November 8 2018 | 30 Cheshvan 5779
In the beginning of Parashat Toldot, Rashi explains that the cynics of the time claimed that Yitzchak was born as a result of Avimelekh’s abduction of Sara, and was not the son of Avraham. In response to these aspersions, G-d ensured that Yitzchak physically resembled Avraham.
On the most basic level, these “cynics” simply denied the possibility that at such an old age Avraham and Sara could have a child together. They therefore found a different explanation for the birth of Yitzchak, which did not have to accept the premise that Avraham and Sara bore a child. Rav Soloveitchik, however, explained this Midrash differently (“ chamesh drashot ,” 3:3). The cynics did not deny the reality of a son born to Avraham and Sara, but rather the possibility of an ideological and spiritual heir to Avraham. They assumed the ideology of ethical monotheism was merely a passing trend. To them, it seemed inconceivable that Avraham could leave any significant legacy. The Rav writes:
"People laughed at the event. They did not believe that Isaac would inherit Abraham. That he, a young lad of the new generation, would continue to carry Abraham’s visions and laws, and that he also would engage in building altars and calling on the name of G-d. They laughed at Abraham’s dreams that his son would give his life for Torah and fight for the sanctity of Abraham’s house."
Rav Soloveitchik then applied this view to many of the critics of our time. He adds that in a cynic’s view, "it is impossible to pass on the mitzvot of Abraham — his statutes and laws — to the modern generation, to young Isaac who fights with a rifle, works in laboratories and thinks in modern categories of thought.... Who could have foreseen that the young, modern Isaac would demand a kosher kitchen and fight for religious education and the like! Who could have guessed that he would speak with the same language that old Abraham spoke, as the author of the Shulchan Arukh, as the Rama, as the Gaon of Vilna, as Rav Chayim of Volozhin?"

In this poignant analysis, the Rav highlights that in the view of the masses, Judaism has always been counter-cultural, whose future and relevance has always been questioned and challenged, but the Jewish people would always prevail and cleave to the roots of Avraham. 
These past few weeks have been extremely troubling and trying for the Jewish people. Our community is again shaken by the heinous massacre that took place on Shabbat during  shacharit  right in our own backyards.   Once again, not only is our spiritual identity threatened, but our physical one as well.   

This past week we continued to look for sources of strength and inspiration. I, for one, continue to find this inspiration in our students, faculty, and extended Hillel family. This past Shabbat a group of students thought that it would be nice to daven  Kabbalat Shabbat  outside of Tree of Life. Rabbi Admon arranged for the FBI to clear a space for us, and we texted a few people to tell them our plan. Nothing could have prepared me for the experience that ensued. Well over a hundred people joined us for the service. Over a hundred voices sang Lecha Dodi and declared with utmost certainty “ shema Yisroel Hashem Elokenu Hashem Echad.”  For three thousand years the Jewish people have been persecuted, but for three thousand years the Jewish people have persevered. The generation of Avraham laughed at his dream to have a spiritual heir, yet today he has millions, and in the future, millions more. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Squirrel Hill is a Special Place —
and It’s Not by Accident

Hillel Academy alumna Hannah Lebovits wrote a heartfelt article about the blessing of growing up in this neighborhood that so many of us call home. You can check it out here:  Beltmag Article
This was created by Hillel Academy Alumna Rosie Lauer. The Shabbos candles are the number 11, and the flames of the 11 kedoshim burn bright.
You’re never too young or old to say you’re Stronger than Hate! 
Rabbi Smith learns with High School Boys in the calm environs of the Donald and Chantze Butler Beit Midrash. 
Fourth Grade girls made cards to thank the many people who sent their support to Pittsburgh from all around the world. 
Chavi Beck holds a special double keyfob which was handed out to students at dismissal on Friday, reminding them that we are Stronger Than Hate.
Hillel Academy men and boys daven at Tree of Life.
High School Girls watch some of the incredible message of support from around the world that were sent to Noa and Eliraz in their appeal to demonstrate the unity of the Jewish community. 
Dr. Norman Blumenthal, Director of OHEL’s Trauma, Bereavement and Crisis Response team visited Hillel Academy to speak to parents and faculty about how people react to stressful situations and how to manage during challenging times. 
High School girls Chaya Langer, Bluma Rodkin, Rivky Grossberg, Shira Sutofsky, and Eliyanah van Sickle delivered cookies to the Zone 4 police officers who have been working tirelessly to watch over the safety of everyone in Squirrel Hill, including the mourners at Tree Of Life. 
A big THANK YOU to the wonderful parents who provided fabulous drinks and snacks baskets to the teachers — it was much appreciated, and we are very grateful! 
The Bnot Sheirut, Noa and Eliraz, hosted a get-to-know-you event for the 7th —12 th Grade Girls. Everyone got to make colorful decorative salt jars.
The PreK students have been thinking about what makes people similar and different. Betzalel and Moshe might have different shorts and shoes, but they both have hands — and a canny ability to capture each other’s open arms of friendship in a portrait! 
Mr. Nimrod Eisenberg (AKA Nimrod the Medical Clown) came to Pittsburgh in the wake of last week’s tragedy to do what he does best: help people find a way to process their emotions in difficult times. He is part of an Israeli-based organization called Dream Doctors who often help hospitalized children handle their feelings and overcome fear. As the Middle School Boys learned, Nimrod is also an official medical clown for the IDF. After engaging students in an almost wordless and captivating series of funny interactions, Nimrod spoke at length about what his job entails and how humor can help those who are hurting. He asked us to examine our own responses to see why we are moved to laugh, and the power that comedy has to make something fearsome far less so. You could say that his visit was just what the doctor ordered! 
Tenth Graders Reuven Kanal and Nathan Azagury learn about determining the properties of matter in chemistry class. Objects are weighed to calculate their mass, and substances are observed reacting in water . 
Nursery students heard the story of how Eliezer found a wife for Yitzchak and learned the purpose for a well. Here, students decorate a class well. 
The earth moved — in a good, but muddy way, on Wednesday, when the area in front of the Lipsitz Building was leveled in preparation for landscaping the play area. 
The PreK-A students learned about what propels rockets in science class — and fired some themselves! 
Seventh and Eighth Grade Wordsearch

Click HERE to download a PDF to print!


In addition to a girls' movie night for each Kvutza, there will bea movie night for each boys' Kvutza
this Sunday, November 11th!

An email will be sent out with more details. 
If you have any questions, please email


Performances of The LION KING will be on Monday March 11 and Tuesday March 12 at the
JCC Katz Theater (with a full dress rehearsal on Sunday March 10).
The Hillel Happenings is published on Thursdays. Please submit stories, photos and ads by Wednesday afternoon to:

Thank you!
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 .  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 . 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 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.

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 | |