Shauli Zacks '99


Q: When did you attend Hillel Academy? 


A: 1995-1999


Q: Share a favorite memory or two with our readers. 
A: My first day was also the first day of the Mesivta, I didn't know anybody and I can remember sitting in the cafeteria looking around wondering what the year would bring. Playing sports - whether it was football during recess or being on the basketball team. I guess if I had to pick a memory, it would be winning the championship when I was in 11th grade.
Q: How do you earn a living?
A: I'm an online marketer.


Q: How did Hillel Academy prepare you for the future? 


A: It really helped me mature. I was in Hillel (The Mesivta) when it was in White Oak and I lived in the dorms for four years. The experiences that I had, learning how to deal with different challenges are lessons that I still use today


Q: Share some info about your family. 


A: I'm married to a Hillel Alum, Natalie Martinez. We have 3 wonderful kids, Jonah (10) Sammy (7) and Kayla (5). We made Aliyah a little over 6 years ago and are living in Ariel.


Q: What do you do in your free time?


A: Last year I coached my oldest sons little league team. This year I'm teaching my kids about football. I enjoy going to the movies, reading a good book and hanging out with my friends.


Q: Who was your first Hillel teacher?  
A: I think it was Rabbi Weingot


Q: Did you have a favorite teacher? Who was it and why? 


A: I always liked Mrs. Simmons, which is weird, because I never liked math. I think it was because she really cared how we did, and wanted to see us succeed. The fact that she also worked as a Ski Patrol didn't hurt either.


Q: Who is the most interesting person in your contacts? 


A: I have a friend who was part of an elite combat unit in the IDF and is now a weapons instructor for undercover guards at the Ben Gurion airport.


Q: Share something with our students you wish someone had told you when you were in school? 


A: Rabbi Weinberg is much stronger than he looks!

Q: You posted on your Facebook page the clip of  New York Giants receiver Beckham Jr.'s catch. Would that ever happen on the Mesivta playground?

A: We had some pretty good football players back in the day, but I don't think we had a catch quite like that. Beckham had the advantage of playing on a level, grass field. Our football field was on a parking lot where you literally had to run uphill regardless of which end zone you were going to. I remember when Aaron Siebzener broke his leg by running into a car parked on the field. Beckham may have been dragged down while making that catch, but he didn't have to deal with cars in the middle of the field.
Q: Best meal at the Mesivta of Greater Pittsburgh?
A: I'm definitely biased towards my class. After leaving Mesivta after the 11th grade, Asaf Geffen came back to visit and is, as far I know, the only player ever elected to the  Mesivta hall of fame. I left Mesivta as the all-time leader in TDs, no idea if that record fell or even what the number was, but I couldn't have done it without Jacob Goldberg as my quarterback.

Q: What would you do if 6 feet of snow fell in Israel? Would you be prepared?
A: Last year we had a few feet of snow in Ariel, and pretty much everything was shut down. I didn't go to work for a few days because they couldn't clear the roads, there are no ice trucks or snow blowers. There were trees all over that just broke under the weight of the snow. I had a lot of fun playing in the snow with my kids, but we didn't have waterproof gloves or boots, so we had to change a lot. My son Jonah (10) is convinced that we'll have more snow this year. If it does happen again, I doubt we'd be any more prepared. 
Q: Fellow classmate, Gavri Butler was last week's Alumni feature, what did you think about what he had to say about his relationship with Rabbi Weinberg? 


A: It definitely took me a minute to realize that Rabbi Weinberg and Sammy Weinberg are the same people. One of the things I always liked about the Mesivta was the friendships, it didn't seem to matter, for the most part what grade you were or what you did for fun. That's what I take away from Gavri's relationship with Rabbi Weinberg. I don't remember him being especially strong, but Gavri broke pretty easily.