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Parshat Nitzavim
September 30, 2016 - 27 Elul 5776

Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 6:45  pm
Shabbat Ends - 7:51 pm

Rosh Hashana
Sunday Candle Lighting - by 6:41 pm
Monday Candle Lighting - after 7:48 pm
Tuesday Havdallah - after 7:46 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
Parshat Nitzavim continues with Moshe Rabbeinu's final speech to Bnei Yisroel. After describing the rewards that will come to Bnei Yisroel if they follow the path of G-d, the pesukim state:
 11. For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12. It is not in heaven, that you should say: 'Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' 13. Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say: 'Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, and make us to hear it, that we may do it?' 14. But the word is very nigh unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it. 
These very moving and poetic verses are most simply understood to mean that we all have the ability to acquire Torah and integrate its values into our lives. However, the Ramban explains that these verses specifically refer to the  Mitzva of Teshuva. At this time of year, Teshuva is in the air.  With a week of Selichot and the onset of Rosh Hashana, we look for ways to  better ourselves for the coming year. Unfortunately, for many of us, this process can be daunting, and even seem impossible. These verses reminds us that we all have the ability to do Teshuva. In fact, the word Teshuva itself is a reminder of that. The word Teshuva is from the root - shin, vav, bet - which spells shuv , and means "to return" - to return to our innate human desire to do good, and to cling to justice and righteousness. Teshuva is not an esoteric concept that requires us to change who we are, rather an introspective voyage to remove what we are not. 
At Hillel, we are lucky to see our students grow from infants into adults. The innocence and tenderness of small children is something that is unique and spectacular.  As they grow, their innate goodness never leaves. Even when we are jaded and sometimes cynical adults, our inherent goodness is still there.  As Rosh Hashana approaches, it is important that we journey inward to find that inner goodness that we know is there. 
May this year be a year of blessings for our entire community. Shana Tova.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at sweinberg@hillelpgh.org

Featured Video - Math with Hand Motions 
Long Division - Singapore Math
Long Division - Singapore Math

Writing Across the Curriculum
The Collins Writing Program at Hillel Academy 
The Collins Writing Program is based on one essential idea: writing improves student learning. As teachers in Hillel Academy begin to incorporate Collins Writing into their classrooms, they are discovering that the improvement is real - and that it engages students throughout the day, in many aspects of their learning.

After attending the Collins Writing Workshop during teacher in-services at Hillel, second grade teacher Kimberly Adams decided to make Collins Writing a core element of her Language Arts curriculum. "We introduce the question of the week with Type 1 writing," she says, referring to the first form of Collins Writing, which focuses on getting ideas on paper, and can include brainstorming or asking questions. For example, Adams might ask her class the question, "What can we learn by exploring space?", and will instruct students to write four ideas in response. "Then," she explains, "they turn to a partner and discuss their ideas before we begin a whole class discussion on the topic."

Second grade is also practicing Type 3 writing, which includes FCAs -- or Focused Correction Areas, which are clear and specific guidelines that are given to students before an assignment, and relate to content, organization, conventions, and style. "Using FCAs lets students know exactly what they need to include in their writing, and what they need to check for," says Adams. For example, in a nonfiction piece, the FCAs might include having a topic sentence, writing four sentences on the topic, using uppercase and lowercase letters appropriately, and spelling first grade sight words correctly. "The FCAs are carefully selected so students can check their work on their own. We plan to turn this into Type 5 writing," she adds, "which means they will go through the entire editing process with a teacher, and eventually it will be published." Adams plans to incorporate FCAs into second grade's Writer's Workshop. 

While the Collins Writing Program fits seamlessly into a Language Arts curriculum, it's also being implemented successfully across a wide range of subjects, in elementary grades as well as through high school.  In Mimi Grossberg's eighth grade Navi class, students were asked to do Type 1 writing as a way to demonstrate their recall of the introductory unit to Melachim. In my (Elky Langer) Chumash class, students use Type 2 writing, which includes both content questions and analysis. For example, students were asked to compare two verses that were very similar and write down two differences that they found, then explain why they thought the differences were significant.

Although writing isn't usually associated with math, Erin McDougall tried it out in her Algebra
Erin McDougall uses writing in her high school math classroom. 
classroom and found very positive results. "I started using Collins Writing in my classroom through the use of student reflection," she explains. After getting back their first test, students were asked to reflect on their grade, and then contemplate and write about their strengths and challenges. "Many times the teacher returns a test, and all the student sees is red all over the paper. By having students reflect, they begin to take more responsibility for their work. They (the students) also find patterns in their thinking." As a math teacher, incorporating writing doesn't always happen naturally. This is where Collins Writing is useful, she explains. "It helped me find ways to encourage metacognition and writing in the classroom."  And  Collins Writing doesn't only work for higher level math. Second grade co-teacher Barbara Uebing also uses Type 1 writing in math. "At the end of the unit, I asked students to write four math vocabulary words that they know," she says. Uebing notes that she also plans to use the technique to gauge students' prior knowledge before she begins a new unit.

One positive aspect of incorporating writing throughout the curriculum is that it gives more students a voice in the classroom. "Most of my prior training and experience put emphasis on dynamic lecturing and hands-on projects to teach social studies," explains middle and high school social studies teacher Ryan Sutton. "Writing was a natural byproduct, not the focus. But while it is fun to lecture and lead discussion, it does leave quiet students behind." Writing, he says, seems to be the best solution to engaging all students in the classroom. "I use Type 1 and 2 writing during lectures to keep students engaged, especially as an opening activity. I think it makes students think more actively about the material."

Parents received a first glimpse of the Collins Writing Program at Meet the Teachers Night, when Rabbi Sam Weinberg challenged the audience to participate in Type 1 writing. Kimberly Adams also used Type 1 writing at Meet the Teachers Night - students wrote letters to their parents, and parents used Type 1 writing to write back. "Our FCAs for the parents were simpler than the ones we gave the students," she noted. "Overall, the parents did a great job!"
"Writing helps students understand and remember content like no other teaching technique," writes Dr. John Collins, who presented the Collins Writing Workshop at Hillel Academy in August -- a workshop many described as "the best one I ever attended." Hillel Academy's teachers are already seeing amazing results. As writing becomes more natural in all areas of the classroom, and across the curriculum, both teachers and students will reap the many benefits.

Elky Langer can be reached at elanger@hillelpgh.org.
Alumni Spotlight
We recently caught up with Hillel Alum, Bracha (Muskat) Ihm. She was one of our "lifers," as she attended Hillel from  nursery through 12th grade and graduated with the Class of 2003. Bracha now lives in Queens, NY, but like most of our alum who move away, she misses Pittsburgh. 
Enjoy, and remember--if you know an alum who would like to share their thoughts and memories with us, tell them to contact hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org

Tell us about some of your favorite  Hillel memories.  I loved the high school retreats! Rabbi Adler dressing up as the bear for Color War was certainly memorable. I miss dancing on Rosh Chodesh Adar--that's one thing that's hard to replicate at work.

Who were your first Hillel teachers?  Morah Esther Kagan and Mrs. Briskin.

This is a tough one, but who was your favorite teacher?  It's hard to pick between Mrs. Ruggier, Ms. Brog, and Mrs. Lobenstein, but my favorite quality that they all shared was their ability to connect with each student and through that connection they found a way to push you to work harder.

What do you do for a living? I am certified in special education and a certified school psychologist. I taught in various capacities from birth-6th grade, both as a special education teacher and in a general education capacity while earning my second degree. In the past few years I've shifted my career to a school psychologist and I work as a Special Education Evaluation Coordinator at a special education preschool in Queens, NY.

What organizations are you currently involved in?  AAE (Educators), NASET (Special Education Teachers), and NASP (School Psychologists). Last summer I came to Pittsburgh to volunteer at the NASP summer conference that was held at the Marriot downtown. (I got to stay for free at my mother's house.) I am actively involved in the Chofetz Chaim Sara Gordon Sisterhood where I have organized a Purim chagiga and a Chanuka chagiga for over 250 women. 

Wow, that's really nice, Kol HaKavod! How did Hillel prepare you for the future? First of all, I learned to deal with diversity. Just as there is no one kind of Jewish hashkafa in Hillel Academy, I've learned to work with people of all cultures from around the world. Second of all, I was allowed to begin exploring psychology during an independent study in 12th grade, which helped me decide to pursue a degree in psychology. Finally, kudos to my Spanish teachers who gave me a head start in learning Spanish. I may not be fluent, but I'm able to understand the reports that are written in Spanish and can follow most of the conversations with Spanish speaking parents, which is critical in New York.

Tell us about your family. I have been married for almost 7 years to Yaakov Ihm and we live in Queens, NY. My husband got Smicha this past summer from Chofetz Chaim and we are looking for our next step. We have 3 delicious children: Dovid (5), Shlomo (4), and Rivka (1.5). After many years of Muskat involvement in Hillel Academy, my mother now lives near us in Queens, NY and we all miss Pittsburgh very much.

Yes, Pittsburgh is a special place. Please come and visit. I am sure you don't have much free time, but what do you do when it's quiet in your house? With three kids, what free time? However, I do enjoy crafts, jigsaw puzzles, crocheting and cake decorating. But most nights, all I have the energy for is Facebook.

Who is the most interesting person in your contacts? Dr. Kirkland Vaughans, my supervisor at my internship. He's done a lot of research on African American male teenagers and is working hard with that population in Hempstead, NY to raise achievement and high school graduation rates.

Lastly, share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? In the  long  run, high school, and even elementary school, are SUCH a small part of your life, but the memories can stay with you and affect you forever. It is often scary how now, I've been out of school more than I was in it, and the time spans do not compare in my mind. Also, to use a diving analogy, high school is merely a spring board. You can have an excellent take off, but you still have to execute the dive well in the air to have a successful entry into the water. Post-high school is all about how you handle the adversity that comes your way. It is sometimes hard to know which way to twist and turn, and there can be  other external factors that you have no control of even with straight A's in school that can make "success" take a long time to come. It's not like taking a test on Friday and getting the results on Monday. Finally, never stop pursuing your dream. It may sound cliche, but if you keep your drive up, then you have a higher chance of achieving your goal.

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

Ms. Letters' 6th grade boys use nature to enhance their visual perspectives and create lists of adjectives for an upcoming assignment.

Manipulatives can help make science more relevant and coherent. This activity was used to encourage critical thinking about how and why atoms bond with each other. The students drew atoms and then filled in each electron shell using pebbles as electrons.

These first graders prepare songs for Rosh Hashana.

With Rosh Hashana right around the corner, Morah Elaine has been talking a lot about apples dipped in honey.  We know that apples come from trees, but where does honey come from? 
Answer: Bees!
Hmmm... Where do the bees get honey from?  We had many ideas: Flowers?  The honey store?  Giant Eagle? 
That's why this week in Science, we learned about honey bees.

We said goodbye to the Azaria family (a few members are missing from this photo) as they returned to the Holy Land this past Tuesday.  We will miss you all! 

Tower of Pasta is the first challenge our Odyssey of the Mind clubs. Students have 7 minutes to make a structure and 2 minutes to test it. The structure will be scored on height and strength. 
The 4th graders show off their finished shofrot. 

Rabbi Friedman brought the shofar workshop to Hillel. 
The Art Department
Brought to you by the  Joshua L. Sindler, z"l Creative Classrooms, Art and Music Endowment Program
Third through fifth graders are making still life drawings of apples inspired by the famous painter Paul Cezanne. 

Flashback Fridays
The Flashback Friday Photo Challenge is back for its sixth year. Email hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org if you think you can identify the people in the photo.  We will include your name in an upcoming issue if you guess correctly and sometimes we even give away Hillel swag. #FBF

Well, last week's photo was one of our most popular photos. Correct guesses were submitted by the following people:

Elan Sokol
Hirsch Chinn
Barry Faigen
Bobbi Zimmer
Jesse Mendelson
Amy Gershater 
Rochel Rosenstein
Elie Mendelson
Wendy Levin-Shaw
Jason and Bracha Ihm
David Kohanbash
Aaron Siebzener
Paul Kentor
This photo was taken during the first year of the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh in White Oak, PA on the bima of the bais medresh. L-R - Rabbi Rosenberg, Rabbi Langsam, Rabbi Chinn, zt"l, Rabbi Weingot and Rabbi Rosenstein. 
This week's Photo
This famed Rebbe not only inspired Torah, but Hillel uniforms, which began a few years later.

Alumni Updates
Mazel Tov to Shira (Weinberg) and Shuki Goodman on the birth of a son! If you are around the Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef area at around 9:30 am this Friday Sept 30th come to the Bris.

Caption Contest
Here's something for our loyal Hillel Happenings readers. So many of you comment on the great captions beneath photos, so we've decided to give you a chance to contribute. In this section, we'll post a random Hillel Academy picture, and you email us a caption at hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org. Our judges will determine the best caption, and in the next Hillel Happenings, we'll reprint the picture with the winning caption. Be creative, have fun, and enjoy!       

Tomchei Shabbos

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

Mazel Tov to Miriam and Rudy Fabian on the birth of two grandchildren:
Yitzchak Yosef was born to Shoshana (Fabian) and Mookie Diamond of Lakewood, NJ & Daniel Pinchas was born to Yonina (Fabian) and Shaul Elnadav of Brooklyn, NY!

Around Town

Kether Torah : Carlebach minyan this Friday at 6:45 pm.
Girl's Oneg: Every Shabbos afternoon in the PZ Educational building from  3:30-4:30 .  For all girls in grades K-6. No Oneg the Shabbos of Chol Hamoed Sukkos,  October 22 .
DON'T BE LEFT OUT! We're nearing the deadline for the 2017 edition of the Jewish Women's League Community Directory. Be sure that we have your contact information if you are new in town, that we have any changes to your information, or that we have your advertisement. Contact Judy Mendelson, 412-521-6498

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.