December 6 2018 | 28 Kislev 5779
In Parshat Miketz we read about Yosef’s encounter with his brothers when they come to Egypt to purchase grain. Yosef, who is now an Egyptian vizier, treats his brothers very harshly and accuses them of being spies. He then imprisons Shimon and orders the rest of the brothers to return home and retrieve Binyamin. The bothers immediately realize that they were now being punished for the crime they committed against Yosef. Reuven then scolds his brothers and says “ve-gam damo hinei nidrash” (“and now, behold, a reckoning is made for his blood” – 42:22).

In this admonishment, Rashi notes the peculiar usage of the word “gam” in this passuk. The word “gam” usually means “also,” and is used in reference to something that is in addition to the primary subject. In this context it seems that Reuven is only referring to the blood of Yosef, so what does he mean with the word “gam”? The Midrash suggests that Reuven alludes to two “bloods” for which retribution was now being visited upon the brothers. “Damo ve-gam dam ha-zakein” (“his blood and also the blood of the old man (Yaakov”)). Reuven chastised his brothers that they were being punished for the pain they caused Yosef, and also for the pain caused to Yaakov while he mourned for his son.

Rabbeinu Yehuda Ha-Chasid, in Sefer Ha-Chasidim (659), infers a general rule from the Midrash’s comment. He explains that one who commits an offense against another individual is held liable for the distress caused to the victim and for the distress indirectly caused to others as a result of the crime. This medrash teaches us how far-reaching the negative effects of mistreating others can be. It is also important for us to realize that the converse is also true. By helping a person, we also help those around them as well. The kindness we perform for those around us can yield a far more significant and far-reaching impact than we can imagine.

Lighting the Chanukah lights outside one’s home, where they shine onto the public domain to publicize the Chanukah miracle, is symbolic of the ability of every Jewish home to “illuminate” its surroundings, the community, and, indeed, the entire world. On Chanukah we are constantly reminded that even a small flame can endure through a large swath of darkness. The candles symbolize the power invested in each and every household to make a difference. Even if we feel no more significant than a tiny flame, we are capable of penetrating the darkness and making the world a better place.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Lights on / lights off! Morah Ilana shared her Chanukiah with the Tiny Tots. 
The Fifth Grade Girls tried to find as many words as they could from the phrase LIGHTING CANDLES. They found 73 at the time this photo was taken. How many can YOU find? 
The High School Girls are dedicated dreidel players. 
The Middle School Girls made a display featuring their theme for the year: cereal! It was “surreal”! (Get it?) 
OH NO! The High School Girls lost a dreidel. Can you find it in the pages of this issue?
The Chanukah Festival at the Waterfront featured rapper Nissim Black — who made time for selfies with Hillel Academy students! 
Even though we are all small flames, together we are one big flame! 
Morah Bonnie plays the Chanukah gelt game with eager students.
Pre-K B learned about the science of spinning — just in time for some dreidel playing perhaps? 
The Eighth Grade Girls baked a lot of challah for their sale! 

By Nathan Azagury

The Bnot Sheirut turned the Hillel teacher’s lounge into a crime scene. The premise was that someone had stolen a lamp, and it was hidden somewhere in that room. Students had to open three small chests, and find a whole bunch of clues to solve the mystery. However, there was a twist:  three lamps were hidden in the room, so which one was the real one? Using an invisible pen, the Bnot Sheirut had written a small R inside of one of the lamps!

Congratulations to the Tenth Grade Girls, who managed to solve the mystery and escape in the fastest time! 
Gravity took a vacation on Wednesday as Hillel Academy students descended upon Altimate Air. The girls were all captured firmly fixed to the floor, while the boys were mostly airborne and upside-down. A good time was had by all! 
The Chanukah Festival at the Waterfront featured rapper Nissim Black — who made time for selfies with Hillel Academy students! 
What exactly does the resource room do?

EM : The Resource Room provides support for learning, a removed place with 1:1 help when students seek help with all subjects!

KD : We do everything we can to make sure that everyone at Hillel has the academic and emotional support that they need.

AY : Well, the resource ROOM doesn't do much. Sorry. The resource room and it's staff are there to support students and teachers in any way needed. We might be a quiet place to take a test, we might help students who need a little extra practice or review in a certain subject, we might help a student who needs to catch up because they missed something. Sometimes we provide enrichment to students who need it. Sometimes we are another set of hands in a classroom ("push-in") to help the teacher meet everyone's needs. 

EZ : The resource room is a place for students to come to work with teachers on Judaics subjects, reading, math, social studies and other special projects that they might need help with. We also go into the classroom to help with individual students and small groups. Whatever we can do to help learning go to the next level, we do it! We also help teachers gather material for their classes and come up with creative ideas for how to keep their classrooms. We work closely with our friends at JFCS to help kids and teachers as well. 

TM : It’s similar to a classroom, but we work in smaller groups and have more fun!

KE : That's a great question. I think the Resource Room does a ton of things for the school, but I also joke all the time that it's like working backstage at a theater... if we do our jobs well, no one even knows we exist. There are two parts of the resource room's role at Hillel that I can talk about directly, though I'm sure there's much more that I don't even know about. To me, the most important of the two main roles of the resource room is to work directly with students who benefit from extra support, additional practice, a specialized learning environment, or enrichment activities. Sometimes that means helping someone to take a test or complete classwork; other times that means learning one-on-one with a student to master a skill, or working on an activity with a small group of students. The other main role of the resource room that isn't as visible to students and parents is that we partner with teachers to help them plan and adapt lessons so they can best serve all of the students in their classroom. What this usually involves is creating a specialized activity for a small group, adapting materials a teacher already has to accommodate different students and learning styles or collaborating with a teacher to prepare and teach something for the whole class.

How did you join the resource room?

EM : This is my first year at Hillel, as the behavioral specialist. I help students throughout their day-to-day routines and assist in problem solving when difficult situations arise.

KD : Ms. Ziff and I joke that I joined the team because I helped her fix her iPhone during my interview.

AY : Actually, I began my career in the resource room, in YNJ, a school in Bergen County, a long time ago. Over the years I ended up as a regular classroom teacher, but working with small groups and one-on-one was always one of my favorite things to do. Over the past two years I have been spending more and more time in the resource room, and I really love getting to work with kids in small groups and one-on-one.

EZ : I was a classroom teacher at CDS and heard about an incredible opportunity to be the Director of Support at Hillel and couldn't pass it by!

KE : I was very lucky to join the resource room team not long after Mrs. Ziff, the administrator in charge of Support Services, came to Hillel. I've been a teacher here in the resource room for seven years now.

What do you add to the resource room?

EM : Diversity! I never went to school to become a teacher but found my way into teaching when I began to work at the Natural History Museum as an educator... along the way I've learned a lot and taught plenty of different topics.

KD : I hope that I bring enthusiasm for learning (especially math!), an appreciation for perseverance, and an organized system for checking out fidgets.

AY : My knowledge of Judaic studies is one obvious thing that I add. I also think that my experiences as a classroom teacher and as a mom of Hillel students help me to think about things from those perspectives in addition to from the vantage point of the resource room.

EZ : Teamwork! 

TM : Everyone on the resource room staff has their own specialty and skill set that we use to best support our students. I mostly teach limudei kodesh studies.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

EM : My days are ALWAYS different, each day is a surprise and for that I'm grateful! Seeing students have an "ah-ha!" moment where they understand something that they didn't fully grasp the first time.

KD : Every time a student asks a great question or chooses to keep working on something even though it's really tough.

AY : Seeing a student feel confident and successful who came in to the resource room feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.

EZ : Working with a great staff, both here in the resource room and in Hillel in general. Also, seeing all the students working so hard everyday, their smiles say it all!

TM : Watching my students learn and grow.

KE : I love most parts of my job, but I think I find it most satisfying when a student feels successful at something they think is difficult. It's an amazing part of my job to get to see the "aha" moment when something finally makes sense for a student.

How does the resource room benefit students? 

EM : The resource room offers a space outside of the classroom for learning, where students can get the help they need from many different talented teachers.

EZ : Our job is to figure out how students learn best and work with the teachers to make it happen.

TM : Students know we care about them and know we will find a method that works for them, therefore they want to learn.

What makes the resource room special?

EM : The people (teachers and students)!

KD : We have an energetic, positive, and enthusiastic team that is so excited to get started every morning and take the day as it comes. I have seldom seen a group of people so passionate about what they do.

AY : We are a great team of dedicated professionals who love the kids, love learning, and love making learning fun.

EZ : How we work to customize the learning.

TM : Ask the students who come here — they love it!

What are you educated in?

EM : I went to school for Anthropology and majored in Archaeology AND Forensics. I have over eight years of field experience in North American archaeology (prehistoric and historic) and have worked with several Indigenous tribes to exhuming, identifying, researching and repatriating (re-burying) human remains. Since graduating in 2013 from University, I've taken a few credits toward child development working with children with and without special needs. In the summer when I'm not teaching I attend a few local digs and projects. 

KD : Social work.

AY : I have an undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Bio. I went to Azrieli, which is a graduate school of Jewish Education, but we moved away from NY before I finished the program, WAY before the days doing something like that online was an option.

EZ : I have an undergraduate degree in Education and a Masters in Social Work.

KE : I graduated from Slippery Rock University twice. I went the first time for a Bachelors in Secondary English Education and Theatre, then I pursued a Masters in Special Education after I substitute taught for a few years.

Where did you grow up?

EM : New Wilmington, PA.

KD : I was an Air Force kid born abroad, but when my dad left the service we settled down about an hour south of Pittsburgh, right next door to my grandparents.

AY : Livingston, NJ.

EZ : Pittsburgh.

KE : I actually still live in the house I grew up in about 45 minutes north of Squirrel Hill.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

KD : Maybe that I have chickens? But I talk about my chickens all the time, so maybe not. I have backpacked across India, and I've been to 46 states.

AY : I think people know pretty much everything about me at this point, I don't think my kids keep any secrets. I am a Russian speaker, which surprises some people….

EZ : I worked at a catering event for Chelsea Clinton's College Graduation party and met Bill and Hillary Clinton.

How does Hillel compare to other schools you have taught at ?

EM : Hillel has an amazing sense of community, the students at Hillel are clever and have a brilliant way of problem-solving!

AY : Hillel is very much a family environment. The staff feels like a team, and all of the kids feel like they are all of our responsibility. I also love that Hillel is growth-oriented, always looking for new ways to do our job of educating our kids in better and more professional ways.

EZ : It is the warmest and most welcoming school!

KE : Well, the easiest difference to note is that every other school I've taught at was a public school. In general, Hillel has smaller class sizes, and a more friendly, community-oriented atmosphere than any of the other school's I've worked at. 

What’s a good studying/combating procrastination trick?

EM : Breaking work into smaller, more manageable pieces... and taking lots of breaks. Best anti-procrastination trick? I'll let you know tomorrow….

KD : Study content as it comes rather than cramming it all at the end. Find someone else you can teach the material to — teaching is a great way to be sure you really know the material. Anti-procrastination? Let me know if you find a good one.

AY : When it comes to studying, I find that DOING something, vs. just reading over material, is really helpful — whether it's teaching it to someone, making a review sheet or making flashcards — anything kind of active studying is much more effective. Also mnemonic devices. Love those, even though most kids I suggest them to think they plug in somewhere. I love timers. They are a good way of tricking yourself of getting started, even for a few minutes. Usually once you start it's not as hard to keep going. Also, start with the easiest thing first, just to start feeling a sense of accomplishment.

EZ : Do a little at a time and don't forget to reward yourself!

KE : My biggest study trick is to always take good notes. If it seems important write it down. Keep an "ugly" notebook for in class and a clean, crisp one for study notes. Transfer everything over after class or at the end of the week. Every time that you go through the process of writing something down, reading it, and rewriting it your brain has to process that information. Keeping a nice notebook for studying later makes this a more appealing thing to do, and forcing your brain to go back through the information you've written down helps you to remember it without the need to cram for a test later.

What do you like about Pittsburgh? 

EM : Our three beautiful rivers; I live on North Shore and enjoy kayaking, fishing and swimming so close to home! Mni wiconi = water is life!

KD : I love all rust belt cities, but Pittsburgh is my favorite. The people here are hardworking, kind, and have a certain grit that has kept the city thriving through difficult times. I've been to many cities across America and the world, but I will always come home to Pittsburgh.

AY : There are so many things I love about Pittsburgh. I think our Jewish community here is one of a kind (I know everybody thinks that about their hometown, but really...).

EZ : Cultural events are very accessible and we have great parks.

KE : I've always lived near Pittsburgh, so I don't have much to compare it to, but I love that even the city has lots of green space and interesting things to do outdoors.

What are your hobbies?

EM : Camping, hiking, knitting/crocheting, painting, going to concerts, and gardening.

KD : Cooking, hanging out with my pets, traveling, reading.

AY : Hobby? What does that word mean? Ask me again in a few years….

EZ : Outdoor activities, scrapbooking, cooking for friends.

KE : I enjoy reading, gardening, playing video games, and baking.

Do you have any pets?

EM : Yes two cats, Charlie and Niki and one gecko, Biz.

KD : I have a dog, five cats (I know, I know), and three chickens.

AY : Nope.

EZ : A very cute dog, 1/2 Basset Hound, 1/2 Golden Retriever named Bessie.

KE : I have two dogs and a cat. We also have about six chickens, but they're not really pets, they're more like livestock.

What is your favorite dessert?  

EM : Vanilla ice cream with real maple syrup!

KD : Halavah or baklava.

AY : Anything with peanut butter and chocolate. 

EZ : Carrot Cake.

Do you play any instruments?

EM : In high school I played clarinet, but now I play some guitar and mandolin. 

AY : Be very thankful the answer to that is not anymore.

EZ : No. 

KE : I play the piano and mandolin, but not very well.

Did/do you play any sports?

EM : In high school I was in track (javelin, shot put, discus and high jump).

KD : I was on the swim team in school, but now my main sport is chasing my dog around the neighborhood when she gets loose.

AY : Very casually as a young kid. 

EZ : Volleyball, basketball.
Thursday Nov 15 / 7 Kislev            Reach out to a friend or out-of-town relative you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Friday Nov 16 / 8 Kislev            Throw out garbage that isn’t yours.
Shabbos Nov 17 / 9 Kislev            Say “Good Shabbos” or “Shabbat Shalom” to three people you see on the street.
Sunday Nov 18 / 10 Kislev            Return a lost item to someone.
Monday Nov 19 / 11 Kislev            Thank a staff member (not a teacher) for what they do for you.
Tuesday Nov 20 / 12 Kislev            Make up with someone you had a fight with.
Wednesday Nov 21 / 13 Kislev  Hold yourself back from saying a really sarcastic comment.
Thursday Nov 22 / 14 Kislev            Write a thank you note to someone who deserves it.
Friday Nov 23 / 15 Kislev            Give tzedakah (charity).
Shabbos Nov 24 / 16 Kislev            Make someone smile.
Sunday Nov 25 / 17 Kislev            Clean up a room in your house.
Monday Nov 26 / 18 Kislev            Say “good morning” to someone in the lobby or doing drop-off.
Tuesday Nov 27 / 19 Kislev            Go through your closet and donate something you never wear.
Wednesday Nov 28 / 20 Kislev  If you are arguing with someone, drop it and “agree to disagree.”
Thursday Nov 29 / 21 Kislev            Hold the door open for someone.
Friday Nov 30 / 22 Kislev            Help at home for Shabbos.
Shabbos Dec 1 / 23 Kislev            Help clear the table from your Seuda (Shabbos meal).
Monday Dec 2 / 24 Kislev            Hang out with a girl you don’t normally hang out with.
Tuesday Dec 3 / 25 Kislev            Donate the maser (tithe) money you need to donate.
Wednesday Dec 4 / 26 Kislev Eat lunch in the lounge with the whole Girls High School.
Thursday Dec 5 / 27 Kislev            Give your friend encouragement.
Friday Dec 6 / 28 Kislev            Help your friend study, or with work.
Shabbos Dec 7 / 29 Kislev             Take an extra minute or two to daven for someone.
Thursday Dec 8 / 30 Kislev            Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
We are thrilled to announce that the Girls High School Chap A Chessed program has been adopted by TWO more schools! Our goal is for 11 schools to adopt the program to honor those who perished at the Tree Of Life. Thank you: Tenafly Chabad Academy and Berman Hebrew Academy!

“My family eating chocolate gelt.”
“Bais Hamikdash.”

Pinsker's Judaica, under new ownership, will be open Saturday night 7:30- 10 PM and Sunday 10 AM to 3 PM for Chanukah shopping!
Chanukah is here and besides all the amazing events we are doing at school there are two opportunities for you to join in the Chanukah spirit as well!

1. We are continuing our annual Family Chanukiah Crafting Competition! Try your skills at crafting the ultimate Chanukiah and win a soon-to-be-determined, special prize!

Everyone can participate! There will be a separate category for children under 5, grades K-3, 4-6, 7-12, parents, and families. If students want to enter, it should be with minimal parental help. Any Chanukiah designed with parents and children will be entered into the family category. It can be big or small; it can be bold, colorful, recyclable, build-able etc. However, one condition! It should be a Chanukiah that is kosher and can be used to (hypothetically) light candles!

 *We are adding a new category this year. For those mechanically inclined, there will be a special  mechanic/robotic Chanukiah category!  Pull out all the stops and create the most advanced, futuristic Chanukiah and win an even more special, soon-to-be-determined prize! There will be one winner in this category, regardless of age. 

You may bring in your Chanukiot starting on Monday, December 3rd through Thursday, December 10th. We will display them along tables set up in the front hallway of the school. If you wish to use your Chanukiah to light on Chanukah, then bring it in during that week and we will photograph it and put the picture out on the tables. Please label your entry with your name and for which category it is being submitted (Under 5, K-3, 4-6, 7-12, Parent, Family, or Mechanical/Robotic).

If you have any questions feel free to email Rabbi Levy at .

2.  This year we will once again be participating in the annual Chai Lifeline toy drive to benefit sick children in the Pittsburgh area. If you have any unused (and unwrapped) toys that you would like to donate, please drop them off in the blue bin by the front desk at Hillel by Thursday, December 13th.

Thank you and Tizku L'Mitzvot!

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!
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 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

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 .  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 | |