March 7, 2019 | 30 Adar I 5779
Parashat Pekudei begins with a description of the Machzit HaShekel, the half shekel tax levied upon the nation of Israel in the desert. The Torah tells us that this silver amounted to “100 talents and 1,775 shekels” (38:25). The one hundred talents were used to make 100 adanim — weighted sockets which supported the boards of the Mishkan, and the remaining silver was used to make hooks for the posts (38:28). Essentially, the silver was used as accessories for the pillars of the outer courtyard of the Mishkan. 

The Midrash Tanchuma explains that this detailed account of the silver was necessary because there were those among B’nai Yisrael who did not fully trust Moshe’s honesty with the precious metals donated to the Mishkan. According to this Midrash, Moshe therefore accounted for the one hundred talents of silver. The Midrash continues  to say that Moshe then forgot about the accessories for the amudim, and he could not recall what he did with the remaining 1,775 shekels of silver. Hashem then “illuminated his eyes” and reminded him of the hooks of the amudim made from the remaining silver.

This Midrash is puzzling on a few accounts. How can we understand that Moshe “forgot” about the hooks for the pillars — and what lesson is this Midrash teaching us? Rav Shimon Schwab, zt”l, in his “Ma’ayan Beit Ha-sho’eiva,” suggests a symbolic reading of this Midrash. Moshe’s thoughts were focused on the interior of the Mishkan. Rav Schwab explains that this orientation, this “interior” mindset, led to a small measure of neglect of the outer parts of the Mishkan. Moshe’s intensive involvement in the most sacred chambers of the Mishkan — his constant communion with G-d — may have caused him to “forget” the pillars in the courtyard. Rav Schwab suggests that these pillars perhaps represent the congregants “at the outskirts” of the camp; the people he leads and represents who have not found their way inside as he has. G-d, therefore, reminded him, so-to-speak, of those outer layers; that his intensive engagement with the Shekhina may not cause his neglect of the commoners among the people. G-d, therefore, urged Moshe to focus not only on the Mishkan’s interior, but on its outer perimeter as well, and try to relate to all members of the nation, even those situated along the periphery.

At Hillel our mission is to ensure that all of our students have the ability to attain an excellent Jewish Education. We understand that some people will naturally find themselves in the “inner sanctum,” while others feel more comfortable on the periphery. Our goal is to make sure we create an environment where even the people on the periphery feel comfortable and cared for, so they too can be active and engaged participants in our community. 

Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

PRE-K students look at a real megillah and find Hebrew letters they know. The long Megillah was brought back from Iran by Mr. Kohanbash — Nursery and PRE-K students compared it to the one they made and measured how long it was! 
Tiny Tots try crowns on for size! 
Baskets, baskets, all around / Fill it up with loads to eat / Purim, Purim, is coming soon / Shaloch Manot, what a treat! 
Kindergarten students show off their animal masks! 
PRE-K students visited the Pittsburgh Symphony to hear a story about a mouse named Anatole. They enjoyed being able to identify different instruments they had learned about and had a great time! 
Rabbi Jonty Blackman from Classroom without Borders spoke to the Seventh – Twelfth Grade Girls about Purim in the context of Jewish History.
PRE-K students learn about magnets in science class! 

The North and South Magnetic Poles are always on the move? 

The World Magnetic Model, which notes the exact position of the Earth’s magnetic poles is updated every five years to reflect how much it has moved position. 

In recent years, the North Magnetic Pole has shifted as much as 34 miles a year! Right now, it’s moving from Northern Canada towards Siberia. 

GPS Systems need to know the exact position of the magnetic poles in order to provide you with accurate locations. 
The First Grade celebrated Theodor Seuss Geisel’s birthday this week by doing nothing out of the ordinary whatsoever. All the children came to school wearing completely normal clothes and hats and face paint and it was mere coincidence that so many stuffed toys appeared. Their teachers remain mystified as to what all the fuss is about. 
The Third Graders are learning about color theory in art. Here, they create color charts based on primary, secondary and tertiary colors using watercolor! 

Who are these Hillel Academy faculty and/or staff? 
Answers in next week’s issue!

(Faculty — please submit photos to .)

Where is the basketball Aaron Kraut is shooting? Put an X where you think the center of the ball is!   (Answer in next week’s issue!)

The Books You Read
By Isaac Brown, 12th Grade

When one thinks of their education, what comes to mind? The friends you made? The knowledge you learned? The countless hours spent looking at the clock? A lesser-acknowledged memory may be reading the books assigned to you by your teacher. In high school, these books range from plays such as  Macbeth or  Hamlet to mystery novels like The Hound of the Baskervilles , and  The Scarlet Pimpernel , as well as contemporary novels designed to make the reader think, like  Animal Farm , Lord of the Flies , and  1984 . What do all these books have in common? They’re classics, written at a time when most of the teachers weren’t even born. They still resonate with today’s generation on boundless levels, but the messages in these books might not reach younger students. Yes — teachers do encourage students to choose their own books and write reports on them. Often, a student chooses a book with little to no meaning, and only accomplish little. They are reading, but they aren’t gaining anything from it. Instead I propose that teachers assign books to which students can relate more readily, and which are more contemporary. This will inspire the younger students to increase their literacy through the use of newer books.

By Mrs. Myers, 7 - 12 Grade Language Arts

Isaac makes a good point about the value of canonical reading in high school literature classes. Too often, teachers select books from a limited range of “classics,” usually reflecting a demographic that has long dominated academic scholarship. It is easy to see why a high school student today could take issue with this list; its authors are usually white European men who are long dead; they describe a world which today’s students no longer see around them in many respects. It can become too easy for a teacher to unwittingly reinforce cultural and academic stereotypes by adhering to such a curriculum. So why are books like this still offered in our classes? Isaac mentions the messages these books convey; and that is a large part of it. When we read books in class, we do so not only to learn about the craft of writing across different genres and historical periods, but we also use literature to help us learn about other topics, too: some books can be used to discuss ethics or the dangers of motives such as revenge (as in the case of  Hamlet ); others, such as  Animal Farm and  1984 , warn of the dangers of totalitarianism and shed light on the political climate in the era in which they were written. One of the questions we ask is why are they classics? What is it about them that has stood the test of time as works of literature? What Isaac asks is that if these curricula can be updated — while maintaining the scholarly value of the literature class. The answer to this is yes. At Hillel Academy, the books we teach adhere to a content threshold; we do not expose our students to explicit situations or language, for example. While this does limit us somewhat, there are still plenty of books which can be taught that meet Isaac’s concerns. In the last few years, our English Department has introduced a number of new texts at the Middle and High School levels which reinforce a vibrant, relevant, and more contemporary and diverse reading list, and we will continue to do so. Ultimately, what we value most is that students read, period — whether it be in school or out of school. If you know of a book you want to recommend for our consideration, please let us know!
Purim cards are now available in the office
$4 each with proceeds supporting Tomchei Shabbos. 

Please can anyone taking out new books from the green cart in the back of the library please sign them out on the book log clipboard on the cart!

— Thank you, Bonnie Morris
Purim is around the corner. Please fill out the Happy Purim form you received or contact the office to participate in the annual Purim Basket Fundraiser. 

The deadline for orders is March 13th.
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).


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