The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Parshat Chayei Sara

October 6, 2015  -  24 Cheshvan 5776

Shabbat Candle Lighting - 4:53 pm
Shabbat Ends - 6:00 pm  
Weekly Dvar Torah 
In Pirkei Avot (5:3) we learn that Avraham withstood ten tests or trials during his lifetime. However, many commentators disagree in identifying the ten tests. While most of the commentators count akeidat Yitzchak as the final trial, Rabbenu Yona lists the Akeida as the ninth test. According to Rabbenu Yona, the tenth trial took place in this week's parasha when Avraham purchased a burial plot for his deceased wife, Sarah. Even though Avraham was promised this land by Hashem, Avraham was forced to pay an exorbitant sum of money to purchase the cave. 
When comparing these two tests, there seems to be a stark contrast between the nature of the two episodes. The Akeida was an emotional, spiritual, and theological test for Avraham Avinu.  Hashem demanded that Avraham perform an act that opposes the very core of human nature, ethics, and everything that Avraham had preached until that point.
The purchase of Ma'arat Ha'machpelah, by contrast, bears far more resemblance to the everyday "trials" which most of us confront on a regular basis. Avraham was forced to feel like a foreigner in a land that was ostensibly his, and forced to pay a large sum of money that he would rather not have to pay. While no one can argue that the experience was unpleasant, it was hardly traumatic on the scope of Akeidat Yitzchak.
According to Rabbenu Yona, Avraham's final two tests demonstrate that trials do not always come in the form of drastic, life-changing experiences. If Akeidat Yitzchak represents  a trial brought on by turmoil and calamity, the purchase of Ma'arat Ha'Machpela represents the everyday trials of unfulfilled expectations, unforeseen expenses, and unwanted encounters with difficult people.  While no one would argue that the "Akeida" type traumas are more difficult to grapple with and understand, it is important to realize that everyday trials and tribulations are also significant tests. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Hillel Pop Grid - Liora Nimchinsky 

Students in the Mix
What are two really good foods that would taste disgusting together?
What's something you learned in 5th grade?
What's the meaning of life?  
Pickles, Hotdogs, and French Fries
Sorry for interrupting
To learn Mishna with Rabbi Grossberg
Pickles and Marshmallow Fluff
That Christopher Columbus did not discover America
To read
Humans and Pickles
How to bounce off the walls
To be a human
Akiva Moshe
Pickles and Marshmallow Fluff
How to add 1+1
To eat
Pizza and Ice cream
That you have to pay for your damage
To live
Rabbi Nimchinsky
Tuna and Ice Cream
That you have to make sure your chisel is sharpened before carving your homework into the wall sharpener
Serving Hashem, and the number 42

Toys and Games!
Dear Parents,

Thank you to those who have graciously donated games for the Hillel Academy indoor recess program. We are still looking for donations of gently used LEGOs, playing cards, and lanyards. 

Please drop off the donations at the front desk.

Thank you in advance,

Shvil Yisrael
After seeing a short video about the Kinneret, the students continued their trek along the Shvil Yisrael with a stop in the ancient city of Tiveria. Students learned about how Tiveria has been an important city to the Jews for thousands of years! Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi wrote many of the Mishnayot in Tiveria and it is the burial place of Rabbi Akiva and the Rambam. The students went "fishing" in the Kinneret and put on a play after learning about the life of Rabbi Akiva!

Next stop? Get your water shoes ready, it's going to get a little swampy!

Word of the Week
מילת השבוע                                                                 Word of the week
אגם -  lake - מקווה מים גדול, טבעי או מלאכותי
(יָשֵׂם מִדְבָּר, לַאֲגַם-מַיִם; וְאֶרֶץ צִיָּה, לְמֹצָאֵי מָיִם. (תהלים קז לה
מילות השבועות הקודמים: שְׁבִיל טִיּוּל תַּרְמִיל תֵּל אֲגַם 
Debating Ethics - Session #4 - Shabbat in Outer Space.
Open Beit Midrash with Dinner for Teens at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Together with J Line, Hillel Academy is proud to offer the fourth class in the series: Shabbat in Outer Space. Astronaut Ilan Ramon's question: "When Should I Observe Shabbat on the Columbia?" (Shabbat 69b).

Colonel Ilan Ramon, of blessed memory, posed the following halachic question to Rabbi Tzvi Konikov, the rabbi of Cape Canaveral: When should I observe Shabbat while I am on the space shuttle Columbia? The forty-eight-year-old Ramon was a veteran Israeli fighter pilot before he was picked to be Israel's first astronaut. Since Ilan Ramon considered himself to be representing the Jewish people and Israel, he asked NASA to provide him with kosher food during
the flight, and arranged to keep the Sabbath while in orbit.
The Space Coast, Florida rabbi posed the question to some leading halachic authorities, including Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Halperin, the director of Jerusalem's Institute for Science and Halacha. This thinking Gemara shiur is based on Rabbi Halperin's presentation. He claims that we can learn about this issue from the halachic literature about keeping Shabbat in areas near the Arctic Circle, where the sun does not set for months. That discussion, in turn, draws from a passage in the Talmud about a desert wanderer who forgets which day Shabbat is.
Here are some of the key questions this shiur will deal with:
  • Is a Jew in space obligated to observe the mitzvot?
  • If he is, when should he keep the Shabbat?
  • When does a Jew observe Shabbat in areas where the sun does not set for months?
  • What should someone do if he or she is detached from civilization and forgets when Shabbat is?
  • What do these extreme situations teach us earth-bound Jews living in places with conventional latitudes?

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.

Please consider joining and/donating the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame of Wester PA. They are one of our generous donors who help make clubs possible.

                        HAIHL Standings - please note: games will now end at 5:15 pm
Team A  ~ Pinny Brown
Team C ~ Zalman Rodkin
Team D ~ Yitzy Berelowitz
Team B ~ Reuvan Kanal

Do you HYPE?!
The November N'shei HYPE event at Adina Shayowitz's house.  Thank you, Adina, for hosting and thank you, Stef Small for your words of Torah. 


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
Click HERE  to RSVP

 Rabbi Weinberg's weekly HYPE Perkei Avot shiur on Thursdays at 1:30 pm. 

Weekly Photos
Mazel Tov to Morah Chana and Morah Dorsey's first-grade class for winning the Box Tops for Education competition!

Hillel Lawn Signs = FREE PIZZA 
Thank you to the following families for posting photos of their families with the Hillel lawn sign.  Mazel Tov on the FREE pizza (which will be available Monday at 4pm) and being entered into the 8-day-give-away Chanukah Contest (we are still taking entries for this contest).
Perlmans, Goldwassers (Brian), Shayowitzs, Sunshines, Glass, Blumenfelds, Shores, Yolkuts, Smalls,  Bnot
Shrut, Russels, Nimchinskys, Wassermans, Leibowitz, Weisswassers, Sokols, Alperns, Grossbergs, Russels, and Yolkuts

Photos from Morah Devorah's nursery class.

Third Grade Science 

Parshat Chaya Sarah means preschool wedding photos.


Alumni Updates
The Annual Alumni Basketball Game will once again take place Thanksgiving weekend - 
Sunday, November 29 at 11 am. 
This year's game will take place at the A.J. Palumbo Center -  home of the Duquesne Dukes!

If you are interested in playing please contact Dan Shaw - [email protected] or direct message us on Instagram @HillelacademyPGH #Hillelalumni #HillelAlumniGame2015 View on Instagram
Tomchei Shabbos


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

Cost in pom poms for a puzzle in the 1st-grade pom-pom store - the highest priced item
Number of tomatoes, Snow, the 1st-grade guinea pig can eat in one sitting. 
People registered for the HYPE

Ladies attended 
the N'shei HYPE event. 

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

Instagram Followers - View on Instagram

Alumni Feature: Amalia Levari - 1988-1991
Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? There was a piano in the lunch room that kids would play at seemingly random intervals. Library class with Ms. Morris was a highlight of the week-- she read us stories and guided us toward books we'd like. Everyone sang loudly on the bus during long class trips. We were given a lot of freedom to be creative when we put on plays. Participating in the Purim costume contests were fun. One year a classmate and I went as bottles of ketchup and mustard, which definitely reflected my very deep love for ketchup and mustard.

What organizations are you currently involved in? I'm a member of the Animation Guild and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

How do you earn a living? I work as a writer and story consultant, mostly for television, mostly cartoons. My main job is as a staff writer on a show called Harvey Beaks on Nickelodeon. I've also worked for Disney and Cartoon Network.

How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? Ms. Ozoroski was brilliant, fun, and challenged us in wonderful ways. She really encouraged my interest in writing, and was the first teacher I remember who clearly cared about making a difference in her students' lives. Rabbi Brodie was wise, funny, and generous, and told beautiful stories and Divrei Torah that helped form our characters for the better-- there was one about using a leaf to cross a river that I still think about often. I'm so grateful that he was there. Rabbi Adler was also always there for
us, and taught me how to be more courageous, focused, and curious.

Tell us about your family. I could talk about my family all day, we're fun. My parents are hilarious, amazing, compassionate people who raised three very different (but, I like to think, equally cool) kids, b"h. My big brother is a family doctor with five kind , vibrant children who I'm fairly certain will take over the worldif they want to. (He's going to make fun of me for using the word "vibrant" but phhhbbbbtttttt). My little brother is a social psychologist and a really thoughtful, good person. He's also a comedic genius, so I hope that someday he'll write books that merge those things-- society, niceness, humor. My parents have a dog named Zelda who's like a huge furry baby. She doesn't seem to know that she's a dog. She's the best dog ever. 

What do you do in your free time? Los Angeles is really bright and hot, so I like to travel to places that aren't those things. I go to Portland and Seattle a lot, in part because they remind me of Pittsburgh, but they're a lot closer. I spend a lot of time with friends and a lot of time alone, and I enjoy both.

Who was your first Hillel teacher? Mrs. Briskin

What was your favorite class? English

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? Ms. Ozoroski was so supportive and just a really great example of how to be a person.

Who is the most interesting person in your iPhone contacts? My sister-in-law Yikara Levari! I'm inspired by her achievements as an amazing wife, mother, and leader. 

Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? I think I was probably told everything I needed to hear, but I was a really sensitive, melodramatic little kid, so I didn't tend to internalize advice. When I recently saw Pixar's "Inside Out", I wished that I'd had that movie around when I was young. That message, "it's important to feel a wide range of things really deeply, it's totally normal to feel sad," would have been good to hear, because when you're small, you're bombarded with the opposite message-- mostly from commercials and a lot of well-meaning grown-ups. I also wish I'd learned early on that talent is really common-- everyone's got it in some form-- but hard work is rare, and pretty much any skill that requires "talent" can be learned if you put enough time and effort into it. And lastly, something along the lines of "don't jump into swimming pools backwards."

What's it like working in Hollywood, CA? I think it's probably not that different from working in Pittsburgh, except there's a lot more traffic, it hardly ever rains, and if you like screenwriting, you'll be around a lot more people who like doing the same thing. People say a lot about the glamour of Hollywood, or the superficial nature of L.A., but those impressions are mostly manufactured, or at least easy to avoid on a day-to-day basis. It's an enormous city with every kind of neighborhood, and every kind of community, and nearly every kind of person-so living here means editing your experience to include the things you most prefer. The only common element I've noticed among people here is that so many of them have an amazing work ethic, and dreams that they're pursuing in pragmatic, achievable ways.

Who are the top 3 most famous people you have met? Fame is weird! I like this question but I'm not completely sure how to answer it. I was most excited to meet Jules Feiffer, Meg LeFauve, Matt Groening, and Reggie Watts. I still want to meet Lynda Barry someday. The most famey-famous person I've met was Robert Downey, Jr. All of them were very kind and friendly and generous with their time. 

What are your career goals? I just want to keep writing stuff and working with people I like. I'm not sure what form that will take going forward, but I'm excited for that potential future. The people who inspire me most tend to channel their creative energy (eye-roll, I know, I'm sorry) into a lot of different mediums and projects. I've started writing for comic books, and taking a novel-writing class with my friend, and teaching screenwriting workshops, and jumping in to writing projects when friends want to collaborate. So I guess my main goal is "Do more, be better."

What are some fun facts about your job? There's been construction going on next door to Nickelodeon for the past couple of months, and the sound it makes sounds exactly like the Hypno Toad from Futurama.

The wonderful story editor on our show, Dani Michaeli, also has family in Israel and is very familiar with Israeli culture, and he understands all Yiddish insults, so that's made it especially fun to work here.

What was it like to win the Emmy? It was great because I got to see everyone who worked on Over the Garden Wall get recognized for their hard work and rare imaginations, and I felt very proud and lucky to have been a part of that. In the moment, it's not that different than winning a science fair trophy, except the statue is heavier and the next day you get a lot of nice emails from old friends.

Quick Pick:  
Dogs or Cats? I have two cats, Dr. Morris Fishbein and Posey. They're 5 years old, smushy and nice and good and very lumpy.
Pen or pencils? I order the purple micro Pilot pens from Amazon in bulk.
Rodeo Drive or Lamard Street? Google is telling me that Lamard Street is in Illinois. I've never been there! I haven't gotten a close look at Rodeo Drive. There's something really funny about pronouncing a cowboy word in a fancy way. I'm going to try it with other cowboy words, like "tumbleweed" and "horse".
Dress or skirt? I honestly don't have a preference as long as I've remembered to rip out the scratchy tags sewn
in to the back.
Instagram or Twitter? Instagram is like tweeting with pictures, and Twitter is like
instagramming with words. They're both great and terrible!

Thank you for your time and have a wonderful shabbos!
Mazel Tov 

Mazel tov to Dori and David Oshlag on their engagement of their son, Nathan to Alicia Walls of Seattle, WA!
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.  

Yes, more Yolkuts. This time, they were spotted at Shaare Yaffo. Great Job Yolkuts, keep 'em coming!
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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

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

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]
Around Town 
APPLES FOR THE STUDENTS: Please ensure to register your Giant Eagle Advantage Card by clicking HERE and enter our school ID - 0454. 

: Girls in grades 5-8, This Motzei Shabbos, November 7th, 7:15, movie night at the Admon's! Cost $4. Shabbos afternoon groups for grades 6 and 7 meet from 3-4 November 7th at the Lebovits' house and November 21st at the Admon's.

Come join us each week in the PZ Educational Building! For all girls in grades K-5 from 3-4. Please note the new time!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.

: Who: All 2nd-8th graders When: Shabbat Kodesh at 3:30 pm (note the time change). Where: Shaare Torah
KRISTALLNACHT COMMEMORATION: Alumni and Friends are invited to the production of Etty Photo: Ricardo Barros, 2009. In commemoration of Kristallnacht, the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts and Jewish Studies Forum in partnership with the Nathan and Helen Goldrich Foundation is delighted to host Susan Stein's one-woman play, Etty, based on the diaries and letters of Esther "Etty" Hillesum.
Tuesday, November 10,  7:30 p.m. Duquesne University's new Genesius Theater. Reception to follow
Admission: $15/person - Due to theater size, seating will be limited. -To reserve a seat please purchase your ticket here. For more information about Etty Hillesum or Etty, please visit registration:

 hope that you have received your invitation to the Community Celebration for the New Mikvah, which will be taking place in conjunction with our annual Mikvah Event. This occasion, which will be open to men and women, will celebrate the FUTURE opening of the new Mikvah, which will be B"EH in several months. We look forward to seeing you on November 24th  at the JCC. For more info, to donate, or to make a reservation, click here. 


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

Please send condolence notices to [email protected].