5685 Beacon Street | Pittsburgh PA, 15217 | (412) 521-8131
February 17, 2017 - 21 Shevat 5777
Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 5:40
Shabbat Ends - 6:49 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
The beginning of Parshat Yitro tells of the arrival of Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, to the camp of Bnei Ysroel. We are told that Yitro was inspired to join Bnei Yisrael after hearing about the recent miraculous events that had transpired, "Yitro...heard all that G-d did for Moshe and for His nation, Israel, that the Lord took Israel from Egypt." Interestingly, however, when Yitro arrives, Moshe brings him into his tent and then tells him of these miracles, "Moshe told his father-in-law all that the Lord did to Pharaoh and to Egypt on account of Israel..." (18:8). The obvious question arises, why did Moshe describe to Yitro the events that he had already heard?
One possible answer is that Moshe related the events to Yitro from a different perspective, and with a different focus. When telling us about Moshe's conversation with Yitro, the Torah adds a phrase that does not appear in the parasha's first verse. The passuk adds that Moshe relayed, "all the troubles that confronted them along the way, and how G-d saved them." This phrase can explain the purpose of Moshe's conversation with Yitro after his arrival. Yitro heard the dramatic reports of the miraculous downfall of the Egyptian Empire, how a sea split to rescue Bnei Yisrael, how a slave nation defeated Amalek, and how the two million refugees traversed the arid desert and survived. But Yitro had not heard of the ugly details of Bnei Yisrael's experiences. Nobody in Midian reported about the people's rally against Moshe at the shores of the sea, Yitro did not hear of those dire moments in Refidim when Moshe literally feared that the people would kill him when they were suffering from a drought. The news of the miraculous salvation spread throughout the region, but it is unlikely that anybody heard of the numerous travails and complex crises that sprang up along the way.
In speaking with Yitro, Moshe wanted to ensure that his father-in-law did not harbor any utopian illusions about being part of Am Yisrael. Certainly, G-d's treasured nation earns a special degree of Divine assistance and protection. But we also have our share of difficult problems and dilemmas, stressful moments, periods of uncertainty, situations of anxiety and fears.
If, indeed, Moshe's purpose was to convey both the pros and cons of belonging to Bnei Yitroel, then it conveys an important lesson relevant to Jewish leadership. We have a miraculous and wondrous story, and G-d continues to perform miracles for us every day. But, at the same time, we must realize that there are also moments of despair and discord. Moshe is telling Yitro, that in order to help him lead, he must be ready for these moments as well. May we all continue to have blessed and miraculous lives and the strength to endure the more difficult situations as well--
Hillel Academy Teaches Character Development Through the Musical
Musical Director & Teacher, Sonja Wimer, MA. Ed
Every other year, the Fayth Aronson Berkowitz Girls' High School of Hillel Academy performs a musical theater production. This year, they will perform Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a classic tale from Roald Dahl which focuses on the value of family and the value of good morals - teaching children how one's behavior affects the way people view them. Strong character development is an important aspect in a student's education and is incorporated in the message of the production.
One aspect that makes the musical at Hillel Academy so special is that every single girl is involve
d. "It is a good opportunity to develop and use our talents that we don't usually use during the typical school day," said tenth grader Chana Kaminsky, who plays Charlie. Whether as an actor, member of the set design team or backstage crew, every member of the high school makes an invaluable contribution to the show. And this year, there are even girls in middle school involved. Two years ago, Drama Club was added to the after school clubs docket and was offered to girls in grades 5-8. The club's focus was to offer exposure to musical theater and to add unity to the girls in grades 5-12. This production year, the middle school students who chose to register for Drama Club have the opportunity to participate in the musical. In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the young members of Drama Club are playing the memorable Oompa Loompas, a uniquely sized opportunity.
"The Drama Club is a perfect segway into high school and the responsibilities that come along with acting in the musical," said VP, Yikara Levari. This year's production will be performed at the JCC Katz Theater on March 7th and 8th. As anyone who is familiar with the theater knows, once you get close to the opening night, tempers are on high alert and people are uptight. However, Director of Student Life, Danny Shaw pointed out, "this is actually a wonderful teaching moment and a perfect opportunity to demonstrate about student leadership, self discipline and making choices that will benefit the group and each individual."
As the big day approaches, the excited atmosphere in the High School is palpable. "The rush of a live performance with every member of the high school brings us together like nothing else can," said Kaminsky. A quintessential Hillel Academy affair, production gives everyone involved the opportunity for a year long adventure filled with acting, song, dance, art, and most importantly--collaboration. By the final curtain call, everyone will be exhausted, but students, teachers and parents alike know that it is truly an experience that will create memories for a lifetime.
Rabbi Sutofsky's third installment of parenting with a plan, "Juggling Chainsaws"
A Glimpse into Production and Drama Club rehearsals
8th Grade math lesson in geometry using a 3D printer
3rd Grade Co-teaching
Monday was the 100th day of school. Here are 100 different faces, courtesy of the fourth grade.
Monday was the 100th day of school. The first grade celebrated by sorting and graphing Fruit Loops, flipping a penny 100 times and recorded heads and tails, and built a tower out of 100 cups!
The students in Ivrit club made passports and prepared for a "flight" to Israel. The classroom was set up like a plane and each student was given a "plane ticket." They watched the flight safety video and learned relevant Ivrit vocabulary and phrases. Next week, they will start exploring Israel's geography.
The fourth grade printed a 3-D model of the Rosetta Stone as part of the Ancient Egypt unit.
The fourth grade took advantage of the snow last week and applied it to their study of the story of Yericho in the book of Yehoshua. They built a wall around a model city and then destroyed it after walking around it seven times.
The 7/8 grade Drama Club is hard at work rehearsing for the production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This is what co-teaching looks like. Here is one of the four simultaneous groups being taught in third grade. This one is a literature lesson.
Here is the second of four groups. Chumash with Reb Dan.
For a better look at co-teaching in 3rd grade, check out this YouTube video which was recorded on Facebook Live.
If you meet one of our wonderful 3rd graders, ask them one of the following questions:
What is your Native American name and what does it mean?
Morah Tovi teaches an Ivrit lesson to one of the groups in the second grade. The question of the week was, what do you do with the supplies in your supply box? Second graders played games using the verb forms of the items in their supply boxes.
Kindergarten began learning about Australia, the land
down under. The children saw pictures of the countryside, kangaroos and koalas;
compared the American flag and Australian flag; heard stories, and painted on faux bark
to create outback art. One of the students visited Australia. He
was proud to tell the class what he knew about the didgeridoo, a musical instrument, and the
boomerang. Above, Morah Dori teaches about marsupials.
To conclude the unit on Australia, the children heard a story about an authentic koala hospital and kangaroos. Each child shared with a partner what they thought were the important aspects of each animal, and what the animals had in common. Imagine a group of kindergartners drawing and printing on their clipboards while deep in discussion with one another! The children added their words to a Venn diagram that showed common and individual traits.
The middle and high school girls participated in the G2G program this past week, where they ran the Bingo game for the
residents at Weinberg Terrence.
Have you read the latest issue of the GHS newspaper, Humans of Hillel? These students got a jump on it during this past Friday's dismissal.
Morah Dori Oshlag's Music Club made rubber band instruments this week.
Yinon takes part in the rookie Violin Vlub with Morah Viti.
Alumni Spotlight -
Shalom Kohanbash - 1989-2003
Last week we caught up with Shalom Dovid Kokanbash who graduated from the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh in 2003. His undergrad degree is in electrical engineering from Point Park University. While working at CMU, he completed his Masters in Robotics there. We talked about his pet bird BJ and his thoughts on the future of computer keyboards. Enjoy the interview and as always, we welcome your feedback or alumni to be interviewed.
Shalom Dovi, his wife, Leah and their children geared up in the city colors.
Shalom, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Let's start with your favorite memories of Hillel. Sure, here is a good one--a person in our class broke the hose spigot near the side driveway in the winter, leaving the water flowing. We came back the next day to the driveway being an ice skating area. Rabbi Pliner (the principal at the time) was not happy.
Ok, thanks for sharing. Let's move on. What organizations are you involved in? Shaare Torah, Cub Scouts, International Tang Soo Do Federation, and PADI.
You're going to have to explain some of these because it's the first time I have heard of them. Of course, International Tang Soo Do Federation is a federation of martial art schools around the world. I train there regularly and help teach. My son also trains there. PADI is the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. I am not a SCUBA instructor, however I enjoy diving with PADI.
How do you support your family? I work at CMU building robots. I also have a company that sells smart irrigation controllers.
What are your responsibilities at CMU? I design high level electronics and low level software. That basically means that somebody else designs the power supply and autonomy software, and then I bridge that gap. I get to work on many interesting projects such as robots that are built to find water on the moon, find life on Mars, help with farming, or help self driving cars. I started working at CMU while a senior in college.
Tell us about some of your most exciting projects? Some of the most exciting work I have done has required traveling to the top of volcanoes for testing lunar robots, or traveling to the Atacama desert (which has the least life per unit area compared other areas on earth) to test technology for finding life on mars.
How did Hillel Academy prepare you for your future? There were many valuable things I learned from my time at Hillel. I think having a dual curriculum and the desire to never actually do homework at home, helped prepare me for the real world by learning about time management.
During high school we learned a lot about cooking, hot sauce helps everything. As an engineer we need to pull resources from many places to build a complete system. The first time I was exposed to this concept of bringing many sources together to form a full picture was with Rabbi Silver in the Mesivta Beit Medrash.
Tell us about your family. I am married to Leah from Far Rockaway, NY. She works as a nurse at the Hillman Cancer Center. I have two kids that currently attend Hillel in Nursery and 1st Grade. My five brothers and sister all went to Hillel.
"PADI Divers carry the most respected and sought after scuba diving credentials in the world. No matter where you choose to dive, your PADI certification card will be recognized and accepted."
Who was your favorite teacher and why? Morah Devorah, and not just because she's my mother.
What do you wish someone told you during your time in school? Focus on your goals and then figure out how to achieve them. The question is not, if you can achieve it. The question is, how you will achieve it.
That is solid advice. I would add that students should find someone to guide them through this process. On another topic, I was in a meeting and a high level individual said in 20 years there will be no need to learn how to type because computer keyboards will be obsolete. What do you think of that? I think they will still be around, but not as crucial as they are today. Home computer use might not need keyboards. But, professional computer use will still need keyboards.
What's your thought on driver-less cars? It's exciting. With that said, driving in a self driving car is usually boring as they often drive better than people.
Yes, agreed, people need to focus on the road. I am worried about this new generation of drivers. Maybe that's why the driver-less car is so important. On that topic, a neighbor of yours told me you have a pet bird, #emes? We have a parakeet and also a dog.
How is that relationship working out? Do you ever get their food mixed up? They are both fine, ignoring each other. At this point, when the bird (BJ) is flying around the house the dog (Zoe) knows to avoid it. We have not mixed up their food.
You are brave to have a bird and a dog under one roof. Sometimes, my youngest son barks like a dog and then says birdy, that's plenty for me. If a student is interested in a robotics career, what should their focus be in their early years? There are generally two paths into robotics. We have engineers (electrical, mechanical, etc..) and software developers (who develop algorithms and write code). If the engineering track interests you, gaining experience building things is important as well as physics classes. For software developers, learning advanced math and computer programming is a good background. In either case, you should try to learn about everything you can. Most robots are built for an application and not just for the sake of the robot. Having a broad knowledge base is important. Reading an encyclopedia to learn random things is good (or the modern version of browsing Wikipedia).
"Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish American industrialist who led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century, and is often identified as one of the richest people and Americans ever."
Ok, that is very helpful. One last question and I will let you get back to programming that robot. Do you think Andrew Carnegie ever thought CMU would be this important and influential in today's world?
Probably not. However, he had certain views that I think were really important in creating a successful institution. For example, he felt that greatness more often came from the poor working classes and not from the children of rich people. Carnegie started CMU as a place for the children of his steel workers to attend and to better themselves and the world. One of my favorite early Carnegie stories was that in the early days
in order to graduate, all students were required to help shovel coal for two weeks to provide electricity for the campus.
That is very interesting, maybe we need to implement some sort of manual labor in our high school. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. Shabbat Shalom!
Thanks to your feedback, the Flashback Friday contest is back! And to celebrate, this week's winner will receive four free tickets to the Duquesne University basketball game on Sunday, February 19 at noon.
Submit your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to our life hacks section! Life hacks are easy strategies or techniques that you probably never thought of that can be used to "hack" every day problems--or manage your time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Some hacks are so useful that they come in handy every day, so we thought it would be fun for the Hillel family to share our favorite hacks with each other!
This Week's Hack was suggested by Ms. Myers
Repair tears / holes in bags, backpacks, etc. by sewing them closed with dental floss! It is really strong and the waxed kind slides through stiff fabric with ease.
Over winter break Gavi and his family traveled south to Florida. It's unclear if Gavi packed his own bag, regardless, he did sport his 2015-2016 Hillel Club shirt at the Miami Zoo. He was warned afterwards that the lettuce was a similar color as his shirt and there is a small chance the giraffe could tell not the difference.
4 Pirates tickets A mini vacuum cleaner A Starbucks cold cup and a bag of pike roast coffee Create a masterpiece at Color Me Mine Free haircut at Supercuts and Safi's Gift cards to: $50 to Framesmith $25 to Murray Ave. Kosher $25 to Milky Way $25 to Zoom Dry Cleaners $25 to Amazing Books $25 to CVS $20 to Games Unlimited $18 to Cafe Eighteen And more! $2 for 1 $5 for 3 $9 for 5 $15 for 10
Buy your tickets by talking to one of the 8th graders, or by calling Nathan Azagury at 412-352-2755 or emailing email@example.com.
Mazel Tov to Moussia and Gavi Kohanbash on the birth of a baby girl!
Mazel Tov to alum, Moshe Stiebel and his wife, Laura on the birth of Gabriel Benyamin!
Eugene Goldman, Rav Avraham Menachem ben Yosef, a"h,
father of Rebitzen Chani Silver
The funeral was Sunday.
Rebitzen Silver will be sitting shiva in Pittsburgh, Thursday and Friday, at 2324 Pittock Street. Rebitzen Silver can be reached at (412) 877 0835
The Art Department
Brought to you by the Joshua L. Sindler, z"l Creative Classrooms, Art and Music Endowment Program
Last week, we showed you the girls working on two of the main scenery boards f0r the GHS production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here are the finished products. The board on the left is the part of the scenery for the Pure Imagination room, while the board on the right is the main door for the chocolate factory.
A SOLO PIANO RECITAL STARRING MICHAEL SOHNEN Saturday, February 18, 2017 -
7:30 PM TO 9:00 PM (WITH INTERMISSION ) REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY MARY PAPPERT SCHOOL OF MUSIC ROOM 206 Suggested age ten or older. The School of Music is located on Magee Street, adjacent to the A.J. Palumbo Center on Forbes Avenue. Convenient parking is available in the Forbes Avenue Parking Garage. A $6.00 parking reimbursement is available after the performance. RSVP: MICHAELSOHNENRECITAL@GMAIL.COM(412) 728-0118
Aleph Institute: Looking for volunteers to go to prison on Purim, to read the Megillah, or to drive for the Megillah reader or to go to bring a little joy to those incarcerated. If you can go, please send me an e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org he will be in contact with you. The requirements are, one should be over 21 and not be on parole or probation.
Shaare Torah: Please plan to join us on Sunday, March 5th for Shaare Torah's Blood Drive. We'll be here from 9:00 A.M. until 2:00 P.M. and you can make an appointment for a time that will work for you. Contact Linda in the shul office
(412-421-8855) or e-mail to
Office@ShaareTorah.net and register.
Your help is needed to be sure the Central Blood Bank has a supply of blood available when needed. Join us and help save a life.
Bnei Akiva- No Snif: Unfortunately there will be no snif this week, February 18. See you guys next week!
Girl's Oneg: Every Shabbos afternoon in the PZ Educational building from 3:00-4:00 for all girls K-6. Hope to see you there! Adar activity! Sunday, February 26th from 10-11:30 at PZ.
CRG a leader in the affordable housing industry, is currently seeking to fill a Property Manager position for an affordable Housing development with over 100 unit. Property located in Pittsburgh PA. The primary duties of this position are: Establish and maintain effective communication with residents, maintenance team, and supervisory team. Process all applications for move-in. Conduct Interim Certifications and Annual recertification's for all tenants. Collect, record, and deposit rent. Oversee maintenance of property and ensure that work requests are completed in a timely manner. Process move-outs, including conducting walkthroughs with residents and processing move-out statements. Work with accounting team to ensure that all invoices are processed. Assist supervisory team with capital improvements.
Necessary skills for this position include: Excellent written and verbal communication skills. Well-organized, Responsible and detailed oriented. Ability to multi-task and handle multiple projects simultaneously.
Tuesday, February 21st 6:00pm - VOOM! Brother's Brother Foundation
Join us for our February VOOM and help provide medical supplies for those in need! Brother's Brother Foundation focuses on medical and educational needs around the world and has served 149 countries. Volunteers will be sorting surgical instruments and medical supplies for hospitals and partner organizations worldwide! Volunteers should be age 12 or older and minors need to be accompanied by an adult.