapore math curriculum, which highlights problem solving as the focus of mathematical learning. The curriculum teaches concepts using a concrete-pictorial-abstract learning progression to anchor learning in real-world, hands-on experiences. Last year's pilot program in grades K-2 was extremely successful, and the program has now been extended to grades 3-6.


Hillel Academy Pop Culture Grid

Students in the Mix
What was your favorite part of the Back To School BBQ? 
What do you think should be part of the BBQ next year? 
Alex Small
The surfboard
Less lines for all the food
Miriam Levari
Ice cream
Yonah Itskowitz
No rules!
Akiva Sunshine
The bouncy house
No rules!
Leora Goldberg
The pony rides
Cotton candy and popcorn
Shoshana Levari
The petting zoo
Popcorn and cotton candy

Kindergarten student, Coby Shaw works on his surfing skills at the Back to School BBQ.
Rita's always make you smile!
Nursery student, Jacob Greathouse enjoys a relaxing pony ride at the Back to School BBQ.
Sometimes simple pleasure such as Rita's, balloon hats and your crew is enough to make it a memorable Back to School BBQ.

Mazel Tov!
Mazel tov to former Hillel Academy morah and Hillel Academy alumna Leah Rosenberg on her engagement to Yitzi Rosenstock!

Mazel Tov to Leah's parents Rabbi Mordechai and Tzippy Rosenberg and the entire Rosenberg and Rosenstock families!

Mazal Tov to Gregg and Anat Roman on the birth of a baby boy! Mazal tov to big sister Ariel and the entire Roman family!

Mazel Tov to Hillel Academy Alum Lindsey Horvitz on her marriage to Chaim Strassman this past week, and to the entire Horvitz and Strassman families!

Mazel Tov to Dr. Michael and Atara Kentor on the birth of a daughter to Hillel Academy Alum Ruth (Kentor) and Elli Himelstein, and to the entire Kentor family!

Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wasserman on the birth of a granddaughter to Aryeh and Shoshana Wasserman in Philadelphia!

Please send any mazel tov's to [email protected]
Condolences - Please send condolences to [email protected].
Benno Levi, OBM
beloved father of Dr. Tova Weinberg, 
beloved father-in-law of Dr. Joel Weinberg, and 
beloved grandfather of Shira, Elana, Josh, Tamar, and Ephraim.

Libby Saltzman, OBM
beloved mother of Morah Priscilla Sohnen and beloved grandmother of Asher, Peri and Michael Sohnen.

With heavy hearts and great sorrow we mourn the tragic and untimely death of Hillel Academy alum, David  Gordon OBM - Dovid Menachem Ben Yaakov Lev z"l. 
Please send condolence notices to [email protected].

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