December 20 2018 | 12 Tevet 5779
At the end of Sefer Bereshit, we are presented with Yaakov’s final blessings to his children, the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. When we read these blessings, we realize that these are not blessings in the traditional sense; rather they are prophecies highlighting the unique and distinct character traits of each brother. Yaakov understood that each of his children had special character traits and unique potential that only they could achieve. His bracha to them was that they each achieve their potential.
Rabbi Menacham Leibtag questions why Bnei Yisroel needed to be divided into shevatim at all. Why couldn’t we all have inherited Israel equally and thus avoided years of turmoil and civil war that plagued us throughout the Tanach? He uses these brachot at the conclusion of Sefer Bereshit to answer this question. Throughout Bereshit — from the failure of the Migdal Bavel generation to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov — we see that the major aspiration of the Avot was to “call out in the name of Hashem,” to motivate the nations of the world and to be pillars of inspiration for humanity. Based on this objective, Rabbi Leibtag explains the need for shevatim. If our goal is to inspire humanity, we must have the ability to reach as many people as possible. This necessitates the need for diversity among us. If we were all the same, we would only be able to contact a myopic group of like-minded people. In having different strengths, we are able to network a far more eclectic group, and ultimately fulfill our destiny.
On tours of our school, visitors always point out to us the diversity of our student body. This is something that makes us unique, and something that we take pride in at Hillel Academy. Our school is a place where we celebrate the uniqueness of each student and learn and grow from one another. As it says in Mishlei 22:6, “Educate your child according to his way and even when he grows old, he will not depart from it.”

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

Motivational speaker Jon Pritikin gave a moving presentation to the Middle and High School students in which he demonstrated amazing feats of strength — such as rolling frying pans together, twirling two students above his head, bending an iron bar with his teeth, and snapping a baseball bat — followed by a heartfelt testimonial about his own struggles growing up. His positive message was that we can all FEEL THE POWER when it comes to strength of character. 

A HUGE thank you to the generous group of parents who gifted a Keurig coffee machine to the teachers! 
Morah Tamar presents the letter TES at tea to the PREK-B students.

Morah Ilana teaches emotion vocabulary in Ivrit as part of the Extended Day program.

Spring may be several months away, but the lawn is brilliant green in the playground!  

Art elective provides an opportunity for students to explore their creative sides while enjoying a welcome bit of peace in their busy day!

PREK-A students created these colorful alphabet and aleph beis boards to hang outside their classroom.
This year’s YUNMUN contingent — Aviva Itskowitz, Janet Anderson, Elana Eydelman, Shira Wiesenfeld, Sarah Hertzberg, Nathan Azagury and Benji Marcus — are representing the country of Finland. Students have been busy preparing papers for their committees on a variety of topics;  for example, Benji Marcus’s topics include the peaceful use of outer space and the monetization of space. YUNMUN XXIX will be held on February 10-12, 2019 in New York. 

Sometimes, “teachable moments” don’t come from the teacher, but from one student to another. While writing an essay on  Shakespeare’s Star Wars , a play Mrs. Myers’s High School boys just read, a question arose: how could the characters coordinate their whereabouts in an environment in which time is measured differently on different planets? It’s a great question, and one we don’t normally ask when reading science fiction stories. Luckily, another student was able to posit that the theory of relativity could provide an answer — and a third student was able to provide evidence that supported those claims in the form of a practical demonstration. Here, Nathan Azagury eloquently explains the basic principles of relativism and the time-space continuum. 

The Nursery students explored shapes and learned all about circles!


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!
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 | |