Welcome to the Hillel Happenings!

November 17, 2017 - 28 Cheshvan, 5778
Parshat Toldot
Candle Lighting by 4:43 pm
Shabbat Ends - 5:50 pm

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In Parshat Toldot, we are told about the birth and upbringing of Yaakov and Eisav. The verse tells us "The boys grew up, and Esav became a knowledgeable hunter, a man of the field, while Yaakov was a calm man who dwelled in tents" (25:27). Rashi, based on the medrash, explains, "As long as they were young, they were not distinguishable in their behavior and no one carefully discerned their behavior. Once they reached thirteen years of age, this one (Yaakov) turned to the study hall and this one (Eisav) turned to idolatry."
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch views this medrash as a subtle rebuke of Yitzchak and Rivka. Rav Hirsch introduces his comments by saying "Nowhere do Chazal avoid exposing the weaknesses in the actions of our great patriarchs; in this way they elevate and magnify its message for all times." Our sages here, says Rav Hirsch, find fault with the way Yitchak and Rivka raised their two children: in exactly the same manner. It appears from the story that no effort was made to discern between their different personalities. Eisav's skills could have been channeled in a different direction, and his talents could have complemented instead of conflicted with his brother's.
When educating our children, we can never forget the unique beauty of each and every child. No two children are the same and they can't be treated as if they are. We must find out what excites every individual and do our best to harness that interest so they can achieve greatness.
Every day at Hillel I am reminded of this truth. Some students excel in Math; others Chumash; others recess - and each one of them is valuable. G-d willing, we will continue to watch our children find excellence wherever it is to be found.

Rabbi Weinberg, Principal                     


Carnegie Science Center Sci Tech Days

What are they thinking? 

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* What do your students call you? 
Mr. Sutton, Professor Sutton (note that I do not have a PhD), and occasionally Memelord Sutton 

* How long have you been teaching at Hillel Academy? 
This is my second year at Hillel. 

* What is the most rewarding thing about teaching your grade / subject? 
My students are at the age where they start to realize how much history and social studies impacts their everyday life. 

* What gadget do you rely on most when teaching? 
My presentation remote.

  * What phrase do you find yourself using the most during your day? 
"It's complicated." 

* What three words best describe your class? 
Take notes fast. 

* I wish my classroom had... 
Virtual reality headsets. I'd love to take students on a virtual tour of a battle, or see what ancient cities looked like in their prime. 

* The most important thing I teach my students is: 
History is nuanced and people are complex. There is always more to the story if we look at it from a different angle. 

* My students teach me... 
To question my own understanding and re-examine my own assumptions. They are great skeptics. 

* By the time they leave my class, my students know how to: 
Manage a lot of information at once. 

* My favorite rainy day activity is: 
Drawing and writing. 

* What were you like when you were your students' age? 
I liked learning and disliked school. I wish I had been nicer to my teachers. d What is your motto? Remember to keep things in context. 

* The most useful lesson I ever learned is: 
Talent and prior knowledge are great, but self discipline and time management are far more important. 

* The skill I would most like to have is: 
In another life, I would have gotten into the animation industry. I still dream about learning how animation works and getting hired by Pixar. 

* The most amazing / odd / inspiring place I have been is: 
My host-grandmother's house in Nagoya, Japan. 

* Do you play an instrument? If so, what? 
I've been playing banjo for a few months now, I've just gotten to the point where I'm beginning to learn actual songs. 

* Is there anything else you would like the Hillel Academy community to know about you? If I could teach any class, it would be a history class taught through simulation and role playing games. It's probably too much for our current schedule to handle, but I would really like to make it happen some day. 

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You might not know it, but Mr. Ryan Sutton, Hillel Academy's bearded, tweed-suit-wearing History and World Cultures teacher (as opposed to Mrs. Wimer, who is non-bearded and non-tweed-suit-wearing), has come a very long way from somewhere quite close by to work here. Though a native of Philadelphia, Sutton grew up in Grove City PA, which is just north of Pittsburgh. However, at the tender age of 16, he spent the summer as an exchange student in Japan.
Why Japan? Because, as he explains, "It started when I was fourteen, and our family hosted a Japanese exchange student for a summer. He didn't speak much English, and I didn't speak much Japanese. We spent the summer trying to figure out how to communicate, and I discovered that I could actually learn the language." A keen interest in continuing to learn the language meant that while living with his host family in Omiya, he "commuted every day to a Japanese language school program in downtown Tokyo." Once he returned the the States, he "started taking Japanese classes at a local college to fulfill [his] high school language requirement." But Mr. Sutton's love of Japan didn't stop there; he majored in Japanese in college (as well as History), and even spent a semester studying at Kobe University during his junior year.
"The thing I admire most about Japan is the sense of collective responsibility," Mr. Sutton says.  "There's a cultural sense that everyone is responsible for everyone. It puts an enormous amount of pressure on people to perform well at school and work, and there's some problems that arise from that, but overall I think it's a great mentality."
His experience allows Mr. Sutton to bring a great deal of passion into his classroom, especially when it comes to teaching students about other places. "I have the most fun teaching World Cultures," he notes. "It's the most varied class I teach in terms of subject matter, and it really captures my imagination."
Living in such a different culture has allowed Mr. Sutton to appreciate all that Squirrel Hill can offer. The best thing about living in the neighborhood, he says, is "The diversity. I love being surrounded by people speaking different languages. The food situation is pretty great for me too."
As someone who values life-long learning, it comes as no surprise to find out that Mr. Sutton has recently taken up the challenge of learning to play an instrument - the banjo. He explains: "When I was in school, my favorite teachers were in a band together. They did a lot of 'jam' kind of music, mostly folk rock and bluegrass. I wanted to be just like them in every way. I chose banjo for a few reasons, but my favorite reason is as a tip of the hat to my father's side of the family. There were real, mountain-dwelling hillbillies in the family tree. We tease him for it all the time. But while their quality of education wasn't great, they had good musical taste."
Knowing that vending machines are popular in Japan, we asked Mr. Sutton if Hillel Academy had vending machines, what would he like to see them stocked with? His reply: "I would love to have a vending machine full of school supplies, especially pencils."
Despite his fondness for such an old-fashioned tool as a pencil, Mr. Sutton is well-known for making the most of the technology available to him. "I use the Smartboard every day," he offers, "and I try to have students use the chromebooks for research and projects fairly regularly."
Mr Sutton can always be relied upon to give solid advice to students who seek his perspective on matters large and small. The advice he would give his seniors is very good indeed: "Never be content with being the smartest person in the room. You should always have direct access to a role model. If you're the best in your class, or your company, etc. go somewhere else where you aren't."
Thank you for being a great role model, Mr. Sutton!

Yosef Cohen-Melamed and Reuven Kanal contributed to this article by interviewing Mr. Sutton.

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Why Jewish Day School Education Is Worth The Cost
By Susan Jablow
This article originally appeared in The Times of Israel's online blog on November 9, 2017

I was one of those odd kids who actually enjoyed Hebrew school. Beginning in third grade, two afternoons a week, Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday, depending on the year, my class met in the charmingly retro classrooms of B'nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston, WV. There were only three or four of us in each grade level and we were taught by Mrs. Sherman, a kind and funny mom who had outspoken opinions, bright red nails and bold, 1980s sweaters. She had been to Ulpan and assured us that if we went to Israel to study, we would be speaking the language in six weeks flat.
Mrs. Sherman taught us the Alef Bet, basic Hebrew vocabulary and some of the prayers in the siddur. Even though I quickly grasped and excelled at these lessons, I knew I was already behind. My mom recalled that in her youth, Hebrew school began in first grade and met as often as four afternoons a week. I used to think about how much more I would know if I had started learning to read Hebrew at the same time I began learning to read English.
A few times a year, my cousins from Cincinnati would visit, and I remember feeling embarrassed that my younger cousin was so much more fluent in Hebrew, and generally much more knowledgeable about Judaism. She had attended Jewish day school from "pre-primary," and had been studying Hebrew and Judaics from her toddler years.
I was close to my cousins, and even though I only saw them a few times a year, I learned a tremendous amount from them. I learned about the prohibition of carrying outside an eruv on Shabbat, and the importance of saying brochot before and after eating. On one visit, when I was about 11 years old, I became frustrated when, after eating Shabbat lunch together, my cousins said bircat hamazon seemingly effortlessly while I found the long prayer to be daunting. One of my older cousins, who had tremendous patience, sat with me later as I painstakingly sounded out every word. Because my reading was so slow, it literally took half an hour.
If I had grown up in a larger Jewish community, attending Jewish day school might have been a possibility for me as well, but with only about 1,000 Jews in the whole community, there just wasn't the critical mass to make that happen. I was fortunate to become involved in the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) in my early teen years, and that helped me connect to other study opportunities and led me to attend Stern College for Women. In four years of college I was able to "catch up" with much of the Judaic content I had missed in earlier years, but the frustration I first felt as a child when I recognized the deficits in my knowledge continued for many years, and still affects me from time to time even now.
Long before I became a parent, there was no question that I would send my children to Jewish day school, and I am incredibly fortunate that my children have the opportunity to attend a wonderful Jewish day school with strong secular and Judaic curricula, as well as a warm environment where Judaism, and being Jewish, is actively celebrated.
You can't put a price on the opportunity to raise children with an innate sense of their religious and cultural identity. To grow up in an environment in which they are educated in the language and beliefs of their people, even though they are a small minority in the surrounding culture. Such an education is priceless. However, the real world cost of providing this education is significant, even when most day school teachers earn less than public school teachers. As a result, day school tuition becomes a significant portion of families' expenses.
Before I had children enrolled in Jewish day school, I never really thought about the monetary cost of day school education in a practical way. As a former reporter for a Jewish newspaper, I wrote periodically about the expense of Jewish living, and even once did a monetary breakdown for an article, which considered the actual cost of tuition for the three Jewish day schools in my community. I spoke to parents who said they made sacrifices to send their kids to day school, but those sacrifices - foregoing fancy vacations, delaying the purchase of a new car - didn't sound so terrible. It was worth it to them. It was all about priorities.
But in the decade or so since I did that line item breakdown, a lot has changed in our economic realities. Salaries have stagnated, while costs of housing, medical care and other expenses have risen. Families are stretched thin. While day schools extend themselves to provide scholarships to many families, parents still have to make a significant financial commitment, and it's not easy.
More and more I hear fellow parents discussing the financial strain of day school education, with some even toying with sending their kids to public school and somehow reviving the old Hebrew school model. This is despite the fact that Jewish supplemental schools have been in decline for decades across denominations, and their efficacy has long been questioned.
Generations of Jewish children resented the obligation to spend their afternoons in Hebrew school while their non-Jewish classmates participated in other activities, and that's unlikely to change now. If the model itself produced a high level of Judaic knowledge, it might be worth exploring. However, by and large, the Jewish knowledge base of Hebrew school graduates is mediocre at best, and frequently dismal. When supplemental school is the best or only option for families, it has its place, but it's wrong to assume that Hebrew school is just as good as day school, even when the teachers are as devoted and wonderful as Mrs. Sherman.
I don't have an answer to the financial question of how to make Jewish day school education viable. I suspect that any solution will contain elements of what has worked in the past (and continues in most schools): community fund-raising, and providing scholarships to families that can't fulfill the tuition burden on their own. The community throughout the United States is long overdue for the next big idea that will make day schools more financially viable. For now, the system is imperfect, and still requires families to make some sacrifices in exchange for an intensive Jewish education for their children and other children in the community.
However, the question of whether Jewish day school education is worth it is not just financial, but also qualitative. Some parents note that day school education cannot guarantee that children will feel connected to their heritage, or want to maintain observance after graduating. They also note that the experience of Jewish day school isn't always as positive as hoped - sometimes children are bullied by classmates, and sometimes the academic offerings or social atmosphere of a local public school seem more positive.
It is true that students may go through years of Jewish day school and have experiences that turn them away from Jewish observance and communal life, rather than bringing them closer. It is horrible when this happens, and it is terrible when the atmosphere or educational quality of schools contributes to this phenomenon.
Fortunately, there are many day schools that provide largely positive experiences. Jewish day schools have come a long way in recent years in adhering to high academic standards and addressing social problems within their student bodies. There is always room for improvement, but the fact is, the day school model is the best option we have for providing a foundation in our heritage, language and beliefs. Realistically, some portion of day school graduates will choose, for various reasons, to reject Jewish observance, but they at least have the background to know what they are rejecting, and the knowledge to reconnect with their heritage later in life, should they choose to do so.
When I watch my second grader studying texts, in Hebrew, that I did not study until college, I am comforted that whatever sacrifices or trade-offs we make for day school education are more than worth the expense.

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NBA Season Preview
By Moshe Luzer and Aaron Kraut
In a wild off season, a legion of teams have loaded up to challenge the Golden State Warriors. With the NBA season already underway, what else is there to do besides making our predictions? Will the Cavs make it to the finals with their newly acquired stars Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Isaiah Thomas? Will the Warriors win their third final in four years? Are there any surprise teams? Who will win the MVP? All of this will be predicted by your Hillel Academy Expert Sports Analysts, Moshe Luzer and Aaron Kraut.
NBA Champions:
Aaron: Warriors (sorry Dad)
The warriors have incredible ball movement, which allows their fantastic field goal percentage (51%) to be put to use.
M oshe:
Golden State Warriors
This team is too stacked! According to Sports Illustrated, four of their starting five are ranked in the top 20 of all NBA players this year. Their star talent and deep bench is just too much for the rest of the teams in the league. If you stop one guy from dealing damage, you still have at least three more to be worried about.
Aaron: LeBron James  - Cleveland Cavaliers
For the past seven straight years, LeBron went to the Finals with two different teams, showing that no matter where or with whom he plays, he is the franchise's most valuable player.
Moshe: Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
At the age of only 22, he has already evolved and proved to be the next and upcoming star in this league. He is fast, long, and strong, and plays like he is a perfect mix of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. In only his fifth year in the league, he is already averaging over 30 ppg (points per game) and 10 apg (assists per game). It's going to be fun watching him dominate the league and become the face of the NBA in the upcoming years.
To say that this is just another traditional regular season is very wrong. This season should be filled with amazing plays, huge upsets, and some interesting surprises. We all can only wait and see what this season has in store for us.

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One of the tricky things about teaching Language Arts is that there is sometimes a difference between the rules of grammar and the way we actually use the English language. An example of a mistake people commonly make in speaking and writing is confusing FEW and LESS. Which one should you use for what occasion?
The common rule people learn is this: few is for things you count, while less is for things you can't count. But a BETTER  way to think about it is to apply the SINGULAR V. PLURAL rule.
It goes like this: use LESS for SINGULAR NOUNS,  and use FEW for PLURAL NOUNS.
SINGULAR: LESS                                                    PLURAL: FEWER
I have less water than you.                                I have fewer bottles of water than you.
Mrs. Myers wants less cupcake.                     Mrs. Myers wants fewer cupcakes.
We have less than $100 in the bank.             We have fewer dollars in the bank.
It is less than 12 miles way.                               There are fewer than 12 miles left to go.
(12 miles is a total, singular amount)           (12 individual (thus plural) miles to go)                 
I have one less banana than she.                     I have fewer bananas than she.
This rule also works with the words MUCH and MANY:
MUCH is for total, singular amounts, while MANY is for multiple individual (thus plural) things.
If in doubt, say something using the other word, and if it sounds wrong - it usually is!
"How much bananas do you have?" That sounds wrong! "How many bananas do you have?" That sounds right!
"How much banana is left?" That sounds right!  "How many banana is left?" That sounds wrong! 


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to alumnus Joe Segal on his engagement
to Eliana Bessler!
Mazel Tov to Dr. Barry and Shelly Segal
and the entire Segal family!

to alumni Ilana Kisilinsky and Yosef Kohanbash
on their engagement!
Mazel Tov to Macy and Maxine
and the entire Kisilinsky family
Mazel Tov to Morah Devorah and Yehudah
and the entire Kohanbash family!

Check out the Hillel Academy Alumni Page on Facebook! 


It's that time of year again!  Super Sunday is upon us: save the date - December 3rd at the JCC. The Jewish Federation is Hillel Academy's largest donor and we want to show our hakarat hatov while simultaneously helping raise money for so many Jews in our community (both locally and globally) by participating in this annual phone-a-thon. Plus whichever Federation organization brings the most participants to the event wins their organization an extra check. Hillel Academy has WON the last few years: let's not lose the momentum (read: money). There are three sessions you can choose from, each with a fabulous Hillel table captain.
Session 1- Table Captain: Elena Davis: 9:30-11:30
Session 2- Table Captain: Dovid Knoll: 12:30-2:30
Session 3- Table Captain: Shoshi Butler: 3pm-5pm
Please register through the site and also feel free to email your table captain as well to get us PUMPED as we prepare for another winner of a day for Hillel Academy.  


Tizku L'mitzvot,
Elena, Dovid, and Shoshi

Did you know the Bnot Sheirut have their own Facebook page? It's filled with lots of pictures and videos! Check it out at:  www.facebook.com/PittsburghBanot

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The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh awards grants to students who reside in the Greater Pittsburgh area (Allegheny, Butler, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland Counties).


The Central Scholarship and Loan Referral Service (CSLRS) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh coordinates the efforts of a group of organizations, agencies, and scholarship endowment funds which provide need-based scholarships to local undergraduate and graduate Jewish students.
CSLRS is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is administered by Jewish Family and Children's Service.


Any Jewish high school senior, college or graduate student with demonstrated financial need is eligible to apply. All applicants must be bona fide residents of Allegheny, Beaver, Washington, Butler or Westmoreland counties for at least two years. Individuals are known by number, not name, to ensure confidentiality.

When a student applies for aid, the CSLRS committee matches the student with the funding source or sources for which they qualify. Some funding sources require high academic achievement; all require students to demonstrate financial need.


For school year 2018-2019 Central Scholarship will again be using an on-line application process.
The on-line applications will be available in late November at http://www.centralscholarship.org . First-time applicants must be interviewed by CSLRS staff.

Application deadline is February 12, 2018. Regrettably, applications received after that date will not be considered.

For further information, contact Jewish Family & Children's Service, 
412-422-5627 or alowenberger@jfcspgh.org

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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.  https://smile.amazon.com/ch/25-1067130   

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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.

Micki Myers, Editor | Hillel Happenings | 412 521-8131 | hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org |www. hillelpgh.org