May 23, 2019 | 18 Iyar 5779
In Parshat Behar, the Torah presents the prohibition of “ona’a” which literally translates as “oppression.” The Torah cites this prohibition in two different ways. Rashi explains that these commands refer to two different offenses; specifically, ona’at mammon — charging or paying an unfair price for merchandise; and ona’at devarim — speaking hurtfully to one’s fellow. The Torah here emphasizes how important it is to be mindful of how we speak and that we don’t hurt anyone else with our words. While conceptually this precept is easy to understand, it is a much more difficult obligation in practice.
In today’s society it is hard to find people who have different world views yet still treat one another with respect. One only needs to follow the news, and more importantly read the comments below any election article, to understand contemporary society’s lack of sensitivity to this issue. We must make it our moral imperative to express our opinions in a constructive and sensitive way. This week we celebrated Lag B’Omer with a unity celebration with CDS and Yeshiva. May we continue to use our words to bring people closer to one another and grow together as a school and as a people.

Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Newly-appointed Police Chaplain Rabbi Elisar Admon stopped by Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Zone 5 today to say hello and meet the officers.
Mr Sutton delivers an intriguing art lesson in upside-down portraiture and forgery. It’s all about seeing things from a different perspective! 

The First Grade students came out to help the Jewish Association on Aging and The New Riverview on the groundbreaking of their new renovations. 
The capstone project in Middle School World Cultures featured some hands-on demonstrations. Josh and Avi explained the basic rules, etiquette, and techniques of African stick fighting and gave the class a (controlled) demonstration of a duel.
The PREK-B students’ butterflies hatched! They were thirsty, and went straight for the delicious nectar in some flowers to drink. Everyone got a chance to say hello to them, and the event was celebrated by having their portraits drawn in colorful chalk on the playground. These butterflies are called “Painted Lady,” and their scientific name is  Vanessa cardui . They live for a year, and migrate south in the winder, and back north when the weather warms up again.
The Tomchei Shabbos program is a vital part of giving back to the community which sustains us, and the families who benefit truly appreciate it; over the years Rabbi Wasserman has received letters from families expressing their gratitude. If you would like to help, please contact Mrs. Aronson at or 412 521-8131, or Dan Kraut at .
The Seventh Grade have been learning about all the parts of books which appear at the beginning and ends — specifically, titles, publisher’s info, dedication, epigraph, preface, foreword, introduction, table of contents, list of graphics, appendix, glossary, bibliography, index, acknowledgments, author bio, splash and blurbs. This unit also provides the opportunity for students to learn how to really use a word processing tool like Google Docs to format their work so that it looks professional! 
Anything Is Possible

Barbara Stock is the author of  Anything Is Possible: A Child’s Journey To America And Hope , an account of her family’s experience moving from a small town in Russia to Pittsburgh in the early 1900s. It’s a moving and wonderfully detailed depiction of the kinds of struggles and triumphs Jewish immigrants went through in establishing themselves in America. Mrs Stock has several connections to Hillel Academy; Bonnie Morris is the author’s cousin; additionally, a branch of the author’s family gives us both Sixth Grader Chava Beck and Councilman Corey O’Connor. 

Stock has had a storied career in medicine, and is currently a clinical psychologist in private practice. She will be visiting Hillel Academy to present her book and speak with the High School Girls on Thursday 30 th May. Copies of her book will be on sale for $29.99.  Anything Is Possible can also be found at Pinskers. 
Masha and Natasha — An Old Russian Folktale

Does your family have a story that’s been passed down for generations that you’d like to see published in a book? Polly Goldberg did just that! Her new book, Masha and Natasha, is a beautifully illustrated account of an old Russian folktale. When asked about the importance of telling family stories, Goldberg said “I think passed-along stories complement stories about family history; like the rites of religion, they become bedrock parts of character through repetition and affection.”

I asked Goldberg how her book came about.

“Masha and Natasha” has been THE favorite story in my family since my great-great-grandmother's time, at least. I researched it online when I first decided that it should be shared with other children than my own; the only reference I could find was in a University of California website, which had a sketchy version in which the bear throws rocks at the girls while they run around in a cave. That’s just ridiculous! So my version was unknown as far as I could tell. But I don’t much like the majority of children’s-book illustrations nowadays, so I was stumped. Then I remembered that my neighbor is an artist. She loved the story and was excited to paint the pictures. They are spot-on perfect, I think. She took photos of the Russian things I have (from my grandparents) and looked online for period-specific clothing and vernacular architecture. She pretty much decided which parts of the story she’d illustrate; I trusted her and am very happy I did!

The Goldberg children, Ari, Jacob, and Shira, are all Hillel Academy alumni.

Masha and Natasha is published by Rosedog Books, and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble (e-book and print); through ; and for libraries, through Ingram and Baker & Taylor distributors. 
Bar Mitzvah Dreams

Hillel Academy alumnus Baruch November’s new book of poetry is Bar Mitzvah Dreams.  In it, he includes two poem sequences; “A Series of Dreams,” and “A Beard of Poems.” Says Stephen Dobyns, November’s book is “one of the best I’ve recently read. The poems are powerfully made with strong beginnings and surprising conclusions. There is no chaff. The language is direct and rich in metaphor. The free verse is rhythmic and strongly stressed. All are serious, but often with comic aspects.“  He is a professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Touro College, and is the founder of J.A.C.K. (Jewish Advocacy for Culture and Knowledge). November’s book can be found at

By May, teachers can seen a little … frazzled. Teaching takes a lot of energy, dedication, concentration, patience, long hours, and expertise. Each fall, teachers are fired up with excitement about all that they and their students will accomplish throughout the year, and as the school year winds to a close, we are filled with pride for how far everyone has come. Some people think teachers have it “easy,” pointing to the long summer break. But it’s not a vacation; teachers use this time to plan for the next year, to charge their engines, and to grow in their own learning so that they can pass their knowledge on. Hillel Academy is full of outstanding teachers who contribute to the school in so many ways beyond the classroom. We asked students who their favorite teachers were, and why. If we didn’t get a chance to include you here, please take a moment in the coming weeks to thank a teacher for whatever it is you feel they’ve done for you this year. They’ll appreciate it! (And teachers — if your name isn’t mentioned below, it’s only due to our small sample and limited time!)

David Eydelman: Rabbi Senft, because he makes learning engaging.
Anonymous: Mr Garwood, because he makes learning fun and interesting
Yoni Kanal: Mr Roth, because I like math and he’s a great math teacher.
Dov Smith: Rabbi Senft, because he’s great.
Yoshi Mahony: Mr Sutton, because he’s teaching us outside the box and appeals to interests while also being educational, and he teaches you how to think independently.
Yaakov Brown: Mr Werber, because he is one of the most relatable teachers I have ever had.
Zalman Rodkin: they’re all good teachers.
Kovi Biton: Rabbi Senft, because he gives us soda.
Yonah Itskowitz: Mr Keith, because he picks the best games.
Eli Jacobs: Rabbi Smith, because he makes learning fun and exciting, and can even make a good substitute for class.
Yermi VanSickle: Mr. Sutton, because I said so.
Pinny Brown: Mr Roth, because he hits the “woah” severely. (Mr Keith is the best dressed.)
Beni Biton: Rabbi Admon, because he is a fine Gemara teacher.
Natan Marcus: Rabbi Smith, because he includes everyone in the conversations in class.
Benji Marcus: Mr Sutton, because he can relate to the younger generation and he’s a dandy man.
Gabe Small: Mr Werber, because he’s Mr Werber. Rabbi Levy, because “dani-nana-time.”
Josh Siebzener: Mrs Myers, because she teaches us law.
Avi Brown: Mr Sutton, because he’s super chill and cool.
Yaakov Mahoney: Mr Keith, because he’s the best gym teacher.
Maya Davis: Mrs Wimer, because she is so funny and helps me fully appreciate history.
Shira Sutofsky: Mrs Finder, because everything about her is so nice and all-around amazing, and she’s fun!
Chaya Sutofsky: Mrs McDougall, because she makes math understandable and interesting.
Eliyanah Van Sickle: Mr Roth, because he makes math a little bit more fun and I am actually able to understand what he is teaching.
Talia Kisilinsky: Morah Ilana, because she really understands us and is really nice.
Nechama Russell: Mrs McDougall, because I actually am learning and understanding math.
Tahara Reinherz: Mrs Myers, because I learned a lot about grammar and punctuation.
Michael Chapley: Mrs Chapley, because she’s my mother.
Eli Henteleff: Mr Keith and Mrs Itskowitz, because they’re good teacher.
Yehuda Levy: Mrs Itskowitz, because we do fun things in her class.
Ayala Sasson: Morah Sally, because we get to have hot lunch.
Chaim Kell: Morah Dori, because she teaches us.
Aryah Kohanbash: Morah Pfeffer, because I get hot lunch.
Shaina Bracha Zuckerbrod: Morah Dori, because she does student of the week.
Ari Poznanski: Morah Pfeffer, because she’s nice.
Gitty Rodkin: Morah Pfeffer, because she teaches us how to read Hebrew.
In honor of teacher appreciation month, faculty were treated to a barbecue lunch on the front lawn. Please note that Yehuda Plotkin specifically requested that this photo be taken and posted. He likes a burger. 

Who’s this?
(Hint: special mention in this issue…)

We are very excited that our very own Ms. Sara London has won the Grinspoon award for Jewish Education. This is a tremendous honor and we invite our entire Hillel Academy family to be at the awards ceremony in support of Ms. London when she receives this award on June 5th at 5:00pm at the Federation. You can register for the celebratory event here: .
We are excited to open registration for Hillel Academy Summer Camps. This is our fourth year of offering summer camp, and every year is more fun and exciting than the last. This year we have four separate divisions ranging from ages three years old through Eighth Grade. Our most significant improvement will be the addition of Ms. Rebecca Huff to our team. As you know, Ms. Huff is the STEAM coordinator at Hillel and we will be incorporating various week long explorations into Robotics, Coding, Ecology, Fine Art, for out campers. 

Please contact Ms. Rebecca Huff ( ) or Morah Tova Admon ( ) with questions regarding Machaneh Hillel or Mini-Machaneh (Grades N-3).

Please contact Rabbi Akiva Sutofsky ( ) or Ms. Faigy Nadoff ( ) with questions regarding the Teen Torah and Travel Camp (Grades 4- 8).

The Hillel Happenings is published on Thursdays. Please submit stories, photos and ads by Wednesday afternoon to:

Thank you!
Once again this year, Hillel Academy will be participating in the Box Tops for Education Program.  My name is Barbara Uebing and I’m thrilled to be the Box Tops Coordinator. Clipping Box Tops is an easy way for you to help our school buy what it needs. Box Tops are each worth 10 cents and they quickly add up to real cash for our school. This school year, our school’s earnings goal is $2000.00.

To help our school, just look for pink Box Tops on products, clip them, and send them to school.  Pre-K — Fourth Grade will be having a friendly collection contest to help motivate school supporters to clip Box Tops. When sending in Box Tops, please be sure to write your child’s name and grade on the outside of the envelope or baggie. For more information on the Box Tops for Education program, including a list of participating products and school’s progress, visit .  Be sure to become a member to receive exclusive coupons and recipes and learn about extra ways for our school to earn. 

I hope you’re excited for everything we can do this year with Box Tops! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at . I’m here to make our school’s Box Tops for Education program a huge success this year.
Interested volunteers please contact  Dan Kraut
When you #StartWithaSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. Bookmark the link and support us every time you shop.

At Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, we educate young men and women with unlimited capacity who compete in a superior manner in all challenges undertaken. Our students are Torah observant models of exemplary character, who love G-d, the Jewish people, and the land of Israel. To say that our students possess a love of learning, confidence and the ability to think critically, merely highlights the value of a Hillel education. What we ultimately achieve each day, and have been achieving for 70 years, is the gift of instilling each student with the foundation for a life spent actively serving and leading the Jewish community and society.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh | 412 521-8131 | |