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

It’s one of those weeks again. So much uncertainty around what’s possible and what’s advisable. So much covid. So much communal need. The first anniversary of the January 6th insurrection. Whether you’re a parent of young kids who’s just wondering when you’ll have childcare and when you won’t, the child of an ailing parent who’s not sure if or how it’s safe to visit them, a neighbor concerned for the members of our community who are cold, hungry, and afraid, or a soul who just wants to live their life and see their people and not feel scared or irresponsible for doing so -- there is a lot weighing on our chests. This feeling of worry, of unease, of grief, is palpable. You can feel it in your body.

Please let me know if you or someone in your household is sick or quaratining -- I want to be there for you, whether in conversation, in prayer, or in mobilizing community support. Don’t be shy; there should not be any stigma around any type of illness or unwellness at this point.

One of you shared with me the words of Jericho Vincent from last week, which really resonated. They teach: “In Judaism, crying is sacred. Our ancestors understood that we carry grief in our body, and we need to let go with it in order to move on…. Long ago, our ancestors had a position of a grief worker called a m’konenet, and the m’konenet would compose spontaneous poems of grief, songs of grief, or sing canonical songs of grief, and the m’konenet’s job was to help people feel the grief in their own body…. The tradition of m’konenet was passed down one generation to the next, and in Eastern Europe that position was called the klugmutter. In the Holocaust, we lost that tradition. And many of us were raised without any sense of that incredible treasure of this practice of grieving, of the art of grief, the art of sacred grief.”

We all hold grief and heaviness throughout our lives. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one to death, of a certain future to a covid surge, of health to sickness and injury, or something else, we’re not meant to wade through that grief alone. We’re meant to feel it together -- ideally, framed in mindfulness, art, and Torah. That was the gift of the m’konenet and of the klugmutter. Now, it can be our gift to one another.

Tomorrow morning at 8:45, I’ll be holding space [virtually] for all who are feeling that sense of heaviness, worry, and grief, for whatever reason, to come together in meditation and in study. Feel free to join from bed in your pajamas, with your toddler whining in the background, while eating your breakfast, or while walking outdoors. Or let this be your time to find a dim, quiet space to fully focus with those feelings. Either way, we’ll sit with those feelings while rooted in Torah, in community, and in our breath. I hope to see you there. You can register here.

To all of us feeling grief in our bodies, may this Shabbat be a time of peace, not from our grief, necessarily, but from our sense of loneliness and unsettledness in that grief. May this Shabbat be a moment of stability, and of an awareness of the fullness of our community and our souls.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Hannah
Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors
who made generous contributions in the past month.
Jonathan & Julie Davis | General Hill Havurah Fund
Lori Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
Anne & Marshall Brachman | General Hill Havurah Fund
For the dedication of a Gan Shalom classroom
Aaron & Elinor Hiller | General Hill Havurah Fund
For the dedication of a new layning table
Preston Plous & Karen Mohn | Youth Education & Programming Fund
In honor of the marriage of Anya Glandon & Connor Hilton
Rachel Schreiber | General Hill Havurah Fund
Barry & Joan Gaberman | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Sara Batterton | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Adam Nathanson | General Hill Havurah Fund
Kathy Zeisel & Josh Salzman | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
Kathy Zeisel & Josh Salzman | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Michael Allen & Leslie Feder | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
In gratitude for all the spiritual guidance we've received from Rabbi Hannah
during a trying 2021
Rick, Staci, and Max Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
Barbara Harms | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
in honor of the Brynn & Simon Epstein family
Edward & Jane Foster | General Hill Havurah Fund
Elizabeth & David Thede | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
To learn more about these events (including how to register, which we require for almost all events), please visit our website calendar HERE. Also, we plan to livestream many of our in-person events. Information about how to stream can be found in the event descriptions on our website calendar.

Please note -- We will of course be monitoring the evolving pandemic and making changes to the below events as warranted (e.g., making an in-person or hybrid event fully virtual).

Saturday, January 8th
Meditation & Torah Study (on Zoom)
at 8:45 am

Monday, January 10th
Teen Tikkun Olam Program (in-person indoors)
at 5:00 pm
at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Saturday, January 15th
Tot Shabbat (in-person outdoors)
at 9:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service & Torah Discussion (on Zoom)

Sunday, January 16th
[see more information down below]
at 10:30 am

Friday, January 21st
Communal Kabbalat Shabbat Service (in-person outdoors)
at 6:30 pm
at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Saturday, January 29th
[see more information down below]
at 6:00 pm
at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Wednesday, February 2nd
at 7:00 pm

Saturday, Feburary 5th
Tot Shabbat (in-person outdoors)
at 9:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service & Torah Discussion (in-person indoors)
at 10:00 am
at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Wednesday, February 9th
at 7:00 pm

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
Sunday, January 16th
Hill Havurah is excited to celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy for a sixth year in a row with Masjid Muhammad! Mark your calendars for the morning of Sunday, January 16th at 10:30 am. Adults and teens will be learning from Professor Janel George of Georgetown University on "Understanding the Controversy around Critical Race Theory," and children will participate in antiracism education through thought-provoking books and interfaith discussion.

Professor George (whose article in Teen Vogue you can read here) has suggested that we raise funds for Black Swan Academy as our communal service project this year; you can make a donation through their website.

Adults and teens (7th grade and up) can register for the 10:30 program using this Zoom registration link.
We will be joining Bet Mishpachah for an exploration of prayer, gender, and why it matters. We'll start with a havdalah (hopefully-- stay tuned) in person (vaxxed & masked with a streaming option) where we'll get to know each other and explore our relationship to prayer experiences -- good, bad, and in-between. 
We'll continue with two virtual text studies: one exploring each of our communities' machzorim and the values and hopes that went into their creation; and another looking more broadly at how we navigate the gendered language of prayer, featuring inclusive liturgist brin solomon [it, itself], creator of Siddur Davar Hadash!

For more information, including how to register, you can click here.
Calling All Members!
Now is the time for all good members to come to the aid of Hill Havurah. How? By considering joining the Hill Havurah Board of Directors for a 2-year term, or recommending someone for the role. 
Our goal is a diverse Board with representation from individuals and families throughout our community and with a range of interests, from Gan Shalom to Sages, from Yavneh to community service, from religious observance to adult education.  
We also will be seeking people with different professional and life skills. No prior board experience is necessary. 
Currently, the board meets on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30 pm.
You will be hearing much more about this in the coming months, as the community will vote on the new board at the annual meeting in May. 
For now, we’d like to introduce the Nominating Committee that will help make this happen: Mark Sherman, chair, Chris Jaikaran, Rosie Nathanson, and Laurie Solnik. Please feel free to contact any of them with questions and/or recommendations. Or you may send your queries to
Lifecycle Events
Happy birthday, Stacey Downey!
Happy birthday, Mark Sherman!
Happy birthday, Marlene Singer!
Happy 17th birthday,
Bennet Elmendorf!
Happy birthday,
Michelle Greenhalgh!
Happy 13th birthday, Jacob Scott!
Happy birthday, Rebecca Claster!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeit is coming up this week:

  • Ruth Adelson, z"l, mother of Mark Adelson

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.
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

Sara Carnochan, Interim Gan Shalom Director