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

What a painful week. A week of terror, confusion, outrage, and loss. A week, maybe, with glimmers of hope -- but swirled in a fog of chaos. As if it knew, the Torah meets us where we are. This week, we begin the book of Shemot, Exodus, with terror, confusion, outrage, loss, and, maybe, glimmers of hope. Our people are enslaved in Egypt. A desperate, hopeful family sends their baby down the river in a basket. The baby grows, finds a burning bush, and is called to action. A spark of the flame of that bush lives on in our people and gradually, laboriously, we find new life.

This week, I read a beautiful d’var Torah by Rabbi Annie Lewis from this time of year last year. As she turned to Parshat Shemot, the first portion of Exodus, she recalled her family’s annual seder, where her father’s cousin would sing these words:

,זאָג ניט קיין מאָל, אַז דו גייסט דעם לעצטן וועג
.כאָטש הימלען בלײַענע פֿאַרשטעלן בלויע טעג
– קומען וועט נאָך אונדזער אויסגעבענקטע שעה
!ס׳וועט אַ פּויק טאָן אונדזער טראָט: מיר זײַנען דאָ

Zog nit keyn mol, az du geyst dem letstn veg,
khotsh himlen blayene farshteln bloye teg.
kumen vet nokh undzer oysgebenkte sho,
s'vet a poyk ton undzer trot: mir zaynen do!

Never say that you have reached the very end,
When leaden skies a bitter future may portend;
For sure the hour for which we yearn will yet arrive,
And our marching step will thunder: we survive!
Mir zaynen do! We survive! We are here.

These are the words of the Partisan song, written by Hirsh Glick in 1943 while he was imprisoned in the Vilna Ghetto. When he heard the courageous story of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, he wrote these words, which would mobilize so many young Jews to push through their starvation, terror, and grief, and find, somewhere just as deep and powerful, a will to live and fight for others’ lives as well.

Like the reluctant, fearful Moses, these young Jews had so much stacked against them. Like the determined, prophetic Moses, these young Jews were called by their Creator to stand up for their people. 

As we, exhausted after a long and tumultuous week, not to mention a long and tumultuous 2020, face the coming year and all it holds -- not to mention the coming weeks and all we anticipate within them -- we find strength in the stories of our ancestors. When leaden skies a bitter future may portend, for sure the hour for which we yearn will yet arrive, and our marching step will thunder: we survive! As Moses replied God, “Hineini.” We are here. Mir zaynen do.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Hannah
Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors who made
generous contributions last month.
Lori Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
David Sigman and Jayme Stroud | General Hill Havurah Fund
In honor of Ari Sigman and the Hill Havurah community that will support him
Eleanor Green | General Hill Havurah Fund
David & Elizabeth Thede | General Hill Havurah Fund
Josh Salzman & Kathy Zeisel | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Eugene M. Lang Foundation | General Hill Havurah Fund
Neil & Ellen Lang | General Hill Havurah Fund
Mark Sherman & Edith Shine | General Hill Havurah Fund
Diane & Tom Kolb | Youth Education & Programming Fund
In memory of Jerry Cohen, brother of Phyllis and Scott Slesinger
Tracy and Jerry Tolk | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
In honor of baby naming
Linda Kaufman | Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
With thanks for her kindness
Daniel Winik | Tot Shabbat & Preschool Activities Fund
Jutta Brettschneider | General Hill Havurah Fund
Chanukka sameach
Preston Plous & Karen Mohn | General Hill Havurah Fund
Robert Scher & Danielle Ewen | General Hill Havurah Fund
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.

Saturday, January 9th
Meditation & Torah Study
at 8:45 am
Tot Shabbat
at 10:00 am

Monday, January 11th
Professor Sarah Federman About Her Forthcoming Book,
The Last Ride to Auschwitz (1st of 2 presentations) (rescheduled from 1/6)
at 7:30 pm

Wednesday, January 13th
Tu B'shevat Seder
at 7:30 pm

Thursday, January 14th
Parents of New Babies Gathering
at 10:30 am

Friday, January 15th
Family Singalong: Bringing in Shabbat
at 6:00 pm
MLK Jr. Day-themed Kabbalat Shabbat Service --
with Mount Moriah and Masjid Muhammad
at 6:30 pm

Saturday, January 16th
Young Adult Book Group Discussion with Masjid Muhammad
at 7:30 pm

Sunday, January 17th
Yavneh Programming with Masjid Muhammad for PreK - 2nd Graders
at 9:30
Yavneh Programming with Masjid Muhammad for 3rd - 6th Graders
at 10:30 am
Adult Book Group Discussion with Masjid Muhammad
at 10:30 am

Thursday, January 21st
Parents of New Babies Gathering
at 10:30 am
Professor Sarah Federman About Her Forthcoming Book,
The Last Ride to Auschwitz (2nd of 2 presentations)
at 7:30 pm

Wednesday, January 22nd
Death With the Rabbi: Exploring Jewish Perspectives on the End of Life and What Comes/May Come After -- End of Life, Hospice, & Euthanasia
(1st in a series of 4 discussions)
at 7:30 pm

Thursday, January 28th
Parents of New Babies Gathering
at 10:30 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
Full Moon, Full Year.... Celebrating the New Year
to its Fullest (for families with children ages 0-5)
Saturday, January 9th, 5:00 - 5:30 pm
This is a reminder about the special Havdalah program tomorrow night for families with young children. To learn more about it and to register (if you haven't already), you can click here.
Fundraiser for NAARC
As we move towards MLK Jr. Day, the Tikkun Olam Committee has organized an online fundraiser for the National Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens (NAARC). Many of us learned from a panel discussion last month about all the good work NAARC is doing to help returning citizens re-integrate and to reduce violence in our community and across DC. 

Our goal is to raise $3,000 by January 24th. You can learn more about NAARC and make a donation at this link
Does Your Child Attend Summer Camp?
If so, Rabbi Hannah would love to send them a postcard this summer! (With so much hope that camp will be possible!) Please email her ( where your child(ren) will be camping and when.

Also, if your family is passionate about Jewish summer camp, please reach out to Rabbi Hannah about that, too! We're planning a "Summer Camp in Winter" Shabbat service in February, and she'd love your input and participation.
COVID-19 Virtual Support Groups
Covid-19 making you stir crazy? Hill Havurah still has several ongoing Covid-19 virtual support groups. If you're interested in joining one of these groups, email Rabbi Hannah at If enough members want to join a group, we might start a new one!
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.

The Havurahdcast is still on hiatus. You can catch up on listening to the thirty four 2020 episodes -- featuring a wide variety of Havurah members -- here.
Lifecycle Events
Happy birthday, Mark Sherman!
Happy birthday, Marlene Singer!
Happy 12th birthday, Jacob Scott!
Happy birthday, Rebecca Claster!
Happy 16th birthday, Bennet Elmendorf!
Happy birthday, Caren Benjamin!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeit is coming up this week:

  • Ruth Adelson, z"l, mother of Mark Adelson, mother-in-law of Ruth Adelson

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