The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

November 14, 2014

21 Cheshvan 5775

Parshat Chayei Sara
Candle Lighting: 4:45 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:52 pm

Dvar Torah 

 In Pirkei Avot (5:3) we learn that Avraham withstood ten tests or trials during his lifetime. However, many commentators disagree in identifying the ten tests. While most of the commentators count akeidat Yitzchak as the final trial, Rabbenu Yona lists the Akeida as the ninth test. According to Rabbenu Yona, the tenth trial took place in this week's parasha when Avraham purchased a burial plot for his deceased wife, Sarah. Even though Avraham was promised this land by Hashem, Avraham was forced to pay an exorbitant sum of money to purchase the cave. 


When comparing these two tests, there seems to be a stark contrast between the nature of the two episodes. The Akeida was an emotional, spiritual, and theological test for Avraham Avinu.  Hashem demanded that Avraham perform an act that opposes the very core of human nature, ethics, and everything that Avraham had preached until that point.


The purchase of Ma'arat Ha'machpelah, by contrast, bears far more resemblance to the everyday "trials" which most of us confront on a regular basis. Avraham was forced to feel like a foreigner in a land that was ostensibly his, and forced to pay a large sum of money that he would rather not have to pay. While no one can argue that the experience was unpleasant, it was hardly traumatic on the scope of Akeidat Yitzchak.


According to Rabbenu Yona, Avraham's final two tests demonstrate that trials do not always come in the form of drastic, life changing, experiences. If Akeidat Yitzchak represents  a trial brought on by turmoil and calamity, the purchase of Ma'arat Ha'Machpela represents the everyday trials of unfulfilled expectations, unforeseen expenses, and unwanted encounters with difficult people.  While no one would argue that the "Akeida" type traumas are more difficult to grapple with and understand, it is important to realize that everyday trials and tribulations are also significant tests. If we understand personal tests as a chance to grow from our experiences, we should approach even the seemingly most insignificant struggle as a chance to grow in our relationships with each other and Hashem. 


Shabbat Shalom



Annoucments and Reminders 
  • The Ivrit Department is looking for donations of  novels and/or short story books in Hebrew. We would like to create a small library for our students to use. Please leave your donations in the main office. Contact Morah Danielle Greathouse, for more information. 
  • Alumni Basketball Game - November 29, 2014 @ Winchester Thurston School 
  • Awards Night and Penny Social on December 9, 2014 at Dave & Buster's at 6:30 pm - see below
  • GHS biennial production, Sunday, March 1st and Monday, March 2nd in the Robinson Theater at the JCC - Peter Pan
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Pre-School Music Class
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Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Weather Forecast
Wednesday's Forecast
Hillel Academy Weather Report - Thursday, November 13
 Thursday's Forecast
Hillel Academy Weather Forecast - Friday, November 14

Friday's Forecast 
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Weather Forecast - Tuesday, Nov. 11
Tuesday's Forecast
The Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Pop Culture Grid

People in the Mix: BHS + Mr. Werber

If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?

If you could learn any skill, what would it be?

What is your favorite thing to do in the summer

Phil S.

Jack Benny

How to program a computer

Play video games

 Laivi L. 

My grandfather

To talk with charisma

Go to the beach

 Laivi F. 

A future inventor

The ability to quickly learn skills


Doniel N.

Batman (Duh!)

Crime fighting from the shadows

Fighting crime in Gotham

Josh H.

My Grandparents

Flying an airplane

Going to NCSY Kollel

Jacob W.

The Burger King

Writing a thesis statement for Ms. Brett

Going to Camp Stone

Yosef C. M.

Robert Downey Jr.

Neuropsychology/ Bioengineering

Sitting on my couch

Ben U.

Any Canadian

Mind reading

Going to Israel

Mr. Werber

George Carlin

How to fix a car


Mr. Werber
Alumni Spotlight - Daniel Vogel

 Q: When did you attend Hillel Academy? 

 A: 1976-1988

Q: Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? 

 A: I always enjoyed learning in Rabbi Nadoff's zt"l classes. He was a good teacher, but also understanding and kind to a group of boys that had a lot of energy! I vividly remember when we were learning Lech Lecha and we got to the portion of Bris Milah, in a lighter moment he went around the class naming the boys he had been the mohel for. I think there were only two or three out of the group of us that were not counted.


Q: What organizations are you currently involved in? 


A: I am about to retire after 20 years of service in the U.S. Navy. Besides being in the military, I am a member of my synagogue's executive board and have also served on the local DC area JNF board. 

Q: How do you earn a living? 

 A: I am in the process of transitioning from being a Naval Officer to a new job. My last day of Active Duty will be December 31, 2014. I went into the Navy straight out of college and so the job searching process has been something new. While I know that it will be hard to beat the adrenaline rush of flying on and off of aircraft carriers, I'm looking forward to this new phase in my life.

Q: Tell me about what you did for the Navy?

A: I am (was) a Naval Flight Officer.  While I flew in airplanes, my duties were different than the pilot's.  I ran all the communications gear, took care of the navigation and weapons systems, etc.  In my first fleet airplane, the S-3 Viking, now since retired from service, I got to sit up front.  There was a stick on my side of the airplane that I could use to fly, and sometimes I would, but most of the time I was busy doing my stuff.  Later I flew in the back of the E-2C Hawkeye, just as busy, but not as good a view. Great times flying on and off aircraft carriers.


Q: Share a memorable experience from in the Navy with our readers.

A: Memorable experience with the Navy - how about leading a Pesach Seder on an aircraft carrier during a deployment to the Persian Gulf.  Really was worth the considerable effort we put into it, to include arranging for special shipments of food from the US. Parceling out kosher for Pesach Seder kits to the other ships in our strike group, and kashering the Captain's kitchen oven to prepare a double wrapped potato kugel which baruch Hashem cooked perfectly!


Q: This past Tuesday was Veterans Day, can you reflect on that for us please. 

A: Reflecting on Veterans Day is always something I try to do.  Today I landed in an airplane coming into Washington Reagan and had a view of Arlington Cemetery where so many of our Nation's heroes are now buried.  While many there passed away from natural causes, there are many there who paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy and the safety we have day in and day out here in the U.S.  Some of those faced much more daunting issues than I ever had to during my career, and I am grateful for the support of a wonderful family, as well as all of those in our different communities during my almost 20 years of service on Active Duty.  I know there was a time when many veterans could not say the same thing and I hope that as a country we stay the course on how we treat those who have entered into service, regardless of the time they spent doing so or the rank they achieved.


Q: How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future?


A: Hillel gave me the tools to excel both in the Jewish and secular world. I appreciate that I was given a strong foundation in many areas of learning. I became exposed to some of the less observant segments of Judaism during my time in the Navy, and when asked how I had developed certain Jewish "skills" my answer was always, "I went to an Orthodox Hebrew Day School." At the same time, I have never felt behind my peers in my day to day secular activities because of my Hillel experience whether during college or in the Navy. The days may have been long, but the knowledge was priceless.


Q: Share some info about your family. 

 A: I am blessed to have a wonderful and supportive wife Julie and three great children. Ruthie, 13, Joseph, about to be 12, and Tali, about to be 8. We live in Silver Spring, Maryland and the kids currently are in various grades of Orthodox schooling. As a military man, none of the kids have birth certificates from the same state.


Q: What do you do in your free time? 

 A: Besides community and family involvement, the other main activity I have is running. I just completed my 3rd Marine Corps Marathon, and as a Boston Marathon qualifier hope to complete the Boston Marathon in 2015 with Hashem's help. I couldn't run it in 2014 because it was on the seventh day of Pesach, but when 

I contacted them about that issue, they were kind enough to give me an entry in 2015 even though I didn't run a marathon in the 2015 qualifying window.

Q: Share with our cross country runners how you run through pain or how do you finish a race when you feel like you have nothing left?

A: First off - you should always cross that line feeling like you gave it everything!  The key is not to give everything too early.  Learning to run within yourself can only happen for most of us by endless repetition (that means lots of practice) to learn how your body feels at different paces.  Intervals are a great way of how to learn to run with pain, but also longer runs are important too.  One of the early things I learned about running was that the faster I got done with the race, the quicker that pain would be over.  I also learned that you always need to stay upbeat about what you are doing.  I've run marathons where I hit the 20 mile point and you hear some people say, "I can't believe I have 6 more miles to run!"  My thought process always is that, "I've already run 20, what's another 6?"  If you train consistently then you should already know that you can do it.  Running is 90% mental, the only reason the volume of training is important is to give you the confidence in your fitness and the familiarity with your running to complete whatever distance you are competing at from 200 meters to 26.2 miles and beyond.

Q: What is the perfect food to eat on race day?

A: The perfect food to eat on race day is something that you know your stomach tolerates and that won't make you feel too heavy.  THE REQUIRED thing to drink on any race day is water, before the race and after. For a 5K you should be sufficiently hydrated before you start that you have no need to drink during.  It's an unneeded distraction.  However, if you haven't hydrated enough prior, get ready for some pain.


Q: Hillel Trivia - How many parking spaces in the lot? 


A: There wasn't a lot when I went there. Where the lot is was a house for most of my time in Hillel.

Q: Who was your first Hillel teacher?

A: Mrs. Nina Butler


Q: What was your favorite class? 

 A: Is it wrong to say gym class?

Q: Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why?

 A: I can't say that during my time in Hillel there was one teacher that was my favorite. There are many teachers that I am grateful for their patience and teaching. However, one teacher in early High School English, Dr. Susan Smerd, had a profound impact on my future because she constantly drilled us on vocabulary to get us ready for our PSAT and SAT. That led to being selected as a National Merit Semi-Finalist due to my PSAT score. This directly impacted where I went to university and the Navy ROTC unit that I eventually was commissioned from.

Q: Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school?


A: There isn't one thing that really stands out. Enjoy this time where your only "job" is to learn. Depending on how you make your living later on in life, this may be one of the only times where that is the case and so you should make the most of it while you can. Of course, thinking back, I don't think I appreciated the luxury of being able to learn without other distractions.

 Q: Do you have any Naval Chavrusas

A: I don't have any Naval Chavrusas right now, most of the time I've had chavrusas in the communities where I've lived.

Thank you very much! 

Do you HYPE? 



HYPE in conjunction with the PZ Youth Department presents a full Kabbalas Shabbos and Maariv Minyan led by Hillel 
Academy's own Rabbi Elisar Admon!


5:10 PM @ Poale Zedeck in the Schwartz Social Hall (following regular Mincha at 4:50PM)
  • Minyan includes singing and stories led by Rabbi Yolkut
  • All men, women, and children are welcome
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult
8:30PM in the PZ Beis Medrash. Rabbi Admon will speak on the topic of HAPPINESS IN THE HOUSEHOLD:THE SECRET OF THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN AVRAHAM AND SARAH.  

Men and women are welcome.




Hillel Academy students and parents at both Shaare Torah and Poale Zedeck will lead the main minyan services.





12:30pm @ Shaare Torah


Unfortunately, despite many reassurances earlier in the week that there would be ice this week, we just received a phone call from the city park service that a pump is broken and the rink will not be ready for tomorrow night. G-d willing, we will reschedule this event for later in the winter. We look forward to seeing you at the various other HYPE events this Shabbat.  

October 2014 - January 2015 Clubs

Check the Google Calendar or the Website for the schedules. 

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MSB Hockey League Standings                                   BHS Hockey League Standings   

Moshe's Pens1

Jake's Leafs
YDK's Avalanche







Dark Wizards 











Drama club began this week. In this photo, the 
girls are learning how to walk through jello. 

MSG Basketball League Standings...coming soon

Art Club continued this week with Origami. 

Alumni Updates
We welcome any news from alumni; please send it to
  • Irwin Jay Katz Announces his new book, The Tools & Techniques of Income Tax Planning, through all the income tax topics you may encounter--providing easy-to-understand, practical guidance  for situations that are often confusing. Editor's note: See below for a full description
    and ordering information. 
  • Gavri Butler ('99) gives a shiur at his home, Fridays nights. The shiur is loosely based on the Rambam's Sefer Hamitzvos, covering everything from why a particular mitzvah should or should not be included in the 613 to practical halacha. Chulent is included. Gavri is the Vice President, Legal & Compliance at BlackRock. He focuses on private equity and hedge fund formation and investments.
  • Allison Gusky ('02) is working for Richmond Realty Corp. which is a residential and commercial real estate firm. They do sales, leasing, new development and property management in Riverhead, Long Island, New York.
  • Micha Stiebel ('03) - Completing his IDF service later this month. He is a sergeant and team leader in Golani. He and his unit fought in Gaza this past summer.
  • Meir Goldberg's ('00) father, Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg who is the founder of Kids Kicking Cancer, was designated by CNN as a "Top Ten CNN Heros Finalist."  
Go Figure
Couples work at Hillel Academy:
Rabbi Elisar and Morah Tovi Admon, Rabbi Shlomie and Mrs. Chaya Berelowitz,  Mr. Mordy and Morah Leah Brown, and  Rabbi Akiva and Mrs. Mimi Grossberg.

Ceiling fans keep our students cool during the summer months.

Chaya Sutofsky's middle school girls cross country course time.  The fastest on the team.

 People who are attended HYPE Shabbaton lunch at Shaare Torah.
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 to do this 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. 

Thank you  Sue Fuhrman and Hannah Golden for naming Hadar Glazer and Esti Loebenstein in last week's photo. 

Last Week's PhotoThis Week's Photo

Family Feature - The Miller Family

Q: What's your favorite part of Hillel Academy, thus far? 


A: Where should I start? I love everything about Hillel thus far. If I have to choose, I'll go with the kind, welcoming atmosphere.


Q: What's the best-kept secret of Hillel Academy? 


A:  Hillel is not just a school where you learn in class. It's a family. When we decided to switch to Hillel, we wanted more for our kids, but we didn't realize how much more we were actually getting. There is no better peace than knowing that your children are in the best hands possible when they are not with you. Also, the drive up line for pick up is pretty great!


Q: Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with our readers?


A: We love camping and we go every summer.


Q: Share something about your family that makes you unique. 


A: I don't know, I guess we're pretty average.


Q: If you could open your own restaurant what would it be? 


A: I always wanted to open a pizza shop.


Q: What do you do with the projects your children bring home? 


A: We keep everything! I like to put their projects out for display. Once there are too many, the old ones get boxed to make room for the new.


Q: Where did you move from? 


A: Public school


Q: What item will you order from the Fall Hillel Gear Catalog? 


A: Hoodies!


Q: Are you entering the chulent cookoff?

A: I'm not entering the Cholent 
Cookoff, but this sounds like a lot of fun. I will have to perfect my Cholent recipe so that I have a fighting chance at competing against some of the pros at the next cookoff!

Q: How do the Steelers keep losing to bad teams?

A: The Steelers keep losing to bad teams because they want to make Chuck crazy! They have a lousy defense and when they are playing a bad team they play just as bad.

Q: What is the most interesting Torah fact your children have shared with you?
A: An interesting fact from the Torah that Kaiden told me was that if there is a mistake on one letter in the Torah the whole Torah is invalid. An interesting fact that Kolton told me was that Hashem created the whole world in 6 days. He said, "Mommy, Hashem is so great! No, seriously Mommy, he made the whole world in six days and everything inside it!! It takes you longer to do all the laundry." :-)
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 to a backyard BBQ, grab your shirt or a magnet and snap a pic on your phone and send it to 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

And here it is....The 2014 Hillel Gear Fall Line!  What you see is what you can order (prices and sizes are marked). Besides the new design, you can PERSONALIZE items this year (adult sizes only - sorry). 
  • You can order regular Hillel gear or alumni gear or even HYPE gear. 
  • There are three youth designs, sizes s-xl. FYI: Youth small is like t4 size. 
  • Sale ends 11/20/14 - order will be delivered in time for Chanukah


See the flyer section of the #HillelHapps for personalizing instructions and order form. 

 Photo Gallery 





BHS JV basketball team and the random men's team
Preseason scrimmage

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

JCC, Squirrell Hill - Kaufmann Gym

New head coach, Rabbi Weinberg organized a scrimmage for his JV team against Dan Kraut, alumni, Dan Shaw, Jay Luzer, current parents Mordechai Milch and Rob Davis, former parent Yehuda Creeger and Avi Teitelbaum and Shui Epstein. The Heat prevailed 25 -15, thanks in large part to 11th-grader, Ben Ungar.  

Teacher Feature: Miriam Fabian


DS: Welcome to Hillel Academy! You have lived/worked in Pittsburgh for years, what brought you to the fastest growing Jewish day school?


MF: I was looking for something part-time, but when Rabbi Weinberg offered me a job, I was happy to accept. I love teaching.   


DS: If I gave you tickets to the Steelers game, front row, 50 yard line are you; A) Painting your face and joining the 65,500 other screaming fans, B) Selling them or C) Sitting on your couch with a variety of snacks and your twitter. D) None of the above, Let's Go Pens!


MF: I'd go to the game, but I'd skip the face paint.

DS: What's the best part of Hillel Academy?

MF:  There are two best parts.  There are great people who work here and there are great kids that go to Hillel.


DS: What's the secret to straight lines in the hallways? 


MF: Our kids put their fingers on the wall and follow the morahs.


DS:  How is your iPhone? Have you begun to Tweet yet?  


MS: I do happen to have an old iPhone, but I know nothing about tweeting.  I am not very tech-savy.


DS: What's the end of year goal for the students? 

MF: That the students will have enjoyed the school year, made friends and learned parsha, aleph-beis and Jewish holidays.


DS: Give us your elevator speak to a prospective parent. 

MF: At Hillel, the individual needs of the students are met in a warm and caring environment.


DS: Who is the coolest person in your contacts? 


MF: All of my grandchildren-I can't play favorites.  They say the funniest things!


Mazel Tov!
Mazel Tov alum Meir Goldberg ('00) and his wife Yael on the birth of a daughter! Much nachas to you all!

Please send any mazel tovs to
Around Town 
  • MORDY BROWN CATERING: November Lunch Menu & November Lunch Order Form
  • BNEI AKIVA: Snif this Shabbat is 3:30pm at Shaare Torah. 
  • Kesser Torah Sunday mornings at 8:30am. Davening followed by learning, coffee and cake at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. All are invited!
  • NCSY: 1)There will be a Junior NCSY laser tag event on Sunday, November 16th. This event is open to grades 5-8. Come enjoy pizza, laser tag and arcades. 2) NCSY Yeshiva Fair will take place over the weekend of November 22nd. This event gives 11th and 12th graders the opportunity to meet representatives from 40 post high school programs. 
  • GIRLS ONEG: Girls Oneg this Shabbos from 3:00 - 4:00 in the PZ Educational Building for all girls in grades kindergarten through sixth.  Hope to see you there!

  • PZ Partners in Torah Recruiting Teachers and Students now. No cost - Contact Shmuel Angel 412-897-6888 or email 

 Please send information by Sunday to

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

Condolences - Please send condolences to

Please send condolence notices to