January 3, 2019 | 26 Tevet 5779
Pa rshat Vaera describes the first seven plagues that G-d brought upon the Egyptians in His attempt to convince Pharoh to allow Bnei Yisroel to leave Egypt. Whereas Moshe was the one who brought forth most of the plagues, G-d instructs Aaron to bring the plague of blood. Rashi cites a Midrash and explains that G-d told Aaron to strike the river because Moshe owed the river a “debt of gratitude” for saving his life as an infant when he was cast in the river. Similarly, in regard to the plague of vermin (8:12), Rashi explains that it was Aaron who was told to hit the ground because Moshe was indebted to the ground for helping him hide the body of the Egyptian task master whom he killed. 

It is interesting that the Midrash feels that Moshe was indebted to the ground for helping him bury the Egyptian. Moshe buried the Egyptian to cover up for his act of killing him, but we know that ultimately proved to be worthless and that the Egyptian authorities quickly learned of what Moshe did. Even though Moshe made use of the ground to hide his actions, they quickly became public knowledge and he was forced to flee to Midyan.

The Midrash here seems to be highlighting the importance of showing appreciation even for unsuccessful efforts. Often people try to help us or express a willingness to help us and we must be appreciative even if in fact we don’t receive any practical benefit from them. In life it is easy to be thankful to people when they help us or give us something. The Midrash teaches us that we must be conscientious of when people try to help us, and also be thankful and appreciative even if their efforts prove to be futile. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Sixth Grade boys and girls walked to Community Day School for a special ceramics workshop with art teacher and potter, Mr. Jeremy Lerner. Students have been reading   A Single Shard , by Linda Sue Park, in which an orphan boy apprentices with a master potter in 12th century Korea. Students hand built their own vessels and experimented with methods of decorating the surface. Mr. Lerner will be firing and glazing the pieces using celadon glaze, just like in the book. We excitedly await seeing  our finished pieces come out of the kiln.

The Third Grade learned about the halachos of grinding on Shabbos and ground pepper with a real mortar and pestle for a hands-on demonstration.
PREK-A students act out last week’s parsha with baby Moshe using their sensory table, while the Nursery students came up with different ways to make baskets for him.

Benji Marcus and Yoshi Mahony utilize the Lipsitz Building lounge to get work done.

The Tiny Tots are learning about trees — “etz” and “etzchaim” — tree of life with Morah Ilana.

This collage depicts one of Western Pennsylvania’s cultural treasures — Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater.
As part of the Mrs. Shirley Dorsey OBM Middos Program, BHS students had a program about Lashon Hara, part of which contained a 15 minute "silent conversation," where students responded in writing only to a number of prompts, and each other, on the topic of Lashon Hara and how to best curtail it.

Everyone was excited to see a pair of Red Tailed Kites perched in the tree above the parking lot and across Beacon St. on Wednesday. These large birds of prey migrate through Western Pennsylvania on their way south for the winter.
The High School Girls cooked and baked for Tomchei Shabbos at Creative Kosher Catering.
The High School Girls sorted clothes for the National Council of Jewish Women.
The Middle School Boys packed Zach Packs, an organization that supplies backpacks of toiletries and other things for families if, G-d forbid, someone unexpectedly needs to take their child to the hospital.
On Mitzvah Day, the Eighth Grade Girls placed rocks with messages of peace and love all around our neighborhood! 

Middle School students all add their personal touch painting panels for the large mural representing Hillel Academy which will be displayed at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The panels also convey a singular idea: individually we are strong — but together, we are stronger.
Fifth Grade Girls work on presentations for their Jewish History class using Prezi software. 
The High School Girls paid a visit to Google HQ, where they got a tour of the building, took part in some coding activities, and participated in a Q & A session with some Googlers. 
Dr. Elli Kanal gave a presentation to the Middle School Girls and Boys about his career in Software Engineering. They also learned about keeping safe on the internet. 
What is it that excites you about math ? I love that math is more than just adding and subtracting numbers. Math is about finding patterns everywhere in the world and using those patterns to create and build and problem solve. I also love that people see math in many different ways. There's no one way to solve a problem as long as it makes sense — and you can prove it! 

What is the most rewarding thing about teaching math? The most rewarding thing about teaching math is seeing those “lightbulb moments” that students have when they finally “get” a concept or figure out a puzzle or understand something that's been tough in the past. I wish I could bottle up those moments for students so that they can remember what it will feel like once they persevere through a difficult task. 

What are some ways you bring real life examples to the classroom? This year I have the opportunity to go into every elementary classroom as well as my own Sixth Grade classrooms to do “number talks.” Number talks are short discussions about various math ideas that emphasize how we all see things differently. There are many different routines I do with students such as Which One Doesn't Belong, Splat, dot cards and Notice and Wonders. Notice and Wonders are what make math really come to life. I show students a picture of real things in the world and we look for and discuss patterns, shapes, numbers and other interesting things about the picture. We also come up with questions we could ask about the pictures

What is your favorite math trick? Bar models! I have found that they are a simple way of visualizing a situation that has a lot of numbers in it. Sometimes big numbers or fractions and decimals can overwhelm students but once they learn how to model these things, students can solve a problem more easily. In the real world we make models all the time (maps, scaled down models of buildings/historical sites, clothing patterns, dental impressions ... yuck) as ways to more easily visualize larger scale things. Bar models, or simply drawing a picture to map out a problem, turn these problems from complex to simple. 

Tell us about your family. My husband, Elan, convinced me that we wanted to live in Pittsburgh before I ever set foot here. He applied for the Shomer Shabbat residency position at Allegheny General Hospital and we matched here! We are so happy that we did. So happy, in fact that now that his residency is over, my husband got a job as a primary care provider here in Pittsburgh. We have three amazing children: Tamar is in Pre-k and is almost 5, Zaki is in the toddler class and is 3 and Nissim is the loudest baby in the baby room and is 9 months old. We live on the border of Squirrel Hill and Greenfield with my sister-in-law Ariel, who is a nurse. 

Where did you go to school? I went to Binghamton University for my undergraduate degree in Integrative Neuroscience (it sounds fancy but it was just a blend of the biology and psychology majors). I then received my Masters of Education degree from Endicott College in Massachusetts in Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis. 

Where is the most interesting place you have travelled to? Córdoba, Spain — the birthplace of Maimonides. Walking around the city, the group I was traveling with found an old abandoned hole-in-the-wall synagogue that we brought to life with singing and dancing. It was one of those moments where you really feel connected to your history and can feel it unfolding around you. 

What is your favorite go-to recipe?  Green beans with a splash of soy sauce and drizzle of honey and sesame oil. That and my soft chocolate chip cookies. 

What is your favorite part about teaching math at Hillel? The freedom the administration allows for teachers to bring in materials and activities to enhance the curriculum. I also love that the math teachers are eager to learn from each other and we can often be found trading ideas on the best way to teach a concept. 

What is the best piece of advice you can give to a student who is struggling with math?  Don't give up. There’s no such thing as being bad at math. I truly believe that anyone can learn math at any level. It may seem to you that other students are way smarter than you but that's not true. They just have had more learning opportunities and more practice. Struggling is OK; in fact it is the best way to learn. When you work hard on a math problem and make mistakes your brain is super active. Just like when you are practicing a sport or an instrument; you practice and practice and mess up a little and practice some more and get better and better. Math is like that. Life is like that. Don't give up. Ask for help. Try to see math in a different light because it is so much more than crunching numbers. 

Interview by Shoshana Kisilinsky
A very challenging Word Search by Avraham Kaminsky (Seventh Grade)


Performances of The LION KING will be on Monday March 11 and Tuesday March 12 at the
JCC Katz Theater.



First, I want to thank you for a very successful Fall semester of clubs! I am excited to announce that we have new club offerings for the Winter/Spring semester!

To register for clubs, please click on the link that corresponds to your child's age group. You will then see the list of clubs for that specific group with the link to sign up at the top of the page.

Once you have signed up for clubs, you will receive an email from me confirming your registration. Please allow 72 hours for registration emails to be sent :)

Club registration will close on January 16th; winter/Spring clubs will begin the week after winter break.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Thank you and I am looking forward to another fantastic semester!
The Hillel Happenings is published on Thursdays. Please submit stories, photos and ads by Wednesday afternoon to:

Thank you!
of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Administered by:
Jewish Family and Community Services
828 Hazelwood Avenue · Pittsburgh, PA 15217· (412)422-5627 · Fax (412)428-8200

Applications for need-based college scholarships for the 2019-2020 school year are available from the Jewish Scholarship Service of Greater Pittsburgh (JSS), formerly Central Scholarship and Loan Referral Service, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.  This program is administered by Jewish Family and Community Services. The funds are made available through the generosity of families who have established endowments through the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Jewish Community Center, National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International of Pittsburgh (formerly B'nai B'rith Women), The Pittsburgh Foundation, and Rodef Shalom Congregation.

All awards are distributed on the basis of demonstrated financial need .  Depending on the scholarship fund, other factors such as academic achievement, field of study, school attending, and Jewish and general community involvement will also be considered. In addition, the applicant must be Jewish, reside in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Beaver, Butler or Washington County for at least two years, and need financial assistance to attend an accredited institution of higher education.

The 2019-2020 JSS online application is available at  jfcspgh.org/scholarships All applications are due February 12, 2019.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (412) 422-5627 or email me atalowenberger@jfcspgh.org

Alayne Lowenberger, Director
Jewish Scholarship Service of Greater Pittsburgh
Once again this year, Hillel Academy will be participating in the Box Tops for Education Program.  My name is Barbara Uebing and I’m thrilled to be the Box Tops Coordinator. Clipping Box Tops is an easy way for you to help our school buy what it needs. Box Tops are each worth 10 cents and they quickly add up to real cash for our school. This school year, our school’s earnings goal is $2000.00.

To help our school, just look for pink Box Tops on products, clip them, and send them to school.  Pre-K — Fourth Grade will be having a friendly collection contest to help motivate school supporters to clip Box Tops. When sending in Box Tops, please be sure to write your child’s name and grade on the outside of the envelope or baggie. For more information on the Box Tops for Education program, including a list of participating products and school’s progress, visit www.BTFE.com .  Be sure to become a member to receive exclusive coupons and recipes and learn about extra ways for our school to earn. 

I hope you’re excited for everything we can do this year with Box Tops! If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at  buebing@hillelpgh.org . I’m here to make our school’s Box Tops for Education program a huge success this year.

From now until March 16, you can earn funds for Hillel Academy by using your Giant Eagle Advantage Card every time you shop or fill up at Get Go Gas stations through their Apples for the Students program. Register your card today to help us raise much-needed funds. It’s easy: just go to www.GiantEagle.com/AFTS to link your card to Hillel Academy’s account using the School ID number 0454. 
Interested volunteers please contact  Dan Kraut
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

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.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh | 412 521-8131 | hillelhappennings@hillelpgh.org | www.hillelpgh.org