Events, News, and Shmooz
Rabbi Hannah's Letter
Dear Friends,

I hope your Chanukkahs are off to a beautiful start and that, if it’s been underwhelming so far, there’s space to bring some light and beauty in over the course of the next week. Like I wrote last week, we need Chanukkah more than ever this winter; the inward-looking brightening, nurturing, and coziness of the holiday paired with the outward-looking rededication to what we believe in is just what this season is calling for.

There’s a children’s book about Chanukkah that I really like for teaching the story of the holiday -- not the story based on the rabbinic midrash about the oil lasting for eight days instead of one, but the stories based on 1 and 2 Maccabees, and the struggles our ancestors faced living through the pressure to assimilate, followed by forced assimilation and violence. It’s called “Festival of Lights” by Maida Silverman, and it’s honestly a good refresher even for adults.

My favorite page, following the one in which the Maccabees return to Jerusalem to find the Temple totally destroyed and desecrated and filled with Greek idols and filth, goes like this:

“The statues were taken away. Children helped pull weeds. New doors were brought. The Altar was rebuilt. Craftsmen made new dishes, furniture, and a beautiful gold Menorah lamp. Weavers made curtains for the walls.

The Temple was ready to be dedicated again to God. People came from all over Judea. For eight days they danced, sang, and praised the Lord. Judah Maccabee spoke to them. ‘We will celebrate this great event every year at this time,’ he said. ‘Hanukkah means dedication. We will call the holiday “Hanukkah”.’”

I l0ve the reminder -- for kids and grown-ups, for Jews and our allies, for “essential workers” and others -- that each one of us is essential in the work to rebuild and repair our struggling communities and our broken world. Whether our work right now is commuting to a hospital or staying at home, reaching out to youth or to elders, spreading joy or virtually sitting with people in their sadness, we each have a critical role. 

This time of rededication, of Chanukkah, is our reminder as a people, and our reminder as individual people, of what we can and must do to rebuild, repair, and bring new light. And, of course, to recharge, on the Shabbat of Chanukkah in particular.

Wishing you a bright Shabbat and a happy Chanukkah,

Rabbi Hannah
Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors who made
generous contributions last month.
Jonathan & Julie Davis | General Hill Havurah Fund
Jessica Smith | General Hill Havurah Fund
Jacqueline Stark | General Hill Havurah Fund
Roberta Shapiro & Jerry Glandon | General Hill Havurah Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, Phyllis Slesinger's brother
Marlene Singer | Jon Genderson Memorial Tikkun Olam Fund
In honor of the birth of Ari Sigman
Marlene Singer | General Hill Havurah Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, Phyllis Slesinger's brother
David Sigman| Jon Genderson Memorial Tikkun Olam Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, Phyllis Slesinger's brother
David & Marcia Hoexter | Youth Education & Programming Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, Phyllis Slesinger's brother
Mark & Michelle Adelson | General Hill Havurah Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, Phyllis Slesinger's brother
Dina Michels & Peter Engel| General Hill Havurah Fund
Sending condolences to Phyllis and Scott Slesinger on the passing of Jerry Cohen
Linda Goldstein | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Phyllis & Scott Slesinger | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
In honor of the birth of Ari Sigman
District Doughnut/Will Hand | Doughnut Coupons for Our Chanukkah Packages
All of the below events are virtual, except as noted. To learn more about these events (including how to register), you can find them on our website calendar HERE.

Friday, December 11th
Channukah and Shabbat Candlelighting
at 5:30 pm

Saturday, December 12th
Chanukkah Meditation and Torah Study
at 8:45 am
Chanukkah Tot Shabbat
at 10:00 am
SAGES Havdalah and Conversation
at 6:00 pm

Monday, December 14th
Channukah Candlelighting
at 5:30 pm

Friday, December 18th
Family Singalong: Bringing in Shabbat
at 6:00 pm
Communal Kabbalat Shabbat Service
at 6:30 pm

Friday, December 25th through Friday, January 1st
Hill Havurah Offices Closed

Saturday, January 2nd
Tot Shabbat
at 9:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service & Torah Discussion
at 10:00 am

For information about upcoming events not run by Hill Havurah that might be of interest to our community, you can click HERE.
News and Shmooz
Hill Havurah Chanukkah Happenings!
To learn about all of our Chanukkah events and activities, you can visit our Chanukkah 2020/5091 webpage.
Self-Guided Menorah Tour of Capitol Hill
Even though we can't crowd around a table full of menorahs this year, we're really looking forward to seeing each other's menorahs! More than 30 Hill Havurah households are putting a menorah (lit or unlit, actual or colored in) in their windows this year. This morning at about 10:50 we sent a link of a "walking map" to Havurah members who'd like to try to see as many menorahs as possible. 

For security reasons, please do not post the map on social media or share it publicly in any way. If you didn't receive the map or have any questions, please email Danny at
Follow-up to Our December 2nd Event --
NAARC Needs Our Help
One of the panelists from our December 2nd program, “Getting Out and Staying Out,” needs our help. Eric Weaver, Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens (NAARC), plans to take winter wear (coats, hats, gloves, thermal underwear, Christmas treats) to D.C. returning citizens residing in the Men's Halfway House in Baltimore and the Women’s Halfway House in Washington. Many of these folks lack these items, having recently been released from facilities around the U.S.

It would be greatly appreciated if you are able to send new winter wear items or a financial contribution to NAARC at 3115 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E., Washington, DC 20032-1537, by Friday, December 18th. On December 22nd Eric will make deliveries to folks at both halfway houses. Thank you!
MLK Jr. Day 2021: Book Discussions!
As part of Hill Havurah’s MLK Day 2021 programming, the Tikkun Olam Committee and Anti-racism Task Force, in partnership with educator Keiana Mayfield, will host two virtual book groups:

  • Young Adults Book Group (ages 12 and up) on the evening of Saturday, January 16, to discuss Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Parents are welcome to join for this discussion, but not required. Moderated by Keiana Mayfield.

  • Adults Book Group on the morning of Sunday, January 17, to discuss So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo (focus on Chapters 1-6 and 12), and a supplementary article on Judaism and anti-racism. Moderated by Keiana Mayfield.

We encourage those that are able to purchase books to do so through East City Bookshop. Both books are also available in multiple formats through the D.C. Library

If you have any questions, or need financial support to obtain a copy of the book, please email Registration links and more information about MLK Day programs will soon be available in Shmoozy Nuz and on the Hill Havurah website. 
Yavneh Newsletter
To see the latest edition of the Yavneh on the Hill Parents' Update, you can click here. If you would like to be kept abreast of our religious school's news, please email Danny at to be added to the Parents' Update mailing list.
Hill Havurahdcast Podcast
If you haven't already, check out the Hill Havurahdcast podcast, on which Rabbi Hannah interviews Hill Havurah members. You can read about it in a June Washington Jewish Week article ("Hill Havurah produces podcast for the pandemic"), and you can subscribe to it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn.

We encourage you to listen to the latest episode (#33) -- In this episode, Rabbi Hannah talks with Havurah member Michael Svetlik, who spent three years in Poland as a Peace Corps Volunteer. It was there that he met his wife, also a Peace Corps Volunteer, and found inspiration for his professional career, working with emerging democracies and elections. It also was in Poland that he committed himself to a Jewish life and to raising Jewish children.
Lifecycle Events
Happy 6th birthday,
Camilla Chernikoff!
Happy 6th birthday,
Ava Gregorian!
Happy birthday, Liz Poston!
Happy birthday, Stephanie Allen!
Happy 9th birthday,
Vincent Meltzer!
Happy 6th birthday,
Zachary Schiffrin!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeit is coming up this week:

  • Naomi Goldsmith, z"l, mother of David Goldsmith

If you've not entered yahrzeit information about your deceased loved ones in your account, you can at any time. If you have any trouble doing so, you can email Alan Shusterman for assistance.
Hill Havurah is an independent, Jewish community based on Capitol Hill and serving people from across the Washington metropolitan area. We have a mission to meet and anticipate the spiritual, educational, religious, cultural, and life cycle needs of a growing and evolving Jewish community. Hill Havurah's many activities support our members' interests in advancing Jewish culture, identity, education, and a commitment to community service. A warm, inclusive, and informal spirit is part of what has made Hill Havurah so special for more than two decades.
Contact Information:
Address: 212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-729-3515

Rabbi Hannah Spiro, Rabbi

Rabbi Julie Gordon, Rabbi Educator

Laura Vitiello, Gan Shalom Director

Alan Shusterman, Executive Director

Danny Tomares, Operations and Program Assistant