The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
   January 9, 2015                                                                                                        18 Tevet 5775
Parshat Shemot

Candle Lighting: 4:53 pm
Shabbat Ends: 6:02 pm
Dvar Torah 

In this week's parasha, we are introduced to perhaps the greatest leader in the history of the Jewish people, Moshe Rabbeinu. Interestingly, we know very little about Moshe Rabbeinu's early life growing up in the house of Pharoah, and it does not seem clear why Hashem chose Moshe to be His agent in Israel's redemption. 


We are first introduced to the adult Moshe when he leaves his house to find an Egyptian and a Jew quarreling. In defense of the Jewish slave, Moshe fatally hits the Egyptian taskmaster. Our next encounter with Moshe takes place the next day when he leaves his house and finds two Jews quarreling among themselves.  Moshe again intervenes.  As a result of this event, Moshe runs away to Midyan, where his first encounter is with the daughters of Yitro as he protects them from the Midyanite shepherds. 


Perhaps these stories can lend insight as to why Moshe was the perfect choice to lead Bnei Yisroel from servitude. In all three circumstances, Moshe intervened when he could have walked away. He was an Egyptian prince, a man of royalty. He connected with the plight of the Israelites and felt the need to act. Then when he saw the two Jews quarreling, and the daughters of Yitro being harassed, he again intervened when he ostensibly could have easily looked the other way.


These stories highlight what it means to be a Jewish leader. A Jewish leader needs to take action for the benefit of individuals and the community at large. A Jewish leader takes action because it is the right thing to do. We act because we are committed to Klal Yisrael. The Torah defines Moshe primarily by his humility, which is what allowed him to succeed. He was proactive in small situations where he saw injustice, but needed Hashem's encouragement before he embraced the role of national leader. He did not seek personal glory or self-aggrandizement; he realized the importance of the task.


Every day in a large and small scale we strive to impart the lessons of humility and action for the sake of others. As we continue to participate in community-wide volunteer programs, we look forward to seeing how our students put these lessons into action.


Shabbat Shalom!


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Announcements and Reminders 


Alumni Reunion in Israel - January 22, 2015 at 6pm


Due to the number of responses we have moved the Alumni Reunion to a shul across the street from Jake and Meira Sacks' home in Modiin. The new location is:

Kehillat Shaarei Yonah Menachem
13 Ephraim Street (corner of Esther Hamalka) 
Modiin, Israel, Thursday, January 22nd at 6:00pm.






GHS Production - Sunday, March 1 and Monday, March 2 in the Robinson Theater at the JCC - A Night in Neverland.  

Click HERE to start shopping. 

Websites and Social Media:                  Like us on Facebook     Follow us on Twitter    View our videos on YouTube    Visit our blog

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


WE STILL NEED 16 ADDITIONAL 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
The Hillel Grid brought you by Mr. Steve Werber


If you had only one wish, what would it be?

What is your least favorite food?

What is the scariest animal?

Nechama L.

To see my great grandfather

Whole wheat rolls


Chava Rivka R.

To go back to my old house in Israel

American cheese


Sarah K.

Not to move out of Pittsburgh


A mad teacher

Elky I.

To move out of my current house

Fish sticks


Dalya K.

To move to Israel!



Shoshana K.

A million more wishes

Sloppy Joe

3- headed dragon

Ms. Wontrop

Pay off student loans



Yaakov B.

To have infinite wishes

Fettuccine Alfredo

The Slender Man

Sammy B.

To live in Miami, Florida

I like all foods!

Tigers and sharks

Pinny B.

For  everyone to comprehend the sheer awesomeness that is me!


Sharkagator with rhino arms

Alumni Spotlight: 
  Aliza (Stiebel) Sokol

Q: Hello Aliza, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. When did you attend Hillel Academy?  
A: '91, and then again from '99-'03  

Q: Share a favorite memory or two with our readers?
A: The annual memo to the teachers on Rosh Chodesh Adar reminding them about "spontaneous dancing at 2:15pm"... Also shout out to the best prize for every contest- a free pizza lunch!

Q: What organizations are you currently involved in?
A: It's a great one - its called the Sokol Family Experience #happymamahappyhome ;-)

Q: How do you earn a living?
A: I work as a graphic designer (funny how my high school yearbook wasn't that far off- it pegged me as an animator). I run my own freelance company with clients around the globe. Thank G-d I LOVE what I do and have so much fun creating and designing flyers, ads, brochures, websites, etc, daily. It's such a bracha to work in a field that you love.

Q: How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? 
A: Education is the responsibility of both the school and the parents; Hillel and my parents worked hand in hand to help prepare me for the future, especially in the lesson that limudei kodesh and limudei chol must go hand in hand to succeed in the current world.

Q: Share some info about your family.
A: I'm married to an awesome Hillel alumnus- the world famous Daniel Sokol! He and I moved to Israel a month after we got married- Daniel works here as a tour guide. We have two boys, k'ah- Bentzion and Chizkiyahu- and no worries- despite being so far away from the Burgh, they both know to root for the Steelers and love sporting their Steelers gear.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: My what? Just kidding. I'm really into DIY home d�cor stuff and still play the piano. As a family, we love going hiking around Israel- we put the kids on our backs and take off. Because of Daniel's work, we get to see a lot of great stuff and have access to some really cool off the beat and track places.

Q: What was your favorite class?
A: History in high school with Mrs. Ruggier- she had a way with making history come to life.

Q: Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why?
A: I loved all of my teachers, of course!

Q: Most interesting person in your contacts?
A: I've got the number of a member of Knesset in Naftali Bennet's party... he's also our landlord.

Q: Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school?
A: Really wish someone had told me to pay better attention in Ivrit class- that would have been helpful to me now :-).

Q: How often do you see your siblings?
A: Ooh good one- we see each other at least a few times a month- with the impending snowstorm in Jerusalem, there actually is a debate currently amongst Stiebel kids- snowball fight, or flee to Beit Shemesh, although its prob closer to once a week or so.

Q: Pizza or Shwarma?
A: Pizza any day!

Q: Are you pumped for the reunion?
A: Super excited for the reunion! Daniel and I can't wait!

Q: What Hillel gear would you like to design?
A: We want Hillel Gear!!! I would totally wear it! I'd design a tznius running shirt with the Hillel logo on it- I ran the Tel Aviv 10k a few months back and would have given a lot for a comfy running shirt (sleevies just don't always cut it)? Does Hillel have that already??

Q: Did you know the GHS is putting on Peter Pan this year, they call it A Night in Neverland?
A: Peter Pan?! No way! The GHS is so lucky!             

Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: Enjoy your time at Hillel- it is an amazing place!!!   

Thank you so much for your time! Good Shabbos and we can't wait to catch up with you at the reunion.                                                                                                            
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 cases Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh (former home of the BHS in White Oak, PA). 

Daniella (Shames) Levy - My last day in Hillel was 18 years ago and I was nine at the time! What I miss most is, of course, the people. I remember the names and faces of every single teacher I had from Tiny Tykes through fourth grade, and I remember each and every one of them being kind and invested in my success and well-being as a student. 

Louie Miller (former student who now lives in Israel) - The thing I miss most about Hillel is the people. Being part of such a close-knit community. I miss my friends and most of all my classmates. There was a closeness that I truly miss. In Israel classes are about 30 students per class, so you don't get that bond. I miss the Rabbis, who I always felt really cared about you. I also miss the sports. The memory of that Hockey tournament we had every year has always stayed with me.

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 as Assistant Judaic Studies Principal when Mesivta went under ). 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. 
Do you HYPE? 
               RSVP by clicking HERE


Get Ready for Second Semester 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, (L)
Thursday, Jan 13,
CDSTuesday, Jan 27
St. Edmund's AcademyThursday, Jan. 29
WinchesterTuesday, Feb. 3
CDSThursday, Feb 5
St. Edmund's AcademyTuesday, Feb. 17
Wed., Jan 14 @ 7:30 pm

Game 1:
Sparks - 6
Lynx - 2
Top Scorer: 
Aviva Iskowitz - 4
Championship game next week:
Sparks vs. Stars 

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

- Louie Miller - Works for a nursing company as a social worker in Lod, Ramla, and Modiin. He works a day every other week as a mental health officer at a military prison. He coaches two youth baseball teams, including the 10-12 yr. old National Team along with his brother, Jake. He plays in a fastpitch softball league and umpires both baseball and softball. (Once in a while he even gets to see his wife:).

- Daniella (Shames) Levy - She just celebrated her 18th aliyah anniversary in Tekoa, Gush Etzion, where she lives with her husband Eitan and three little boys. Daniella is a self-defense instructor, writer, and translator by trade.

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 of Peter Pan - A Night in Neverland. 


The tallest player on the boys  middle school basketball team. 


Colfax's (who Hillel played to open the season) tallest player.

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!

7 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 Elan Sokol for sending this in - The poetic Baruch November, the very red Ilya Bratman, "I can pitch for Shaare Torah with my eyes closed" Eric Greenfield, "I can teach with my eyes closed" Sandie Heiss, and Mr. Business himself: Yakov Eli Sacks.

Thank you Robert Itskowitz and Steven Kohane for sending in guesses as well! 


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]

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!

No, Stella did not dress up just for this photo.  She was really in Cancun with her family. She donned her 2015 Hillel hoodie wherever she went, i.e. poolside and Mexican dance party. Well done Stella!

And for all those reading this in Mexico, all the friends the Berkowitz' made.

No, Stella no se visten s�lo para esta foto . Ella estaba realmente en Canc�n con su familia. Ella se puso su sudadera con capucha 2014/2015 donde quiera que iba, es decir, junto a la piscina y fiesta de baile mexicano. Bien hecho Stella !
 Photo Gallery 
Alum, Danny Brent ('02) stopped by for a visit and a presentation to the 2nd-grade on Australia, where he currently lives. 

Nursery and 5th-grade buddies. 

Family Feature: Mikhail and Diana Lemkov
Q: Hello and welcome to Hillel Academy! What's your favorite part of Hillel Academy, thus far? 

A: The wonderful teachers!


Q: Where did you move from?

A: Russia and Ukraine.


Q: What brought you to Pittsburgh? 
A: Our extended family.  My husband and I were both very young at the time.  


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

A: The "at home" feeling inside the classroom that our son feels.


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

A: Eating latkes during Hannukah with both of our families together.


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

A: Our family is comprised of Russian and Ukrainian cultures.


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: How do the cultures of  Russian and Ukrainian compare to ours in the USA? 
A: The Russian and Ukrainian cultures and traditions compare to those in the USA in that they mostly focus around family and values.  Everything revolves around family values and most families live all together in the same home and sometimes with other extended members.  This is very common in Russia or Ukraine.  

Q: What method of snow removal is most common over there? 
A: Snow plows and trucks. 

Q: What's your favorite part of Pittsburgh? 
A: Sq. Hill for its uniqueness and its close proximity to everything.
Q: What are your professions? 
A: Computer Engineer and Financial Analyst.

Q: Any plans for winter break? 
A: Enjoy some time with our son and try to stay warm! (Maybe a little sled riding in the snow).

Q: Have you taken part in our HYPE programs yet? 
A: not yet but are planning to soon 

Q: Are you planning on signing up for Camp Hillel? 
A: Yes.

Q: Winter or summer? 
A: Summer!

Q: Shoveling or snow blower? 
A: Neither (hope it melts on its own).

Q: Ice hockey or curling? 
A: Curling! 

Q: Can you explain curling in a nutshell and why it's so great, please? 
A: Curling is a wonderful winter sport that requires a lot of focus, determination, and balance. It became a popular sport in our house to watch especially after our son picked up the broom to try to follow along while attempting to sweep :)

Q: One last question, Mike, we were in the 1996 JCC Maccabi soccer team together, great memories! Was I the best on the team? Did you stick with soccer? We are always looking for coaches.
A: Yes, Mikhail was on the JCC Maccabi team as well as his brother ( they look very similar) and yes, they actually both still play soccer and would be interested in possible coaching opportunities if you need coaches. 

Good to know!

Thanks for your time and Shabbat Shalom! 

Morah Ruth's Pre-K 
  Welcome back party.

Tue, Jan 6, 2015 at 1:48 PM

Room 106
Morah Elaine had been out for a while and Morah Ruth's class and the rest of the school were very excited to have her back!

Mazel Tov!


Mazel Tov Rabbi and Mrs. Mordechai and Tzippy Rosenberg on the birth of a granddaughter to alum, Tehila in Cleveland. Much nachas to the entire family! 


Dan and Gayle Kraut on the bar mitzvah of their son, seventh grader Aaron Kraut! Mazel tov to the entire Greenfield and Kraut families.  Much nachas to you all!

Mazel Tov to Drs. Robert and Jennifer Lebovits  on the birth of a grandson to alum,  Sara (Lebovitz) Lapchek. 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: NCSY casino night will take place this Saturday night at Poale Zedeck starting at 8:00pm. Come enjoy sushi and other great food and drinks. The cost is $125 per couple, and sponsorship opportunities are still available. You do not need to RSVP, you can just pay at the door. We hope to see you there.
  • 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].