December 13 2018 | 5 Tevet 5779
In Parshat Vayigash, when Yaakov hears that Yosef is still alive, the verse tells us “ve-techi ru'ach Yaakov” — “Yaakov’s spirit was revived” (45:27). The Midrash Tanchuma explains that G-d withdrew prophecy from Yaakov during the twenty-two years he spent in bereavement, and then later restored prophecy once Yaakov learned that Yosef was alive. The Rambam mentions this understanding of the verse in his Shemoneh Perakim and uses it to prove that despondency precludes the possibility of experiencing prophecy. 

The simplest explanation for the centrality of joy and contentment in achieving prophecy, perhaps, is that a person requires a certain peace of mind that prophecy demands. Intense concentration is among the critical prerequisites to the experience of prophecy, and despondent people are generally incapable of this level of concentration, being preoccupied with their distress. It is for this reason, perhaps, that a prophet can only experience prophecy in a state of general contentment and while in good spirits. 

Every day at school we are given the opportunity to educate our students. Much like prophecy, knowledge and information retention requires a state of happiness, calmness, and tranquility. There is much research that demonstrates the importance of a positive school climate on individual student happiness in schools. Various studies have shown that students reporting greater happiness show more appropriate classroom behavior, higher school grades, better peer and teacher relationships, better physical health, and greater participation in classroom and extracurricular activities. Over the past few weeks, we have had many fun activities in celebration of Chanukah. With activities such as a trip to the Children's Museum, Altimate Air, dancing, SufganiyoT decorating, and various class parties, this past week has been a blast. It is important to realize that events like these are not only great ways to celebrate chagim together, but also help create a better and more positive learning environment. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Sam Weinberg,  Principal

The Third and Fourth Graders visited residents at Weinberg Village on the last day of Chanukah. They played Chanukah games and taught the residents some Chanukah songs.
Students in Miss. Bouton’s art class begin a multi-layer project featuring a birch forest.
The Middle School girls put on a play for younger students entirely in Hebrew! 

What’s the difference between twirling and spinning? Our kindergarteners can tell you!

PREK-A made shields for Yehuda Ha Macabee Day using popsicle sticks and paper plates! 
Students have created brilliantly colored cityscapes with collage.
You can do more than just draw with wax crayons to make art — you can melt them! PREK-B students used hairdryers to see what happens when things heat up in art class! 

On the last day of Chanukah, the PREK-B students learned all about fire in science class. They learned that a fire needs an ignition source, a wick, and fuel to burn. They got to see different colored fire made from contact with different chemicals, and what happens when bubbles filled with gas are ignited! 

Ms. Adams, Mrs. Langer, Mrs. Noorparvar, Mrs. McDougall, and Mrs. Oshlag attended a workshop at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Science Center on December 11 on Strategies for Facilitating Rich Conversations in the Discourse-Driven Mathematics Classroom. This session focused on strategies for facilitating and enhancing mathematical discussions in the classroom that encourage students to own their learning, build a growth mindset, and develop deeper conceptual understanding.

PREK-B display their dexterity and creativity by designing fabulous accessories with Zoobs! 
Miss. Bouton is the subject of our Faculty Spotlight this week!
The Kindergarteners get busy during their Chanukah visit to the Children’s Museum!
Last week, Mrs. McDougall's Seventh Grade girls class had the opportunity to be a teacher for a problem. The students had to learn how to do a problem and figure out how they wanted to teach it to the class. Nechama Russell chose to bring in pretzels and Fluff to help explain her picture frame problem that involved finding the width of the frame. The girls were working on real world problems involving algebraic equations.
The Fourth Grade Boys perform experiments to determine the volume of a can of soda: does it really hold 12 fluid ounces? How can you tell?

Menorah Day featured important lessons about fire safety — and a visit by Firefighter Rob and his crew. The students got to explore a fire engine and learn about the different tools firefighters use to combat fires, including hoses and fire-retardant uniforms!
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Indiana, Pennsylvania. It is a small, college town about 50 miles north-east of Pittsburgh. 

Did you always love the arts?
Yes. Since I was a child and up through adulthood, I have always had an incredibly encouraging support system to follow my wild art dreams. My parents say that I began exclaiming "I'm going to be an artist!" when I was around two years old and they introduced me to paint. And I vividly remember going home from my first Kindergarten Art class telling them, "I want to be an art teacher when I grow up!" I have never wanted to do anything else. The arts and being a teacher of the arts has literally always been my life goal and passion.

How do you like teaching at Hillel Academy so far?
I completely love it. I feel endlessly happy and thankful to now be part of such a kind, warm, strong, and welcoming community. The students and staff have made me feel right at home. I look forward to the future here in inspiring and guiding our young Artists K-12 to make all kinds of art in a supportive, fun, encouraging, cross-curricular, and motivating creative environment!

Could you tell us a little bit about the after school club that you run?
The after school Art Club provides extra time for young artists to create. On Tuesdays, with the help of the wonderful Mrs. Morgan, we work with many Second through Fourth Grade girls. On Wednesdays, I work with a few Fourth through Eighth Grade boys. And on Thursdays, I work with several Fifth through Eighth Grade girls. During this extra art time outside of their weekly art class, students are able to gain additional knowledge by practicing new techniques, mediums, and styles making art projects designed specifically for Art Club.

What do you enjoy drawing/painting?
Oh my, it would be easier to tell you what I don't enjoy painting and drawing because the list would be much shorter. I enjoy painting and drawing a wide range of subject matter in multiple styles. From landscapes to portraits, and realism to abstraction, I really love it all for different reasons — formally, technically, conceptually. However, I would say that my favorite subject matter to paint or draw is usually inspired by the various cultures and environments that I have experienced, and my personal style is typically expressive and abstracted representational painting and drawing.

Do you have any hobbies?
Definitely. In no particular order, because I love all of these things.... I love to: cook delicious meals with my love (our kitchen is one of my favorite places in the world; also where we jam to music and have dance parties while cooking!), make my artwork, play with our goofy dog-like cat named Frank, do yoga, be outside in nature, read and learn, listen to music, ride our four-wheeler, have bonfires, watch movies and documentaries, travel and explore, and spend quality time with loved ones and family.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
My biggest fear was flying in a plane, so I went all out to get over it. My very first plane ride was a 33-hour trip by myself to visit my sister in Kunming and Beijing, China (I spent my 24th birthday hiking The Great Wall of China!). I have shown my artwork in New York City twice this year. I am one of the most klutzy people I know — I have broken my foot and sprained my ankle multiple times because of this lack of grace. I am horrible at math. I love history and science. I do not like sausage or olives, and I would live off pizza and ice cream if I could.

Where did you study arts?
In 2008, I started my undergraduate degree at Penn State University in State College, but I transferred after my freshman year because I realized I wanted to attend a smaller school. In 2012, I earned my Bachelor's of Science in Art K-12 Education from California University of Pennsylvania. In 2013, I began graduate school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There, I obtained my Master of Arts in Painting in 2014 and my Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing in 2017. For my M.F.A. Thesis ("Broken Kingdom: An Analysis of Cultural Shifts Amongst the Dine People Upon European Contact"), I studied, wrote, and made artwork about modern, Western society's impacts on Native North America, specifically focusing on the traditional Navajo culture. During this experience, I spent life-changing time on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona (with people who have become very good, life-long friends). 

Who's your favorite artist?
My favorite artist of all time is neo-expressionist painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat. I also love Joan Mitchell, Julie Mehretu, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Henri Matisse, Paul Cezanne, and Robert Rauschenberg. The list goes on and on….

Interview by Nathan Azagury
“Home From The Roots Up” — by Ashley Bouton
Tenth Grader Reuven Kanal posed a challenge earlier in the year: what if a wordsearch featured just ONE student? Challenge accepted! Reuven had ankle surgery this week: get well soon! 



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 | |