The Hillel Happenings
The Official e-Newsletter of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
5685 Beacon Street ~ Pittsburgh, PA 15217 ~ (412) 521-8131
Follow us on TwitterView on InstagramLike us on Facebook
Parshat Kedoshim
May 13, 2016 - 5 Iyar 5776
20th Day of the Omer

Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 8:10 pm
Shabbat Ends - 9:19 pm
Dvar Torah - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director 

Parshat Kedoshim presents the familiar command of "ve-ahavta lerei'acha kamocha" - "you should love your neighbor as yourself" (19:18). This imperative was made famous by Rabbi Akiva who suggested in the medrash that, "Zeh Klal Gadol BaTorah - This is the great principle of the Torah."  It is very difficult to understand why such a seemingly egocentric and self-centered world view is one that is celebrated by Rabbi Akiva. Perhaps we can approach this statement in the context of a few well-known stories about Rabbi Akiva.
The Talmud in Berachot relates that Rabbi Akiva was once traveling and not able to find lodging. He was forced to spend the night in the forest where wild animals ate his chicken and donkey, and a gust of wind extinguished his only lamp, but at every stage he insisted that it was all for the best. In the morning, he discovered that pillagers had ransacked the city and killed its inhabitants. Rabbi Akiva realized that his life was spared as a result of the townspeople's refusal to offer him lodging, and by the loss of his light and animals.
Rabbi Akiva's optimism resurfaces again in the final passage of Masekhet Makot. There, we read about a group of sages, including Rabbi Akiva, who passed by the ruins of the Temple and witnessed a fox scurrying about at the sacred site. While Rabbi Akiva's colleagues wept, he smiled, noting how the fulfillment of the prophecies warning of Jerusalem's destruction confirmed the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies foreseeing its restoration.  Once again, when placed in a situation that would ordinarily evoke feelings of anguish and despair, Rabbi Akiva responded with hope, optimism, confidence, and serenity.
How does a person "love his fellow as himself?" The answer, perhaps, is that we must view people the way Rabbi Akiva viewed every situation in life - which is the way people generally view themselves.  All people have positive and negative character traits, but we are able to "love ourselves" by tolerating our imperfections and focusing on our finer qualities.  Just as Rabbi Akiva was able to find the hopeful, encouraging aspects of even the most dreadful circumstances, similarly, we must identify the positive, admirable qualities of even those who do not immediately present a positive, admirable image.  This, perhaps, is the "great principle of the Torah" - viewing the world's people and events from a positive angle, approaching life with our eyes focused on all that is good.
Yom HaAtzmaut memories. 
The week of Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut is always an emotional one. We transitioned from the mourning of Yom HaZikaron, to the communal celebration of 68 years of Israeli sovereignty. This year Yom HaZikaron seemed especially difficult. The complete randomness of the attacks in Israel are frightening. Unfortunately, it is precisely in times of trouble that we often learn to appreciate the enormity of the gift that we receive each day. At those times, we find ourselves more and more aware of the constant support and assistance that G-d heaps upon us. We must view every situation with the positive outlook of Rabbi Akiva and focus on all of the good in our lives. 

As we celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, let us pray that G-d should spread over us His shelter of peace and remove from us all troubles and dangers.
May G-d continue to watch over Israel, and each of us, and may we continue to celebrate and appreciate all of G-d's blessings. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Weinberg

Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at

Message from Rabbi Weinberg
At the heart of our educational philosophy  at Hillel Academy is the concept that every one of our students has talents, interests, and abilities that make them special and unique. We view it as our responsibility to nurture and cultivate those talents so that all of our students flourish in their own distinct way. Our goal is to create authentic and meaningful experiences for our children to inspire them to further explore the world that G-d created for them. When a child engages in useful and purposeful projects and  activities they are not just learning material, but they are inspired to become lifelong learners and doers. Over the past year we have incorporated various new programs to create diverse learning opportunities for our students. Over the following few weeks we will highlight some of these  new programs with some short videos. The first one is about our new Joshua Sindler z''l Creative Classroom Art and Music Program. 

Enjoy and Shabbat Shalom!


Josh Sindler, z"l, Creative Classrooms Art & Music Program 


Mixing a hue of their choice with black and white paint, the lower school Art Club made these super yummy color gradations. 

Ms. Gauscheman can be reached at
Yom HaAtzmaut
From a special Israeli style lunch, to Torah based Israel learning stations, to Jump Zone, and Fun Fest it was a jam-packed day celebrating Israel's birthday. Happy 68th Israel!



Yom HaZikaron
Yom HaZikaron, Israel's memorial day. "We mourn all of those who sacrificed their lives in the name of Israel. We pray for the of those who continue to keep Israel safe. We remember." Our programs that day featured Rabbi Admon, Mr. Lior Turgeman, tefillot and stories. 

Yom Hashoah - grades 7-12 
To prepare for Yom HaShoah, the students from Mr. Massart's Jewish history class prepared and delivered presentations to the seventh and eighth grades on the history leading up to and during the Holocaust.

Senior Profile - It's time to bid farwell to our 12th graders & welcome our newest alumni.
The academic year is rapidly coming to an end, which means it is time for the Hillel Happenings to profile our senior class. This week we featured Adina Kisilinsky.

What are your favorite memories? My favorite memories are definitely all the times that we pranked our teachers and the time we decorated the whole high school with different themes in every room. It's just so amazing and satisfying to see different teachers reactions. I definitely won't forget that.

How will you remember Hillel? I will remember Hillel in many different ways. I was in a unique position in that I got to see Hillel go through bad times and then overcome and become a really great school. With that I think I will remember Hillel as a place that represents everlasting strength and perseverance, just the way the Jews have been throughout time.

What are your plans for next year? Next year I am very lucky to be attending Midreshet Torah V'Avodah, which is a relatively new Bnei Akiva seminary program. This program married the concepts of living a Torah life and learning with our commandments to work the land of Israel. I am very excited to learn many new things and have great adventures.

What college do you plan to attend? I plan to attend the University of Maryland. It's a great school with a large Jewish community, so I think I will be very happy there.

What advice can you offer to the underclassmen? Live it up guys! I remember my first day of high school like it was yesterday. Walking down the halls for the first time, it was pretty scary. Then I blinked and it was over. I know it's cliche, but enjoy every moment (and take lots of pictures)! Also take advantage of the fact that you go to a small school. You are in a position where you get to create your learning experiences. Request classes and topics that you are interested in. Make connections with teachers and faculty because they will be the ones to help you get to the next stage of your education (or whatever you choose to do). Finally, have a good time. Don't stress too much about finals and midterms. Of course you should study and work hard, but don't let it take over your life. You are only young once, so don't let it pass you by. Good luck guys!

Any final thoughts you would like to share with our readers? I would like to thank all of the faculty and administrators. You have all helped me in getting to where I am now (enrolled in college and ready for my year in Israel). I would also like to thank everyone in the school as a whole. We have created a community, of which I will always be a part. I know that in five  years from now I will walk through the front doors to be greeted with open arms and smiles. This is not something students at other schools have. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Hillel Academy family. Shabbat Shalom! - Adina

Alumni Updates
Mazel Tov to Shayna Stiebel and Moe Wolf on their marriage this past Sunday!

Mazel Tov to Eric Milch and sister in law Leah ( May) Milch (Hillel class of 1981) on the birth of their first grandchild in Raanana, Israel!

BD"H - Mrs. Barbara Block passed away this past week. She was the secretary here at Hillel for many years during the "baby boomers" era. She'd hold your hand and call your mother when you got sick. Nice lady. Most alumni of that era will remember her. May her neshama have an aliya. Thank you Bernard Newman for this information, we should only know simchas.

GHS Newspaper - Humans of Hillel


HAIHL Standings

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

Cups of Rita's Ice given out to celebrate Israel's birthday on the playground. 

Parent volunteers who helped setup and serve lunch. 

Rita's Ice cup on the ground after recess. They all made it in the garbage can.  

Balloons ordered to celebrate Israel's birthday. 

Facebook likes, 2 more than last week.

Like us on Facebook

Weekly Photos

There is nothing like a good friend. Here at Hillel we pride ourselves in building camaraderie through educational experiences.

Rivka and Shira (who happen to be editors of the new GHS newspaper - Humans of Hillel) are also skilled artists, thanks in part to the Joshua Sindler, z"l, Creative Classrooms Program. 

Some of our ECC students enjoy time on the playground.

Guess where the GHS seniors went for their senior trip?

Hillel Pop Grid by Liora Nimchinsky 
This week Liora caught up with some of our members of the GHS and a few of their teachers.  They discussed different topics about the Holy Land. Enjoy this week's grid.  You can always email us questions you would like asked in an upcoming issue,

In the Mix
What does Israel mean to you?
What is the most Israeli thing you like to do or eat?
How do you think people living in America should celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut?
Mrs. Levari
An inspiration
I enjoy eating rugelach
Go to a trampoline park
Mrs. Itskowitz
An asylum
Eat shawarma
Saying Hallel and eating Israeli food
מורה פרויד - Mrs. Freud
הבית שלי- My home
לצאת- I exist
לאכול אוכל טוEat good food
Rivky Saxon
Well that's a loaded question
Going scuba diving in Eilat
Making Aliyah
Rachel Cohen
A gift
Kosher food
Watch a documentary about Israel to learn more about where I belong.
Sarah Goodman
A country
Eat falafel
Eat food
Michal Turgeman
My home
Eat shawarma with pitas from Berman and אלפחורס (A type of cookie). And not saying excuse me and sorry every second.
Barbecue wearing blue and white and watching the tekes of Yom Haatzmaut that is in Israel.
Liora Nimchinsky
Home of the Falafel
Own a Sodastream
Learn about the challenge of having Israel become independent, and then eat falafel.
Rachel Luzer
The Promised Land
Israeli salad
Turn the shul into El Al -  Israel airlines and eat bissli.

Tomchei Shabbos

If you are interested or know someone who might be interested in volunteering, please contact me at
Around Town
Teen Scene: Girls in grades 6 & 7 Shabbos afternoon groups May 14th and 28th at PZ, 3:30-4:30. Girls in grades 5-8: Don't forget to turn in your Shabbaton application!  The Shabbaton is June 3-4.

Girl's Oneg: Girls in grades K-5 meet in the PZ Educational Building from 3:30-4:30. The final week of Oneg will be June 11th.

Benai Akiva: Snif - Mifkad begins at 4:30pm All kids in grades 2-8 are invited.

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 doing. 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.

Joel Ungar and Stan Fireman correctly named last week's FBF photo - Mrs. Blanche Marunich and Ellen Falader. 
This week's Photo:

Debating Ethics - Session #18
Open Beit Midrash with Dinner for Teens at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Together with J Line, Hillel Academy is proud to offer the Torah for Teens
What: Study Texts Over A Great Meal with Your Friends
When: Tuesdays, May 25 6:45 pm - 7:30 pm 
Who: Teens
Cost: FREE!

Bring a Friend and Your Appetite - this week we will be serving pizza.

For questions please email
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 


5685 Beacon Street - Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Please send condolence notices to