Events, News, and Shmooz

Rabbi Hannah's Letter

Dear Friends,

Last Saturday night was truly an awesome experience. A number of Hill Havurah members joined me and the Havurah Ensemble at the American Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) for a Friendship Concert and Dinner. We played songs of welcoming, peace, and celebration together, in Hebrew, Turkish, and English (and one song with one word in Arabic -- salaam). 

In any time, it would feel really special to have a group of Jews and a group of Muslims singing and eating together; but now, during this nightmare of a war, being able to gather and bond with this delightful group of people felt sacred, rare, and very exciting. If you feel sense of FOMO, don’t -- we’re going to be doing this again, for sure.

This week’s parsha, Beshalach, includes the first communal prayer in recorded Jewish history -- the Song of the Sea, Mi Chamocha. Our ancestors were inspired to sing it as they crossed the Red Sea; and while it was gratitude and relief about the sea splitting that seemed to initially prompt the song, we have to remember that they were very much at the beginning of a forty-year journey, and that they had to know their situation was still precarious, or at least full of mystery. I imagine them trying another medium to express themselves at that time -- essay, or podcast, or something. I imagine it being incredibly fraught. In my mind, music was the medium that allowed them to express joy as a community during such a complicated time.

I definitely felt that this past Saturday night. We didn’t talk about the war or about politics at all. (At least, not during the concert… And not at the table I was chatting at during dinner… but I wonder if others did?) But with music and food, we began to lay a groundwork for friendship, respect, affection, and maybe even the hope for future trust. I feel like conversations about seriously complex issues are going to go a lot better after those elements are built, and I’m excited that we’re starting to build them.

Enjoy some pictures from the concert below, and stay tuned for when we do this again! Wishing you a musical, peaceful Shabbat.

Rabbi Hannah


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. 

Saturday, January 27th

Tu B'Shevat Tot Shabbat (for families with young children)

at 10:00 am

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

SAGES Havdalah & Potluck

at 6:00 pm

Friday, February 2nd

Learning Circle on Torah in a Time of War, with Rabbi Hannah

at 12:30 pm

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

Saturday, February 3rd

Tot Shabbat

at 9:00 am

Shabbat Morning Service & Asher Damle's Bar Mitzvah

at 10:00 am

Camp Havdalah at Hill Havurah

at 6:00 pm

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

Wednesday, February 7th

10th-12th Grade Kulam

at 5:30 pm

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

Talking to Kids About Antisemitism (on Zoom)

at 7:30 pm

Saturday, February 10th

Tot Shabbat

at 10:00 am

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

Sunday, February 11th

Spiritual Practices for Adults

at 9:30 am

at Yavneh/Digital Pioneers Academy (709 12th St., SE)

Tuesday, February 13th

Jewish Kids Club

at 5:00 pm

8th-9th Grade Kulam

at 5:30 pm

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

Friday, February 16th

Learning Circle on Torah in a Time of War, with Rabbi Hannah

at 12:30 pm

Kabbalat Shabbat Service & Potluck Dinner

at 6:30 pm

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

2024 Hill Havurah Gala

Saturday, April 13th, at 7:00 pm

Be on the lookout for an official e-vite you'll be receiving on Sunday afternoon.

Gan Shalom Summer Camp -- Register Now!

Registration for Gan Shalom Summer Camp remains open for children 2-5 years old. Our summer camp promises a memorable experience filled with fun activities, learning opportunities, and building beautiful connections with new friends.

This year's theme is Performing Arts, with four two-week sessions from June 24-August 16 -- "Tiny Tots Broadway," "Dance Safari," Circus Celebration," and "Animal Antics" -- 9:00 am - 4:00 pm each weekday (other than July 4th).

You can find all the information as well as the link to register HERE.

You're Invited to Join a Hill Havurah Committee

The Hill Havurah Board of Directors is supported by the work of the committees listed below. Joining a committee is a great way to become more involved in Hill Havurah and help lead us during this exciting period of growth. All Hill Havurah members are eligible to join committees; you do not need to be a Board member.

  • Adult Programming
  • Chesed (Caring)
  • Fundraising
  • Green
  • Membership/Outreach
  • Ritual
  • Security
  • Space
  • Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World)
  • Yavneh

If you have any questions or are interested in joining a committee, email Executive Director Alan Shusterman at

Celebrate Your Special Day with the Havurah!

Do you or a loved one have a special occasion like a birthday, anniversary, or other milestone coming up? A great way to celebrate is to sponsor a Hill Havurah monthly Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat ($150)! We're still looking for sponsors for May and beyond.

Help with the Empty Shabbat Table Initiative

A group of volunteers has been setting up an Empty Shabbat Table on the National Mall every Friday since mid-October to maintain attention to the hostages being held in Gaza. We are always seeking volunteers to help both in person and/or financially to keep this initiative going. Here are some ways you can help:

1. Sign up here to volunteer in person.

2. Join us on WhatsApp.

3. Make a donation: Go Fund Me site Empty Shabbat Table - DC, organized by Yosh Halberstam.

Migrant Solidarity Support Needs

We are continuing our migrant solidarity work, and continue to need all hands on deck. There are so many ways to contribute to the effort -- sign up to volunteer here or click here to make a donation.

Lifecycle Events

Happy birthday,

Danny Tomares!

Happy 17th birthday, 

Maccabi Epstein!

Happy birthday, 

Stephanie Brenowitz!

Happy birthday, Sarah Burford!

Happy birthday, Sheila Meyer!

Happy 12th birthday, 

Kathy Binder!

Happy 11th birthday, 

Talia Hollander!

Happy 8th birthday,

Aidan Goldstein!

Upcoming Yahrzeits

The following yahrzeits are coming up this week:

  • Nathaniel Aaron Mesnikoff, z"l, brother of Ann Mesnikoff

  • Lucy Gualtieri, z"l, mother of John Gualtieri

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:

Emma Schulman, Ron Levin, Udi (Mowgly) Becker, Miriam Biatch, Devora Chaya bat Miriam v'Tzvi, & Asher David ben Nachum v'Malka.

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 serving people from across the Washington metropolitan area. Our mission is to anticipate and meet 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

Jocelyn Donahue, Operations Coordinator

Brittany Schibuola, Community Associate