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

December 5, 2014

13 Kislev 5775

Parshat Vayishlach
Candle Lighting: 4:35 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:43 pm
Dvar Torah 
After his climactic encounter with Eisav, Yaakov returns with his family to the site of his initial prophetic vision from G-d, Beit Kel, to erect a altar 
and call out to
Upon his arrival, the Torah interrupts the narrative to inform us that, "Devorah, Rivka's nursemaid, died, and was buried beneath Beit Kel under an oak tree" (Bereshit 35:8). Devorah had not been introduced to us until this point. Why does the Torah feel the need to tell us of her death and burial right in the middle of this climactic moment in Yaakov's life? 

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch points out numerous textual parallels between Yaakov's journey to Beit Kel and Bnei Yisroel's passage through the desert en route to Har Sinai. Rav Hirsch explains that the experience in Beit Kel served as a personal ma'amad (the divine revelation) Har Sinai for Yaakov and his family. 

Perhaps by telling us of Devorah's death and subsequent burial, the Torah teaches us that even during an intense spiritual experience, we can never forget the basic concept of Hakarat Hatov, gratitude. G-d was about to reaffirm the name Yisroel upon Yaakov and thus endorse his role as the progenitor of the Jewish people. Yet even at this auspicious time, Yaakov was careful to tend to the very basic human needs of burial for this woman who had helped care for his children.
Unfortunately, we 
often too busy for seemingly mundane activities such as visiting the sick, taking care of the elderly, or caring for strangers. We really 
busy, and what we are doing
important. But if Yaakov could interrupt his personal
Har Sinai 
to show appreciation for Devorah, we can certainly find the time for these essential pursuits as well.    


Shabbat Shalom



Annoucments and Reminders 
  • 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 Gobble Gobble - Tint Tots Style
Hillel Academy Gobble Gobble - Tiny Tots Style
Native Americans Visit Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Native Americans Visit Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Hillel Academy students share what they are thankful for - Thanksgiving 2014
Hillel Academy students share what they are thankful for - Thanksgiving 2014
Hillel Academy's Aleph Bet Video
Hillel Academy's Aleph Bet Video
Kindergarten Community Project
Kindergarten Community Project
Alumni Spotlight -  Amy Dubin

Q: When did you attend Hillel Academy?
A: 1970-1978

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

A: One of my favorite memories is performing Fiddler on the Roof in the lunchroom auditorium on the stage. It's still one of my favorite musicals and I can recite every word.

Q: What organizations are you currently involved in?

A: I am an active member and board member of Temple Sinai.

Q: How do you earn a living?

A: I am VP of Client Services and Marketing for Novum Pharmaceutical Research Services.

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

A: It may sound silly, but I really learned what it meant to be a Jew at Hillel-davening, Chumash, History, Holocaust and so much more.

Q: Please share some information about your family with our readers.

A: I've been married for almost 20 years to Gary and we have one son who is 12 1/2, Mitchell.

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

A: There's a parking lot? I thought it was a playground.

Q: Who was your first Hillel teacher?

A: I think it was Ms. Hodil?

Q: What was your favorite class?

A: Mrs. Weiss' English class

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

A: Mrs. Weiss. She understood me, challenged me and to this day, I light up when I see her. True story...we had to read Catcher in the Rye. I really didn't like it and couldn't get through it. I told her that I just couldn't read it. So she made me write a book report on why I didn't like Catcher in the Rye. 


Q: Most interesting person in your contacts?
A: Les Wexner-a philanthropist, a savvy businessman, a leader in all ways.

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

A: The friends you make when you're young are some of the ones you'll remember most fondly; try to stay connected. 


Q: Can you offer our students some career advice?

A: Advice?  I'm the advice macher. Always be challenged and open to learning new things.  Be a team player-wear the company hat.  And take accountability for your actions. And if you don't like what you do, fine something else.  I am proof that skills are transferable.

Q:  What's your favorite part of Pittsburgh?
A: The fact that it's a fairly small community that offers things that big cities offer...culture, sports, restaurants, education, and more.  And the people are nice!

Q: Can you share more about the responsibilities your job entails?
A: I make sure that our clients are happy all the time and work to develop new client relationships while leading a team of project managers at our four sites that manage all of our studies and handle all communications between Novum and the client. I also am in charge of marketing for Novum which entails both recruiting research participants and corporate marketing. We have quite a few Israeli company clients so I'm hoping my travel takes me there in 2015.

Q: What's the secret to early morning JCC workouts?
A: Motivation.  I like to eat and don't want to give it up.  Besides, I'd never do it at the end of the day.  I must admit that more sleep would be helpful!

Q: Vail in the winter or Summer?  
A: Summer

Q: Spring training or regular season? 
A: Regular season

Q: Hot dogs or Hamburgers?  
A: Hamburgers

Q: Zappos or Amazon?  
A: It's all shopping-Zappos is personal; Amazon for others.

Q: Brushed Steel appliances or black? 
A: Brushed Steel (I'm a Pittsburgher)

Thank you for your time and we welcome you back anytime. Come visit! Shabbat Shalom!
Do you HYPE? 
October 2014 - January 2015 Clubs

Check the Google Calendar or the Website for the schedules.                     
  • 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.   
                                                                           MSB Hockey League Standings  

Dark Wizards

















The high school boys team played their home opener this past Tuesday. They lost by two to a strong JCC team. Photos are courtesy of Yael Itskowitz. 

Girls basketball update coming soon. 
Alumni Updates
 We welcome any news from alumni; please send it to

Josh Weinberg ('03) named his son Benno Alexander. His Hebrew name is Binyomin. He is named after Josh's grandfather of blessed memory (exact same name).

Paul Kentor completed the Philadelphia Marathon in a time of 3:09:51.
Sam Henteleff ('99) had a Rabbi Langsam spotting in Lakewood last week at the Rosenberg wedding. Besides being responsible for the vast Torah knowledge of countless talmidim and talmidot, Rabbi Langsam was also famous for the line, " can do that in the office." 

Go Figure  - Hillel Style Baby!

Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page. We are pushing for 500. 
Like us on Facebook
Points scored  by  Rabbi Weinberg in this past week's alumni game.  He led all scorers!


 Kindergarten finished learning all 22 letters of the Aleph-Bet this week. They cerebrated with a siyum. 

Days from today until the Opening of GHS production, Peter Pan.


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 Eddy Frishman for sending in the answer for the black and white picture:
Teacher:Mrs. Kriger.
Dtudents: Sammy Zelig, Tzvia and Talia Turtle, Ronny Holzer and Dickey Silk

Eddy Frishman 
June, 1957

Teacher - Etta Rosen

Back Row:
Ronald Holzer, Sam Selig, Louis Groner, Marc Fogel, Richard Moskowitz, Steven Siegel, Victor Melmed, Karen Tanowitz, Sandra Berdyck

First Row:
Margaret Gondelman, Linda Belans

Thank you Marissa Golden for answering the science photo. 
Leora Skaist, Devorah Pfeffer, Hadar Garber, Lindsey Horvitz, Devora Balaban, Tobi Siebzener, Marissa Golden, and Sophia Ash.


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 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.

This photo was sent in by Faygie Marizan who took this memorable shot of her son, Amitai making johnnycakes for his Shoshone tribe project. They are made from white corn meal, salt, water and milk then fried. Amitai showed his true Native American roots while wearing the 2013 Fall, navy blue, Hillel hoody.  Good job Amitai!

 Photo Gallery 
The fifth graders display their Native American projects. 

 Alumni Basketball Game - Young Alumni 61 vs. Old Alumni 38
This past Saturday night 17 Hillel Academy alumni participated in the annual Hillel Academy Alumni Basketball Game. Hillel Alum Alex Sax improved his record as an Alumni game coach to 3-1, as his team prevailed by a score of 61-38. Hillel Alum Lenny Plotkin coached the old alumni led by our very own Rabbi Sam Weinberg ('00) who led all scorers with 19. 

Thank you to Hillel Academy Dads Mordechai Milch and Hirsch Chinn for announcing and recording the game, and to Hillel Academy GHS student Yael Itskowitz for her wonderful photographs (see below). 

Family Feature - Rabbi  Yosef and Yocheved Berkowitz

Q: Hi, welcome to Hillel Academy and to Pittsburgh. Where did you move from? 
A: Lakewood, NJ

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

Q: What's the best-kept secret of Hillel Academy? 
A: There are secrets at Hillel?

Q: Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with our readers? 
A: We bench together as a family ever since Zevi learned how to bench at Hillel Academy.

Q: Share something about your family that makes you unique. 
A: We have the cutest kids!

Q: What do you do with the projects your children bring home? 
A: Zevi redesigns them then we hang them up throughout the house. 

Q: What's in store for Chanukah this year?
A: We are going to Lakewood for Shabbos Chanukah

Q: Favorite restaurant in Lakewood?
A: Entree

Q: Based on the Pittsburgh sports teams, would you say Pittsburgh is a better city to live in than Lakewood?
A: Since most Lakewooders are Yankees, Rangers, and Giants fans, and I dislike them all , I'd say Pittsburgh wins hands down.

Q: Rabbi, what classes do you teach in the Kollel Jewish Learning Center?

A: I teach the Thursday night cholent shiur for the high school boys, and a Sunday morning Halacha class after the 8:30am shacharis at Kesser Torah. Coffee cake and 20 minutes of Halacha please come.


Q: The Thursday night mishmar learning and cholent, what got you involved with that?

A: The high school idea started with Zev Kraut coming to my original shiur along with Binyomin Skaist ('14) and we just decided to continue it as a high school exclusive shiur, and of course that means cholent!


Q: You don't see too many Kollel Rabbis with groomed hair. Can you recommend a good men's hair product?

A: Hair products? I would suggest a good hairbrush/comb and quality shampoo-the key is constant maintenance!!

Q: Favorite topic to learn?

A: A good tough sugya that involves heated discussion

Q: Up or down brim?

A: Brim up is casual, brim down is formal hmmmm I guess it depends on the occasion?

Q: Jelly or Cream?

A: Jelly or cream-is that for donut fillings? Then custard, no jelly.

Q: Zipper hoody or pull over?

A: Pull over.

Q: Pitem or non?

A: No pitem

Q: Mea Shearim or Bnei Brak?
A: Bnei Brak rocks!!! Although Mea Shearim is in Yerushalayim - tough call!

Q: Rebbitzin, besides your full time job of being a mother, do you work outside the house?
A: I work for PZ a few hours a week.

Q: This one's for you too. What are some of your hobbies?
A: I enjoy photography and decorating

Q: Last question for you. What's the best part of Hillel? 
A: I love the warmth and friendliness at Hillel. and of course Morah Devora.

Thank you both for your time and have a Shabbat Shalom!



First - Third grades
10:18 am - Wednesday, November 26, 2014 
Hillel Academy main playground

The first real snow fell last week before Thanksgiving. Naturally, all of our students were excited. During recess they made what they called a "mulchman.


Guess This!
Whose computer is this? Each week we will include one answer. Match the names with the photos and receive a prize. 

Hint #1: One of these computers is Rabbi Weinberg's.  Which is it and can you guess the rest?

Mazel Tov!
Mazel Tov to our ECC Morahs, Jessie, Hadar, Sossie and Belle on receiving their Child Development Association Certification through Carlow College this past week!
Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai and Tzippy Rosenberg on the wedding of their daughter, alum and teacher Leah to Yitzi Rosenstock.
Please send any Mazel Tovs to
Condolences - Please send condolences to

Around Town 
  • KIDDUSH THIS SHABBAT DECEMBER 6TH AT PZ: Deena Ross and Moishe Siebzener invite everyone to a Kidush at PZ in honor of the birth of their three new grandchildren:

Leora (Hillel Alumna) and David Ellman: daughter, Yonit.

Avi & Chava Sarah: twins, Ari & Emunah 



  • Pittsburgh Teen Minyan: In a joint effort between Poale Zedeck and Shaare Torah, and in partnership with NCSY, the Pittsburgh Teen Minyan will meet this Shabbat morning, December 6th, Parshat VaYishlach at Shaare Torah Congregation starting at 9:30am.  This is an opportunity to participate in a service run completely by teens.  
  • MORDY BROWN CATERING: December Lunch Menu & December Lunch Order Form - Don't forget - daily grab and go lunches. See Mordy, proceeds go to After School Clubs.  
  • 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 Jewish Scholars continues  at PZ.  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.

    2) Junior NCSY will have a Chanukah party and capture the flag event on Sunday, December 14th. 3) There will be a Senior NCSY Chanukah party on Thursday, December 18th.

  • 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 TorahRecruiting Teachers and Students now. No cost - Contact Shmuel Angel 412-897-6888 or email 

 Please send information by Sunday to

Teacher Feature: 

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

Please send condolence notices to