The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parashat Behar-Bechukotai
41st Day of the Omer
 May 15, 2015  

Candle Lighting
8:11 PM

26 Iyar 5775

Shabbat Ends
9:20 PM
Dvar Torah 

Parashat Bechukotai begins with the phrase, "im bechukotai teileichu v'et mitsvotai tishmoru va'asisem otam- if you follow my statutes and guard my Mitzvot."Based upon the Medrash, Rashi interprets this translation as follows: "if you toil  in studying My Torah in order to observe My commandments and actually fulfill them..." 
In this context, the  pasuk is instructing us that the essence of Klal Yisroel's religious life and observance is not only studying Torah, but amalah b'Torah -toil in the study of Torah. This important point is one that our sages underscore throughout the Talmud and that is, simple Torah study is not enough, rather intensive Torah study is required of us. 
      This emphasis on Ameilut is one that still resonates in the world of education today. When we teach our children, it is not necessarily what we teach them, but how we teach them. It is vital that we do not only focus on the product of their output, but the process of their input. But why does the Torah call this Ameilut - toil? The word toil implies a burden, hardly something that would make the Torah seem appealing to our youth. 

      In reality, this very dichotomy is the burden of parents and educators. The Torah is beautiful and its lessons are exciting. However, to appreciate its depth, one must learn it on a deep and meaningful level. In addition, our relationship with the Torah must be a complex one. Relationships require time, they require commitment, they require mameilut. Our burden is teaching our children, and ourselves, that this ameilut is not a burden, it is what ultimately gives us fulfillment and deeper understanding of the Torah.  


      With G-d's help, Rashi's understanding of the passuk will come true, and through our ameilut in the Torah, we will better our performance of Mitzvot and build a stronger relationship with Hashem.

Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Check us out on YouTube - here are a few of our more recent videos. 
Yom Shmita

Guess Who is Coming to Visit Hillel?
The Mayor
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!


Our Blog

 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 - Special for Book Blast

Students in the Mix

What is a perfect name for a villain in a book?

If you could meet any character from a book in real life, who would it be?

What type of book do you like to read?

Isaac B.


Dane from the Pendragon Series


Yaakov B.

General Kathrenos

Artemis Fowl

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Aaron K.


Gale from The Hunger Games

Torah/sports books

Zelig L.

Super Evil Dude

Curious George

Any book with free money in it

Efriam M.


Octavian from Codex Alera

Fast paced action books

Mordy R.

Captain Mordy

The Flash

Action/ War

Yoni A.


Moshe Rabbenu

Non-fiction about cars

Miss Wontrop

Mayhem Maverick

Jay Gatsby

Realistic fiction

Mr. Werber

Illgar the Rotten


I'll read nearly anything you put in front of me

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Alumni Feature - Steve Werber
When did you attend Hillel Academy? 1972-1986 

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? 1) My Washington DC trip is one of my favorite memories. Visting Hershey Park, Mount Vernon, and the Smithsonian with my class are still some of my fondest memories. 2) Our English teacher, Dr. Tygard, used to go on the QE2 every year. When she returned, she'd show us a slideshow of all the places she went. 3) Everything having to do with Mr. Forry (history teacher)!

What organizations are you currently involved in? My wife works for Power, an organization for women in recovery and I work closely with them.

How do you earn a living? I teach at Hillel Academy! I've taught 5th-7th grade and this year I'm teaching high school Business Math.

How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future?
Not only did Hillel give me a great, well-balanced education but it taught me how to get along with a diverse set of religious beliefs.

Share some info about your family. I've been married, for about 10 years, to my wife Cheryl. My mother and father are both retired and living in Stanton Heights.

What do you do in your free time? I'm an actor in a murder mystery comedy troupe. I occasionally also do comedy improv.

What was your favorite class? Mr. Forry's class. Whether he was teaching us History, Civics, Economics or Psychology.

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? Mr. Forry and Dr. Tygard both pushed me to be better than I was and accepted no excuses.

Most interesting person in your contacts? Jon Daly who is a regular on the Kroll Show on Comedy Central. 

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? Ultimately all that matters is how much effort you are willing to put in. Nothing else comes close. If you are willing to work hard, you can live your dreams.

Hillel Trivia - Which current Hillel parent played on the 1993 Pittsburgh Maccabi soccer team (we are still looking for the correct answer)? Jay Luzer 

What's it like working in the school you attended? It is very strange. First of all many of my colleagues are former teachers of mine. Ms. Morris, Morah Dorsey and Rabbi Brodie will always be my teachers first and my colleagues second. Secondly, many of the items I took for granted at "Hillel" are no longer there. I miss the wallpaper in the front hall, the stage and the grassy area that is now a parking lot. Lastly, I get to see the school grow. When I went to school at Hillel, everything was done on paper, it is great to see the school shift into the digital age.

What are the major differences? Everything is very different. I was in 11th grade when Hillel first got computers. They were new and hardly anyone knew how to utilize them. Now, computers and technology are a regular part of the Hillel day.

If you were a student now  what clubs would you join? I was never much of a sports guy, but drama, art, and mad science are all up my alley.

It was IOWAs week here at Hillel. What is it like to administer these tests as opposed to taking them? They are stressful to take and stressful to give. I can now appreciate both sides, however.

Jason Grilli and the Mayor and the Bostoner Rebbe are some of the celebrities we welcomed to Hillel in the past few years. Who came when you were here? Several of our mayors (Pete Flaherty and Richard Caliguiri)  came. Meir Kahane also gave a very controversial talk at our school.
*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 - the Evite was sent out. 

** Art Galley Night for all Art Clubs and HS Art Elective students and their parents - Wednesday June 3rd from 7pm - 8pm crackers & cheese will be served - an Evite was sent out.

The Monday Ceramics Club visited Color Me Mine to learn about their kiln.

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Spring 2015 Hockey League  

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   Efriam's FannyPacks vs. Yoni's Yankees



Thursday, May 28 (two games)

Tuesday, June 2 - THE CUP!


Weekly Photos
Israeli IDF Veterans Visited with our Students


Taking care of pets - week one.

Picture Day

Drum Circle

 Moreshet- Hillel Academy Video Conference

Cultural Night this past Monday Night
This past Monday night over 75 people gathered together to help support Hillel Academy's scholarship fund at the annual Cultural Night.  This year the event was hosted by Amy and Lou Weiss. The guests sat under a high white tent overlooking the Waterfront and enjoyed Ari White's Wandering Que - Kosher TEXAS BBQ Pop-Up Restaurant.

A special thank you to the Cultural Event Chairs Shoshi Butler and Ira Karoll, to our kind hosts Amy and Lou Weiss, and to Moishe and Deena Siebzener at Creative Kosher for the donation of the rolls and desserts.  Your dedication to the success of Hillel Academy is greatly appreciated.  

GHS Retreat  

Meet Kirk Berkley. He is running for school board & stopped by to say hi.

Hi! Welcome to Hillel and thanks for stopping by. Tell our readers about yourself. I am an attorney with Bernstein-Burkley, P.C., focusing primarily on bankruptcy and restructuring, real estate and commercial litigation.  I am 38 years old and I live in Shadyside with my wife (Penny) and two young children (Virginia - 7 and Pearse - 4).  I have been an active member of the community and served on several non-profit boards.  I believe that a good public school system is critical to the future of Pittsburgh and our continued growth.


Can you explain what the school board is, please? The school board provides for public education in the City of Pittsburgh by levying taxes on real estate and earned income. The board is comprised of 9 elected members, each from a different district of the city.  I am running to represent district 4, which includes parts of Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Point Breeze and North Oakland. 


Why is it important to vote if our kids are in private schools? Every resident of the City of Pittsburgh is impacted by the success of the school district.  The school district has a larger budget and employs more people than the City of Pittsburgh.  Every resident of Pittsburgh pays taxes to the school district and whether or not the school board properly manages the budget will determine whether taxes increase.  In addition, the school district plays an important role in planning and development in the city by approving or not approving tax increment financing districts and other tax abatement programs to spur development. School board members need to understand how real estate and tax policy works in order to effectively guide planning and development.


What will you do if elected? If elected, I will ensure that the school district balances its budget, protects tax payers and provides for high-quality education.  We can strike this balance with proper management.  I will also work to make sure that we have meaningful collaboration among public schools, private schools and public charter schools. We are all part of the same great city and creating high-quality education options helps everyone.  I welcome input and help from anyone who wants to get involved now and after I am elected.

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

Next N'shei HYPE will be held on Sunday June 7th; at the home of Mrs. Debbie Eisner - 6344 Monitor St. 
Mrs. Ariella Wiesenfeld will be the guest speaker. 

Sunday Evening June 7th- N'shei
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:
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. 


Do you want a chance to win FREE Pittsburgh Pirates tickets for either, Tuesday, May 19 or Monday, June 16?  Guess name the students in last week's photo or name the teacher in this week's.                                                                                          


Last Week's Photo   

                                            This Week's Photo  


Hillel Gear Spotted Here!
New for this week, Hillel Gear YouTube! Do you want a chance to win free Bucco tickets to either May 19 or June 15? Then email us with the full name of this former Pittsburgh Pirate. 

Last week's answer: Dan Sax




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. 

Hours it took to cook the brisket for the Monday Night Cultural Event. 
Facebook "likes" of the Hillel Academy page, 5 more than last week. 

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

The date of the awards luncheon and the Art Gallery Night 

Number of envelopes stuffed and mailed for this year's Annual Dinner. 
Mazel Tov!


Mazel tov Rabbi and Mrs. Avrohom Rodkin 
on the birth of a daughter!
And to big brothers and sisters Meir, Nechama, Bluma, Zalman, Aryeh, Sarah, Rena, and Gittel! 

Mazal tov to Smadar and Jerry Parness on a new grandson, born to their children Elior and David Coleman of Manhattan.  
Mazal tov to Elior's son, Magen, her siblings, Ariele and Rabbi Yoni Fox, Rabbi Daniel and Aviva, and Noam, and grandmother, Mrs. MatildaParness!

Click HERE for information and HERE for registration. 

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Condolences - Please send condolences to [email protected].



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 - 
    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].