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Parshat Vayera
November 18, 2016 - 17 Cheshvan 5777

Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 4:42  pm
Shabbat Ends - 5:49 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
Parshat Vayera begins with Hashem appearing to Avraham as he, "Was sitting at the entrance to his tent at around the heat of the day." The commentators wonder why the Torah tell us that this revelation occurred, "At around the heat of the day." What does this detail add to the story? 

The Radak (12th century, France) advances a theory based on the famous (and somewhat controversial) theory of the Rambam, in Moreh Nevukhim ( 2:43 ), that the entire story of the three angelic visitors occurred only in a prophetic vision with Avraham asleep and not in reality. The Radak, claims that Avraham had this vision after he fell asleep as a result of extreme heat. For this reason, he explains, the Torah writes that this all occurred during, "the heat of the day," because it was the heat that caused Avraham to drift off and experience this prophetic revelation.

According to the Radak, the Torah goes out of its way to make an excuse as to why Avraham was sleeping during the day. The assumption of this commentary is that under any normal circumstances, it would be inconceivable that Avraham was simply taking a nap. This Radak speaks to the tremendous energy, drive, and ambition of Avraham Avinu. Avraham was a mover and a shaker, someone who was always working and always out in the community spreading the word of G-d.

As children of Avraham, we should follow his example and always strive for growth. Avraham never took an afternoon off and was never complacent. We should push ourselves and each other to be productive and active members of our community in every way possible. -- 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at sweinberg@hillelpgh.org
Whole Brain Teaching is Taking Over 4th Grade
"Whole Brain Teaching" is a new buzz phrase that you might overhear if you find yourself near the far end of
 the second floor hallway of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. Fourth grade teacher, Chaya Berelowitz, came across a new teaching philosophy called Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) while preparing for this academic year. "I was just looking to be more effective with my lessons and stumbled upon something that changed me as a teacher."  

Always looking to improve her teaching methods and her knowledge of children, one of Berelowitz's goals as a teacher is for her lessons to be fun and entertaining. "I like to have an exciting and energetic classroom," she explained "but sometimes it can be difficult for students to refocus after an exciting lesson."  

Everything has changed since she implemented this new style of teaching.  According to AdvancedEd.org, "Whole Brain Teaching is an approach designed toward maximizing student engagement, and focusing on the way the brain is really designed to learn. It is an integrated method combining effective classroom management and pedagogically sound approaches to student engagement that are effective with a wide range of student learning populations." WBT is an innovative and  new way of approaching teaching--which fit perfectly with Mrs. Berelowitz's style.  WBT does not focus on keeping students quiet and in their seats, but rather it encourages participation and movement. "Whole brain teaching takes over everything in the classroom," explained Berelowitz.

WBT has seven teaching components  called the Big Seven of Whole Brain Teaching.  In an article about WBT, principal Amanda Alaniz (click here for the article) describes these strategies and explains that they "engage the students' entire brain, which ultimately deepens their understanding of content." The Big Seven are: Class-Yes, Five Classroom Rules, Teach-ok, The Scoreboard, Hands and Eyes, Switch, and Mirror.  Not only is WBT fun and exciting, it leads to more effective education, Alaniz notes, based on the fact that, " As research has shown, students learn best when instruction engages all parts of the brain by incorporating movement, visuals, sequential chunking of material, logical thinking, and collaboration with peers."

Not only is WBT a success in the fourth grade classroom, but it seems like Berelowitz's approach is rubbing off on other Hillel faculty members.  During a recent visit to the fourth grade to co-teach a class, Rabbi Weinberg
 tried a WBT method used by Berelowitz to focus her students--but with a twist.  "Kita, kita," he called, an Ivrit version of the traditional sound off of "class, class." "It worked perfectly," said Rabbi Weinberg, referring to the fact that the students responded right away, with focused attention. Additionally, other elementary teachers on the second floor have also heard the buzz about WBT, and a few of them are beginnin g to incorporate various whole brain practices in their lessons.  

There is a different atmosphere in Mrs. Berelowitz's classroom these days, and to a casual observer,  it might seem outlandish. For instance, there is the Crazy Professor reading game  (see image).  A person walking down the hallway might mistake the excitement coming from room 210 as ruckus. However, all it takes is a minute watching the class during this exercise and one will see focused, cooperative, and involved students all extremely engaged in their lesson--each one absorbing information using their whole brain.
WBT Crazy Professor Game
WBT Crazy Professor Game

WBT - The Crazy Professor Game
WBT - Math

Dan Shaw can be reached at dshaw@hillelpgh.org.
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Elisha Wins the National STEM Video Game Challenge
During his time attending Hillel, Elisha Azaria took part in Finch Robot classes and other STEM classes.  Elisha submitted a computer game that he designed to the National STEM Video Game Challenge. It was announced on Monday that Elisha's game was a winner, along with 23 others from around the country. The 24 middle school and high school winners will be recognized at an award ceremony at National Geographic in Washington, DC, with top original video games and game design concepts selected in 18 categories from nearly 3,000 entries. Hillel now offers a variety of STEM and robotics classes for grades Pre-k through the 12th. Mazel Tov to Elisha and his family!

"Aspiring programmer Elisha Azaria, 13, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania learned about the National STEM Video Game Challenge from his father - whose work with artificial intelligence helped to inspire Elisha's winning game design. Created as a complex 3D game, Alien AI Abduction won the Middle School Unity category of the 2016 National STEM Video Game Challenge. In Alien AI Abduction, players run, jump, and blast evil robots as they navigate four levels of increasing difficulty." - To read the entire article and view the video game click here. 
Here's a snapshot of some of the programs and lessons from the past week.
Mazel Tov and congratulations to (l-r) Jacob Wiesenfeld, Moshe Wasserman, Shira Itskowitz, Leah Joshowitz, and Rivka Mandelbaum on being elected into the National Honors Society. According to their website, "The National Honor Society (NHS) is the nation's premier organization established to recognize outstanding high school students. More than just an honor roll, NHS serves to recognize those students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. These characteristics have been associated with membership in the organization since its beginning in 1921." Councilman Dan Gilman of the city of Pittsburgh's eighth district, was the guest speaker at the induction ceremony.  He shared words on leadership, responsibility, millennials, and reminded our students that they have the qualities and skills to be leaders, he encouraged them to make a difference.  Thank you Councilman Gilman for your time and your words and Mazal Tov honorees!

Club shirts have arrived! Thank you to our club sponsors: Mark Sindler, Zoom Dry Cleaning, Milky Way, Rick John Roofing, Brad Rosen Landscaping, and the Hillel Ladies Basketball League. 

Students in Gaming Club show off their designs for the art component of the game they are designing.  

Bracha Krohn from Midreshet Moriah came to the GHS to talk about her seminary in Jerusalem, Israel.  

Morahs Leah and Amanda lead circle time daily.  Circle time is not only an opportunity to teach many different lessons and skills, it also teaches children to " behave appropriately in a group, which prepares young children for more formal education, for other group activities, and for many experiences in adult life." http://www.earlychildhoodnews.com/

Morah Elaine teaches about shapes to the various ECC classes.  She explained that shapes are all around - some are small and some are very large. 

The Bnot Sherut ran an Israeli elections program at the BHS last week.  The Bnot explained how the election process  works in Israel, with the aid of educational videos. In Israel, they  explained, citizens vote for a party as opposed to a candidate.  The boys learned about each party and then were divided into a few of the main parties in Israel. Students commercialized their party and tried to convince others to vote for their party with the aid of costumes, skits, short videos and more. At the end of the program,  each student voted.   

Rabbi Benny Pflanzer from Eretz Hatzvi and Rabbi Moshe Gordon from Yishrei Lev visit the BHS.

Science teacher, Mr. Garwood teaches each ECC class every week. 
Rabbi Ezra Shapiro visits from Shaalavim.

Alongside Mrs. Grossberg, the Bnot Sherut ran a program for Rachel Emainu's yahrzeit  - יום פטירת רחל אימנו. The program had activities that emphasized Rachel Emainu' s special qualities. They also saw the difference between what her קבר (grave site) looked like many years ago and what it looks like today. Lastly, they sang songs in Rachel Emainu's memory. 

The kindergarten is currently learning about kindness, and that kindness needs to be practiced all day--once or twice a day isn't enough.  They made a bulletin board to help remind their fellow students about how one can practice kindness throughout the day. 
The Art Department
Brought to you by the  Joshua L. Sindler, z"l Creative Classrooms, Art and Music Endowment Program
The first grade is studying the art elements, pattern  and color,  in art class.  They drew robots with sharpies and filled them in with repeated shapes.  Next, they used liquid watercolor in primary colors to paint their whole paper. By mixing the primary colors, they also made secondary colors. Eli Berelowitz put a great deal of focus, attention to detail, and problem solving into this piece. We are very proud of this young artist!

The middle school girls art club began carving their linoleum blocks this week. They will begin printing them next week.  Their imagery is based on the forms of trees. To begin this project, they stepped outside and drew trees from observation. 

Hillel Athletics

Both the middle and high school basket ball squads
took on the Sharpsburg Wolves this past Saturday night.  Though the result was not in our favor, it was great to see all the fans come out and support Hillel Heat basketball. 


(L-r) Rivka, Sonia, Geri, and Miriam participate in basketball drills with Coach Dayna this past week in the 4/5 Basketball Club. 
Alumni Updates
Elana (Weinberg)  and Adam Dolin   on the birth of a daughter this past week in Israel!
Jacob Goldberg on his recent marriage to Sarah Sabourin this past week in New York City!

Around Town

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

J ewish Women's League of Pittsburgh: Cordially invites women to attend a lecture and light buffet reception with Special Guest Speaker, Master Storyteller and Producer Rabbi Yoel Gold Finding Inspiration in the Mundane Sunday December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev 5777  7:00 PM Poale Zedeck Social Hall Please save the date...details to follow
Girl's Oneg: Note new time!!   Every Shabbos afternoon in the PZ Educational building from  3:00-4:00 .

Turkey Trot Volunteers Needed:  The Annual  Turkey   Trot  run is coming up next week on Thanksgiving morning and race day volunteers are needed. The race  begins at  8:00 am  and it wraps up around  10:30am-11am . This is a great opportunity for students to get a few volunteer hours in over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Volunteers  will receive an official volunteer t-shirt, goody bag, and Chipotle meal coupon.  Here is the link for members to register as a volunteer:  http://ymcaofgreaterpittsburgh.volunteerlocal.com/volunteer/?id=18134

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

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