The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parashat Tzav
Shabbat HaGadol
 March 27, 2015  

Candle Lighting
7:21 PM

 7 Nisan  5775

Shabbat Ends
8:30 PM
Dvar Torah 

   This week's Parasha, Tzav appears to be a repetition of Parshat Vayikra. Both 
parshiyot present the detailed laws concerning the five basic categories of Korbanot. At first glance, it seems peculiar that the Torah did not combine these two parshiyot and to include all the laws and details concerning the korbanot into one parsha. Why are these laws divided into two separate parshiyot?
Rabbi Menachem Leibtag points out that these two Parshiyot serve fundamentally different purposes. In Parashat Tzav, each category of Korban is introduced by the phrase, "Zot Torah Ha...."(see 6:2,6:7,6:18,7:1,7:11). This phrase generally means, "these are the laws of _____". In this context, Rabbi Leibtag points out, the word "Torah" denotes a procedural law or a series of actions necessary for the completion of a given process. With this understanding, it is easy to understand the difference between Parashat Tzav and Vayikra. In Vayikra, we learn about why and under what circumstances each Korban is to be brought. In Tzav, we learn the details regarding how it is to be brought. 
Based on this understanding it is still unclear why the two parshiyot were not combined. Could we not have simply learned the "how" along with the "why" and "what" of korbanot? 
Perhaps the Torah is teaching us a fundamental lesson regarding Mitzva observance in general. Many times we focus on the how before we fully understand the why or what. We want to know what to do even if we don't fully understand why it is we are doing it. Conversely, we also might be lax in our observance if we don't fully understand the reasons behind it. Perhaps the Torah here is delivering a two-fold message. On the one hand, the Torah  is telling us that we must first understand why and in what context we perform mitzvot and then focus on the performance, on the other hand the Torah is telling us that ultimately the "why" and "what" should not necessarily impact the "how". 
In a few days, it will be Pesach. No doubt the air of preparation is upon us as we frantically convert our kitchens and prepare for the sedarim. At times, Pesach can seem procedural, complete with 40-page how-to guides and planners. It is important that we don't let the "why" of Pesach get lost in the shuffle, and we make sure to use this time to appreciate our freedom from bondage and G-d willing our ultimate redemption. 


Shabbat Shalom                          


Rabbi Sam Weinberg


Alumni Feature: Anna Miller
Hi Anna, when did you attend Hillel Academy? 1992-1998

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers. In 2nd grade, we put on a play of the Old Lady who swallowed a fly.

What organizations are you currently involved in? Biotechnology General

How do you earn a living? Quality Assurance in a Bio-Tech company

Can you tell us more about your career? I work for one of the first and largest biotech drug companies in Israel. I work in quality assurance meaning I make sure all batches released to the market are safe and effective. I also work on special projects making my job very hectic and challenging but a lot of fun.

What do you do in your free time? Pottery, Gym, Travel the World, FRIENDS.

Who was your first Hillel teacher? Mrs. Schelenberger and Hannah Dorsey.

What was your favorite class? Math.

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? Nechama Weingot - She was the most caring and giving teacher I ever had. She also supported me in my last year at Hillel while dealing with making Aliya. She truly cared about her students and I, to this day, remember her fondly.

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? Enjoy it - these are the best years!

What's the best part of living in Israel? The best part about living in Israel is living here. This might sound a bit too much but every day I wake up in Israel I feel like I am part of a mission that is crucial for the Jewish existence. It is very important to me to feel like I am making a difference in today's world. Just by living in Israel I feel like I am one step in the right direction. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. This is my home.

One of the best things about living in Israel is family is always right around the corner. Nothing is very far. I get to see my family on a daily basis. The longest I go without seeing someone is a week (from Shabbat to Shabbat). I have two amazing nieces that I make sure to see as much as possible.

Give us some more about Anna Miller. Fun Facts: I have a black belt in karate. I am doing my MBA. I am a certified self-defense instructor.

Every family that moves into your house, I tell them it's the Miller house. What do you think about that? You better tell them it is the Miller house. Although I would never want to move back to the States, I had an amazing life in Pittsburgh. That house is full of so many memories that I will never forget. Did you know that my mom moved into that house when she was eight years old? That house was in my family for 30+ years. My mom is more of a Hillel Alumni than I am! She had Rabbi Brodie when he still had red hair!!!
Thank you so much for your time!  Good Shabbos!

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Hillel Academy in the Local News  

Community gets taste of NCAA tourney in second and third rounds


By Yael Itskowitz

Special to The Chronicle

It's March Madness in Pittsburgh, and it has nothing to do with cleaning the house and preparing for Passover.


The second and third rounds of the NCAA men's basketball tournament were held at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh from March 19 to 21. Joining in the excitement downtown were many Jewish Pittsburghers who collectively have a strong interest in the sport either as players, coaches or fans.

Susan Schreiber of Squirrel Hill comes from a very athletic family and grew up watching college basketball. She's even related to the late Hall of Fame coach Harry Litwack, who led Temple University's team from 1947 to 1973.


"College basketball gives Jews a great opportunity to become successful," said Schreiber. "We can see that over the years many college basketball coaches are, in fact, Jewish."

Litwack represents the epitome of what Jews can achieve in college basketball. His 373-193 record didn't just land him in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but also the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Basketball Hall of Fame.


Besides for coaches, there have been many successful Jewish college basketball players. Tamir Goodman is an Orthodox Jew who grew up in Baltimore. After spending part of his high school career in Pittsburgh, he was rated the 25th best player in the United States. He eventually moved to Israel and played with the Maccabi Tel Aviv team in 2002, earning the nickname the "Jewish Jordan."


Rabbi Ari Goldberg, who overlapped with Goodman during his time at Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, said of the player: "He was, hands down, the best basketball player I have ever seen."


"What impressed me the most was ... he always behaved in a very humble and unassuming way, as if for him it was just all about playing the game he loved," added Goldberg. "It's really amazing to see how he could take this passion and apply it to his life and livelihood, all within an observant framework."


Following his retirement in 2009, Goodman utilized his basketball connections to help the Jewish community. He created the nonprofit organization Coolanu Israel, which strives to connect Jews to Israel and to strengthen Jewish identity through basketball clinics.

Dan Kraut, CEO of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, attended the NCAA tournament last Thursday with his two sons. They watched as North Carolina State scored the winning points against LSU in the last few seconds. He has been to six NCAA tournaments in the past and was ecstatic that March Madness was in Pittsburgh.


It was "a great opportunity to take my kids and share with them my love of basketball," he said. "It was an extremely exciting and overwhelming experience."


His 13-year-old son Aaron, who attends Hillel Academy and plays for the Hillel Heat, exclaimed, "It was amazing! We were right behind the hoop and we got to watch two basketball games."

As some grieve over losses in their personal NCAA brackets, they can take pride in the knowledge that Jewish Pittsburgh had an up close taste of the game last weekend. But attention is already turning to cleaning those houses for Pesach.


Yael Itskowitz is an 11th grade student at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.

Hillel Academy Student Blog 

 Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Student Blog.  GHS student Rivka has posted new topics, check them out and let us know what you think.


Visit our blog 

8th Grade Raffle Tickets for Sale

Buy your 8th grade Raffle Tickets   - proceeds go to fund their Washington D.C. trip. 


1 for $2 or 3 for $5 - 4 tickets to a Pittsburgh Pirates game and various gift cards are among some of the prizes. 

Call the front office 412.521.8131 or email



- Mazel Tov to Coach Kraut and the Middle School Basketball Team on their third victory (first in the Sunday Night league)

- MSB Hockey league began this past week and will resume after Pesach. 

Weekly Photos


What Do You Miss Most?
Josh Corcos (former student) -  I miss going to school with a class of 6 of my best friends. 

Jeff Peters (former PE teacher, who now works for Forbes Road CTC in Monroeville) - I miss walking into a gym full of smiling, eager faces, who were ready to participate and learn about physical education. Having the opportunity and challenge of teaching almost every student in the school; nursery -12th grade was a great experience that allowed me to grow as a person and educator. I am beyond grateful that Hillel gave me my first teaching opportunity. One last thing, I also miss the after school hockey club! Great times!! I hope all is well, Hillel Academy.

Edo Pollack (former student) - I miss recess, even adults need it! The comfortable chairs in the principal's office. Where can I get one of those?

Lisa Brookman (former teacher and parent) - I would have to say what we miss most about HA is Morah Devorah's big, beautiful smile. We still talk about her from time to time, and Nadav says that she was the best teacher ever. 


Faculty Feature: What do you know about Tammy Berkowitz?

Hi, welcome to Hillel Academy! So, what brought you to Hillel? The bakery was coming to a close and I wanted to do something different. 
You are now one of our administrative assistants, tell us about the transition from baker to Hillel Academy? It has to be a little less stressful, right? Definitely less stressful, however it is still a big responsibility. Liz and I are the first people that parents, students, teachers and guests encounter when they enter the school and leave. Thank G-d for Officer Brown who is there to keep us all safe! We tend to be a jack of all trades in this position, handling the phones, being school "nurse", doing various tasks for lots of different people etc...

Last week you baked cupcakes in your daughter's class. A few weeks before that, you baked a wedding cake, are we seeing a pattern here? What can I say, once a baker always a baker. Now I get to do it just for fun!

How is it having your daughter in school with you? It's AWESOME! I love seeing her  everyday and being able to peek in every once in a while to see what she's up to. 

What have you found out about Hillel, now that you are an employee, that surprised you? How dedicated everyone is here! Students and teachers are genuinely happy to be here and it's a pleasure to be a part of it all. 

What's it like having to call people you know and telling them, they made a mistake, i.e. no U -turns in front of the school or they have to sign their child in when they come late or they can't park in front of the school during dismissal? Honestly, it's been fine having to make those calls and have those conversations. When I explain that it's for the safety of the school and it's students, people understand for the most part. 

What's next for you? Pesach in Miami and then working at Hillel during Summer camp! 

My sources tell me that Daniel would like to teach an Economics class. Is there any truth to that? 
Daniel would love to teach High School Civics. That's what he has always said he would do when he retires.

Be truthful, how many brackets did you fill out this year? Um, one and I'm still not sure I even know what a bracket is...... 

Who are your final four teams? So, I think I have Notre Dame, Kentucky, Louisville and Duke....but I can't remember what I filled out.....

Now that you are in the building, do you find yourself gravitating to Rabbi Weinberg's HYPE Parsha class on Thursday at 1:30 PM? I happen to be working at that time every Thursday. But I am interested and perhaps one day will be able to make it to a class. 

West Coast or East Coast? East Coast for sure! I grew up in Connecticut, went to Boston University undergrad and The George Washington University for grad school. 

Ice cream or Rita's? Ice cream! Ben & Jerry's Mint Chocolate Cookie to be exact, though I don't think they make that flavor anymore.

Thanks for your time! Have a wonderful Shabbos!
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. 



                                                         This Week's Photo 



Hillel Gear Spotted Here!
At the recent NCAA basketball games in Pittsburgh, our cameras caught Mr. Kraut and his son Aaron courtside.  Mr. Kraut is sporting the 2015 Hillel hoody.  Nice work Mr. Kraut. You guys saw some great games! Are you ready for the Spring Line of Hillel Gear!? We are! Remember to send in your Pesach Break Hillel Gear Photos!!



WE ARE LOOKING FOR INDIVIDUALS, COUPLES OR FAMILIES THAT WOULD BENEFIT FROM THE TOMCHEI SHABBOS PROGRAM! If you are interested or know someone who might benefit from the program, please contact Rabbi Wasserman at All inquiries are strictly confidential.
Go Figure 

The middle school team notched their first victory in the Sunday Night League. 
Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page. NINE more than last week. We are pushing for 500. 
Who is going to be our 500th?!? 

                        Like us on Facebook

As of Thursday morning, Ms. Brett's ESPN NCAA bracket ranking. 
Mazel Tov!


Shayna and Reb Danny Shaw on the birth of a baby boy, and to big brothers and sister, Rami, Coby, Miri and Ty, and to Grandparents Dr. Alex and Jackie Sax, and Eddie Shaw (Shaare Torah Dinner Honoree) and Wendy Levin- Shaw.
Hillel Twitter Feed - What you missed while you were gone. Follow us on Twitter
Walk a mile in my shoes - students drawing with white on black today @hillelacademy1 

I'm more than a shell - adding colored pencil on a black ground in art class @hillelacademy1 

Hillel Gear spotted in Dunedin, FL. #BlueJays#Ace@DanielSax well done! #BucNation@BlueJays@Pirates
Condolences - Please send condolences to
With heavy hearts and great sorrow we mourn the passing of 

Mr. Naphtali Avishai, ob"m,

beloved father of  Avi Avishai, 

beloved father-in-law of Arielle Avishai, 


beloved grandfather of Sara, Naphtali, and Flora Avishai

With heavy hearts and great sorrow we mourn the passing of 

Mr. Jerry Gross, ob"m,

beloved father of  Iris Samson,  and

beloved father-in-law of Phil Samson.


Around Town 


  • NCSY - 1) Shabbat 100: Pittsburgh NCSY is partnering with multiple other Pittsburgh youth organizations in an attempt to gather 100 Jewish teens for a festive Friday night dinner. The event is scheduled to take place on March 27th at the Jewish Community Center.  For more information and/or to help sponsor the event, please contact Rabbi Goldberg.

    2) There will also be a Pittsburgh NCSY Chapter Shabbaton over the weekend of March 27th-29th. This event is open to all teens in 9th-12th grade. Come enjoy festive meals, great advisors and a fun Saturday night activity. If you plan on attending, please rsvp to

  • BNEI AKIVA: Snif this week is back at it's new time, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM at Shaare Torah Cong. On Murray Ave. 
  • KESSER TORAH: Sunday mornings at 8:30am. Davening followed by learning, coffee and cake at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. All are invited!
  • GIRLS ONEG: Girl's Oneg every Shabbos from 3-4 in the PZ Educational Building.  All girls in grade K-6 are welcome!  Join us for a special Pre-Pesach program, "Makos Madness" on Shabbos March 28th!  No Girl's Oneg on April 4th and 11th.
 Please send information by Sunday to




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

Please send condolence notices to