The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parashat Shlach
June 12, 2015  -  25 Sivan 5775

Shabbat Candle Lighting - 8:32 PM
Shabbat Ends - 9:41 PM
This week's Tomchei Shabbos is being sponsored by Dr. Harold and Ronit Wiesenfeld and Family for a refuah sheleima for Tzipora Feiga Bat Malka Chaya.
Weekly Dvar Torah 

In this week's parasha, we read about the tragic story of the meraglim, the spies who scouted out the land of Canaan in preparation for Bnei Yisroel's imminent conquest. However, instead of returning with reports of excitement and wonder, the scouts cast doubt on the feasibility of the mission and the verse states that, "vayivku ha-am balayela hahu - and the nation cried on that day." The Talmud in Ta'anit (29a) famously equates the night that the spies returned with the night of Tisha B'av. The Talmud states, "You wept an unwarranted weeping - and I will establish for you weeping for generations." On the surface, this statement seems puzzling. The phrase that chazal use of "bechya shel chinam" implies that Bnei Yisroel had no reason to cry, but in fact it seems that they did have a reason to cry. In their eyes, everything that they had been yearning for seemed like it would not come to fruition, why is this not a reason to cry? 

The reality is that the spies' report was not necessarily a negative one. They retold about the abundant produce and splendor of the land, but they also highlighted the strength and might of the inhabitants who lived there. Bnei Yisroel cried, not because they thought that they would no longer get Israel, but because they now realized that it would require hard work and serious warfare. While this news must have been disheartening, it was not tragic. 

The Talmud here issues a warning, that we must be careful what we cry about, what we lament. We must not weep in the face of the challenge, rather we must rise to it. We must rise to the challenge involved in being Hashem's treasured nation, and not repeat the mistake of cheit ha-meragelim, the "unwarranted weeping" in the face of formidable challenges.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Alumni Torah

Every Minute Counts 

by Moshe S. Neiss, Esq
In last week's Parsha we are told that the Jewish people waited one full week for Miriam who was struck by leprosy before they resumed their travels. Incredibly, an entire nation, more than one million people waiting for one person! We are told that Miriam merited this type of honor because she waited by the riverside, so many years before, watching over her baby brother until the daughter of Pharoah came along. The question is, how long did she wait? The answer, a mere 20 minutes. The Gemara calculates from various pesukim that a good deed is 500 times more valuable than a sin. The punishment for sins is visited upon four generations while G-d's kindnesses extend "-notzare chessed la-alafim"- for two thousand generations, creating a ratio of 1/500. How many 20-minute segments are in seven days? The answer, 504. Miriam was paid back 500 times for the 20 minutes that she watched her brother. The other four 20 minute segments? That is how long it took her to go get her mother Yocheved and bring her back to the scene. 

(See the last Sifsei Chachamim on Parshas B'ha-ah-los-cha alsoTosafos, Mesecchess Ta'anis).

Have a wonderful Shabbos!

Remarks from a Graduate - Eliana Halley

Editor's note, below is an excerpt from Eliana's graduation speech which has been edited for the HH.


I switched to Hillel because Rabbi Weinberg and Mrs. Levari knew that I was in Allderdice and because they believe that every Jew must have the chance to be given a Jewish education. With the help of my mom, NCSY, and so many others I switched back to Hillel.


People generally ask me why I stayed at Hillel when I had so many chances to leave and attend a school where I would actually have classmates?


The people asking this question don't understand what Hillel is. Hillel is a family. When I came to shadow at Hillel I instantly fell in love and I switched literally the next day. I'll never forget walking into gym class on my first day back at Hillel (which consisted of the entire high school) and everyone was giving me hugs and waving at me and introducing themselves. How could I not want to be a part of that? I'm not going to have a class to reunite with next year in Israel or beyond that but I know I will always have my Hillel Academy family.


As I became situated at Hillel, I noticed my favorite thing, the diversity. If you look around the room at school or even right now you see a bunch of Jews, but they are all different. It is difficult to find a Jewish day school that accepts every single kind of Jew. There aren't labels in Hillel because we are all just Jewish it doesn't matter where you come from.


First of all, thank you to everyone I shared my high school experience with, I wouldn't have been able to get through high school without any of you. Together we have made school fun, exciting and life changing.

Thank you...

Mr. Kingman, Mr. Garwood, and Mr. Finder
- For making math fun and understandable.

Mrs. Milch - For teaching me life lessons that will stick with me forever.

Mrs. Finder - You are the kindest person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You only care about others and I'll never forget when I told you I got into seminary you were jumping up and down screaming and clapping your hands.

Mrs. Myers - You are an inspiration. You taught me how to write. When I was in 10th grade I handed you a paper I spent hours writing and you said "Eliana this is horrible, do it again" and that happened again and again until it was perfect.

Rabbi Sutofsky - You know when all those seminary girls are shrieking and saying "OMG MY RABBI IS THE BEST AH" well that's you. I cannot believe how close we got in just one year.

Mrs. Brett - I 'm not sure how but you made history enjoyable and fun. I have never met anyone so enthusiastic about literally everything. You taught me to always stay positive and believe in myself.

Mrs. Langer - I don't know where to begin. Your class changed my life and gave me a whole new perspective. You are an incredible person and teacher and I cannot wait to continue to learn Berashit with you this summer.

Mrs. Itskowitz - I had you in 10th grade and that was rough to say the least. But we got through it and I had you again this year, one on one and it was amazing. From the classroom to your Shabbat table thank you.

Mrs. Apfel - You not only taught me Chumash but how to apply it to my life so that I can become the best Jew that I can be.

Mr. Davis - Good luck and thanks for keeping it real!

Reb Shaw - Other than kinda letting me be your intern, you make Hillel fun and exciting through clubs, extracurriculars, and social media. You helped Hillel step up its game.

Mr. Kraut - You know how to be fun and serious at the same time and you brought that to the school and taught me how to do that as well.

Mrs. Aronson - What can I say that you don't already know? Without you the school wouldn't run. You are the heartbeat of Hillel Academy!

Rabbi Weinberg - Thank you for sometimes acting MY age and hanging out with me. You make Hillel what it is.


Mrs. Levari - Wow. It's because of you I'm here right now. You had to walk that tightrope between being my principal and mentor. I know it's not always obvious, but I appreciate your help through all the many challenges more than you know. The words "thank you" don't even say enough.

Enjoy your summer and I look forward to hearing about Hillel's continued growth!

Good Shabbos and I can't believe this is IT!

Instagram - @ElianaB_Halley
Check us out on YouTube - here are a few of our more recent videos. 
2015 Awards Luncheon Video Tribute
2015 Awards Luncheon Video Tribute

The Mayor Was HERE!
The Mayor Was HERE!
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!


















Alumni Spotlight - Elan Sokol


Hi Elan, thanks for taking take to answer my questions.  I know this is a long time in the making so buckle up.

When did you attend Hillel? 2nd through some of 6th grade 

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? My favorite memory is actually my first memory of Hillel Academy. My family just moved to town and I was this little kid in a new school who didn't know anyone. So, we walked into the main lobby area with that really weird mural of Jewish History. I remember looking at it and wondering why someone was pouring water on someone's head with a horn and why a large group of people were leaving a big burning building. I was 7 years old on the first day of school with everyone running around in an unorganized panic - I really wasn't very comfortable.

Mrs. Aronson (yes, THE Mrs. Aronson) grabbed some kid who was walking by and said "Mikey, this is Elan who is going to be in your class, please show him around." Of course, classic Mikey Butler, knew everyone and everything about the school and he made me feel at home. I'll never forget that. 


Mikey Butler, what a guy, #DayByGloriousDay!


What organizations are you currently involved in? Great question, I'm glad you asked. I am the administrator of the world renown Bima Chat and I am the Vice President of Kether Torah - our Shul only needs one. 


For the benefit of our readers, can you explain Bima Chat please. It is so hard to explain what Bima Chat truly is and encompasses. It essentially is an exclusive and extremely entertaining non-stop conversation centering around Pittsburgh Sports and Mount Lebanon 8s. Yearly membership consists of supporting either the Penguins, Pirates, or Steelers at home AND on the road. 



How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? "I used to love the stories from Tanach Morah Chana used to tell us. Since then I have always been a big Parsha guy. Also, Ms. Oz used to have us do "Wordly Wise"" which totally taught me to do grammar good. " 


Share some info about your family. I've been in a long term relationship with a Pittsburgh girl named Chayala since 1995. She enjoys long romantic walks in the moonlight and air conditioning. She's awesome. We have a 7-year-old son named Zishe who is currently in Morah Chana's class at Hillel. He loves Pittsburgh sports, washing machines, and Metallica. Our daughter Aviva is three and is in Morah Leah's class. She knows how to sing Happy Birthday in Hebrew, currently loves My Little Pony, and is mentally addicted to Frozen. Both kids refer to me as "Deedah" because when Zishe was a baby he got Daddy backward and I loved it. Aviva got Deedah backward and tried calling me Daddy but I immediately corrected her. That's a true story. 


What do you do in your free time? I have a black belt in trash talking so I do a lot of that. Specifically with regards to fantasy sports. Just ask Rob Davis.

I bet Mr. Rob Davis wishes he was an alumni at this point.  He will just have to take up with you on the Yahoo Chatroom.  

Hillel Trivia - How many combined wins do the middle and high school basketball teams have? That's easy, 38. 


Interesting, how  did you come  up with that number? Great question, I'm glad you asked. The Gematria of Hillel is 65 and I assumed the average age of the combined teams amounts to 13.5. Take that 13.5 and multiply it by 2 (since there are 2 teams) and you get 27. Then I used the calculator feature on my smartphone and subtracted 27 from 65 leaving me with 38. #math 


Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? I loved Rabbi Adler - he always saw the potential in me especially when I did not. 

Share with us what it is like to have your children attend the school that has done so much for you. I'm not going to give the same answers as everyone else about how incredible my experience was. To be honest Hillel was in bad shape while I was there. My class was miserable and eventually disbanded and I HAD to leave to attend Lubavitch. However Hillel has changed. There is energy and excitement. The kids are being educated at an advanced level. My kids shock me on a weekly basis with how much they are learning at this school. I truly feel like the administration cares about my kids. I am in no way proud of what Hillel was but I am a tremendous fan of what it has become and where it is going. 

What kind on learning do you take part in during the week? I always make sure to review the Parsha. Otherwise I enjoy learning either Gemara or in depth Holidays via Skype with former Hillel Alumni Moshe Isaacson. 

How do you instill learning and love of Torah in your home and in your children's lives? Zishe is so inquisitive and is constantly asking questions. I try to make it a point to explain WHY we do the things that we do. 

Based on your car front license plate and the fact that you wear Bucco sweat bands, you are a huge Pirates fan. What's it like being a fan now that they have been winning? I remember when the Bucs were amazing. Barry Bonds was skinny, our catcher was fat, and Andy Van Slyke was my favorite player. Times were different then because we never saw American League teams and didn't have as much access to the highlights that we have now. The All Star game was exciting and not stupid. My childhood memories just seemed pure before the big contracts and the rampant scandals. With that being said, I've waited my whole adult life for competitive baseball and I'm soaking it in. Bima Chat was created for that very purpose. 

You are one of our safer drivers, at least in the arrival line. Can you offer some advice for the parents who are struggling a bit? Yeah. Drop off is hectic. It's not a secret. Beacon is a busy street to begin with and it's frustrating to see parents in tunnel vision mode when dropping off their kids. Stop with the U-turns already.  It's not safe. Take the extra 2 minutes and 38 seconds to around the Block.

Would you be willing to help us out in Aug/Sept to help reinforce these rules? 
Absolutely. Just get me a walkie-talkie and a megaphone. 


We will order a custom made one right now!


What do you do for a living?  I'm the Regional Manager for AMO Management. This makes me responsible for overseeing about 350 apartments / houses throughout the Pittsburgh area. Sometimes I have to show places, handle customer service when things go wrong, and yell at College Students for acting like idiot College Students. Our places are relatively high end and the Pittsburgh market is flourishing. 


What makes Pittsburgh great?  Pittsburgh is awesome. There are so many aspects that many Yinzers and Yinzettes don't even know about. For example, check out the Mexican War Streets or take your kids to the fountain at the PPG plaza on a hot day. PNC Park is gorgeous and just getting there can be fun. You can take the train, walk over the bridge, take the boat, or park in the lots and tailgate for a while. I love a long Shabbos where you can chill with the upper Waldron Street crew and then go to Frick Park and watch kids zoom down a legendary big blue slide on cardboard boxes. I would also have to say that one of my favorite parts of Pittsburgh is how our community gets along so well. The 3 Jewish schools had a combined Lag B'Omer gathering, we don't have the politics that other communities must contend with, and as a whole we aren't judgmental based on how religious and how financially successful we are. The only thing that is traditionally frowned upon here is if someone is a Browns fan. #shoutouttokraut #dropsthemic

I agree.

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? I was always told to calm down and to pay attention. I wish someone would have told me to be patient.


Hillel Trivia - Which current Hillel parent played on the 1993 Pittsburgh Maccabi soccer team? I am not positive but here are my 3 guesses: Ariella Weinberg, Lenny Plotkin, or Eric Greenfield.

I think it is safe to say we can still use this question.  


Nice try! Looks like we will continue asking alumni that trivia question. 


Thanks for your time and have a wonderful Shabbos and as always, Go Bucs!

Editor's Note: These Q's and A's were inadvertently left out of last week's alumni interview with Yedidya Miller. Enjoy!

Most interesting person in your contacts? Mordechai Milch, obviously.

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? The most important contributor to success in life is hard work, talent is no substitute for effort.
And if I can just share one more thing, an oft-discussed issue that I believe is important for all to know. 

And (I would like to answer one of the questions that was asked to previous alumni), based this on 10 years and thousands of hours of experience: there are 16 parking spaces in the Hillel parking lot!

The Grid, by Mr. Werber

Students in the Mix

What do you plan on doing for summer vacation?

What is your favorite summer treat?

What is your favorite summer activity?

Noach M.

I'm going to Gan Izzi and then Robotics Camp.

Vanilla ice cream


Reuven K.

A week long trip to Virginia!

Ice cream sundae with chocolate ice cream


Noah L.

Hillel camp!


Eating pizza

Tzvi R.




Ian B.

Going to EKC.

Coffee ice cream


Sammy B.

I'm going to Disney World!

Frozen borscht on a stick

Playing basketball

Yaakov B.

Going to camp

Strawberry ice cream

Bonding with my Playstation 3

Pinny B.

Going to California

Aunt Jemima's rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream

Taming wild cougars

Efraim M.

Sports camp!

Catching up on TV

Sheer laziness!

The Club season has come to an end.  We have begun planing for next year.  We are always looking for clubs leaders.  Contact the school if you are interested or have an idea. 

Enjoy the 2014-2015 Awards Luncheon Tribute Video!
Awards Luncheon!
Thank you Yael Itskowitz for another year of fabulous photos! 

Thank you to our club donors. Pictured above are Deb and Mark Sindler and Allan Malinger of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. 

Some of the awardees are pictured below. 

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Weekly Photos
Check us out in the Squirrel Hill Magazine

BHS 2015 Retreat

Baking granola with fractions with Mrs. Ziff.

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

Once again, there was a great turnout for the N'shei HYPE event. Close to 30 women came to hear words of Torah and chizuk from Mrs. Ariella Wiesenfeld. The event was hosted and sponsored by Mrs. Debby Eisner in commemoration of the Yahrzeit of her father, Moshe ben Michoel, which was on June 9th. Thank you to Mrs. Liora Weinberg and Mrs. Yardena Smith for sponsoring as well. Thank you to Mordy Brown for the Sushi. Stay tuned for the next N'shei HYPE sometime over the summer!

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 8:30-9:15PM)

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

Cafe Ivrit
החוגים בהלל הם כייף. הבנים ובנות של כיתה ה כתבו על החוגים שלהם.
דליה קראוט כתבה על חוג קרמיקה.
דליה:מה השם שלך?
עלקי: עלקי
דליה:מי המדריך של החוג?
עלקי: מורה עליסה
דליה: מה הכנת בחוג?
עלקי: אני הכנתי אגרטל וכלי
דליה: מה מיוחד בחוג?
עלקי: זה כייף
דליה: מה שמת בתערוכה? 
עלקי: את הכלי.
שושנה קגלנסקי כתבה על חוג חבלים.
(היא הייתה רוצה חוג כזה) 
חבלים זה חוג מגניב. 
צריך מחזיק חבלים ונעלי התעמלות.
אפשר לטפס גבוה ולעבור בגבהים.
אני רוצה שיהיה לנו חוג כזה.

גדליה אריה כתב על חוג אחרי בית ספר.
גייב: איך קוראים לך? 
אלכס: ברוך אברהם.
גייב: מתי אתה הולך לחוג אחרי בית הספר?
אלכס: יום שני-יום חמישי
גייב: איפה החוג?
אלכס: בחוץ
גייב: מי המורה של החוג?
אלכס: מיס טי, מיס בליאל, מיס יובינג

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 avid readers and responders, George WeissAllen Herman and Moshe Neiss for guessing the men in the photo. 



"Really going into the archives. The picture is from 1965-66.
Top row Left to right: Brian Cynamon, Michael Kentor, Bernice Gross, Benjamin Relis, Irwin Ludin, Barry Riemer, Joe Zytnick, Shelly Siebzener
Bottom row Left to Right: Bernard Firestone, Ernie Feinberg, Alfred Marcus, Abe Friedman, Esther Feinberg"


Allen Herman 



"Let me try my hand at ID'ing most of the students pictured in Hillel Happenings this week. The photo goes back to the 60's.


I very much enjoy your publication. Moshe Neiss, Hillel Academy 8th Grade graduate, Class 1964.

P.S. I'm sure your father- in -law can name all 13."

Moshe S. Neiss ESQ.



Editor's note: If you received tickets from the Hillel Happenings to this Monday's Pirates game, please take photos and send them in.  these will be used for both our needs and the Pirates needs. Enjoy the game and Let's Go Bucs!

Last Week's Photo   

                                                             This Week's Photo  


Hillel Gear Spotted Here!

Nothing says it better than Hillel Gear and a White Oak FD helmet!

Don't forget to take photos on your summer adventures and send them into  And let's get the hashtags going. 

Tomchei Shabbos



If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in volunteering, please contact Daniel Kraut at 
Library Update - by Ms. Morris

First Grade learns about well-known authors and illustrators of children's books. But first we talk about the proper way to take care of the books we take out of the library and how to sign out our library book. Then we start out the school year with our favorite Eric Carle and his Very Hungry Caterpillar, as well as some other well-loved 

Eric Carle books. Then it is time for Lois Ehlert's Leaf Man who travels across the country viewing animals constructed from photos of actual leaves put together and shaped as ducks, geese, cows, frogs, and even fish. This is when I share the info that when I went to Hillel as a student, one of our assignments was to collect and label 40 leaves. And so I remember the names of many of them to this day. (So do many other students of Mr. Tomko, our favorite Biology teacher). Then Leo Lionni, who with his lovable characters, emphasizes important values such as sharing and respecting others. As we progress through the year, at Chanukah, we visit with Hershel and the Hanukah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel and look for the error that I found in one of the Illustrations. 


Second Grade learns about many types of Literary Genres. However, we begin by reviewing how to take care of books we check out of the library. Out trip through the variety of genres begins with picture books and we view many different kinds. There are picture books that teach (concept books) and those that tell stories. There are board books and pop-up books, Big Books and tiny ones.  We look at them all.  Then we go on to share examples of Fantasy, Folk Tales, Fairy Tales, Fables, Tall Tales and Legends, Realistic Fiction, and Historical Fiction. Right now, as we share books about the Gold Rush in California, Little House in the Big Woods, The San Francisco Earthquake, and All of a Kind Family, we also look at maps of the United States that show where these stories take place.


Editor's note: Look for a continuation of this article next week. 

First Grade
1st Grade Math and Science

by Ms. Michelle Bleil
In math this week we learned about money. We learned the names, values, how to add and exchange U.S. coins. Since we were learning about U.S. coins, Carson shared older coins that belonged to his great-grandfather. He shared a 1oz. silver dollar, a half dollar, and two different pennies. We focused on his silver penny from 1943 and an Indian head penny from 1865. The 1943 penny is silver because it was made out of steel and coated with zinc. The reason for using silver instead of copper is because at that time the United States needed copper for the war effort. The Indian head penny is post-civil war currency made from bronze alloy. In 1909, the Indian head was replaced by the Lincoln penny.



First grade also flew kites this week in science.  We learned about weather and wind. We know that a meteorologist is a person who studies the weather. They use an anemometer to gauge wind speed. We can use a pinwheel to do that. They also use a wind vane to determine where the wind originates.  We used bubbles to see which way the wind was blowing. By using these two methods we can find the ideal time to fly a kite!


Around Town 


  • NCSY - NCSY wishes everyone a wonderful summer.
  • BNEI AKIVA: Snif this week is back at 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: This Shabbos, June 13th will be the final Girl's Oneg for the year!  Mother's, Grandmothers and sisters, please join us at 4:30 for the Oneg performance "A Leap Through the Looking Glass" in the PZ social hall.   Light refreshments will be served.  Oneg girls, please come at 3:30 for a final practice. 

  •  Please send information by Sunday to

Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Dov Nimchinsky on the wedding of their daughter Chaya Miriam to Chayim Gerson of Denver!
Mazel Tov to the entire Nimchinsky family!

Barauch Dayan HaEmet
With heavy hearts and great sorrow we mourn the passing of
Alfred Krasnow, ob"m,
beloved father of Maxine Kisilinsky,
beloved father-in-law of Macy Kisilinsky,
beloved grandfather of Ilana, Adina, Shoshana, and Tali Kisilinsky.




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

Please send condolence notices to