The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parshat Vayera

October 30, 2015  -  17 Cheshvan 5776

Shabbat Candle Lighting - 6:01 PM
Shabbat Ends - 7:08PM  
Weekly Dvar Torah 

Parashat Vayera begins when Hashem appeared to Avraham as he, "Was sitting at the entrance to his tent at around the heat of the day." The commentators wonder why the Torah tell us that this revelation occurred, "At around the heat of the day." What does this detail add to the story? 

The Radak (12th century, France) advances a theory based on the famous (and somewhat controversial) theory of the Rambam, in Moreh Nevukhim (2:43), that the entire story of the three angelic visitors occurred only in a prophetic vision with Avraham asleep and not in reality. The Radak, claims that Avraham had this vision after he fell asleep as a result of extreme heat. For this reason, he explains, the Torah writes that this all occurred during, "The heat of the day," because it was the heat that caused Avraham to drift off and experience this prophetic revelation.

According to the Radak, the Torah goes out of its way to make an excuse as to why Avraham was sleeping during the day. The assumption of this commentary is that under any normal circumstances, it would be inconceivable that Avraham was simply taking a nap. This Radak speaks to the tremendous energy, drive, and ambition of Avraham Avinu. Avraham was a mover and a shaker, someone who was always working and always out in the community spreading the word of G-d.

As children of Avraham, we should follow his example and always strive for growth. Avraham never took an afternoon off and was never complacent. We should push ourselves and each other to be productive and active members of our community in every way possible. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Sam Weinberg
Shvil Yisrael 
Fasten your seatbelts, lock your tray tables, make sure your seat is in the upright position! Hillel Academy
 students are ready for takeoff to visit Artzeinu HaKedosha, Eretz Yisrael! See all the places our students will visit! Tel Hai, Har ChermonTiveria, Tzfat, just to name a few! Don't forget your passport at home!

Last week our student travelers geared up for a hike to the top of Eretz Yisrael's highest mountain, Har
Chermon! They learned the historical importance of the mountain in the Torah, and how it serves as the "Einayim
shel Hamedina," "the eyes of the country," even today. Stay tuned for the next stop on the trail! Check out our new Shvil Yisrael Blog!   

Visit our blog

Dear Parents,

We are looking for donations of board games, card games, or Lego for our new indoor recess groups. Occasionally, our students are unable to enjoy the playground outside for recess due to inclement weather. We have set up special indoor recess groups for the students for such circumstances. Some of the options that we are offering are Lego building, board games (chess, checkers), card games, Lanyard, and Origami. If you have any of these items lying around Hillel Academy would gladly accept them and use them. Please drop them off  at the front desk.

Thank you,

Rabbi Levy - [email protected]

Debating Ethics - Session #3 - Ani Ha'Mehapech Be'Chararah 
Open Beit Midrash with Dinner for Teens at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Together with J Line, Hillel Academy is proud to offer the third class in the series: 
Ani Ha'Mehapech Be'Chararah  - What's Considered Fair Competition?

We live in a world of finite resources and it is inevitable that we occasionally end up at odds with others, each side vying for exclusive rights to certain resources. These disputes may be over a house, a car, employment, or even a spouse.

This class will address the following questions:

� When is competition considered fair and when is it unfair?
� Are there any sanctions against unfair competing?
� Does the concept of unfair competition apply even to the acquisition of ownerless property?
� To which non-commercial fields does the concept of unfair competition apply?

What: Study Texts Over A Great Meal with Your Friends
When: Tuesdays, 6:20 pm - 7:20 pm With Rabbi Akiva Sutofsky
Who: Teens
Cost: FREE! 
Bring a Friend and Your Appetite - this week we will be serving pizza.

For questions please email [email protected] 

Click 'calendar' for the Fall Club Calendar.

The Hillel Academy Intramural Hockey League (HAIHL) is back for its 14th season. All games take place on Thursdays.

Mrs. Gayle Kraut in the house means that it's YUNMUN season! We are Sudan this year!

The best oil pastel raccoon EVER from art club!
Akiva Silver and his caricature in art club. 

Pop Culture Grid 

Students in the Mix
If there is any book you could live in, which one?
Which Disney character best describes you?  

What's one food you would eat for the rest of your life?
Ezra Kraut
Treasure Island
Even Stufflebeam
Pretzels with peanut butter
Efraim Marizan
The Grinch
Josh Hertzberg
Harry Potter
Flynn Ryder
Jacob Wiesenfield
The Bible

Do you HYPE?!

November 20-21, 2015
  • Thursday Night Mother-Daughter Challah Baking (November 19)
  • Friday Night Family Kabbalat Shabbat at PZ
  • Friday Night Meal at the home of a Member of the Hillel Academy Faculty
  • Shabbat Day Luncheon at Shaare Torah
  • Family Melave Malka/Kumzitz/Let's Make a Deal at Hillel Academy


Family Feature: Yosef & Aviva Fort
Welcome to Hillel! Which classes is  your son in? David is in Morahs Jessie/Yifat/Chava's class.

What's your favorite part of Hillel Academy, thus far? All the Hebrew speaking!!

What's the best-kept secret of Hillel Academy? one told us, lol.. people are really sweet!
Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with our readers? We've uplifted Metallica's "Creeping Death" to become a Pesach niggun.. also since Zevi's favorite food is lox, we sometimes have a big chalavi breakfast l'kavod Shabbos kodesh

Share something about your family that makes you unique. I was working in Ramat Gan at the same time as Rabbi Asher Cohen, and we stayed in touch on Facebook when he left to work for Aish HaTorah in Pittsburgh. A few months later, I asked him if he knew any single frum guys that liked heavy metal music. He told me, "Actually, there is a guy who sits next to me in shul who wears a Metallica hat," and the rest is history.

What do you do with the projects your children bring home? Many of them are prominently displayed on our living and dining room walls! We love them!!!

Where did you move from? Yosef has been here for 20 something years, and I was basically between Israel and the New York metro area every few months.

Arrival or Dismissal? The dismissal hugs are awesome, so dismissal it is!

What made you choose Hillel Academy? The daycare reputation and the opportunity to meet different people than just the Chabad community, also we really appreciate the security guard!!!

Will we ever see a frum heavy metal band?

What do you do for a living? Joe is a web application developer and I am trying to get my custom Judaica business off the ground. - coming soon!

Tell us about the charity event you were involved in a few months ago. - it's the only tzedaka I know where at least 97% of the money goes to very carefully vetted people who are in really, really, REALLY dire need. It's internationally staffed and the only person who isn't a volunteer is the accountant. Please check out the site and the article by clicking here.

Do you play any musical instruments? Joe is the guitarist you see in the video link above, I sing but, kol isha blew that out of the water. I asked my rav if death metal growling counts as kol isha. The rav said no, it's more like kol kelev, but that wasn't permission to get onstage.

Quick Picks:

Drums or guitars - Guitars
Record or MP4 - mp3

Hoody or crew neck - Joe T-shirt, Aviva Hoody
Cross country skiing or cross country running? Joe video games and swimming, Aviva martial arts, walking, and shooting.

Mexican food or Asian food - Mexican

Thanks for your time and have a wonderful shabbos!
Weekly Photos

Did you get your lawn sign yet?  Show your Hillel pride by sending and us a photo of your family with the Hillel sign and be entered for the 8 DAYS OF CHANUKAH GIVE-AWAY CONTEST.  #HillelPride #HillelFamily

First 20 families to send in their photo get a pizza pie from Mordy!


The Bnot Sherut taught a lesson to the GHS about Rochel Imeinu's character traits. One of which was silence. To reinforce this midda, the students had to build a pyramid without talking. We cannot confirm or deny whether or not they were totally silent, but looks like they nailed the pyramid part! Go FAB~GHS!

Morah Elaine teaches Morah Leah Ackner's class about the science of movement. 

 Thanks to the amazing Carnegie Library Educational Loan program and the generosity of  Mr. Bruce Amshel, our fourth graders studied about and held artifacts from ancient Egypt. Their favorite artifact was the Rosetta Stone.

Third graders were thrilled to visit Mr. Garwood for their first science class. They had all sorts of questions regarding climates that connected to our social studies state project, as well as our Reading Street stories. How is there snow in the spring in the Arctic? Why are the seasons different on different sides of the world? Where does hail come from? These were some of the questions 3rd graders asked. Mr. Garwood answered all the questions and conducted an experiment. They learned that cold air sinks while warm air rises. 
Michele Batch was back leading her famous parenting class last night.  We had a really nice showing, thank you to all who attended and Morah Dori for organizing. Ms. Batch will return later in the year for another session. 
Morah Leah Brown's class wanted to be like Morah Dori, so they made guitars.  
The sixth graders learned about human organs in science class this week. 

Preschool science lesson on vertebrates with non other than.....Mr. Garwood!
Our Finch Robot and Coding unit has begun! Over the next eight weeks, thanks to the Birdbrain Technologies' Finch Robot loan program, students in grades 2-4 will learn the fundamentals of coding and robotics. Students were introduced this week to the basics of computer programming by coding algorithms using pencil and paper. Next week, we'll unveil the laptops and get to meet the Finches in person.
Alumni Updates
The annual Alumni Basketball Game will once again take place Thanksgiving weekend. If you are interested in playing please contact Dan Shaw - [email protected] or direct message us on Instagram @HillelacademyPGH #Hillelalumni #HillelAlumniGame2015 View on Instagram

Coby Pollack - Mazel Tov on the birth of Chana Bayla/Hannah Bailey to Coby and his wife Jessica.

Steven Kohane - Is currently a resident advisor in the YU dormitories, a layout editor for the YU Commentator, and a VP of programming for YU's official radio station.

Eliana HalleyIs currently enrolled in Midreshet Moriah, Jerusalem Israel and her favorite classes are Mesilas Yesharim with Rav Ron Knapel, Explaining Judaism to Outsiders with Rav Ahron Wexler, and Slavery of Shemot with Melka Chapshurn.

Louisa Brinn Schindelheim - Mazel Tov on the birth of a boy to Louisa and her husband, Rick 

Risa Margulis - Mazel Tov to Risa and her husband Moshe on their boys, Shai and Benny putting on tefillin. "Both Shai and Benny's new pairs of tefillin incorporate a part of their Zaida Dave's tefillin. One has his Parshiot - the parchment that goes inside the
 tefillin, and one has his Batim - the boxes that house the parchment. We hope they will wear their special tefillin with pride from here forward, and will feel as comfortable at daily minyan as their Zaida Dave always did." AdditionallyMazel Tov to Risa and Moshe on completing the Marine Corps Marathon. 


Tomchei Shabbos


If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in volunteering, please contact me at [email protected]. 
Go Figure

New copier delivered this week.


People who viewed our Stand with Israel video!  Thank you, Morah Eve!

Families registered for the HYPE


Dollars it costs to be a sponsor for a HYPE event. 

Facebook likes, five more than last week.
Like us on Facebook

Instagram Followers - View on Instagram

Teacher Feature: Mrs. Devorah Kurin
Welcome to Hillel Academy! So, according to our scheduling system app, you are teaching Chumash and Science. That's a great mix. Tell us about it.It's confusing going back and forth because they're such different subjects!

This year in 9th-grade Chumash, we are learning Sefer Shmos. We are delving into new mefarshim and trying to get a new, deeper perspective of the famous story of Yetziyas Mitzraim. In the 7th and 8th-grade biur tefilla class, we are learning about different tefillos we say every morning and understanding the meaning of the words and why we are saying them. 

In 7th and 8th-grade science, we are learning about mixtures, compounds, and elements. Recently, we separated a mixture of sand, salt, and iron using magnets, filters, and a hot plate! We are also working on finding the mass and volume of different objects and will learn how to determine the density based on our data from the lab.

What are your other responsibilities here at the fastest growing Jewish day school? I also teach a 
biur tefilla class and I'm in charge of student activities for the GHS. I'm also running a chabura for GHS this semester.

So, like Mrs. Kupfer, you moved from New York? What brought you to the City of Bridges, aka the City of Champions? We moved here because my husband got a job at UPMC as a resident in internal medicine.

What makes Hillel different from other places you have worked?
This is the smallest school I've ever worked at. Before this, the smallest class I've had was 13 students, but now I have a class of four! It's great because I get to know the students really well and they all get a chance to participate a lot.

It's truly amazing how there is no space in the school and every inch is used. You came right in, found a desk, and made a massive sign with your name. That was a great idea! How has that work space fared for you?
It's true that there is literally no space in this school! I wanted a place to store my materials and do my work. So, the day before school, I found an empty desk and made a corner of the GHS lounge my territory. It's been working well because I get to see the students a lot, but it's not the most productive place to work because there are so many interesting things going on in the lounge at all times.

What's the best part of Hillel? The students and the homey atmosphere. 

Can you give us a preview of your top three science experiments and do they include fire or TNT? I really like blowing things up, but I think the administration wouldn't be too happy with me. So far I've already blown a fuse in the lab so I'm trying to lay low for now. I love doing all labs because it makes what we're doing in class into something real.

 One of my favourite labs is making oobleck - a liquid/solid material that is really fun to play with. I also enjoy doing labs in physics and then using our data in the equations from class.

Who is your favorite Chumash character? I'm going to have to go with Yaakov. When I was little, my dad used to ask me and my siblings Parsha questions at the shabbos table. Since my siblings were older and knew the answers, I never did. So, my dad spoke to me before lunch one Shabbos and told me that whatever question he asks me, the answer will always be "Yaakov."  That way, I could feel included and it wouldn't be too hard for me. After that, it was always an inside joke in my family that the answer to any question is always Yaakov.

How do you keep your students motivated? I try to keep them motivated by being excited about it myself. I think when the teacher is really into the material, then it's contagious.

What's your secret for effective classroom management? Strong lessons plans are a key component to classroom management. If you plan well, you eliminate "down" time for students. They will then be less restless and be better listeners. I also plan my lessons in order to give my students an opportunity to move around during the class. 

What's a quote you live by? "V'ahavta L'reacha Ka'mocha" I try to use that with my students. How would I feel if I were in their shoes? 

Quick pick:

Stone or Kaplan? Stone
Rashi or Sforno? Sforno (sorry Rashi)

Rashi type or regular? Regular
All in one or each sefer on its own? 
All in one sefer! I love comparing as I go!

Einstein or Newton? Einstein
Atom or nucleus? Atom

Cholent or ribs? Cholent

Thank you for your time!
Hillel Gear Spotted Here!
Hillel Gear stretches near and far.  Each week we feature photos that families send into the Hillel Happenings with different items of Hillel swag.  If you are looking to purchase Hillel Gear, you will be able to during our Fall Sale.  

The BHS AP English class traveled to the Frick Museum this week.  Twelfth-grader, Jacob Wiesenfeld made sure to grab his Hillel Academy full-zipper fleece.  

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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 Jessie Mendelson on naming the ladies in last week's photo:

L-R: Ilana Weinberg, Tsilila Rosenkranz, Shoshana Adler, Pesha Kletenik.

This week's Photo:
Last Week's Photo:

Around Town 
Please send information by Sunday to  [email protected].
  • GRAND OPENING: Save the date for: A Community Celebration for men and women in honor of 
    The Grand Opening of our New Mikva, Tuesday, Nov. 24--13 Kislev, 7:15pm- Hors D'ouevres 8pm- Program followed by dessert reception 
  • APPLES FOR THE STUDENTS: Please ensure to register your Giant Eagle Advantage Card by clicking HERE and enter our school ID - 0454. 
  • TEEN SCENE: Girls in grades 5-8, join us for Glow in the Dark Mini Golf! Sunday, November 1st meet in the Hillel parking lot at 1pm. Cost: $5 You must RSVP to [email protected] if you want a seat! November 7th, 7:15, movie night at the Admon's! Cost $4. Shabbos afternoon groups for grades 6 and 7 meet from 3 pm - 4 pm -  November 7th at the Lebovits' house and November 21st at the Admon's.
  • GIRL'S ONEG: Come join us each week in the PZ Educational Building! For all girls in grades K-5. This is the last week Oneg will meet from 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm. Starting Shabbos, November 7th, Oneg will meet from 3 pm - 4 pm.
  • BNEI AKIVA: Who: All 2nd-8th graders When: Shabbat Kodesh at 4 pm. Where: Shaare Torah
Hillel Gym Schedule 
There are many athletic classes offered in our gym, most are free of charge. They are not school sponsored so please contact the person in charge of that group with questions.  If you are interested in using our gym please contact Danny Shaw - [email protected]


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

Please send condolence notices to [email protected].