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

October 13, 2015  -  1 Kislav 5776

Shabbat Candle Lighting - 4:46 pm
Shabbat Ends - 5:53 pm  
Weekly Dvar Torah 
In Parashat Toldot, we are told about the birth and upbringing of Yaakov and Eisav. The verse tells us, "The boys grew up, and Eisav became a knowledgeable hunter, a man of the field, while Yaakov was a calm man who dwelled in tents" (25:27). Rashi, based on the medrash, explains, "As long as they were young, they were not distinguishable in their demeanor and no one carefully discerned their behavior. Once they reached thirteen years of age, this one (Yaakov) turned to the study hall and this one (Eisav) turned to idolatry."  

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch views this medrash as a subtle rebuke of Yitzchak and Rivkah. Rav Hirsch introduces his comments by saying, "Nowhere do Chazal avoid exposing the weaknesses in the actions of our great patriarchs; in this way they elevate and magnify its message for all times." Our sages here, says Rav Hirsch, find fault with the way Yitchak and Rivkah raised their two children: in exactly the same manner. It appears from the story that no effort was made to discern between their different personalities. Eisav's skills could have been channeled in a different direction, and his talents could have complemented instead of conflicted with his brother's.

When educating our children, we can never forget the unique beauty of each and every child. No two children are the same and they can't be treated as if they are.  We must find out what excites every individual and do our best to harness that interest so they can achieve greatness. 

This week we introduced robotics and computer programming in our second through fourth grades. Robotics is a new way for our students to express themselves in a unique and personal way. 

G-d willing, we will continue to watch our children find excellence wherever it is to be found.  

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Hillel Academy Robotics 
We are excited to share an addition to our computer science and robotics curriculum!
For the past two years, Hillel Academy piloted a robotics course as part of our science curriculum for grades 5-8. This unit was tremendously successful. Students learned about the problem solving abilities of computers. They also developed logical thinking, problem solving, persistence, collaboration, and communication
skills. Learning the fundamentals of coding in this course gave students skills that they will find beneficial in virtually any career they choose -- and it's fun, exciting and engaging for everyone! 
With so many benefits to this program, we looked for practical ways to extend it into the lower school. We had the opportunity to apply for a grant for Finch robots. We received 15 Finch robots on loan for two months as part of Birdbrain Technologies' Finch Robot loan program, and we were given one robot to keep so we can continue to benefit from the Finch throughout the rest of the year.
Over the next two weeks, students in grades 2-4 will begin their introduction to coding and robotics. We will introduce the Finch and the special programming environment that students will use to write code to control the robots. Students will learn the fundamentals of programming with selected portions of's Level II coding curriculum, which includes algorithms, loops, parameters, conditionals, event handling, and nested loops. 

We will be using Snap!, a graphical programming environment, to control the Finch robots. Snap! is a visual, drag and drop programming language that is used at all grade levels, from elementary school through college and beyond. Students can quickly begin to program using Snap!. The visual interface allows students to focus on coding skills instead of worrying about using proper syntax, as would be the case with a text-based programming environment. Snap! features four different levels, and we will start students off in the simpler version before moving them into the more sophisticated, fully robust version of Snap! that controls the Finch.

Here is a picture of what some lines of code look like in Snap!

We've included links here so you can find out more about the Finch, the curriculum, and Snap! We've also included a link to our first two lesson plans, which describes what your child will be experiencing in the classroom with the Finches. We'll be sharing pictures and additional information as we move along this exciting journey into robotics in our 2-4 classrooms. 

Curriculum Coordinator

Finch Robots:

Snap! for the Finch Robots:  
Scroll down this page for information and some videos describing Snap! and the Finch.

This is the graphical programming environment that we'll be using for the Finches. Level II curriculum:
We will be using selected portions of this curriculum to teach a particular coding skill before using those skills with the Finch.

Unit 1 of Elementary Robotics - Programming and Coding introduction: CLICK HERE

Finch Unit #2 - CLICK HERE

Finch Getting Started booklet (for 4th grade's unit #2) - CLICK HERE

Follow along with us on this exciting journey!
Hillel Pop Grid - Liora Nimchinksy 

Alumni in the Mix
What's something you learned that you can share with current Hillel students?
What's something  funny?
What's something you think is tear worthy?
What is something you miss about Hillel
Daniel Nimchinsky
It hurts to jump into door frames, don't do it!
Watching someone jump into a door frame!
The side-effects of jumping into a door frame.
The side-effects of jumping into a door frame.
Ilana Kisilinsky
Embrace the size of the school.  It will always give you a good story to tell.
10 page research papers #collegelyfe
Being able to spend all day everyday with my best friends
Andy Joshowitz
People say that any experience you have is only as good as you make it. The same is true for school.  You will learn a lot if you study well. You will have a positive experience if you have a positive attitude. School will be amazing if you make it amazing. So make it amazing!
Eating leftover graduation cake with Mr. Logue the night after senior graduation when I was in 10th grade.

I don't know If I have anything cry worthy

I miss the sense of community and camaraderie. I have never been in any other academic setting where the sense of community is as strong as it was in high school, where everyone knew each other. At Hillel, I was able to make connections with teachers that really enhanced the overall experience.

Maia Wiesenfeld
Take advantage of every opportunity. Learning outside of the classroom is as valuable as learning inside the classroom!

Our Facebook posts from high school. At least we thought we were funny...

The time that our whole class sat on the floor in a circle and sobbed to "Graduation (Friends Forever)" by Vitamin C after realizing we were graduating in a week.
Spending so much time making amazing memories with my friends as well as the close relationships with teachers.
Sarah Baila Gordon
Be present! Take in all the experiences you're having and enjoy it all! You're guaranteed to make some pretty great memories :)
Rabbi Weinberg's physics class - definitely hilarious!

...well there was that time that five lockers fell on top of me. What a great way to start junior year!
I miss the fun atmosphere and all of the incredible faculty!

Rena Harmon
Detention is not as scary as it sounds, especially when Rabbi Weinberg was put in charge.
My senior class at Hillel and the seniors at Yeshiva Schools switched for three morning classes for Purim Shtik.
The day the high school was moved to the lower level.

I miss the times spent with friends in the high school lounge at lunch and break.

Shayna Stiebel
Take advantage of the size - make connections with the teachers because in college
none of your professors will be inviting you over for Shabbos meal.
Dressing up as a princess daily.

When I remember that I am not in high school anymore.

Being in a safe homey environment where I was close with my teachers and got to hang out with my best friends every day.
Eliana Halley

Go to school.

The fact that I was the class valedictorian.

Rabbi Weinberg's face when you do something to disappoint him.

I miss being a student at Hillel Academy and being able to grow as a person in both my Midot and academics in a warm, loving, fun environment.
Steven Kohane
Practice making good relationships with your teachers... That skill pays off mightily in college!
"Gimmel (name of basketball play(? What is that?!?" - Player on the opposing team.
Chas V'Shalom!

The Hillel Herald (BHS newspaper) and Hillel Heat

Sara Nimchinsky
The friends you make in Hillel are friends for life.
Careful where you leave your food. Someone will find it and eat it.
High school doesn't last forever.
Missing my home away from home.

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.

Please drop off the donations at the front desk.

Thank you in advance,

Veteran's Day 
In honor of Veteran's Day, Morah Caitlin who served in the Army National Guard Charlie Company 138th Division, came to school in her battle fatigues. She visited many classrooms and read a book explaining about soldiers and veterans. Other classes wrote thank you notes to veterans. Thank you to all who served and continue to serve and protect us!

Debating Ethics - Session #5 - will be Novmeber 24, 2015
Open Beit Midrash with Dinner for Teens at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Together with J Line, Hillel Academy is proud to offer the fifth class in the series: NOVEMBER 24, 2015

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 


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 ~ Captain
Team A  ~ Pinny Brown
Team D ~ Yitzy Berelowitz
Team C ~ Zlman Rodkin
Team B ~ Reuven Kanal

The k/1 Ballet Club is really starting to learn the moves and dress the part. #tutus @MorahKaitlyn 

Mishna Club is packed this year; they love hearing stories and Torah from @RabbiBerelowitz #TorahisOrah 
Self portraits on canvas. Yosef asked if these were the same materials professionals used: the answer is yes. Only the real deal in MY art class! @mickimyers
Cutting edge art education in Art Club! @mickimyers

Do you HYPE?!

 2015 HYPE FAMILY SHABBATON ~ 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 Hillel Academy Faculty Member   
  • Shabbat Day Luncheon at Shaare Torah
  • Family Melave Malka/Kumzitz/Let's Make a Deal at Hillel Academy
Click HERE  to RSVP

Alumni Updates

Menachem Brodie: Is now a Cocoa Elite™ contributor. Throughout the year look for featured articles from Menachem on topics relevant to health and fitness. In addition, to being a USA Triathlon Certified coach, an experienced Strength & Conditioning Coach, and a bike fitter, Menachem holds an Expert Level USA Cycling Coach certification. Click BRODIE for more info. 

Yered Stufflebeam: zav Rishon this week and will hopefully be drafted in March. Right now, he lives in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu for ulpan, and was placed into the highest ulpan class. He also works on the kibbutz. So far, he worked in a spice factory and in the fields of the kibbutz planting lettuce, cabbage, and onions. 

Weekly Photos
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 was delivered on Monday) and being entered into the 8-day-give-away Chanukah Contest (we are still taking entries for this contest).

Fifth grade students learned about the Native Americans of North America as part of a unit on cultures in the eastern and western hemispheres. The culmination for the unit was a research project on a specific tribe from a region in the United States. Students were assigned a group from Native American cultural areas which included the Iroquois (Eastern Woodlands), Lakota Sioux (Plains), Hopi (Southwest), or Tlingit (Northwest Coast). Students prepared a PowerPoint presentation or a poster to show their findings regarding the Native Americans' habitat, shelter, food, and interesting facts about their group. In addition, students created something that related to their group like a game they might have played, a model of their home, or a bowl they might have used in their everyday life. The students took tremendous pride in their projects and are looking forward to the next one!


The first graders worked on fact families using three numbers. The students learned to manipulate the parts of a whole in different ways to make math equations.

Mrs. Grossberg has revolutionized middle school girls davening with this new incentive punch card program.

The fourth graders designed, constructed, and painted these King Tut masks as a final project for their Ancient Egypt social studies unit. 

Learning about Oxford Commas in English class.

In Mrs. Wimer's 11th grade history class, students experience life in the Gilded Age at the Clayton Mansion. 

Parshat Toldot means we are cooking lentil soup! 
Word of the Week - 
מילת השבוע

מילת השבוע :  מַצְפֵּן
מצפן -   compass - מכשיר המַראֶה את כיוון הצפון, בדרך כלל באמצעות מחט מגנטית.
המילה 'מצפן' חודשה על ידי דוד ילין בשנות השלושים של המאה הקודמת. ילין דגל בחידוש מילים המתבסס על המקורות, וכך עשה
בחידוש המילה 'מצפן' - הלקוחה מהמילה המקראית 'צפון' - north. 

The word for compass is a new word, coined by David Yellin around 1930. Yellin was a big advocate for using words,
roots, and patterns already existing in Ivrit to create new words. In this case, he used the word meaning 'north', put it in the word pattern used for tools - to indicate a tool that shows the north.
צפון - מצפן
מילות השבועות הקודמים:   שְׁבִיל    טִיּוּל  תַּרְמִיל  תֵּל  שלג אֲגַם 

Tomchei Shabbos


If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in volunteering, please contact me at 
Teacher Feature: Morah Esty Epstein
Welcome to Hillel! According to our interns, pre-school director, Dori Oshlag offered you the position. Is this your first preschool position? Thank you! I worked in Hillel as a sub last year, as well as many day camps in Pittsburgh and out-of-town.
It feels good when someone offers you a job, right? What was the first thing you did? Yes, it does! I don't  remember exactly but, I know I was very happy!

You work in Morah Rose's infant room with Morah Eve. What's it like being with adorable babies all day? Aww, they're just such cuties! The more time I spend with them, and get to know them, the more I look forward to each day! It's amazing to see how fast they grow!

What's the best part of the day? I would have to say nap time. It is nice to catch a breather before it gets hectic! Also, when they all crowd around me on the floor and jump on me. I cuddle them and tell them stories:)

What do you think of the new strollers? You know, they are a lot more efficient than the ones we
 had previously. But, it still is quite a challenge going in and out of the rooms. By now, Eve and I make it look easy:) But, all in all, we are happy with them.

What's the snow plan for the strollers? Maybe a walk around the building? We like to take them on walks because it gets them ready for their nap. I'm sure we'll figure that one out as it starts to get colder and snows more often. 

It's an exciting time in Hillel, so much growth and unique programming. What do you think of the new and improved teacher's lounge? Quite honestly, I have not checked it out yet..but now I will!

What do you do when you are not at work? I play music ( guitar) or bake. Or I just chill and relax after a busy day:).

What's your teaching philosophy? I believe a child's learning starts as soon as they are born. Every opportunity to connect with them and hug them builds a child who will one day be a healthy and happy adult. 

Quick Picks:
Six-seater stroller or double? Double
Onesie or two-piece? Two-piece
iPhone or Galaxy? iPhone
Radio or TV? TV  
Go Figure

The fastest running "suicide" at girls basketball practice this week. 

Mothers and daughters registered for the HYPE Shabbaton Thursday Night Challah Baking led by Mrs. Chaya Berelowitz and Dr. Rena Levy! 
People registered for the HYPE

Total number of Tweets we have tweeted.
Follow us on Twitter

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

Instagram Followers - View on Instagram

New Family Feature: Chaya and Yehudah Glass

Hello and welcome to the fastest growing Jewish Day School in North America.
What's your favorite part of Hillel Academy, thus far? The free pizza that we got for putting up the lawn Hillel sign outside our house.

What's the best kept secret of Hillel Academy? Are there any secrets that we don't know about?

Do you have any special family traditions you would like to share with our readers? Once in a while, we like to have a mini Israeli party and to dance to Israeli hit songs.

Share something about your family that makes you unique. Both of our sons, Avinoam and Ami, share the same birthday. No, they are not twins, they are three years apart.

What do you do with the projects your children bring home? The truth or not? We obviously hang them up on our fridge and NEVER throw them in the garbage. 

Where did you move from? Most recent place was Los Angeles where Yehudah grew up. Prior to that, we lived in New York for a couple of years. Before that we lived in Israel.  

Arrival or Dismissal? Arrival- separation from the children is healthy. Also, we love to see how the teachers at the front welcome our children. 

What are your plans for the HYPE shabbaton? To meet new families and make new friends.

What do you think of adding a parking garage to the Hillel Academy campus? More important is a designated carpool lane, however, parking garage will be awesome.

It's Rosh Chodesh Kislev and therefore..... I will start trying new recipes of latkes.

How will your family prepare for the cold weather? Since we are from a warm climate, we are scared of Pittsburgh's harsh cruel winters. We are getting clothes and equipment made for the North Pole especially Chaya. Yehudah thinks he can get away with his light jacket.

Quick Pick:
BBQ Bamba or Fried Oreos? Angioplasty
Rodeo or Polo? Rodeo- we love the southern style.
Convertible or Can-Am Spyder? Red convertible, maybe Lamburgini or a Tesla.
Nikes or Uggs? Nikes 

Thank you for your time and have a wonderful Shabbos!
Mazel Tov 
Mazel Tov to Lauren and Elan Noorparvar and big sister Tamar on the birth of a baby boy!
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.  

Tovia Shmuel Grossberg shows off  Tlingit Totem Pole that he made for his social studies project and his 2015 club t-shirt.  

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 George Weiss, Ed Ross, and Morah Bonnie for naming the men in last week's photo. 

Mr. Walter Vogel AH', former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, Mr. Michael Tomko MHRIP".

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

Dinner To Go
New from Mordy Borwn Cattering, LLC. 

Pick up dinner during the 4 pm dismissal car pool line! 

Mondays = three options:
1. One pizza pie for $20
2. One pizza pie + salad for $30 
3. Two pizza pies and salad for $40

Order by Monday at 11 am by emailing Mordy at

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 - 
Around Town 
APPLES FOR THE STUDENTS: Please be sure to register your Giant Eagle Advantage Card by clicking HERE and enter our school ID - 0454. 
BNEI AKIVA: Who: All 2nd-8th graders When: Shabbat Kodesh at 3:30 pm (note the time change). Where: Shaare Torah
TEEN SCENE: Teen Scene:  Stay tuned for our next exciting activity!!  Shabbos afternoon groups for grades 6 and 7 meet from 3-4  November 21st at the Admon's and December 5th at the Berelowitz's .
GIRL'S ONEG: 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! 
MIKVAH: We  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. 
GYM & SWIM: The Program will begin this week on Motsoei Shabbos at Allderdice High School. The pool will be open for all students the entire time. The gym will be assigned as follows: 1st Grade through 4th Grade:  7 p.m. - 8 p.m. 5th Grade through 8th Grade:  8 p.m. - 9 p.m. The cost of the program is $4 per student.  There is a family maximum of $12. Please note the program will take place on the following dates: November 14,  November 21, December 5, December 19, January 9, January 16, January 23, February 20 and February 27.


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

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