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

January 2, 2015                                                                                                        11 Tevet 5775
Parshat Vayigash

Candle Lighting: 4:47 pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:55 pm
Dvar Torah 


At the end of Sefer Bereshit, we are presented with Yaakov's final blessings to his children, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. When we read these blessings, we realize that these are not blessings in the traditional sense, rather they are prophecies highlighting the unique and distinct character traits of each brother. Yaakov understood that each of his children had special character traits and unique potential that only they could achieve. His bracha to them was that they each achieve their potential.

Rabbi Menacham Leibtag questions why Bnei Yisroel needed to be divided into shevatim at all. Why couldn't we all have inherited Israel equally and thus avoided years of turmoil and civil war that has plagued us throughout the Tanach? He uses these brachot at the conclusion of Sefer Bereshit to answer this question. Throughout Bereshit, from the failure of the Migdal Bavel generation to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, we see that the major aspiration of the Avot was to "call out in the name of Hashem," to motivate the nations of the world and to be pillars of inspiration for humanity. Based on this objective, Rabbi Leibtag explains the need for shvatim. If our goal is to inspire humanity, we must have the ability to reach as many people as possible. This necessitates the need for diversity among us.  If we were all the same, we would only be able to contact a myopic group of like-minded people. In having different strengths, we are able to network a far more eclectic group, and ultimately fulfill our destiny.

On tours of our school, visitors always point out to us the diversity of our student body.  This is something that makes us unique and something that we take pride in at Hillel Academy. Our school is a place where we celebrate the uniqueness of each student and learn and grow from one another.  As it says in Mishlei 22:6, "Educate your child according to his way and even when he grows old, he will not depart from it."


Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Announcements and Reminders 


Alumni Reunion is Israel - January 22, 2015 at 6pm.   Click HERE to RSVP


GHS Production - Sunday, March 1 and Monday, March 2  in the Robinson Theater at the JCC - Peter Pan. 

Click HERE to start shopping. 
Hillel Academy Student Blog 

We are launching the Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Student Blog.  This project was designed to give Hillel Academy GHS student Rivka the opportunity to share with the Hillel Academy Nation interesting topics about a variety of things, ranging from human teeth to bio-luminescence.


Visit our blog 

Pittsburgh Tomchei Shabbos Begins


Hillel Academy Parents, Supporters and Friends! We still need volunteer team members. If you are interested in volunteering or donating, please click here: 



First Grade Chumash Presenation
First Grade Chumash Presenation

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh presents
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh presents "Happy" Chanukah!

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Presents Chanukah Chesed
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Presents Chanukah Chesed
Family Feature: Rabbi and Mrs. Akvia and Chana Sarah Sutofsky
Q: Hi, Welcome to Hillel Academy! Where did you move from? 
A: Houston, Texas.

Q: What's your favorite part of Hillel Academy, thus far?
A: The hot lunches are a big hit!

Q: What's the best-kept secret of Hillel Academy?
A: That Pre-K has amazing science classes twice a week, as well as gym and Hebrew class! Wow!!

Q: Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with our readers?
A: Going to minor league baseball games and Yehuda's Little League games.

Q: Share something about your family that makes you unique.
A: We LOVE playing sports and swimming!

Q: What do you do with the projects your children bring home?
A: We save them all and hang some on our fridge to enjoy.

Q: The Buffalo Bills offered fans $10 an hour to shovel snow and free game tickets. Deal or no deal? Why?
A: Who are the Buffalo Bills? (Chana Sarah)
No thanks! (Rabbi Sutofsky) DEAL!!!!!!! (Kids) 

Q: What do you think of Pittsburgh?

A: We love it so far. Baruch Hashem, I'm very happy with the job at Hillel Academy, and our kids are doing great for being here only four months. We're slowly getting used to the hills, the shopping, and the hard-to-find parking. There is a certain charm to Pittsburgh as well as a very welcoming simplicity. Everyone has been so nice and we have been invited out for Shabbos meals basically every week since we moved here-I think we've forgotten how to make a cholent!


Q: How does it compare to Houston?

A: It's so different!!! To begin with, Houston is flat!! The Jewish community we were part of is made up of mostly east coast transplants, and the most expensive house there is below 250k!! None of the houses have basements, due to the type of soil and frequent flooding. When we got a really good rain, the streets would literally turn into rivers and we had to wait until the waters receded to be able to drive safely.

Most people in our neighborhood in Houston davened at the Young Israel, and the Kollel is in the shul. The school just built a new building, which is right at the entrance to the Young Israel neighborhood. We miss Houston and all the great friends we and our children made there.

Q: Are you ready for the cold?

A: So far we are surviving. March is just around the corner and with a trip to Orlando in January, how rough can it be? The truth is we may like the cold more than the crazy intense heat in the Houston summers. We bought a few sleds along with our winter gear-where's the snow?

Q: Have you heard that secret to surviving the winter is L.L. Bean? - Oh, is that the secret behind D. Shaw, the fashion guru?



Q: Is JJ Watt for real?

A: Big time for real. Awesome guy, and very nice to kids. There was a terrible accident that happened to some Jewish kids in Houston and JJ Watt visited them pretty often.


Q: This is for both of you: If you could give a shiur on any topic in any location, what would it be?

A: Rabbi S:  High level halacha shiur, anywhere. I gave such a shiur in Houston for five years every Shabbos and it was great!

Mrs. S: I don't usually speak in public, but I like the idea of teaching Pirkei Avos for women at a private home.


Ok, we will look into that for you Mrs. S.


Q: Favorite Torah topic to learn with your kids?

A: Rabbi S:  Mishnayos, a good piece of  hashkafa.

Mrs. S- Parsha: we try to give them a lot of hashkafa to help them understand more deeply how special it is to be Jewish and why we do and think the way we do.


Q: What's the secret to allowing all kids at the Shabbos table to say a dvar? 

A: Rabbi S. - No idea, if you know the secret please let me know, 832.338.9915!

Mrs. S. - Expect a long...meal! Make sure everyone knows they'll get their turn eventually, if they're patient.


Q: Astros or Pirates?

A: Astros. Sorry, just not there yet. But we went to a Pirates game that was really exciting and we loved the fireworks after the game.

Don't apologize. Just don't expect any favors.


Q: Pepsi or Coke?

A: COKE! Pepsi tastes like soap. Besides Rabbi Sutofsky, our family mostly drinks seltzer, not soda.


Q: Mrs. Sutofsky, tell us about your job.

A: I work for Testing and Training International (TTI, aka the "Raizel Reit program"). We help students all around the world earn Bachelor's and Master's degrees quickly, easily, and affordably through our partner colleges. I've been working for TTI for the last 6 � years, and it's great because I can work from home using a phone and computer, and I help lots of frum people every day on the path to making a better living.


Q: Favorite Shabbos meal?

A: Chicken with ketchup and brown sugar sauce, with potatoes and onions


Q: Bentley or Honda?


Q: Shaare Torah or PZ?

A:  Nice try!

Q: Rabbi, do you plan to have a private practice? IY"H that is definitely part of the plan. I hope to start as early as next year, and I'm very excited about it. My dream has always been to work in a high school, be a school counselor and have a private practice. Each one of those settings offer such a distinct and unique opportunity to form a meaningful trusting relationship with a student or a client, and the chance to have all three is extremely exciting. 

Q: Lastly, it is a privilege to live on Shaw Ave, no?

A: We think of you every time we say/write our address!

Love it! Thanks for your time and have a wonderful Shabbos!

                                                                                                                                                                                           D. Shaw
Alumni Spotlight: Moshe Stiebel
Q: Hello and welcome back! When did you attend Hillel Academy?
A: 92-'94, '99-'04

Q: Share a favorite memory or two with our readers?
A: One of my best memories was in 8th grade when we were fundraising for our D.C. graduation trip. We got together and did a Pesach car wash/cleaning in the Hillel parking lot. I remember all of us having stations all over the parking lot, some of us with vacuums, and a lot with hoses, and cleaning the whole day. In that one day, we made over half the money for our trip and it was such a great accomplishment. Another memory, which was also in eighth grade, was when for some reason we decided as a class to collect every empty soda can we could get our hands on. I think we were going to exchange them for 5 cents each, but I honestly don't remember. Long story short, we filled up a couple lockers top to bottom with them and eventually were told by the principal that we had to throw them away because flies were all over the place.

Q: What organizations are you currently involved in?
A: In college I was heavily involved in NCSY and HASC.

Q: How do you earn a living?
A: I'm currently in medical school in Israel,

Q: How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future?
A: It gave me a great foundation in Judaism and a love of learning, both secular and Judaic.

Q: Share some info about your family.
A: My family has slowly but surely been moving to Israel, and we're now all here. I got married last year, and my wife and I are living in Be'er Sheva.

Q: Hillel Trivia - How many parking spaces in the lot?
A: I don't remember there being parking spaces back then. That was just the place we played kickball every day during recess.

Q: What was your favorite class?
A: Chumash in 10th grade with Reb Nooch. By far the best class I've ever had.

Q: Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why?
A: Wow, there were a lot, but I'll stick with my previous answer because I honestly never learned as much in any class I'd ever been in as I did with Reb Nooch. He was just incredibly good, no way around it.

Q: Most interesting person in your contacts?
A: My wife (she's reading this right now).

Q: Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school?
A: Get to know your teachers. They're actually really cool people.

Q: Give us the Steelers prediction.
A: Steelers, of course, make it to the Superbowl, and we have a rematch with the Packers. This time, we win it 38-30.

Q: In a luxury box or in the stand with the real fans.
A: Totally staying in a luxury box. Real fans are out there in the stands, but I'll take a free box seat any day.

Q: Offense of linemen in below freezing temperatures with sleeves or without sleeves.
A: Without sleeves.

Q: Getting around Jerusalem with the train or taxi.
A: Train. It's a seriously awesome train they have here.

Q: Shawarma or big apple pizza? 
A: I will eat shwarma breakfast, lunch, and dinner if I can get my hands on it. I feel that there is never a reason in the day to be milchik. (Yeah, I know chocolate and ice cream, but I will never look back on a shwarma with regret.)

Q: Best food dish in high school?
A: The Chinese restaurants we had growing up. Really miss it.

Q: Favorite topic of Torah to learn?
A: Anything dealing with the basics.

Q: What's your best advice to a tough Rashi?
A: There is so much depth and beauty to seriously basic questions about G-d and why we do what we do. My friends and I have spent hours talking about it and each time I find something new that I didn't appreciate before. I find it really connects all the different pieces of the Torah that we learn into a cohesive whole, and makes all the different parts even more awesome.
Think it out. Grab a soda, think about what you know, and think about the choice of wording he uses. It'll come. Then talk to your friends and see what they thought.

Q: Where do you look for a short vort?
A: Frameworks. Definitely one of my favorites.

Thank you for your time, we hope to see you at the Alumni Reunion in Israel on January 22, at 6pm, and have a wonderful Shabbos!

                                                                                                                                                                                  Reb Shaw
What Do You Miss Most?

Many people/families have left the Hillel Academy community for a variety of reasons. All of whom made a difference in our school. We have reached out to these individuals and asked them what they miss most about Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh or in some case Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh (former home of the BHS in White Oak, PA).
Reb Nooch and his 
Shver (father-in-law)  at Progressive Field watching the game. Go Yankees (his words, not mine - D. Shaw)!

Meir Goldberg '00 - Miss Linger, the science teacher, Thursday Hoagies, and most of all Rabbi Weingot!

Itchy Weingot - (Learned in the Mesivta Bais Medresh) - I miss the food and the feeling of all being part of a special chevra

Reb Nooch - (Learned in the Mesivta Bais Medresh, then headed up the Hillel Boys High School when Mesivta went under as Assistant Judaic Studies Principal). My boz!

Jared Stufflebeam -'14 - The amazing teachers!

Chasya Cowen Hertzberg - '12 - I miss the crazy friends and fun we had. I miss Mr. Garwood and of course the lounge. Good times there. I did really well in Hillel. I got straight A's for the first time in my life there.

Do you HYPE? 

HYPE Chanukah Family Learning - 12/21/14
HYPE Chanukah Family Learning - 12/21/14


October 2014 - January 2015 Clubs

Check the Google Calendar or the Website for the schedules.      
 Girls Intramural Basketball League
Sparks (Black) Team

Stars (Yellow) Team

Aviva ItskowitzRivka Kaminsky
Batya MandelbaumShira Wiesenfeld
Bracha BerelowitzDevorah Milch
Esther GrossbergChana Yolkut
Bluma RodkinRachel Luzer
Ariella ChinnSarah Kagan
Liberty (White) Team

Lynx (Blue) Team

Shira SutofskyAvital Segal
Leora GoldbergChaya Sutofsky
Elisheva RosenbergMaya Davis
Talia ItskowitzMichal Admon
Rivky GrossbergSarah Hertzberg
          Middle School Basketball Roster 



Jersey #



 Benji M.





 Efraim M. 





 Noah L.    





 Aaron K.  





 Yoni A.    





 Sammy B. 





 Isaac B.





 Reuven K.





 Moshe C.  





 Pinny B.    





Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh 2014-2015 MSB Schedule
ColfaxTuesday, January 6,
Thursday, Jan 13,
CDSTuesday, Jan 27
St. Edmund's AcademyThursday, Jan. 29
WinchesterTuesday, Feb. 3
CDSThursday, Feb 5
St. Edmund's AcademyTuesday, Feb. 17

Game 1:
Sparks - 12
Stars - 16
Game 2:
 Lynx - 18
Liberty - 6
Top Scorers: 
Aviva Iskowitz - 10
Chaya Sutofsky - 8


Drama, Ballet and Sports club photos. 

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

-Chasya Cowen Hertzberg - '13 - She lives in Israel with her husband Dan  Hertzberg -'13. Chasya is working on her art and studying voice.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Alumni Game - 11/29/14
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Alumni Game - 11/29/14

Go Figure  - Hillel Style Baby!
Days from today until the Opening of GHS production, Peter Pan

Sock monkeys made by Hillel student for Children's Hospital. 

Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page. One more than last week. We are pushing for 500.                          Like us on Facebook
Views of the Chanukah "Happy" video.
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh presents
Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh presents "Happy" Chanukah!

14 Days until winter break!

Flashback Fridays Photo Challenge

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, Mrs. Kagan for submitting an entry for this week and Ariel (Reichenberg) Kell for submitting for last week's photo. 

This week's photo looks like Mrs. Weingot, maybe Sara Rosenberg, Mindy Langsam, Klahr boy, Miriam Plotkin, don't know last 2 kids, but is one Lesnik? 


Last Week's Photo 

This Week's Photo 


Annual MotherDaughter Melavah Malkah - Photos courtesy of 
Anat Talmy



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]

The Marcus kids showoff their menorahs and their fashionable 2013 Fall Gear Hillel Hoodies! Well done kids. We hope the Queen Mother and all of your British friends saw this photo and decide to order the 2014 line of Hillel Gear. Wow, could you imagine if we caught a pic of the Queen in a Hillel pom hat? Does anyone remember when Ashton Gibbs was wearing a 2011 Hillel ringer t-shirt in his PITT senior video shown on the Peterson big screen? That was probably the most famous person spotted in Hillel gear!

Anyway back to reality. It's almost time for the Winter Break Hillel Gear Contest.  There are two this year. 

1) The Classic Photo - take a pic with Hillel gear and send it to us. The photo with the most likes ON THE HILLEL ACADEMY FACEBOOK PAGE after one week wins a pizza dinner from Mordy Brown.

2) The Celebrity Photo - Get a celeb to pose with Hillel gear, take a photo and send it to us. A panel of judges (made up of admin, teachers and lay leaders) will decide who is the most famous person wearing Hillel gear. The winning family also gets a pizza dinner.

So, get ready!

 Photo Gallery 

Pre-school Duck Duck Goose.

Third grade was on fire this week with lessons integrating math, science, and Torah.  One of the major themes
 of Chanukah is burning fuel to create flames.  From the miracle of the oil burning longer than it should have to the halachos of lighting the menorah, this important concept is everywhere.  Mr. Garwood worked with us in the lab to help us really understand the elements of fire-- ignition (heat), oxygen, and fuel, to really bring to life the concepts we learned about in the classroom.  We made predictions, raced different fuels and amounts of fuel, to see which ones would last the longest.  Were birthday candles big enough to use for the mitzvah of Ner Chanukah??  What do we need to do Erev Shabbos??  How long does a little bit of oil really last?  Mr. Garwood also treated us to a demonstration of different colored flames (did you know different fuels make flames that are different colors?) Back in the classroom we used some math skills--estimation, addition, and more, to figure out how much oil might have been in that famous "little jar of oil", not to mention--how much oil would normally have been needed to burn for 8 whole days?  


4th Grade
Hilchot Shabbat

Wed. Dec 24, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Room 205
4th Grade learned to weave to help learn about the 39 Melachot of Shabbot

Mazel Tov!



Morah Kim Shiring on her engagment! 

Morah Miriam Fabian on the recent birth of a graddaughter, Chana Tzipora. Much nachas to the entire family!  


Debra (Reichenberg - '03) and Ben Fishman on the recent birth of a son, Yitzchak Zev, in Israel. Much nachas to the entire family! 

Please send any Mazel Tovs to [email protected]
Condolences - Please send condolences to [email protected].

Around Town 


  • MORDY BROWN CATERING: 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. Save the date for the NCSY Casino Night fundraiser on January 10th.  This fundraiser will begin at 8:00 p.m. at PZ.
  • GIRLS ONEG: Girls Oneg this Shabbos afternoon from 3-4 at PZ for all girls in grades K-6.
  • 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

Please send condolence notices to [email protected].