The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parashat Emor
34th Day of the Omer
 May 8, 2015  

Candle Lighting

19 Iyar 5775

Shabbat Ends
9:13 PM
Dvar Torah 

This has been quite the week at Hillel Academy. With Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha'atzamut barely in our rare view mirror we spent the week learning about Shmitta, celebrating Lag BaOmer with the other two Pittsburgh day schools, and then hearing a story from Mayor Bill Peduto.  Hearing from Mayor Peduto reminded me of an important lesson about leadership found in this week's Parasha. At the onset of Parashat Emor, we read about the laws that pertain to the  kohanim, the priests during the time of the Batei Hamikdash. At the end of the Parasha, we read about the festivals and how they were to be celebrated in Jerusalem. At first, it is unclear why these two sections are juxtaposed with one another. However, when one thinks about the festivals as they were celebrated in the Temple, it is clear that they are deeply tied to the service of the kohanim. The kohanim were an exalted people. They were able to serve Hashem in ways that no others were allowed, but when you read about the festivals, it does not seem that their lives were exalted ones. While the rest of the nation gathered, the kohanim worked. When the rest of the nation feasted, the kohanim worked. And when the rest of the nation sinned, the kohanim bore the burden of their repentance. 

     In the role of the kohane, we see the role of the Jewish leader. The role of the Jewish leader is to serve. If you are given a gift, you must use that gift to lead and to serve. At Hillel we are creating the future leaders of the Jewish people. Hopefully our students will grow to lead like the kohanim and lead through service to the community and bringing others closer to Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Dvar Torah by Rivka Mandelbaum
      This week the Jewish nation celebrated Lag B'Omer, the 33rd day of the Omer and the celebration of, among other things, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. A day before that, Hillel Academy celebrated its Yom Shmitta, Shmitta Day, a day where all the students could learn about the laws and practices of shemittah. We tend to think about these days as two entirely different matters, the first a celebration of rabbis and of the omer, and the second a set of rules surrounding agricultural practices in Eretz Yisrael, but in fact they are intrinsically linked.

Lag B'Omer is the celebration of several things. First, it is a celebration of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. On this day, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai released the deepest secrets of Kabbalah in the book known as the Zohar. In addition, the Talmud states that during the counting of the Omer, Rabbi Akiva's students, of which there were 24,000, began to die of a divinely-sent plague. This plague continued until Lag B'Omer, at which point it stopped. Rabbi Akiva was one of the great sages, and his students were very important to the continuation of the Jewish people. Had they all died, it would seem that Hashem was sending a message to us; at the very least, it would have been a great tragedy. However, five were left, and because of that we celebrate.   


 Finally, the day has Kabbalistic significance. The Kabbalists assign a certain trait to to each of the seven weeks of the Omer, with the first being chesed, the second being gevurah, and so on. Similarly, each day of the week corresponds to the same trait: the first day of each week is chesed, the second gevurah, and so on.This means that Lag BaOmer is Hod she-b'hod, splendor within splendor, and thus it has a special holiness to it. Moreover, each of these are parts of the soul that one should correct during the days of the omer. By Lag B'Omer, if one has fixed all of the parts of the soul corresponding to the previous days, one is guaranteed to finish.

 The shmitta cycle, a Torah commandment, is the seven-year agricultural and spiritual cycle that is observed by farmers in Eretz Yisrael. For six years, the farmers work their fields, but on the seventh year they must let the fields lie fallow. This serves as a testimony towards their faith in Hashem, because they trust Him to sustain them during the seventh year, and as a reminder that even though legally the land we farm may be ours, in the end the land belongs to Hashem. During the seventh year, many farmers choose to bring themselves closer to Hashem by learning in the time that they would have used for work. How does this cycle connect to the omer?

 The counting of the omer, and by extension Lag B'Omer, is meant to remind us of the manna that Hashem gave to us in the desert. In times of the temple, each person would bring an omer of barley. When Hashem made the manna fall, each person was given an omer to eat. The Midrash Rabba relates Hashem's message to the Jewish people about the omer: "When I provided you with the manna, I provided each of you with an omer, now when you bring your offering to Me I do not expect of you more than one omer for all of you."

 The shmitta cycle, too, is reminiscent of the manna that Hashem gave. At the core of the mitzvah of shmitta is a trust in Hashem: the farmers must trust that Hashem will give them sustenance, and money, to last through the entire seventh year. The eating of the manna, too, is an exercise in faith in Hashem: every time the Jews ate their entire portion of manna, they trusted Hashem to give them the food for the next day.

The Omer and Shmitta are also linked through their twin concepts of learning in the days/years around a spiritual high point. Many use the days leading up to Shavuot -- the days of the Omer -- to learn and gain new spiritual heights, culminating in the all-night learning on the fiftieth day, Shavuot itself, a day with its own special holiness. This parallels the shmitta year, when farmers are encouraged to use their free time to work on their spiritual selves. The parallel to the fiftieth day, then, would be the year of Yovel, which occurs after every seven shmitta cycles. The year of Yovel, just like Shavuot, has a special holiness assigned to it.

Picture People will be at school on Monday and Tuesday, May 11th and 12th. K-12 will have their picture taken on Monday and ECC will have their photos takes on Tuesday. The whole school photo will be on Monday at 9am with the rain date on Tuesday. Photo forms were sent home Tuesday. 

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Click HERE for information and HERE for registration. 

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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. 

Lab B'Omer 5775 - Pittsburgh Jewish Day School Council 

What has become an annual event, CDS, Yeshiva School and Hillel came together at the CDS field for the annual Lag  B'omer festivities. This year's program included the CDS drum circle, remarks from Dr. Munro, Rabbi Weinberg and a story by Rabbi Zalman Raskin. Almost 900 people also chanted three
pesukim together led by members of each school, Tehilim and songs and dancing. The highlight of the program was the Sky Rider - Trampoline Artists. They have been featured during NBA half time shows and many other famous events.  Thanks to Rabbi Chuni Freedman, we were able to bring them to Pittsburgh for this unity event. Thank you to everyone in the day schools who made this another successful Day School Council event. 

Here are some additional Lag B'Omer Photos:

Check us out on YouTube - here are a few of our more recent videos. 
Guess Who is Coming to Visit Hillel?
Guess Who is Coming to Visit Hillel?
Lag B'omer - The Bnot's 3rd Video -You Know You Love It!
Lag B'omer - The Bnot's 3rd Video -You Know You Love It!

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


500 Facebook Likes!
500 Facebook Likes!


Yom Shmita



Harav David Lau speaking to Hillel Academy.
Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Israel
Harav David Lau speaking to Hillel Academy.


The Weisman Family Explain Shmita from their Farm in Israel
The Weisman Family Explain Shmitta from their Farm in Israel


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


Visit our blog 

Hillel Grid - Mr. Werber
Students in the Mix
If you could be anyone for one week, who would you be?
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If you had one million dollars, what would you do with it?
Zalman RodkinThe holiest and most adored rabbiIn an ariplaneSimple, buy the vacation plane. 
John McGlothlinLebron JamesMiami Heat GameI'll buy Heat
Tovia GrossbergAn astronautThe Dead SeaBuy a water bottle
Avi IngberA baseball playerIsraelAny type of equipment
Moshe NimchinskyHarry PotterBeer ShevaI'll give half to Tzedakah, buy a Torah, and spend the rest on toys.
Shoshana LevariA teacherLego CityI would save it.
Leora GoldbergFirst LadyYerushalayimI would buy a house in Orlando.
Tali ItskowitzA movie starHollywoodI would buy a designer house.
Akiva Moshe SilverA personLondonI would save it.
Naomi LeibovichAriana GrandeA private islandShop
Ariella ChinnTaylor SwiftIsraelBuy a dog

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What Do You Miss Most?
Rivvy Ackerman - Going on lunch missions (guuruls, fruit salad today) to Milky Way and Platters with my five fellow graduating classmates (hi guys!). - Editor's note: That is Rivvy's impression of how their teacher would have pronounced the word "girls".

Dahlia (Cohen) Simons ('04) - The life long friendships. 
*Awards Luncheon - Wednesday, June 3rd at noon for students in grades 4-12 and their parents, lunch will be provided for all those in attendance - an Evite will be sent out.

** Art Galley Night for all Art Club and HS Art Elective students and their parents - Wednesday June 3rd from 7pm - crackers, cheese and grape juice will be served (see flyer below)  

Please RSVP for the Art Gallery Night by emailing  - [email protected] or call 412.521.8131 

 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

Week 3
Game 1: Steelers 19 - Penguins 16
Game 2: Pirates 15 - Penguins 14

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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

Congrats to Rob Davis and all the other Hillel parents who took part in last week's Pittsburgh Marathon. We would love to see more photos. Send them to [email protected]

Alum, Dr. Alex Sax was spotted at the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo with current parent and marathon extortioner Adam Reinherz  (who ran the Boston Marathon a few weeks ago but did participate in the Pittsburgh Marathon relay).  


Former rebbe and student, Rabbi Fireman was in town this week and stopped by to daven Shachris and for a quick tour. 

Alumni Updates
Editor's Note: We inadvertently left out a question from last week's interview with Marty Aronson, so here it is.

Tell us more about your job. That's a difficult question to answer because my days are never the same.  I interview Defendants Witnesses and Victims, serve Subpoenas, retrieve records, visit crime scenes, take
 photographs, visit local County Jails (mostly the Allegheny County Jail) and local Prisons, and I am also required to testify in Court.

Rivvy Ackerman ('02)Works for a NYC-based organization as a mental health clinician, providing psychotherapy to local disadvantaged youth. I am simultaneously pursuing an additional graduate degree in Organizational Psychology. 

Yehudit Ungar  - Works at a residence in Crown Heights for Women's League. It is a residence with women who have special needs. We take care of them, help them meet daily behavioral goals, do activities/games/outings with them, help make their home home-y. Yehudit recently graduated from FIT with a degree in jewelry design.

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:

Alumni Spotlight  - Gary Steinberg
When did you attend Hillel Academy? 1987-2001
Thank you Avi for posting this on Facebook. 

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? The time Rabbi Adler dressed up as a bear to break out color war, just after a bear had walked through Squirrel Hill

How do you earn a living? I am an Optometrist, I work in Monsey and The Bronx

How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? Hillel instilled within me a deep appreciation for yahadus and the importance of incorporating it into every-day life

Share some info about your family. My wife Sara and I were married this past June. She is an optometrist as well. We live in Washington Heights, New York City

What do you do in your free time? Not much...

Hillel Trivia - How many combined wins do the middle and high school basketball teams have? Don't Know, but I guess we figured out how I 'm going to spend my free time
Purim gear!

W ho was your first Hillel teacher? Morah Kagan in Pre- Nursery

What was your favorite class?
Mrs. Narkevic's Social Studies class in 7th and 8th grade

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? Probably Rabbi Lichtenstein, he truly made everything he taught interesting and memorable. The daily raffles of free stuff didn't hurt either.

Most interesting person in your contacts? Famous tour guide and Hillel Alum Barnea Selavan.

That's a great call! Thank you so much for your time and 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. 


Well done  

Rina ItskowitzAmy Cohn, Robert Itzkowitz, Bonnie Morris, Leslie Itzkowitz and Paula Weisman




L-R: Michael Ghanooni, Mark Itskowitz and Micah May



Last Week's Photo   

                                            This Week's Photo  


Hillel Gear Spotted Here!
Hillel parent and Director of Student Life, Danny Shaw and the famed Buccos skipper holding the 2015 Alumni jersey.  After this photo was taken, the skipper asked if Hillel had a baseball team or just basketball team. Unsure how to answer that question, Shaw simply said Go Bucs! The skipper satisfied with that answer, gave a fist bump and headed to the field. 

This week's question: Who took the above photo. Email [email protected] to answer. Winners will receive Bucco tickets to the May 19 game against the Twins at 7:05pm. 
Last week's Q and A:
Pop Quiz #1 - Who took this photo? - Answer: Elan Sokol

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

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 [email protected] 
Go Figure 

New families who recently began receiving food from our Tomchei Shabbos program. 
The final score of the BHS basketball team's win over the Yeshiva boys high school this past Wednesday night.  

Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page. We did it! Thank you all for helping us reach our goal of 500! We are now pushing for 550! Let's do it!

500 Facebook Likes!
500 Facebook Likes!

                        Like us on Facebook

Chairs used for the joint Lag Bomer

Rough estimate of the amount of people in attendance at the Lag B'Omer festivities at CDS. 
Mazel Tov!


Condolences - Please send condolences to [email protected]
We regret to inform you of the passing of Sylvia King ob"m

beloved sister of Stanley Greenfield, and beloved aunt of Gayle Kraut.


Baruch Dayan HaEmet


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 [email protected]




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

Please send condolence notices to [email protected]