The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parashat Achrei Mot-Kedoshim
27th Day of the Omer
 May 1, 2015  

Candle Lighting
7:57 PM

12 Iyar 5775

Shabbat Ends
9:06 PM
Dvar Torah 

Parashat Kedoshim presents the famous command of "ve-ahavtalerei'achakamocha" - "you should love your neighbor as yourself" (19:18). This imperative was made famous by Rabbi Akiva who suggested in the medrash that, "Zeh Klal Gadol BaTorah - This is the great principle of the Torah." At first glance, this is a very egocentric and self-centered world-view, and it is difficult to understand what Rabbi Akiva means by this phrase. Perhaps we can approach this statement in the context of a few well-known stories about Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbi Akiva was known as an eternal optimist. In the final passage of Masekhet Makot, we read about a group of sages, including Rabbi Akiva, who passed by the ruins of the Temple and witnessed a fox scurrying about at the sacred site. While Rabbi Akiva's colleagues wept, he smiled and noted how the fulfillment of the prophesies warning of Jerusalem's destruction confirmed the ultimate fulfillment of the prophesies foreseeing its restoration. When placed in a situation that would ordinarily evoke feelings of anguish and despair, Rabbi Akiva responded with hope, optimism, confidence, and serenity.

The most dramatic account of Rabbi Akiva's optimism is perhaps the Gemara's account of his final breaths of life (Berakhot 61b). During those moments of unfathomable suffering, Rabbi Akiva described to his students how privileged he felt to be able to finally fulfill the obligation to love G-d "with all your life." Even in his dying moments, and in the face of inhumane brutality, Rabbi Akiva remained optimistic. He found the silver lining in the darkest, thickest cloud of all, experiencing and expressing his love for G-d amid deadly torture.

How does a person "love his fellow as himself"? The answer, perhaps, is that we must view people the way Rabbi Akiva viewed every situation in life - which is the way people generally view themselves. All people have positive and negative character traits, but we are able to "love ourselves" by tolerating our imperfections and focusing on our finer qualities. Just as Rabbi Akiva was able to find the hopeful, encouraging aspects of even the most dreadful circumstances, similarly, we must identify the positive, admirable qualities of even those who do not immediately present a positive, admirable image. This is the "great principle of the Torah," to view the world's people and events from a positive angle, approaching life with our eyes focused on all that is good.

Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Color War Dvar Torah by Rivka Mandelbaum
        For years, the Jewish people have been trying to get back to Israel, and specifically to Yerushalayim. The city has passed from the hands of one conquering nation to another, from the Roman Empire to the Byzantine Empire to the Arabs and Crusaders, and back to the Arabs, and so on, but we have still tried our best to remain in the holiest city of all. What about it is so holy, why does it matter to us now? There's no longer a Bait Hamikdash -- true, there's a Kotel, but that's just a remnant -- and Yerushalayim isn't a real strategic, commercial, or industrial center. How has this ancient city, unimportant as it appears, crept to the heart of a fight between Israel and the Palestinians over the future of the land of Israel? In essence, why should we care what happens to Yerushalayim?

We need to begin by understanding the importance of memory. Memory isn't history or the dusty old past lying around in museums. By defining the past, memory creates the present. We define ourselves by our memories. In Hebrew, the word for man is "zachar." The word for memory is "zecher." You can see from this that man is memory.  Without memory, there is no past, but there also is no present, because everything loses its context and its meaning.

It is said about Yerushalayim "אִם-אֶשְׁכָּחֵךְ יְרוּשָׁלִָם תִּשְׁכַּח יְמִינִי תִּדְבַּק לְשׁוֹנִי, לְחִכִּי אִם לֹא אֶזְכְּרֵכִי:אִם-לֹא אַעֲלֶה, אֶת-יְרוּשָׁלִַם עַל, רֹאשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי. (If I forget you Yerushalayim, let my right hand lose its strength. Let my tongue cling to my palate if I fail to recall you, if I fail to elevate Yerushalayim above my highest joy.)" Remembering Yerushalayim somehow is linked to our current state as a people. But how? What is the memory of Yerushalayim, and what does it contribute to who we are?

The Talmud says Yerushalayim was named by G-d. The name has two parts: Yira, which means "to see," and shalem, which means "peace."

Yerushalayim was the place of Avraham's sacrifice of Yitzchak, and Avraham said of Yerushalayim, "This is the place where G-d is seen."

We see that, elsewhere, but in Yerushalayim, G-d is seen, and felt, as a tangible presence. In Yerushalayim, we reach beyond the frailty and vulnerability of our lives, and we sense and strive for something higher.

The Talmud says that creation began in Yerushalayim, and the world radiated outward from this place. Medieval maps show Yerushalayim at the epicenter of Asia, Europe, and Africa. The world flows into this spot, and all life's forces resonate here. From this place, the whole world is cast into perspective.

Once upon a time, the Temple Mount was the highest point in the city of Yerushalayim, but in the year 135, Roman slaves carried away the dirt of the mountain, and turned it into the valley we now look down on from the Old City. The Romans expelled Jews from Yerushalayim and barred them from reentering. Jewish life, they said, has now ended. The Crusaders rewrote Yerushalayim's importance as the center no longer of Jewish national drama, but the site of the religious Christian importance. Like the Romans they expelled Jews, and destroyed synagogues. The Muslims, too, tried to change Yerushalayim, in many of the same ways. 

In rewriting the history of Yerushalayim each of these cultures rewrote our place, the Jewish place, in history. They sent us, they thought, to the dustbin of history - a once great people, now abandoned by G-d; bypassed by time. But instead of giving up and fulfilling what the other nations said about us, Jews preserved Yerushalayim as a memory, and also as a hope for the future. When we built our houses, we left a square unplastered, and we break a glass at weddings in memory of Yerushalayim. Our houses face Mizrach -- towards Yerushalayim, and in exile for two thousand years Jews said "Next year in Yerushalayim."

From all over the world we turned and prayed toward Yerushalayim, and because memory was kept alive, against all efforts to the contrary, the Jewish people lived.

When Yerushalayim was liberated, the past became present. What we had longed for became ours.  The past was instantly present, incredibly transforming who we knew ourselves to be.

Already divided by language, by geography, and even by religion, and even pettier differences, our people are bound only by threads of memory and of hope. These threads are extremely fragile. If they break we will fragment completely, and the long exile of our people - not by any means over, even with the state of Israel as it is, is the consequence, of the arguments that tear us apart.

To this threat, Yerushalayim provides counterpoint, for Yerushalayim embodies our memories and hopes. Yerushalayim is a living memory, a vision of G-d in our lives. Yerushalayim gives us the strength to achieve what we as a people must do, to unite ourselves, and to sanctify this world.

 And what about Chevron? As mentioned before, memory is what defines us as ourselves. Chevron is where our ancestors were buried and where many historical moments, such as the anointing of David HaMelech, took place. Because of this, it symbolizes our past, gives meaning to our present, and lends its strength to our future.


These two places are the foundation of Judaism and we should appreciate the fact that we have such easy access to them. Let us keep this in mind as we celebrate Israel's 67th birthday.


Thanks to for inspiring the theme of this dvar Torah.

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Did you read this year's Pesach Visions?
Click HERE to read inspiration divirei Torah from our teachers, administrators, students, parents and alumni. 

Yom Haatzmaut 5775 - Happy Birthday Israel!
Yom Haatzmaut 5775 - Happy Birthday Israel!



500 Facebook Likes!
500 Facebook Likes!


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 

Hillel Grid - Mr. Werber

Students in the Mix

If you could learn anything in school, what would it be?

What is your greatest strength?

What question do you hate to answer?

Chana Y.

Musical theater

Leadership skills

Do you like being a Rabbi's daughter?

Rivky G.


Being quiet

What question do you hate to answer?

Shira S.



Do you miss Houston?

Batya M.

Sewing/ metalworking

Reading/ Working with kids

Any question that distracts me from my book.

Amital L.

Art/ film/ programming


How's your day?

Michal A.


Calming babies

How did you do on your test?

Alexa B.

Cooking/ woodshop


Who is Becky?

Shira W.


Athletic/ working with kids

What did you get on your test/quiz/project?

Maya D.


Projecting my voice

Do you know Batya from New Jersey?

Devorah M.


Working with kids

How much homework do you have?

Rivka K.

Anything at grade level

Loud speaking voice

What's your favorite color?

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What Do You Miss Most?
The Schwarz Family:

Moe - The diversity
Chani - Sarah Hartman 
Nechama - Her friends
Yosef - Clubs

*Awards Luncheon and Art Galley Night for grades 4-12 will both be in June. Stay tuned for the dates and times.

Girls 2015 Spring Tennis Bracket

 BHS Football Roster and Schedule 


TEAM 1 - Steelers
Moshe W.
Ezra K. 
Evan S. 
Efriam M.
Mike S.

TEAM 2 - Pirates
Eitan S., 
Akiva S.
Yosef CM
Phil S.
TEAM 3 - Penguins
Ben U.
Jacob W.
Daniel N.
Moshe Dovid L.
Avigdor F.

April 21, 28 

May 5, 12, 19 &  29 (championship game)

Week 1
Games 1: Steelers 34 - Pirates 12
Game 2: Steelers 22 - Penguins 12

Week 2
Game 1: Pirates 20 - Penguins 8
Game 2: Steelers 33 - Pirates 32

"Moshe had an amazing Randy Moss style catch with less than a minute to take the lead than an interception to ice the game."  - Coach M. 

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Spring 2015 Hockey League 



Efriam's FannyPacks

1. Yitzy B.

2. Reuven K.

3. Amitai N

4. Aaron K.


Isaac's Turtles

1. Zalman R.

2. Ben VM

3. John M.

4. Zelig L.


Yoni's Yankees

1. Yehuda R.

2. Moshe Eli C.

3. Noah L.

4. Avi A.


Benji's Brits

1. Eli J.

2. Moshe N.

3. Tovia G.

4. Pinny B,.


Eli's Jaguars

1. Natan M.

2. Yosef K.

3. Akiva Moshe S.

4. Sammy B.





Thursday March 26

4:00   Benji's Brits - 2 vs. Yoni's Yankees - 3

Thursday April 16

4:00   Efriam's FannyPacks - 21 vs. Eli's Jaguars - 2


Thursday April 23

4:30   Isaac's Turtles - 11 vs. Yoni's Yankees - 0

Thursday April 30

4:00   Eli's Jaguars - 6 vs. Benji's Brits - 5

Thursday May 7

4:00   Efriam's FannyPacks vs. Isaac's Turtles

Tuesday May 12

4:00   Yoni's Team vs. Eli's Jaguars

Thursday May 14

4:00   Efriam's FannyPacks vs. Benji's Brits

Tuesday May 19

4:00   Isaac's Turtles vs. Eli's Jaguars

Thursday May 21

4:00   Benji's Brits vs. Isaac's Turtles

Tuesday May 26

4:00   Efiam's FannyPacks vs. Yoni's Yankees



Thursday May 28

4:00   1st Place vs. 4th Place

Tuesday June 2

4:00   2nd Place vs. 3rd Place



Thursday June 4,

4:00 Winners of the playoff rounds will play against each other.

Weekly Photos
Hillel's booth run by the Morah Devorah, Mrs. Sunshine, and Morah Dori at the JCC Yom Haatzmaut program. 

The third grade experimented with materials and found which materials close a circuit, and which allow electricity to travel through. Yishai was surprised that the shiny nail was not attracted to magnets, but it closed a circuit.
Tahara was surprised that copper was not attracted to magnets, but it did close the circuit.
Yehuda was surprised that aluminum foil was not attracted to magnets, but closed the circuit.

This week the third grade also explored arachnids and insects in conjunction with our novel Charlotte's Web. Mr. Garwood came and shared with us amazing facts about the characteristics of spiders. Do you know that all spiders have fangs and venom? Did you know that a Daddy Long Leg is not a spider? Did you know that the fatal Black Widow is native to Pennsylvania? We then created our own spider web in our classroom and attached many different insects and arachnids to it.

Shabbos party in Morah Chani's room. 

Boys D.C. Trip

Alumni Updates
Gary A. Steinberg  He lives in Washington Heights, NY and works as an optometrist in Monsey and the Bronx. 
Do you know which one is Gary?

Do you HYPE? Everyone is Doing It! You Should!

What a way to start off this exciting new program! Over 20 women came to the inaugural
N'shei HYPE to hear inspirational words of Torah from Mrs. Shelly Itskowitz. A big thank you to our sponsors: Mrs. Yardena Smith, Mrs. Toba Auerbach, and Mrs. Abby Schachter. Thank you to Aaron Siebzener for the delicious sushi! Look for the flyer about the next N'shei HYPE which will be held on Sunday June 7th; location to be determined. 

Sunday May 10th- Pre-Shavuos Family Learning and Breakfast
Sunday Evening June 7th- N'shei HYPE, Location TBD
Sunday June 14th- Family Learning and Breakfast Grand Finale 

Ongoing HYPE classes that people are still welcome to join #It'sNeverTooLateForTorah:

Rabbi Weinberg Parsha (Thursdays 1:30-2:15PM)
Mrs. Lisa Cook Pirvei Avos (Tuesdays 8:30-9:15AM)
Morah Irit Taasan Ulpan Ivrit (Tuesdays 7:30-8:15PM)
Rabbi Levy Talmud (Mondays 8:15-9:30PM)

Email Rabbi Levy for more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register:

Who: 2nd Grade

When: Tuesday, April 29, 2015 @ 10:29 AM and 12:12 PM

Where: Davis Park

What: Siyum
The second grade celebrated its completion of Parshat Lech Lecha and their marble jar. They ate ice cream, played a Parshat Lech Lecha game, made a special Name Project (based on the fact that Avraham and Sarah's names were changed) and then went to the park and ate a picnic lunch.


Alumni Spotlight  - Marty Aronson
Hi Marty, welcome back! When did you attend Hillel Academy? 1980 to 1994

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers?
Turner's Orange Drink, and visiting my mother for snacks. 

What was it like having your mom basically "run" the school?
 You really could never get away from Hillel Academy. It was good and bad because every time I got in trouble (which was quite often) I had to walk past my Mother's desk to see the Principal. 

You have to have some great stories to tell about your days here at Hillel, please share.
 From the 7th grade up we were allowed to leave school grounds for lunch which usually meant I could be found at Mark's News Stand (Murray Avenue News Stand) playing video games, or my class would end up hanging out at someone's house. I, along with several other classmates, took an AP Exam at Shana May's dining room table. And of course, who could forget the real fire that happened in school one year. 

How do you earn a living?
Criminal Investigator for the Allegheny County Public Defender's Office How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? The small classes and dedicated teachers at Hillel prepared me for Duquesne University. I was even able to relate some of my Judaic education to some of the courses I took while at Duquesne.

Marty and his niece Zahava, at a Bucco game last year. 

Share some info about your family.
Everyone knows that my mother has worked in the office for 35 years, and she also attended Hillel. My father is a Vietnam Veteran and was awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. My brother Adam graduated Hillel in 1991 and is now a prominent Pediatrician and Partner in one of the largest Pediatric practices in Chicago. My sister Fayth, ob"m graduated from Hillel in 2004.

What do you do in your free time? I enjoy watching and playing sports. I have played in the Allegheny County Bar Association Softball league for the past 10 years, and have recently joined the PZ softball team. I also enjoy playing golf and flag football.

Who was your first Hillel teacher? Beverly
The cookbook is for sale in the office. All proceeds go to Tomchei Shabbos. 
Gross and Ethel Mangurten

What was your favorite class? Gym

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? Rabbi Brodie. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, I learned a great deal from him and not just in the many classes he taught, but in life in general.

Most interesting person in your contacts? Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky from the Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia, and Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz from Ner Israel Rabbinical College.

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? Pay attention to your teachers, because even though at the time you might think you know everything, you don't.
They are preparing you for your future.

Hillel Trivia - Which current Hillel parent played on the 1993 Pittsburgh Maccabi soccer team? My guess would be either Robert Itskowitz or Brian Goldwasser.

You mentioned something about Hillel basketball, I am listening. We really didn't have a School sponsored team. It was whoever could convince their parents to pay for them to play in the JCC league. We also didn't have any of the clubs there are now. Looking back on it, I wish there would have been more extra-curricular activities especially wood shop.

What's it like growing up with such bad Pirates teams and now they are really getting hot? Back in the late 70's and most of the 80's they weren't so bad, and even won some Division Titles and a World Series.

What makes Hillel unique? The small classes and lifelong friends.

Lastly, you mentioned your sister Fayth, OB"M, she left a legacy here and in Baltimore. Thanks to your family they have established Tomchei Shabbos an amazing program to help needy families in Pittsburgh in her memory. It just shows you what she meant to people. What are your thoughts? She was a kind caring person who always put helping other people first. I think this program is an amazing tribute to her and hopefully it will keep her memory alive for many years to come.

Thanks so much for your time and have a wonderful Shabbat!
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. 


Well done Laura Goldman, Amy Cohn, Bonnie Morris, and Leslie Itzkowitz!


 left to right:

Sarit Samogyi (Shuldiner)
Sherry Millstein (Aronson)
Shelly Deutsch (Schwarz)
Amy Cohn (Itskowitz)
Leah Neustadter (Hoffman)

Annual Hillel Academy Purim carnival 1987.
We were Seniors.



Last Week's Photo   

                                            This Week's Photo  


Hillel Gear Spotted Here!
This memorable Hillel gear photo was sent directly from Wrigley Feild. The Bucs took the rubber match thanks to their ace, Garret Cole. Mr. Chinn, Mr. Milch and Mr. Itskowitz were in town on business and went to check on their beloved Boccos and the status of the Wrigley bleachers - they are still unfinished. 

Pop Quiz #1 - Who took this photo?

Pop quiz #2 - Can you name the former Hillel student who attended the Tuesday game?

Whether or not you like the 2014 Hillel kippa, the Spring 2015 one has been designed and ordered. 

If you ordered any other Hillel gear, it should be here by the end of May.





If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in volunteering, please contact Daniel Kraut at
Go Figure 

 Total TDs Moshe Wasserman has scored this season thus far (7 receiving and 2 INTs that were run back). 

Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page. We did it! Thank you all for helping us reach our goal of 500!

500 Facebook Likes!
500 Facebook Likes!

                        Like us on Facebook


School days left!

Total number of items ordered for the Hillel gear spring sale. Did you order? 

Mazel Tov!


Mazel Tov to Dr. Manny and Mrs. Judi Kanal
on the birth of a grandson to Itai and Tzippora (alum) Nusbaum!
Condolences - Please send condolences to
James Sunstein, ob"m

beloved father of alum, David Sunstein
Around Town 


  • Through His Eyes: The Teachings of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein - 
    Join Rabbi Daniel Yolkut for a new class, reading the essays of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt'l, - 1:30 PM Wednesdays at the home of Mrs. Chantze Butler. Tackle issues both timely and timeless, through the eyes of this recently deceased giant of Torah! 
    Classes begin Classes begin Wednesday, May 6.  
  • NCSY - The Senior NCSY Spring Regional Convention will begin on May 15th and conclude on May 17th. This event is for all teens in 8th-12th grade. Visit to register for the event.
    Pittsburgh NCSY will be having a "Shavuoton" on the 22nd-25th of May. This event is open to all 8th-12th graders and will include amazing advisors, NCSY all-night-learning, ice cream, socializing, and more.
  • 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 3:30 -4:30 in the PZ Educational Building.  All girls in grade K-6 are welcome!  Girl's Oneg in the PZ Educational building from.  For all girls in grades K-6.  PLEASE NOTE NEW TIME!
 Please send information by Sunday to




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

Please send condolence notices to