Events, News, and Shmooz

Rabbi Hannah's Letter

Dear Friends,

One of the stranger parts of my work is that I’m always all over the place when it comes to the Torah. Instead of just living within the Torah reading schedule, like most people, taking in a new piece of the story in chronological order every week, which I do, I’m also constantly meeting with B Mitzvah students, studying their Torah portion with them, and then going immediately back to the weekly reading. Like this week, we’re at the beginning of Exodus, and the Israelites are experiencing the horrors of enslavement -- hard, back-breaking labor, loss of personal autonomy, and even the terrible threat of infanticide. But then, at the same time, I’ve got multiple B Mitzvah students right now whose Torah portions involve the Israelites complaining about how hard it is traveling through the wilderness, or how scary it is to anticipate entering the Promised Land, and how they wish they were back in Egypt as slaves.

It is so interesting studying these parshayot at the same time. When we’re here, in the beginning of Exodus, in slavery, it’s impossible to imagine our people desiring this state, this horrible fate. But when we’re in Numbers, after years of wandering, contending with tremendous uncertainty, and a significant degree of subordination as well, albeit to God and Moses as opposed to Pharaoh, it kind of makes sense?! It’s a truly bizarre juxtaposition.

I think what I’m getting from this experience is a reminder of the existence of multiple truths. As Rav Shagar, a Transylvanian Holocaust survivor and Israeli scholar taught, “Openness can be a higher perspective -- absolute commitment to my truth, but with the capacity to recognize the truths of others.” We can feel something very deeply, and know it to be correct -- and also, deep down, know that our truth is not the only truth, and our deep feeling is not the only valid deep feeling.

Studying two completely contradictory pieces of torah at once -- we do it all the time. When we honor two different perspectives staunchly held by people we love. When we are in conflict with a dear one -- and are able to empathize with them through that conflict, as well as with ourselves. When we notice significant change within ourselves throughout our lives, not with embarrassment or with shame, but with the same affection we’d show a child or a friend. Both truths are real, both truths are valid, and both truths are small-t torah.

As we move into a weekend celebrating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life’s work was so much about justice and equality for all people, may our experimentation with multiple truths and a variety of torah open our hearts in empathy to those who are still in need of justice. I am so looking forward to continuing the conversation we’ve been taking part in around the justice system -- and injustice within it -- this evening during dinner after services. Hope to see you there.

Wishing you an expansive Shabbat,

Rabbi Hannah


Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors

who made generous contributions in the past six weeks.


Jonathan & Julie Davis | General Hill Havurah Fund


Yosh Halberstam & Emily Satherthwaite | General Hill Havurah Fund

From Freed, Izzy, Emily & Yosh


Fran L. Buntman| General Hill Havurah Fund

Wishing Leslie Feder a full recovery!


Fran L. Buntman| Jon Genderson Memorial Fund

In honor of Sig Cohen, Yosh Halberstam, and all those people

who have supported the migrants.


Fran L. Buntman| Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

In honor of & thanks to Rabbi Hannah,

for teaching me & modeling Jewish social justice.


Lori Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund


Kathy Zeisel & Josh Salzman | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund


Kathy Zeisel & Josh Salzman | Rabbi's Discretionaryl Fund


Sara E. Batterton | General Hill Havurah Fund


Rena Rudavsky | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

Please continue to be a leader in the effort to see the unseen. It opens all of our eyes.


Eric & Liz Paisner| Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

In memory or Evelyn Spiro.


Lori Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund

In memory or Evie Spiro.


Phyllis & Scott Slesinger | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

In memory or Evelyn Spiro.


Rabbi Jessica Shimberg & Eric Stillman | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund

Chag Urim Same’ach!


Mary Meyerson| Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

In honor of Rabbi Hannah Spiro & Laurie Solnik


Jessica Smith| General Hill Havurah Fund


Samuel Visner & Antoinette Burnham | General Hill Havurah Fund


Scott Feldstein & Denise Oken | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund


Barbara & Ronald Harms | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund

In Honor of the Brynn & Simon Epstein Family



To learn more about these events (including how to register, which we require for almost all events), please visit our website calendar HERE.

All events are in person and indoors, unless otherwise noted. 

Friday, January 13th

Kabbalat Shabbat Service & Potluck Dinner

at 6:30 pm

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Saturday, January 14th

Tot Shabbat

at 10:00 am

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

SAGES Havdalah & Potluck

at 6:00 pm

[register to receive location]

Saturday, January 28th

Aleph-Bet Yoga! (for families with young children)

at 4:30 pm

[see more information down below]

Yavneh Havdalah

at 6:30 pm

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Saturday, February 4th

Tot Shabbat

at 9:00 am

Refugee Shabbat Morning Service

at 10:00 am

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Tuesday, February 7th

Jewish Kids Club

at 5:00 pm

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Saturday, February 11th

Tot Shabbat

at 10:00 am

at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

For information about upcoming events not run by Hill Havurah that might be of interest to our community, click HERE.

News and Shmooz

Aleph-Bet Yoga (for families with young children)

Saturday, January 28th, at 4:30 pm

We're fortunate to have children's yoga teacher extraordinaire LaShone Wilson return once again to Hill Havurah for a fun-filled, joyous, musical, mindful, peaceful, stretchy-stretch experience with your kids (older siblings are welcome). We'll meet at at 4:30 on January 28 in the Shalom Room at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE).


Q:  “Do I have to know any Hebrew letters?”

A:   Nope! Learn with your little ones.


Q: "What if my kid's too young or too antsy to participate?"

A: Leave it to our gentle instructor LaShone to spread the calm. She's certified in children's therapeutic yoga.


Q:  “We're out of shape. Does it matter?”

A: Nah! Just come. We all need a good stretch! 


If you'd like to join us, please register here in advance.


This event is supported by a generous grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington

Do You Live Near Reformation? We Need Your Help!

In order for mourners to recite the Kaddish, they need to be surrounded by a minyan -- a group of at least ten Jewish adults. We almost always have a minyan at services, but every now and then, we don't; and that's such a letdown for folks who have come to services to recite the Mourners' Kaddish for a loved one who's passed on. 

If you live within a ten-minute walk of Reformation, please send Rabbi Hannah an email at and let her know that you're willing to be on a list of potential last-minute minyan makers. On the rare occasion that we don't have a minyan by 11:00 am, someone will take a walk to the homes on the list, knock on doors, and try to finagle a minyan by the time we say Kaddish. This isn't a commitment -- just a willingness to have your door knocked on. Thank you in advance!

Lifecycle Events

Happy 18th birthday, 

Bennet Elmendorf !

Happy birthday, Caren Benjamin!

Happy 7th birthday, Dan Gordon!

Happy 13th birthday, Paul Meyerson!

Happy 10th birthday, Ike Hopson!

Upcoming Yahrzeits

We do not know of any yahrzeits coming up this week.

If you've not entered yahrzeit information about your deceased loved ones in your account, you can at any time. If you need any help, you can email Alan Shusterman for assistance.

Mi Shebeirach L'Cholim -- Prayers for Healing

May the One who blessed our ancestors -- Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah -- bless and heal:

Ricky Tropp, Cara Gluskoter, Robert Caplon, Hermine Gladstone, Rob Lasker, & Susan Cohen.

May the Holy Blessed One overflow with compassion upon them, to restore them, to heal them, to strengthen them, to enliven them, along with all the ill among the people of Israel and all humankind, soon, speedily, without delay, and let us all say: Amen.

If you or a loved one are in need of healing, and you'd appreciate the community keeping you in mind, please reach out to Alan Shusterman so he can add you or your loved one to our Shmoozy Nuz Mi Shebeirach list. If it's time to take a name off the list for any reason, let Alan know that as well. Feel free to include their English and/or Hebrew name. 

Please make sure to get your loved one's consent before having their name added to the list -- or, if they prefer privacy, we can instead add, "Loved One of [Insert Your Name]." 

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

Alan Shusterman, Executive Director

Melissa Werbow, Education Director

Tina Brimo, Gan Shalom Director

Rebecca Freund, B Mitzvah Coordinator

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