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Parshat Toldot
December 2, 2016 - 2 Kislev 5777

Shabbat Candle Lighting - by 4:35  pm
Shabbat Ends - 5:43 pm
DVAR TORAH - Thoughts from the Principal & Educational Director
In Parshat Toldot, we are told about the birth and upbringing of Yaakov and Esav. 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 midrash, 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 (Esav) turned to idolatry."  Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch views this  midrash  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. That is, 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 his brother's, instead of causing conflict.

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, may we continue to watch our children find excellence wherever it is to be found. 
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Weinberg can be reached at sweinberg@hillelpgh.org .

** Parenting with a Plan: A Three Part Series with Rabbi Sutofsky -  In order to effectively parent adolescents and teens it is essential that we establish open and honest lines of communication with our children.  At times this may seem daunting, but we can learn strategies to enable us to create the right environment for our children to flourish. The community is invited to hear Rabbi Akiva Sutofsky, M.S., speak about these strategies, and more, in a lecture series called Parenting With A Plan. Rabbi Sutofsky is the school counselor at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, maintains a private practice in the Squirrel Hill area, and has over a decade of experience working with teens and adolescents.   Click here for more information 
 Teacher Feature
We would like to officially welcome Mr. Ryan Sutton to Hillel Academy.  Over the break we had some time to chat about printers, life as a new teacher, and winter break. For our readers' enjoyment we have included the interview in its entirety below.  Enjoy! If you have any questions you'd like us to ask in the future, please send them to us via email at hillelhappeings@hillelpgh.org.

What classes do you teach?  I teach World Cultures for 7/8th grade boys and 8th grade girls, and American History I and II in the boys high school.

What makes your class challenging for students?  I think the most challenging thing for my students is lecture.  I move at a pretty fast pace, and students have to keep up with it.  Students naturally want to write everything down.  In fact, they get so focused on getting their notes 100% perfect that they lose focus on what it is that they are writing.  I hope my class encourages them to get out of their "perfect notes comfort zone" and start using their time and their energy more effectively. It means letting go of old habits, and that's really hard.

What can students look forward to in the second semester?  Overall, the second semester is all about my students taking responsibility for their own learning.  We've set the tone and expectations in the first semester, now it is on them to keep the momentum going as they do more projects.  In particular, I'm excited about teaching the War of 1812.  I worked in a museum with a lot of artifacts from the era, and it is one of my favorite subjects in early American history.  I feel like it is often goes underappreciated.

What brought you to Hillel?  I love Pittsburgh.  I lived in Oakland when I attended the University of Pittsburgh as an undergrad, and I never wanted to leave.  I did leave though, as my first teaching job was in North Carolina in a very underprivileged town with a struggling education system.  It was a challenging year.  I was too far from my family and friends, and the situation there left me pretty cynical.  I was considering changing careers, but I took a chance and returned home at the end of the year, hoping that a better teaching opportunity would present itself, ideally in the Pittsburgh area.  Hillel had everything I was looking for, and the job opening came at the perfect time.

We are happy you came back to town. So, what has been the best part about working at 5685 Beacon Street?  The printer.  We've put men on the moon, and yet we can't seem to get printers to work right.  The printer in that building hasn't let me down yet, and that's a new record.

Yes, we do have solid printers.  We have plenty of readers that have never been to the JCC, what's it like teaching over there?  It's great.  I'm probably going to be getting a gym membership there soon, actually.  The JCC staff members are always friendly, and there are some dangerously comfortable chairs in the lounge.  The classrooms are pretty spacious, and there's a great view of Forbes Avenue.  I was just teaching about General Forbes, it was neat to be able to point out the window to a part of his legacy.

The JCC does have great facilities and definitely gotta love their chairs. Any big winter break plans?  To better prepare for the conclusion of my World War I unit, I will be doing a lot of studying on the topic.  By that, I mean that I will be playing Battlefield 1 for PS4.

Unbelievable,  may I come over? I can bring the snacks. What makes working at Hillel fun?  I come from a public school background.  In those school systems, the state always requires a new test, or demands that you teach X topic in Y way.  But you almost never meet the people at the top to whom you have to answer, in that system.  It's very corporate--you are serving "the man".  That's not why people become teachers.  Here, "the man" is a handful of real people that I can talk to whenever I want.  They set high expectations and make great suggestions, but trust in me to do the job how I see fit.  That is very rewarding for me.

It's hard to find work space here, how do you do it?  I live nearby, so I mostly go home between classes to get work done.  Hopefully that leaves more space for the teachers who need it.

What's one improvement you would like to see in the faculty lounge?  Some filing cabinets would be nice.  If I could, I'd print off everything I need in advance and pull it from my drawer later.  For now, I just carry it with me, which gets heavy after a while.

Underground or street parking?  Underground.

Hillel or JCC?  JCC

NBA or NCAA?   NBA.  NCAA was never involved with Space Jam.

C++ or Scratch?  C++

Goldfish or dragonfly?  Goldfish

WiFi or Bluetooth?  Bluetooth.  I use WiFi more, but the symbol for Bluetooth is a Viking rune based on King Harald Bluetooth's initials.  The WiFi symbol looks weak in comparison.

Dan Shaw can be reached at dshaw@hillelpgh.org.
Featured Video
 I am Thankful

Life Hacks
Welcome to our new 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 one's time and daily activities in a more efficient way. Some hacks are so useful that they come in handy everyday, so we thought it would be fun for the Hillel family to share our favorite hacks with each other! 

Here's Hillel Hack #1, contributed by Ms. Oz:

Use a plastic soap holder (the travel kind) for  storing  crayons or  playing  cards

If you have a favorite hack you'd like to share, email hillelhappenings@hillelpgh.org.

These middle school  boys earned a gift card based on the scores they earned on their voluntary Sukkot learning exams.  

The 7th and 8th grades designed musical instruments as part of their science unit on sound and sound quality. 

The Bnot Sherut ran a program for Yom HaSigd, a special holiday celebrated by Ethiopian Jews in Israel.  

The Bnot also led a program for 7th-10th grades to commemorate the November 29, 1947 United Nations vote to establish a Jewish state in Israel. Students learned about the information that led to the vote, researched countries to determine how they voted, and lastly,  watched the video of the vote, as well as a video with first-person accounts of those who lobbied other countries to vote for Israel. 

The boys high school welcomed Rav Berzon from Mevaseret this week. 

The second grade participated in an activity with Morah Tovi and Morah Shternie that had to do with the Parsha while simultaneously teaching Ivrit. 

Fifth grade students learned about the Native Americans of North America as part of a unit on cultures in the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. The culmination of the unit was a research project on a specific tribe from a region in the United States.  Students prepared a PowerPoint presentation or a poster to show their findings regarding the Native Americans' habitat, shelter, food, and other interesting facts about their group. In addition, students created something that related to their group--like a game the tribe might have played, a model of a home they might have lived in, or a bowl they might have used in their everyday life. The students took tremendous pride in their projects and demonstrated immense creativity in their endeavors. Please stop by the front desk to view the projects in the showcase!

Fourth grade PE class curriculum includes a variety of activities and experiences to develop agility, strength, and body awareness.

Our annual Thanksgiving lunch took place last week. This year we had some special guests! As a token of appreciation for all they do for our community, we invited members of the Pittsburgh Police and Fire Departments, along with our very own Mr. Vick, to share in our special Thanksgiving lunch. Afterwards, students were in for a real treat as they explored the fire truck and patrol cars. Thank you to all of our volunteers who helped make this lunch possible

The violin club continues honing their skills under the guidance of Viti Felder, who is using the Suzuki method to teach this year's club. 
 Odyssey of the Mind has begun to solve complex problems in preparation for their showdown with the two other Jewish day schools. 

The fifth grade girls studied the fourth perek of Shoftim, so they created a 3-D model of Yael's tent where Sisera hid as he attempted to escape from the Jewish army. In studying Navi (Prophets), it is not only important to gain reading and translating skills, or even just learn the story, but it is also crucial to make the  story relevant and connecting the timeless lessons to our lives. 

The Art Department
Brought to you by the  Joshua L. Sindler, z"l Creative Classrooms, Art and Music Endowment Program
In art class, students in grades 1 - 3 learned how to draw turkeys. After a step-by-step tutorial with Ms. Gauscheman, the students personalized their turkeys with colors, shapes, and patterns. 


Hillel Athletics
Mazel Tov
Mazel Tov to  Rabbi & Mrs. Shimon and Chani Silver on the marriage of their  daughter, alum,  Bayla Malka
to Yissochar Dov Yelen.  Please join Rabbi & Mrs Silver for an open house Motzei Shabbat December 3rd
2324 Pittock Street 8:00pm - 10:00 pm Sheva Brochos 9:30pm. 

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 OnegGirl's Oneg:   Every Shabbos afternoon in the PZ Educational building from 3:00-4:00. There will be no Oneg on December 10 due to the National Leaders Convention.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

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Please send condolence notices to  HillelHappenings@Hillelpgh.org.