May 9, 2019 | 4 Iyar 5779
Parshat Kedoshim presents the familiar command of “ve-ahavta lerei’acha kamocha” — “you should love your neighbor as yourself” (19:18). This imperative was made famous by Rabbi Akiva who suggested in the medrash that “Zeh Klal Gadol BaTorah — This is the great principle of the Torah.” It is very difficult to understand why such a seemingly egocentric and self-centered world view is one that is celebrated by Rabbi Akiva. Perhaps we can approach this statement in the context of a few well-known stories about Rabbi Akiva.
The Talmud in Berachot relates that Rabbi Akiva was once traveling and not able to find lodging. He was forced to spend the night in the forest where wild animals ate his chicken and donkey, and a gust of wind extinguished his only lamp, but at every stage he insisted that it was all for the best. In the morning, he discovered that pillagers had ransacked the city and killed its inhabitants. Rabbi Akiva realized that his life was spared as a result of the townspeople’s refusal to offer him lodging, and by the loss of his light and animals.
Rabbi Akiva's optimism resurfaces again in the final passage of Masekhet Makot. There, we read about a group of sages, including Rabbi Akiva, who passed by the ruins of the Temple and witnessed a fox scurrying about at the sacred site. While Rabbi Akiva’s colleagues wept, he smiled, noting how the fulfillment of the prophecies warning of Jerusalem’s destruction confirmed the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecies foreseeing its restoration. Once again, when placed in a situation that would ordinarily evoke feelings of anguish and despair, Rabbi Akiva responded with hope, optimism, confidence, and serenity.
How does a person “love his fellow as himself?” The answer, perhaps, is that we must view people the way Rabbi Akiva viewed every situation in life — which is the way people generally view themselves. All people have positive and negative character traits, but we are able to “love ourselves” by tolerating our imperfections and focusing on our finer qualities. Just as Rabbi Akiva was able to find the hopeful, encouraging aspects of even the most dreadful circumstances, similarly, we must identify the positive, admirable qualities of even those who do not immediately present a positive, admirable image. This, perhaps, is the “great principle of the Torah” — viewing the world’s people and events from a positive angle, approaching life with our eyes focused on all that is good.
The week of Yom HaZikaron / Yom HaAtzmaut is always an emotional one. We transitioned from the mourning of Yom HaZikaron, to the communal celebration of 71 years of Israeli sovereignty. This year Yom HaZikaron seemed especially difficult with Israel currently under attack. Unfortunately, it is precisely in times of trouble that we often learn to appreciate the enormity of the gift that we receive each day. At those times, we find ourselves more and more aware of the constant support and assistance that G-d heaps upon us. We must view every situation with the positive outlook of Rabbi Akiva and focus on all of the good in our lives. 

As we celebrate the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel, let us pray that G-d should spread over us His shelter of peace and remove from us all troubles and dangers.May G-d continue to watch over Israel, and each of us, and may we continue to celebrate and appreciate all of G-d’s blessings.

Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Mrs. Huff gets into the spirit of Yom Ha’atzmaut with a startlingly patriotic hair adornment.
On Tuesday, the Ninth Grade girls paid a visit to the state capital, Harrisburg, to lend their support to the Teach PA Coalition, an organization created to advocate for tuition assistance for Jewish education. Rabbi Weinberg poses with Speaker Mike Turzai, who said: “What an exciting day in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Just after the House passed HB 800, expanding our EITC program, students and teachers from the   Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh and  Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh  visited with me in the Speaker’s Office.” 

The Middle and High School Girls observe Yom HaZikiron by watching a presentation about families who have sacrificed loved ones in support of Israel. Meanwhile, Marcel Ohayon’s uncle spoke to the Middle and High School boys about his family story, the Army, and the loss of his brother in 1969.
The girls of Bruriah Girl’s High School of Elizabeth, New Jersey first visited Pittsburgh for the Shabbaton in early February; they returned to help Hillel Academy observe Yom Ha’Shoah by sharing their history class projects, which focused on the Holocaust. They set up an incredible museum-like display in the Shul, and led groups of students through it, explaining each step of their project. Afterwards, students engaged in coloring activities and contributed to a butterfly display. 
Hillel Academy Teams Score Victories 
at the Annual Odyssey of the Mind Festival

This past Sunday three teams from Hillel Academy competed in the Third Annual Jewish Day School Odyssey of the Mind festival. It was hosted by CDS and included teams from CDS and Yeshiva Schools as well. Odyssey of the Mind (OOTM) is an international creativity competition organized and judged by regional OOTM officials. The structure of OOTM is for teams of students from elementary through high school levels to engage in two different kinds of creativity challenges. One type of challenge is called the Long Term Problem, which involves creation of an eight-minute performance that meets the requirements of several options, with the whole year to prepare. The other type of challenge is called a Spontaneous Problem. For that teams must work together within a time limit to solve a problem given to them on the spot.
   We had three different teams of students competing this year. The first team was Girls, grades 4 and 5. That team included Meira Yolkut, Abby Friedman, Bassie Langer, Hannah Swedarsky, Perri Berelowitz and Theresa Schachter. The girls’ long term problem was called Opposites Distract, in which they created a cooking show with a sneaky character trying to cause conflict, whom the heroines overcome in the end. Despite significant adversity this year, including team members and a coach leaving the team, the girls performed wonderfully. They won the award for the Most Prepared Team.
   Our second team was Boys grades 6 - 8. Those team members were David Eydelman, Shmulik Eisenberg, Aaron Clark, Avraham Kaminsky, Menchie Eisenberg, and Alex Small. Their long term problem was Leonardo's Workshop. It involved a recreation of the workshop and inventions of Leonardo DaVinci. In addition to doing well in this problem, the boys also took First Place in the Spontaneous Problem, scoring higher than every other team in both divisions.
   Our third team, Boys grades 4 and 5, had the upset victory of the day. Team members were Akiva Camp, Yehuda Levy, Azi Knoll, Eliezer Henteleff, Caleb Knoll, Mikey Karoll, and Nitai Martel. Their long term problem was in the technical division and was called Structure Toss. They had to build a balsa wood structure under a certain weight, toss it through the air then have it support as much weight as possible. All of that had to be included in a play about a carnival. These boys won First Place in their division, beating two other schools, including an older age group team.
   Every student gave their best, working hard all year long to make Sunday a successful, fun and valuable experience. One of the special aspects of OOTM is that the students must do all of the planning, creating and performing on their own with no outside/adult assistance. They truly created their own success. Congratulations to all of our OOTM participants. — Don Garwood


The Fifth Grade boys and girls recently traveled to Fort Ligonier in order to gain a better understanding of the significance of the fort's role in the French and Indian War and its relation to local, national, and world history. Students read about the war in Social Studies class and had many engaging discussions about the war. They also watched two very compelling videos about the war, WHEN THE FOREST RAN RED, AND GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FIRST WAR, which were produced locally, in conjunction with the Heinz History Center and PBS. Fort Ligonier is a British  fortification  from the  French and Indian War  that served as a staging area for the  Forbes Expedition  of 1758. During the eight years of its existence as a garrison, Fort Ligonier was never taken by an enemy. It served as a point of passage to the new  Fort Pitt , and during  Pontiac's War  of 1763, was a vital link in the British communication and supply lines. Students engaged in several hands-on activities (History a la Carte) where they were able to experience writing as people did in the 18th century using a quill pen and ink. They also had the opportunity to understand what it was like to make their own candles, which they discovered was a very long and slow process. Finally, students became an 18th-century tinsmith and created their own tin punch tart pan using the tools and techniques of the trade. Students also enjoyed a very informative and educational tour of the museum and fort to learn about the many artifacts the museum has in its showcases. Ms. Oz did a 'happy dance' smack dab in the middle of the George Washington Gallery when she heard Ms. Sally comment that the girls were so much more well-informed about the war than the usual classes to whom she gives tours. YAY!! Mr. David was impressed by the boys' knowledge as well. The trip was an excellent addition to the curriculum and the students gave the whole experience a 'two thumbs up' review! What was Ms. Oz's favorite part of the field trip? Ask any Fifth Grader for the answer!
To complement the science unit “Fabrics” the Kindergarten students tried their hands at sewing.

Morah Ilana helps students prepare for celebrating Israel this week, while Nursery students make Israeli flags! 
Why hang upside down when you can hang sideways? Dovid Katz shows his classmates how it’s done. (TOP TIP: you need more than a good grip — you need solid core strength and your elbows are key!)


We are excited to open registration for Hillel Academy Summer Camps. This is our fourth year of offering summer camp, and every year is more fun and exciting than the last. This year we have four separate divisions ranging from ages three years old through Eighth Grade. Our most significant improvement will be the addition of Ms. Rebecca Huff to our team. As you know, Ms. Huff is the STEAM coordinator at Hillel and we will be incorporating various week long explorations into Robotics, Coding, Ecology, Fine Art, for out campers. 

Please contact Ms. Rebecca Huff ( ) or Morah Tova Admon ( ) with questions regarding Machaneh Hillel or Mini-Machaneh (Grades N-3).

Please contact Rabbi Akiva Sutofsky ( ) or Ms. Faigy Nadoff ( ) with questions regarding the Teen Torah and Travel Camp (Grades 4- 8).

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.
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 | |