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

It’s almost Purim, which means that it’s been almost a year since the pandemic turned our lives upside-down. Many of us remember our Purim Party last year as the last time any of us really gathered with anyone. And even though we thought we were being very cautious (hand sanitizer everywhere, lots of signs about handwashing, explicit instructions against hugs and handshakes), in retrospect, it was an unfathomable event now in so many ways. Over a hundred people in one big room. Eating and drinking together, indoors. Unmasked, except for maybe in costumes. Sitting in tight rows to hear the megillah, crowding around pizza boxes and crafts. In retrospect, given our current reality, I remember it as a fantastical, otherworldly bacchanal.

Rabbi Julie just sent me a collection of poetry, largely reminiscing about last Purim and how much has changed; and it’s incredibly resonant. The collection reminds us that Purim is about turning everything upside down -- hierarchies, expectations, behavior, etc. -- and last Purim seemed to find us turning upside down more than we could ever have imagined. I’m curious what will change as this Purim shifts us towards spring. 

The poem below, by Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz, hints at the hope that so many of us are feeling; the sense that slowly and surely, we’ve been changing and will continue to change -- not just ourselves, but our worlds, and not just in painful ways, but in right and righteous ones. To repair the world, we first need to see what’s broken. As we’ve all hidden away from each other, ever since last Purim, it’s harder and harder for the brokenness to hide from us.

With blessings for a Shabbat that prepares us to go upside down yet again,

Rabbi Hannah


Hilchot Purim (The Laws of Purim)
By Rabbi Sonja K. Pilz , PhD

Anoint yourself 
Take baths and showers 
Let no one you love come close 
For twelve months 
Or more 

Turn the world upside down 
Let inside become outside 
Let outside disappear 
For twelve months 
Or more 

Cover your face, 
Stop whistling, kissing, and singing 
Speak calmly 
For twelve months 
Or more. 

Put ash on your head 
Bend over in mourning 
Demand justice, give names to the loss 
For twelve months 
Or more 

Send support and care 
Carefully packaged 
By essential strangers 
For twelve months 
Or more 

Drink, even drink too much 
Forget your sorrow 
At least sometimes 
For twelve months 
Or more

Sit down, eat, and rest, 
Let the sunbeams find you 
Let food be a comfort 
For twelve months 
Or more 

Dare to step into the closed chambers 
Guarded spaces of the inner palace 
Dare to reach out and touch 
After twelve months 
Or more. 

Remember that one day 
The last day of the days before 
Light a candle each year 
For twelve months 
Or more. 

One day, some day, 
We will make noise again 
In the meanwhile, let’s change the world quietly 
For twelve months 
Or more.
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, February 19th
Family Singalong: Bringing in Shabbat
at 6:00 pm
Communal Kabbalat Shabbat Service -- Camp Shabbat!
at 6:30 pm

Wednesday, February 24th
Death With the Rabbi: Exploring Jewish Perspectives on the End of Life and What Comes/May Come After -- Earliest stages of mourning, Burial vs. Cremation, and approaching shiva
(3rd in a series of 4 discussions with Rabbi Hannah)
at 7:30 pm

Thursday, February 25th
Purim Celebration!
at 6:00 pm
Story for little kiddos at 6:00; Singing and Costume Show at 6:15;
Megillah reading at 6:30; Spiel at 7:00

Saturday, February 27th
Virtual Havdalah (for families with young children)
at 6:45 pm

Saturday, March 6th
Tot Shabbat
at 9:00 am
National Refugee Shabbat Service
at 10:00 am

Wednesday, March 10th
Death With the Rabbi: Exploring Jewish Perspectives on the End of Life and What Comes/May Come After -- Jewish mourning practices from shiva to shloshim, yahrzeit and yizkor
(4th in a series of 4 discussions with Rabbi Hannah)
at 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 13th
Meditation & Torah Study
at 8:45 am
Tot Shabbat
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
Purim Package Pick-up!
Those of you who ordered Purim packages will receive an email reminder this weekend about the time you've selected to pick up your package. We look forward to seeing you on either Monday evening (4:00-5:30) or Tuesday morning (10:30-noon).
Screening & Discussion of Raise the Roof,
a Film About an Improbable Dream
March 24th, 7:30-8:30 pm
Hill Havurah is pleased to announce a screening and discussion of Raise the Roof, the inspiring and moving story of the reconstruction of an 18th century synagogue in Poland. 

Rivaling the greatest wooden architecture in history, the synagogues of 18th-century Poland inspired artists Rick and Laura Brown to embark on a 10-year pursuit -- to reconstruct the elaborate roof and painted ceiling of the Gwoździec synagogue. Leading over 300 students and professionals from 16 countries, the Browns grapple not just with the echoes of World War II, when these buildings were destroyed by the Nazis, but also with warped timbers, tricky paints, and period hand tools. 
To learn more about this story, the March 24th Zoom discussion with Rick and Laura Brown, how you can screen Raise the Roof before the 24th, and how to register, you can click here.
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 any of the thirty-six episodes, most a listener-friendly 20-25 minutes long. They provide a unique opportunity to hear the stories of a diverse array of Havurah members and learn about many different topics.
Lifecycle Events
Happy birthday, Rena Rudavsky!
Happy 8th birthday, Max Snyder!
Happy 4th birthday,
Abigail Pascal Born!
Happy 6th birthday, Maia Kelty!
Happy birthday, Roberta Stewart!
Happy birthday, Avi Glandon!
Happy birthday, Eleana Gordon!
Happy birthday, Anne Mayerson!
Happy birthday, Simon Epstein!
Happy birthday, Beth Harris!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeits are coming up this week:

  • Leo Lesmerises, z"l, father of Monica Leibovitz

  • John S. Smutko, z"l, father of Joan S. Smutko

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