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Parshat Ki Teitzei
September 16, 2016 - 13 Elul 5776

Shabbat Candle Lighting - 7:08 pm
Shabbat Ends - 8:14 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
In this week's Parsha, we read about the Mitzva of hashavat aveidah - returning lost objects.  Interestingly, this Mitzva actually counts as two of the Torah's 613 commandments. It contains the positive imperative, "You must take it back to your fellow" (22:1), as well as a negative prohibition, "Lo tukhal le-hit'alem, You cannot remain indifferent" (22:3).  Commentators are puzzled by the expression "Lo tukhal le-hit'alem," which is literally translated as, "You cannot remain indifferent," as opposed to the expected wording, "You must not remain indifferent." "Lo tukhal" suggests that one literally does not have the ability to overlook his fellow's lost object. Rav Moshe Alshich suggests that "Lo tukhal le-hit'alem" alludes to the ultimate function this Mitzva is to serve: the Torah seeks to bring a person to the point where he treats the property of others with the same concern and vigilance as he does his own possessions. Though at first a person might return a lost item only due to the Torah obligation, ultimately, he should reach the point where he simply cannot ignore and overlook the crisis of his fellow. He literally "cannot remain indifferent" to the circumstances of his friend.
This idea mirrors our goal as educators. Children are taught at a very young age to perform certain actions, not necessarily because they understand their importance, but simply because we tell them. While this is an important stage, it should only be the beginning stage of their development. The hope is that by following the the rules, eventually they will begin to understand the beauty and reason behind what they are doing. Ultimately, they too will be "lo tukhal le-hit'alem"- unable to remain indifferent. 
This year we are lucky to have a significant amount of time from the start of the school year until the chagim.  We are using this time to focus on improving our "bein adam lechavero" middot and collectively working on our character development. Hopefully, we will be able to incorporate this idea of "lo tukhal le-hit'alem"- and always be looking to help our friends in need.  

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sam Weinberg

Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at sweinberg@hillelpgh.org

Middot Tovot
Character development is something we as Jews--and as human beings--focus on constantly. There is a fundamental principal in Judaism that if a person is not ascending in their personal growth, they are descending. (As on a treadmill, standing still means moving back.) It is Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, and a month when our growth and behavior comes into even greater focus as we head toward the New Year.

Hillel's new K-4 assistant principal, Rabbi Oren Levy, has instituted a middah program called the Walk Beside Me Initiative. "This program is intended to help our students experience and work on a variety of middot tovot from now until Yom Kippur." Rabbi Levy explained. "Each grade from kindergarten through fourth was given a specific middah to research."

As many schools do, Hillel has been instituting middah programs for years. What makes this initiative unique is that, not only will each class focus on the weekly middah, but as a division, K-4 will take advantage of their weekly assembly at Friday Oneg to highlight the weekly middah with presentations from each grade.
Fourth grade was assigned the first middah, Chessed - Kindness Towards Others. The fourth grade students put on short skits that portrayed the middah in different realistic scenarios. Yehudis Kanal explained that she enjoys the middot program and specifically this past week's because, "It is fun to put on a skit." Fellow classmate Alex Small added, "It was fun to perform a skit with my friends." He continued to say. I think [the program] is helping me improve my middot." Alex shared that he is now more aware to offer water to people who are working on his basement.

"Teaching our children middot and social skills by model and role playing is one of the most important things we can do for them," explained third grade teacher Anna Yolkut.

Each teacher is given the autonomy to present the middah to her class as she sees fit.  "I share a story that intentionally does not have an ending and in which it appears that someone is doing something wrong.  My students hypothesize reasons as to why the character appears to do something wrong," said longtime kindergarten teacher Chana Pfeffer. Mrs. Pfeffer's co-teacher, Miriam Van-Sickle, noted "I notice that since this program began (a few weeks ago), the children are trying to do the right thing." 

Rabbi Levy provides materials and support to encourage both the teachers and the students in this endeavorChantal Belman, a parent of two elementary students, said that her daughter Galya  "Was very excited to put on a play and it did spark interesting conversations at the dinner table. Not only about their project, but also about all the other middot that will be covered by the other classes. Great initiative!" 

Middle school program coordinator Mimi Grossberg has also instituted a middot program called Come Join the Honor Roll - Honor for Other Human Beings. Mrs. Grossberg based her program on the Mishna in Pirkei Avot, "Aizehu Mechubad, Hamechabeid es Habreyos - who is honored? Someone who honors the creations." She explained, "The students will be working on five different kinds of people who we must honor. Each week our middle school students will present a quote on this middah and what it means to them." For example, eighth graders Chana Yolkut and Amital Leibovich presented the quote, "The only way to have a friend is to be one."  

Character development has become a primary focus here at Hillel for the past few years.  We have made it our goal to ensure all of our students are focused on bettering themselves and the school community as a whole. Even though both of these initiatives will end right before Yom Kippur, they will have instilled a foundation on which Rabbi Levy, Mrs. Grossberg and our entire staff and students plan to build. At Hillel Academy, learning never ends and neither does the drive to become better people.

Danny Shaw can be reached at dshaw@hillelpgh.org.
Teacher Feature
This past week, I had the privilege to chat with Ms. Mia Meepegama who grew up in Sri Lanka. She played net ball and loves elephants.  We are lucky to have her 
knowledge and skills here at Hillel . For the benefit of our readers, we included the conversation in its entirety below.  Enjoy and feel free to send feedback.  

Hi Ms. Meepegama and welcome to Hillel! You grew up in Sri Lanka (for the benefit of our readers, Sri Lanka is in South Asia). What brought you to the United States? I moved to the US to pursue my higher education, specifically my bachelor's degree.
Please share some cultural differences between Sri Lanka and the US? The concept of "being on time" has been a big difference I have had to get used to. Sri Lankans are very good at being on time when it comes to important matters such as being on time for school, work, meetings etc. However, when it comes to social events/gatherings, people in Sri Lanka are very relaxed and will always be "fashionably late." In America, if you say 7pm it means "be there exactly at 7pm!"
How did you hear about Hillel Academy? Through friends who I met while I was in college at YSU (Youngstown State University) and then at Duquesne in Pittsburgh. 

Really? We are such a small school, I am surprised to hear that. Do you care to elaborate ? Our readers love to hear stories about Hillel. Well, through my boyfriend whom I met in college, I met a lot of Jewish friends from Pittsburgh. Specifically Ariel Kell and Suzanna Zlotnikov, who both graduated from Hillel, told me about the school in passing. I randomly saw the advertisement for the teaching position over the summer and I decided to apply since I had heard good things about it.
That is great, we are glad to have you on staff! As I recall, you earned your bachelor's in Forensic Science from Youngstown State and a master's in Secondary Science Education from my Alma Mater, Duquense University. How did you choose those fields of study? As a student in high school, I was always interested in the biological sciences. The forensic community in Sri Lanka back then was still developing, therefore, I thought it would be an interesting and rewarding field as a career. Even though the four years of my undergraduate degree were the most interesting and exciting time of my academic life, I had my reservations about continuing my career in forensics. After graduation, I moved back to Sri Lanka where I taught science to secondary school students. It was then that I realized that teaching science was what I enjoyed the most. So, I came back to the US to pursue my master's in science education.

You were quoted in last week's Hillel Happening in the AP article. They don't have AP's in Sri Lanka, right? What do they have instead? In Sri Lanka students sit for two important exams; the Ordinary Level exams (O Levels) in grade 10 and the Advance Level exams (A Levels) in grade 12. In order to graduate, high school students need to have passing grades from at least their O Level exams. Students have the choice to sit for the exams administered by the Department of Education in Sri Lanka or the O Levels and A Levels GCE exams administered by the Edexcel examination body based in the UK. Edexcel is a world recognized examination body. Students from around the world compete to gain the best scores in these exams. I did the Edexcel examinations in grades 10 and 12.
How difficult is your AP Biology class? The AP biology course is equivalent to that of two semesters of an introductory biology course at the college level. Therefore, my course is set up to be rigorous and fast paced to make sure that we cover all the material and have sufficient time to prepare for the main AP exam. At the beginning of this year, my students were advised of what they should do to make sure they stay on track to succeed. Furthermore, I will make as much time and as many resources as possible available to them to help them master the material.
Tell us about the other courses you teach? In addition to my AP course, I teach General Biology to the ninth grade girls and boys and Physics to the eleventh grade girls. My main goal for both of these classes is to show my students that both biology and physics are applicable to their daily lives. Many students I have come across think of science as "scary" and "hard." I want to teach my students that science is simply a way of knowing and explaining the phenomena occurring around us, and then earning to use this knowledge in their everyday life.
Let's close with some fun facts.  Do you care to share any?  Sure! My favorite animal is an elephant. If you visit Sri Lanka, you can ride them at the zoo! I love playing netball. Netball is a sport similar to basketball and is played in many eastern countries. I played for the school team throughout high school, then coached while I was a teacher. I was the tallest girl in my grade and the second tallest compared to the boys. Lastly, I am excited to be teaching at Hillel!

Thank you for your time and good luck! 

Danny Shaw can be reached at dshaw@hillelpgh.org.

Pittsburgh Pirates Game
This past Sunday, over 75 members of the Hillel Academy family joined together for the Annual Hillel Pittsburgh Pirates game.  It was a gorgeous day and this year's seats were in the shade. Everyone loved the "free" hats and the Gregory Polanco LEGO gift. If you were unable to make it this year, there is always next year.  Hint: The Pirates play the Yankees in April 23, the Sunday after Pesach. 

Weekly Photos

Two Meet the Teacher Nights occurred this past week. We decided to have two nights because as our school continues to grow, one night was not sufficient. Parents had an opportunity to hear about a few school-wide programs that have been integrated into the classrooms, such as Writing Across the Curriculum. Before meeting the teachers Tuesday night, parents were invited to the cafeteria to learn about some of our specials, including art, the Bnot Sherut program, and robotics.

Children are born with a natural curiosity and innate skills to explore and interpret their world. Our ECC provides a high quality learning environment with the structure in which to build upon their natural desire to explore, build, and extend their curiosity. Studying colors at a young age helps students grasp the basic elements of visual arts, such as understanding colors and how to combine them, as well as learning how to create a picture using different colors.

This week if you were to stop by our toddler room, the week's theme "RED" was obvious as the children walked the Red Brick Road, enjoyed the book "Llama Llama Red Pajama," observed red bugs with Morah Elaine, collected red toys around the room, made red apples (and tasted them as well) and dressed in red for red day. 

Middle school students learned about map projections by translating a 3D "planet" onto a 2D plane. Later this year they will be doing the reverse--creating spherical globes from 2D strips of antique maps!

Rabbi Weinberg surprises kindergarten students with a few loud shofar blasts. 

The Club Department 

Perel and Elisheva began making their portfolios in Tuesday Art Cub.

Ms. Tamaro began her Music Club by teaching a few new rhyming songs. 

Eliyanah shows off her masterpiece. 

Tomchei Shabbos

If you are interested in volunteering or know someone who might be, please contact me at dkraut@hillelpgh.org.
Hillel Gear


Around Town
We regret to inform you of the passing of
Regina Kotlyar
beloved mother of
Miriam Kohane
Shiva will be held in the Kohane home at 5525 Beacon Street
Friday: 9 to 11 am
Sunday: 1 to 4 pm & 6 to 8 pm
Monday & Tuesday: 1 to 3 pm & 7 to 9 pm
Meals are being arranged by Stacie Stufflebeam.
Please contact her at stufflebeampgh@gmail.com to participate.
May Hashem comfort Miriam Kohane and her family
Baruch Dayan Ha-emet

Girl's Oneg:  
Every Shabbos afternoon in the PZ Educational building from 3:30-4:30.  For all girls in grades K-6.  Opening Event THIS SUNDAY!  2:15 at PZ, $2.  Hope to see you there!

Mikva: The Jewish Women's League is happy to announce that the new mikvah will be opening BE"H 
September 25, 2016.  A brochure containing information regarding the procedures for all users has been mailed to our current users. Please be aware that the new mikvah is a stand-alone facility, with no one living in the building.  Therefore all women wishing to use the mikvah must schedule an appointment. Please visit www.pittsburghmikvah.org for more information.  If you are new to the community or did not receive the brochure and would like one, please contact Jennie Lebovits at 412-848-8612. B"H we have reached this milestone and look forward to opening a new chapter in the fulfillment of this important mitzvah!

Swimming: Swimming at the Greenfield elementary pool and begins September 22. Contact Karen Leeds to register or for more information (412) 805-1526, kleeds18@gmail.com.
Girls Swimming: 
Grades 3 - 6 swim from 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
Grades 7 - 12 swim from 6:30 pm - 8.00 pm.
GIRLS: 10 Swimming sessions take place every Wednesday:
Sept 19, 26
October 31
November 7, 14, 21, 28
December  5, 12, 19.
Paid ahead of time $3 per session for 10 sessions = $30.
Pay per session cash $5 per session.

This option includes 1/2 hour of swim instruction or fitness coaching plus 1 hour of free swim.
Preschool Swim Lessons 4:30 - 5:00 pm  (No free swim option)
Swim Lessons beginner: 5:00 - 5:30 pm
Advanced beginner: 5:30 - 6:00 pm
Swim Coaching:  6:00 - 6:30 pm
There are 10 swim lesson sessions on Monday nights:
Sept 19, 26
October 31
November 7, 14, 21, 28
December  5, 12, 19.
The cost of the 10 sessions is $70, and must be paid in advance.

Boys Swimming:
Grades 1 - 6 swim from 5 pm - 6:30 pm
Grades 7 - 8 swim from 6:30 pm - 8.00 pm.
BOYS: 10 Swimming sessions take place every Thursday:
Sept. 22, 29
October 6, 13
November 3, 10, 17
December 1, 8, 15.
Paid ahead of time $3 per session for 10 sessions = $30.
Pay per session cash $5 per session.

This option includes 1/2 hour of swim instruction or fitness coaching plus 1 hour of free swim. First Grade through 6th grade boys is from 5 pm - 6:30 pm
7th and 8th grade boys is from 6:30 pm - 8 pm.
Swim Lessons beginner: 5:30 - 6:00 pm
Advanced beginner: 6:00 - 6:30 pm
Swim Coaching: 6:30 - 7:00 pm
Thursday nights:
Sept. 22, 29
October 6, 13
November 3, 10, 17
December 1, 8, 15.
This instruction must be paid in advance: $70 per 10 sessions.

Our school Google Calendar is accessible from our website - www.hillelpgh.org  and you can add it to your own Google calendar by clicking here and then clicking the "+" icon at the bottom right hand side of the page.    

When you #StartWithaSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. Bookmark the link https://smile.amazon.com/ch/25-1067130 and support us every time you shop.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Please send condolence notices to HillelHappenings@Hillelpgh.org.