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Parshat Lech-Lecha
November 11, 2016 - 10 Cheshvan 5777

Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 4:47  pm
Shabbat Ends - 5:54 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
Parshat Lech-Lecha introduces us to the early career of Avraham Avinu. The story is striking in its abruptness. We are not told anything about Avraham's background, philosophies, or ideals, nor about the divine mission which he has assumed. Instead, we are introduced to Avraham as if we know him already and are fully aware of his mission.  

Perhaps the verse is vague in order to teach us that like Avraham, it is our responsibility to follow our divine mission, no matter where we are coming from or what our background is like . Had the Torah told us of Avraham's background, we would think it was because of his upbringing that he came to greatness. Through this omission, the Torah is telling us that no matter our circumstances, we can all fulfill our divine mission. 

On Tuesday night at  8:37 PM, I received an e-mail regarding parent teacher conferences and I did not receive another e-mail until  Wednesday morning. That never happens. The entire nation was fixated on the election coverage, anxiously awaiting to see who our nation's next president would be. While we know now the answer--that Donald Trump will be our next president--the election unearthed a new set of questions that has left us searching for more answers. How did our nation become so divided? The division that used to separate liberal and conservative, now appears between cities and rural areas, college educated and non-college educated, and isolationist ideals and global connectivity. What emerged on election night is that it seems our great nation contains two great nations living side by side one another, but barely integrated at all. 

Much has been written over the past few days and months regarding this phenomenon, but like the Torah's introduction of Avraham Avinu, it is time to stop focusing on how we got here and focus instead on where we can go from here. How can we begin to appreciate one another's perspective and understand each other better? 
I think that we can again look into the early life of Avraham Avinu for guidance. Rabbi Menachem Leibtag points out that Avraham found G-d during the same year that the Tower of Babel and the dispersion took place. This teaches us that Avraham's existence was diametrically opposed to the sin of the tower builders. According to the Netziv, the sin of the builders was that they did not listen to consenting opinions or divergent ideas. In their singular pursuit of building a tower they silenced all dissenting perspectives and thoughts. In the end they did not build their tower, and they did not stay together. Avraham, however, is known for a tent that was open on all four sides. Three days after his Bris, he ran to greet total strangers and invite them for dinner. In the end, Avraham built the greatest nation, the nation of Israel. 
If we want to be great, we need to listen. If we want to be great, we need to be unified. We are not two countries, but one. As we say every morning at Hillel Academy, "...a great nation, under G-d, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at sweinberg@hillelpgh.org

Featured Videos
Sheep brain dissection. 
Hockey league shootout. 
Alumni Feature
During this historic election week, we had time to catch up with one of our alumni who is involved in the federal government, Danit Kanal. She explained a little about the GDP and what her favorite classes were while in Hillel. Enjoy reading it and as always, we welcome your feedback. 

Share a favorite memory or two with our readers? My favorite Hillel memory is being one of the choir heads for the high school production.  We all worked so hard and closely together and were so proud of our achievements when the final product was shown.

Ahhh, the production. Did you know it is a production year?  What advice can you offer this year's production heads? My advice would be to take it seriously, but have fun. Doing something half-heartedly makes it more of a chore. But if you invest in it and don't sweat the small stuff, it's a lot of fun.

Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? My favorite teacher was Mrs. Ruggier. She, like many of the other teachers I loved (Mrs. Milch, Mrs. Finder, Rabbi Lesnik, and Ms. Oz) were passionate about their work and made us all feel cared for like family--traits that I carry with me until today.

What class or classes do you think were most beneficial for life? Science: (my kids ask me ALL THE TIME how things work and what they're made of! Sometimes I have to look it up!)  English: being able to write well is extremely important. And writing papers, resumes, memos, and letters are all different and require being concise, but clear, and knowing who your audience is.

Who is the most interesting person in your contacts? I suppose the most interesting person in my contacts would be a chief in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. But we only spoke once regarding a job opportunity.

What do you wish someone had told you while you were still in school? I wish someone had told me that things take a lot of time. High school and college are all about being first and best, but for family and work, the more thought you put into something, expertise you gain in your field, and experiences you have, the better your outcomes.

What organizations are you currently involved in? I am currently the secretary on the Board of Directors and the social committee chair of the shul we attend and I also house a baby equipment Gemach.

How do you earn a living? I have a masters degree in applied economics and I work as the special assistant to the Chief Economist of the Bureau of Economic Analysis doing both administrative/budget/hiring/planning work and economic research.

Can you elaborate on this? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) is a part of the United States Department of Commerce. Its main mission is to calculate and publish the US gross domestic product (GDP -- a measure of the US economy) each month.  The Chief Economist of the Bureau supports and fosters research across BEA, serves as the key technical advisor to the Director of BEA and undertakes the improvement of our mathematical and statistical techniques.  My job is to assist the Chief Economist with all administrative, budget and planning work as well as conduct research to improve methodologies of gross domestic product.

Tell us about your family. My better half, Ari Kanal, is a brilliant clinical psychologist - working in a state hospital while teaching grad school and conducting private assessments. We have two amazing girls, Naava (age 5) and Rachel (age 2). We live happily, b'h, in Silver Spring, MD.

What do you do in your free time? In my free time I like to keep up with comedy TV shows like The Big Bang Theory.

Quick Pick:
PA or MD? PA
Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi
Fall or winter? Fall
Target or Walmart? Target 

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

5-12G Election Program 
The 2016 General Election occurred on Tuesday, November 8, and Hillel Academy students in the GHS and middle school had the opportunity to learn about the political process by participating in an Election Day rally.  The event began with a presentation by 12th grader, Leah Joshowitz.  

She explained the important features of the primary and general elections, including the use of political propaganda and campaign ads.  In order for students to vote in Hillel Academy's primary election, members of Mr. Sutton's 8th grade World Cultures class first had to cover the platforms of both the Democratic and Republican parties.  Click here to read the rest of the 5-12 election article. 

Yikara Levari can be reached at ylevari@hillelpgh.org

The Art Department
Brought to you by the  Joshua L. Sindler, z"l Creative Classrooms, Art and Music Endowment Program

Here's a snapshot of some of the programs and lessons from the past week.
The following students earned a prize for their efforts in learning Torah and doing Mitzvot over Sukkot break:

K : Meira Shore, Avraham Katz, Yehuda Yolkut, Miri Shaw, Motti Weisswasser, Nathan Gelman, Rafi Smith, Asher Zussman, Zack Itskowitz, Levi Greenfield, Bella Reinherz, Tamar I senberg , Talia Azagury, Chani Abraham, Zevi Berkowitz, Nachy Cook, Noam Abrams, Kayla Kohanbash, Eliezer Russell, Shlomo Abramowitz (20)

1st: Nava Admon, Yehuda Leibowitz, Yaffa Henteleff, Perel Langer, Rosie Ufberg, Elisheva Sunshine, Miriam Averick, Yehuda Cohen, Daliah Scholnicoff, Meira Loring, Rena Rodkin, Yisroel Eliezer Grossberg, Noam Kohanbash, Chaya Bracha Senft, Shmuel Kanal, Daniella Poznanski, Esther Toby Jablow, Eli Berelowitz (18)

2nd : Elazar Apfel, Shaindy Cook, Mikey Karoll, Shlomo Arye Blalock , Gavi Poznanski, Yosef Levari, Omer Blumenfeld, Hannah Goldwasser, Moshe Smith, Noah Bernstein, Chaim Abrams, Basya Senft, Ahuva Isenberg, Kayla Goldwasser, Coby Shaw, Sruli Leibowitz, Ezra Pollak, Orli Abramowitz, Aharon Russell (19)

3rd:  Tamar Admon, Chana Katz, Sori Rodkin, Shimon Grossberg, Perri Berelowitz, Sima Reinherz, Razili Henteleff, Michoel Chapley, Yehuda Levy (9)

4th :  Rami Shaw, Alex Small, Lori Ziff, Ezra Goldberg, Yossi Cohen, Ella Greenfield, Zev Loring, Rena Goldwasser, Abigail Bernstein, Dovid Tzvi Blalock , Eliana Elvgren, Yitzchak Zev Chapley, Kayla Weinberg, Galya Belman, Jacob Pearlman , Dov Gelman, Sonia Schachter (17). 

83 students out of 139 K-4 grade students earned a prize! That is a whopping 60%! Great job and Tizku  L'mitzvot!

Students in AP Psychology dissected a sheep brain in lab this past week. 
Learning about it in their text book was one thing, "but I wanted to make this lesson come alive," said teacher Sonja Wimer. AP Bio teacher Mia Meepegama co-taught this lesson to add her biology knowledge.

Senior Rivka Mandelbaum presents the findings from her summer internship with Dr. Ekaterina Lithik to her AP Psychology class. Rivka spent several weeks this past summer quantifying data from a study examining anxiety in mice.

In honor of Rosh Chodesh, these ECC students made Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan crowns. They cut, colored, and taped the crowns all by themselves and wore them for the day.

Avi Goldwasser was in Pittsburgh to deliver the keynote address at the annual ZOA dinner  on Wednesday night.  He was (with Charles Jacobs) the co-founder of the David Project, a pro-Israel advocacy group, and is the executive producer of several documentary films including, Columbia Unbecoming, The Forgotten Refugees, The J-Street Challenge, and the upcoming Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus, which will be premiering at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space in New York City on  Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 7:00pm  

Last year, students in grades k-4 (this year's 1st-5th graders) wrote notes for the Kotel.  Last week, former Bat Sherut (and always Hillel family member) Avishag put those notes in the Kotel. 

Ms. Letters' 6th grade girls completed research of major events and topics surrounding The Yellow Fever of 1793.  The girls creatively displayed and presented important historical information, and next week they will begin reading a novel about the epidemic!

In fifth grade Navi class, the students learned perek gimmel in sefer Shoftim, the story of Eglon the King of Moav and Ehud ben Geira, the Shofet of the Bnei Yisroel. They made a project describing how Ehud killed Eglon after gaining his trust.
Hillel Athletics

The HAIHL was off to a fast start with the first game ending in a shootout (see video above). 30 boys in grades 4-8 have decided to join, making this our largest league ever. Click HERE for rosters, stats and schedule. 

The 4/5 grade basketball club has begun. 

Freshman, forward, Benji Marcus, and the rest of the varsity squad continue to practice in preparation for their season.  

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. Sometimes we even give away Hillel swag! #FBF
This Week's Photo
Hillel Gear
Hillel Gear has gone global. We love to see where it has landed. Send photos to hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org

The Kurin family won last year's Scholarship Raffle grand prize- six round trip tickets to the Holy Land.  They were careful to pack as much Hillel gear as possible without going over the weight limit.  Don't miss your chance to visit Israel or win an iPad Air or a $500 Giant Eagle gift card!   Click here to buy tickets online.
Mazel Tov!
Dr. Elana Bloom and Dr. Jeffery Garrett on the birth of Becca Rose to Marisa Galbut and, alum, Benj Garrett!

Libby (Stein) and Aaron Tal - Ohr on the birth of a baby boy in Israel!

Sarah Nimchinsky on her engagement to Chaim Shulman in Israel!

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 .

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

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Please send condolence notices to  HillelHappenings@Hillelpgh.org.