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

November 21, 2014

28 Cheshvan 5775

Parshat Toldot
Candle Lighting: 4:40 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:48 pm

Dvar Torah 

In the beginning of Parashat Toledot, Rashi explains that the cynics of the time claimed that Yitzchak was born as a result of Avimelekh's abduction of Sara, and was not the son of Avraham. In response to these aspersions, G-d ensured that Yitzchak physically resembled Avraham.


On the most basic level, these "cynics" simply denied the possibility that at such an old age Avraham and Sara could have a child together. They therefore found a different explanation for the birth of Yitzchak, which did not have to accept the premise that Avraham and Sara bore a child. Rav Soloveitchik, however, explained this Midrash differently ("chamesh drashot," 3:3). The cynics did not deny the reality of a son born to Avraham and Sara, but rather the possibility of an ideological and spiritual heir to Avraham. They assumed the ideology of ethical monotheism was merely a passing trend. To them, it seemed inconceivable that Avraham could leave any significant legacy. The Rav writes:


People laughed at the event. They did not believe that Isaac would inherit Abraham. That he, a 

young lad of the new generation, would continue to carry Abraham's visions and laws, and that

 he also would engage in building altars and calling on the name of G-d. They laughed at Abraham's

 dreams that his son would give his life for Torah and fight for the sanctity of Abraham's house.


Rav Soloveitchik then applied this view to many of the critics of our time. He adds that in a cynic's view,


it is impossible to pass on the mitzvot of Abraham, his statutes and laws, to the modern generation, 
to young Isaac who fights with a rifle, works in laboratories and thinks in modern categories of 
thought...Who could have foreseen that the young, modern Isaac would demand a kosher kitchen 
and fight for religious education and the like! Who could have guessed that he would speak with 
the same language that old Abraham spoke, as the author of the Shulchan Arukh, as the Rama, as 
the Gaon of Vilna, as Rav Chayim of Volozhin?

In this poignant analysis, the Rav highlights that in the view of the masses Judaism has always been counter-cultural, whose future and relevance has always been questioned and challenged, but the Jewish people would always prevail and cleave to the roots of Avraham. 


These past few weeks have been extremely troubling and trying for Klal Yisroel. Our community is again shaken by the heinous massacre that took place in a sacred shul during shacharit in Har Nof. Once again, not only is our spiritual identity threatened, but our physical one as well.     

This past summer Rav Meir Twersky of Yeshiva University wrote a series of essays in response to the abduction of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, and the subsequent war that ensued in Gaza. In his essay entitled, "Miracles and Mourning" Rav Twersky grapples with being able to praise and thank Hashem for the many miracles being performed during the operation, while at the sometime mourning for the seventy holy individuals who tragically lost their lives during the war. In his analysis, Rav Twersky highlights that even during Hashem's original promise to Avraham at the Brit Bein Habetarim which contained elements of blessing, but at the same time made mention of the calamity that will befall Am Yisroel. Rav Twersky explains that this dialectic is an integral part of our existence as a nation. Hashem blessings and curses occur hand in hand so that we understand that our blessings are tied to our service and devotion to G-d. 


In this past week's horror, Rav Twersky lost his brother, Rav Moshe Twersky zt"l. Rav Moshe Twersky, a great Talmud Chacham and grandson of Rav Soloveitchik was a vital link in our Mesorah that goes back to Avraham Avinu. A loss of this magnitude is difficult to comprehend. But we must continue to push forward, and like Isaac carried on the theological and spiritual mission of his father, we must continue the spiritual mission of those who were killed in the act of tefilah. 


Over the summer, in his writing to the families of the victims of the Gaza operation Rav Meir Twersky  wrote, 


In Halacha, mourning is a dialectical experience. The mourner is supposed to view and experience 

his loss from two disparate vantage points. From the human vantage point, death represents tragic 

defeat. Experiencing loss is excruciatingly painful and leaves a gaping void. And thus the mourner

 is expected to cry...

Simultaneously, the mourner affirms the divine vantage point. He recites tzidduk hadin. He affirms
 the justice of HKBH's judgment. Whatever HKBH does is just and for the best. The divine
 vantage point includes the perspective from the next world. In the case of our fallen soldiers, their 
families, and all of us, affirm the exalted place to which their souls have ascended. The co-existence 
of the human and divine vantage points generates the dialectical experience of mourning. The pain 
of bereft parents, widows and orphans is so great, the grief so intense. To whatever degree possible 
we share their pain and grief. And yet while grieving the mourners are buoyed by their faith. They 
know that their loved one sanctified shem shomayim and earned an exalted place in the next world. 
May we speedily merit the fulfillment of Yeshayahu's vision. "He will eliminate death forever, and 
Hashem Elokim will erase tears from all faces...and they will say on that day, 'Behold this is our G-d; 
we hoped to Him that He would save us; this is Hashem to whom we hoped, let us exalt and be glad
 in His salvation.

Hopefully, Rav Twersky and all of the orphans and widows left by this terrible act will find comfort in Rav Twersky's words as we all await peace and the ultimate salvation. We must honor their legacy by clinging to the tradition as to not break our direct chain to Avraham Avinu.  


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, [email protected] 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
  • DATE CHANGE - Mother/Daughter Melave Malka - December 27, 2014 at Hillel Academy of Pgh
  • GHS Production - Sunday, March 1 and Monday, March 2  in the Robinson Theater at the JCC - Peter Pan. 

1. Please don't park in front of the main building on Beacon Street, during arrival and dismissal times, including 5pm (club dismissal). 
2. No U-turns in front of the school.

Websites and Social Media 

 Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube 
Hillel Academy's Aleph Bet Video
Hillel Academy's Aleph Bet Video
Hillel Academy Weather Report - Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Hillel Academy Weather Report - Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Hillel Academy Weather Report, Thursday, November 20
Hillel Academy Weather Report, Thursday, November 20
Kindergarten Community Project
Kindergarten Community Project
  • Our very own Rabbi Nim was the featured Dvar Torah in this week's Jewish Press Magazine. Mazel tov to him!

The Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Pop Culture Grid


If you could choose an age, what age would you choose and why?

What is your favorite food?

What is the best thing you own?

Asaf F.

25, It's the strongest age

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Nerf gun

Eli J.

100, I could be on my couch all day


My bed

Yosef K.

5, No homework


Nothing comes to mind

Natan M.

1, No school


My PS4

Avi A.

13, I'd get what I wanted for my Bar Mitzvah!


My blanket

Yaakov K.

14, I can finally go to a Yeshiva

Quinoa Salad

My camera

Amitai N.

30, I could buy whatever I wanted


My X-Box 360

Ben V. M.

23, no idea why


My cat

Yitzi G.

1, I'd get all the attention


My couch

Mr. Werber

21, Ah, to be young again...

Macaroni and Cheese

My home

Mr. Werber
Alumni Spotlight - Gavri Butler - 1999

Q: When did you attend Hillel Academy?


A: 1984-1999

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


A: There are too many favorites, but one of my least favorite is when I was a senior at Mesivta and undersized-junior, Sammy Weinberg broke my foot during a football game!


Q: How do you earn a living?

A: I am an attorney at BlackRock, which is partially owned by PNC, so I basically work in Pittsburgh. I am a vice president of Legal & Compliance. I focus on private equity and hedge fund formation and investments.  I work just down the hall from another proud Hillel alum, Danny Riemer. Our goal is to have BlackRock change its name to BlacknGoldRock.


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


A: I learned ABCs and Alef Bet at Hillel, so I give Hillel full credit for everything I ever learned based on those concepts.

Q: Share some info about your family.


A: My wife Shani and I live in North Woodmere, NY with our two boys, Isaac, 7, and Sammy, 5, who is NOT named after Rabbi Sammy Weinberg. My son Isaac recently broke his arm and may have the only black and gold cast on Long Island.


Q: What do you do in your free time?


A: Mostly watching and reading about the Steelers, Buccos, and Pens. In addition, following my family minhag, I recently competed in a BBQ competition.


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


A: You mean my parents back yard?


Q: Who was your first Hillel teacher?


A: Morah Gross

Q: What was your favorite class?


A: Kindergarten with Morah Butler, obviously.


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


A: Morah Butler, obviously. Though she may have had some competition from Reb Shaw if he had been teaching when I was in school.


Q: It is a known fact that you give a popular Friday night shiur at your house. Can you tell me more about it?

A: It's just something I do, really for purely selfish reasons. I started doing it when I started working simply to force myself to make time for learning. Some guys from the neighborhood come, and there's always good food (mostly thanks to Shani) so it's usually a pretty interactive crowd.  

Q: Who is the most interesting person in your contacts?


A: Is there anyone more interesting than Uri Butler!?!?


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


A: Rabbi Weinberg is much stronger than he looks!

Apples for the Students,
Hillel Academy's First Period Points are: 132
Log on and review your progress and account information!

Do you HYPE? 


Come join the fun at the HYPE Family Breakfast and Learning Program! Come with your own learning material, or we will provide you with some content. We are looking forward to seeing you there! (ages 5 and up).
When:  Sunday November 23rd @ 9:15 AM
Where: Pfeffer Beis Medrash
Cost: FREE! (Sponsorships available) 

Amazing and inspiring.  These are just some of the words used to describe last week's HYPE Shabbaton. The Shabbaton started with Thursday night's Mother-Daughter Challah baking event led by Mrs. Chaya Berelowitz and Morah Tobi Admon. The event was a success and the challah was delicious! Thank you to Mordy Brown and all those who helped make the event such a tremendous success.


Friday night saw many families coming together at Poale Zedeck for a beautiful family Kabbalat Shabbat. From fresh rugelach to sirens and farm animals, the Shabbat atmosphere was definitely palpable! Following davening, many families were hosted by Hillel Academy faculty members and survived to tell the tale! Thank you to all of our hosts.

And then came the Shabbaton Lunch at Shaare Torah for 400 of our parents and students. The lunch included a Cholent cookoff won by Team Mordechai Milch and Elan Sokol, student divrei Torah, a family zemirot train, antastic shiurim given by our faculty, and fun parsha games for the kids. To sum up the entire Shabbaton: It was truly inspiring to see so many of our families gathered in one room sharing the spirit of Shabbat, parents and children alike. Thank you to all those who helped set up and clean up at Shaare Torah and to Rabbis Yolkut and Wasserman for opening the doors of their Shuls for these events. Stay tuned for more HYPE family fun events (including - family learning and breakfast and yes, ice skating!!).  

 -Rabbi Levy

October 2014 - January 2015 Clubs

Check the Google Calendar or the Website for the schedules. 

Follow us on TwitterLike us on Facebook

MSB Hockey League Standings                                   BHS Hockey League Standings   

Moshe's Pens1

Jake's Leafs

YDK's Avalanche


Dark Wizards
















Rabbi Berelowitz teaches Mishna Club. 


  • Middle School Mishmar begins at 6:30pm; students may not enter the building before 6:25pm. 
  • When hockey or any club ends, students must exit the building. They may not wait for another club to begin. 
  • Hockey games take between 25-30 minutes to play. Please plan to pick up your children on time.
  • There are no Clubs on December 9th and no clubs for all of Chanukah. 
  Middle School Basketball begins December 29 at the JCC Robinson gym. It is important for students to arrive on time and be picked up on time as well. More details to follow.   

MSG Basketball League Standings...coming soon

Alumni Updates
 We welcome any news from alumni; please send it to [email protected]

 Baruch and Yehoshua November are back for more poetry. 
Maayan Shimon ('11) is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She is part of the Rehab Science Student Association and involved in one of their projects. She has been collecting pop tabs to benefit the Ronald Mcdonald House - a charity that helps terminally ill children. IF you would like to help her, please drop off the tabs in the main office. 

Danny Reimer ('00) recently began working at BlackRock as Vice President of Legal & Compliance group.

Nachum and Shana Wasosky ('94) - made Aliya in 2008. Still buying Chanukah presents at Walmart and overstuffing extra luggage back to Israel. Two kids are currently in braces, and our five-year-old is Abba Shabbat. As we speak we are sitting in Ramat Beit Shemesh drinking a cup o f Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice coffee.
Class of 2013 Shayna Stiebel, Sarah Baila Gordon, Sarah Nimchinsky and 2014 graduate Ilana Kisilinsky took this selfie this past week at Eden-Zeev Einav ('04) and former bat sherutDalia Auman wedding in Israel.


Go Figure  - Hillel Style Baby!
Number in days of Hillel Academy's  youngest student, Rochel Weisswasser.


Hooks in the second floor used to hang up coats, backpacks and the occasional hockey helmet.   
Dollars cost for a tier 1 ticket for this year's Hillel Academy Penny Social.

Dollars cost for a tier II ticket for this year's Hillel Academy Penny Social.


Start time of the Penny Social on Tuesday, December 9 at Dave and Busters.  
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. 

Last Week's Photo
This Week's Photo

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 [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

Hillel Gear back in time. Is that a Walkman

 Photo Gallery 


Native American Performers Visit Hillel Academy











The fifth graders hosted a group of Native American dancers and drummers this past week as part of their social studies unit on Native Americans. Students recently launched their research projects on individual Native American tribes and began reading The Sign of the Beaver, a historical fiction account about the relationships that formed between white settlers and Indians in the 1700s. To gain a greater understanding of Native American culture, contact was made with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center, which brings together Native American families in Pittsburgh who seek to maintain a sense of culture and become more conscious of their rights as Native Americans. This organization sent us two groups of performers to educate our students about contemporary Native American culture and how they maintain their sense of identity in modern times.


Students were surprised to learn that the performers were from many different Native American tribes including the Cherokee, Tuscarora, Apache, Seminole, Ojibwa, Iroquois, Kiowa, and Shinnecock. The dancers and drummers wore authentic regalia which was intricately adorned with designs that contained thousands of tiny, hand-sewn glass beads. One of the dancers had buffalo and porcupine fur, eagle and turkey feathers, and deer toes as part of his regalia.

The girls watched in awe as the women dancers performed the shawl dance, the jingle dance, and the snake/round dance, a social dance in which the students were invited to participate. The boys were enthralled while watching the men perform the Grand Entry dance, the grass dance, a traditional dance which told the story of a warrior going into battle, and an inter-tribal dance in which they were able to participate. Some interesting facts we learned:

  1. Their regalia is all hand-sewn and often passed down within families.

  2. Each of the dances tell a story.

  3. Their calendar is lunar-based.

  4. Deer hides are used for smaller drums, while buffalo hides are needed for the larger ones.

It was an amazing opportunity for the fifth graders (and more than a few other classes, who couldn't resist a peek) to witness this amazing and authentic performance!


-Ms. Oz.

Girls High School 
Fayth Aronson z'l Chessed Society 

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2014 at 1:28 PM


Along with Dr. Becky Weinberg and CEO, Dan Kraut the GHS is in the beginning stages of the Chessed Society which is in memory of Fayth Aronson, z"l. 


Middle School Boys 

Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Squirrel Hill Food Pantry 


This is a time of year when the Pantry receives a lot of donations. The students went to help divide up the food. 

Teacher Feature: Devorah (Abrams) '02 Shore

Q: Welcome (back) to Hillel Academy! What brought you back to your alma mater?  


A: I really love Pittsburgh! I think that Pittsburgh is a very unique community.  Additionally, I love how Hillel Academy has an extremely diverse faculty and student body.  I think that a school that welcomes all types of Jewish students is a wonderful school both to teach at, and to send my own children too.

Q: What's it like teaching in the school where you grew up? 

A: In some ways it feels like a different school! The wing of the school where I went to high school is now the infant/preschool wing. It's strange to see my 1-year-old play in a classroom where I studied French!

Q: Do you like being the first preschool room when walking from the main entrance?

A: Yes! I think it's fun to see my students siblings' every day.

Q: What's the secret to a good story?

A: Telling the story in a dramatic/theatric way.

Q: Your room shares a wall with Rabbi Weinberg's office. Do you ever notice your students spending an extra long time by that wall? 

A: Nope! But sometimes I wonder if Rabbi Weinberg is listening through the wall to see what Nursery is doing.

Q: What's your favorite subject to teach preschoolers? 

A: Science! You should come and meet our class Leopard Gecko!

Q: What's been the most surprising thing about Hillel? 

A: Although there are many familiar faces, there are lots of people I don't know! 

Q: Do you HYPE? 

A: I am embarrassed to say I have no idea what HYPE stands for. (Editor's note: It stands for Hillel Youth and Parent Education) 

Q: You mentioned you are purchasing a hoodie during the fall gear sale. 
How will you personalize it?

A: Can I fit "I'm a Preschool Teacher, What's Your Superpower?"

Q: What makes Hillel Academy so special? 

A: The elevator.

Q: Share some fun facts about yourself? 

A: Mac not a PC, Chocolate never vanilla, if I could, I would eat breakfast foods all day!

Q: Did you request for your daughter to be in The other Morah Devorah's room as a spy? 

A: I can't really answer this question without giving too much away.

Q: Did you ever realize we have the same initials?

A: Yes! I have accidentally signed you in at the front desk a few times. Sorry! Did you realize that our daughters Meira and Miri also have the same initials?  And Ty and Tali! 

Wow, good stuff, I did not know that. Thank you for your time!


Mazel Tov!
Mazel Tov to alum Eden-Zeev Einav ('04) and former bat sherut, Dalia Auman on their marriage!

Mazel Tov to Leora (Skaist) '99 Birnbaum and David Birnbaum on the birth of a son Eliezer Daniel. 
Mazel Tov to the entire Skaist family! 
Much Nachas to you all!

Please send any mazel tovs to [email protected]
Condolences - Please send condolences to [email protected].
With great sorrow we join in the mourning of Klal Yisroel upon hearing the news of the tragic and harrowing deaths of Rabbi Shmuel Goldberg z"tl, Rabbi Aryeh Kupinsky z''tl, Rabbi Moshe Twersky zt"l, Rabbi Kalman Levin z"tl, and Zidan Nahad Seif. z"l.


These keddoshim were not members of the Hillel community, nor did we know them, but they are still our family.  Our Tefilot and thoughts go out to their families and friends. Their loss is one that we will all feel with a grieving heart. 
Around Town 
  • MIKVEH DINER COMMITTEE: December 7th at Shaare Torah, 6:30 pm parve buffet and boutique sale, program begins at 7:30 pm, fee is $40 and community directory is distributed. 
  • MORDY BROWN CATERING: November Lunch Menu & November Lunch Order Form - Don't forget - daily grab and go lunches. See Mordy, precedes go to After School Club.  
  • 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) 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. 2) NCSY Jewish Scholars Program starts on Monday, November 24th.  This event is for teens in grades 9-12 to come study interesting topics with an adult mentor and work on a long term community service project.
  • 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 [email protected] 

 Please send information by Sunday to [email protected].


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

Family Feature - 

Please send condolence notices to [email protected].