Events, News, and Shmooz
Letter from Guest Writer (in lieu of Rabbi Hannah)
Dear Friends, 

I hope everyone had an uplifting Independence Day. I was energized by the positivity I felt walking in DC’s streets and other public spaces over the course of the 4th, with the people I saw exuding joy in connecting with each other after a long time apart. For the moment, I was even able to forget the tensions which have marked the past 245 years and are still going strong today: strong disagreements over how to balance communal and individual concerns in a diverse country; and overzealous personal attacks accompanying these disagreements.
These particular tensions are not unique; they appear in this week’s double Torah portion at the end of the book of Numbers, Mattot-Massei, where the Israelites are on the verge of reaching the land of Israel after years of wandering in the desert. Here, the leaders of the Reuben and Gad tribes come to Moses asking if they could settle in already-conquered Jazer and Giliad, instead of in Israel itself. These lands are across the Jordan River from Israel and were more suitable for the large number of cattle the tribes owned. 

In response, Moses begins an extended rant with biting personal attacks. His main concern is that these two tribes will not assist in the upcoming battle to conquer the Promised Land, dooming the military efforts, but he doesn’t stop there. Moses then calls the requesters a “breed of sinful men,” no better than the previous generation who were not allowed to reach the Promised Land; and he accuses them of risking “calamity upon the people.”

The Reubenites and Gadites calmly respond that they will serve as shock troops to lead the invasion and will not return to their soon-to-be-built homes until the rest of the Israelites possess their portion of the land. Moses responds that this is acceptable, that they “shall be clear before the Lord and before Israel” if they fulfill their promise. The agreement is carried out, with the Reubenites and Gadites building towns and flock enclosures, and the battle won later in the book of Joshua. 

While Moses had to be frustrated to deviate from the original vision of all the Israelites settling in Israel, this negotiated outcome satisfied Moses’ main communal concern about battle readiness and still allowed for the Reubenites and Gadites to settle in accordance with their individual preferences. This result is even more encouraging coming after Moses’ personal attacks, showing that the stinging labels we hear in arguments today don’t have to doom eventual cooperation. Compared to most events in Numbers, this outcome feels like a better model for conflict resolution since it was flexible on points beyond the key interest and ended without a harsh punishment. 

My wish this Shabbat is for everyone to find flexibility, calmness, and balance between communal and individual needs during disagreements, and for the United States to experience the same as it enters its 246th year.  

Shabbat Shalom, 

Dan Gordon
Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors who made
generous contributions last month.
Phyllis & Scott Slesinger | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
In honor of the Bar Mitzvah of Tsvi Hoexter, grandson of Marcia & David Hoexter -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mark & Michele Adelson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund
In memory of Rosi Goldsmith, sister of David Goldsmith
and sister-in-law of Bonnie Goldsmith
Phyllis & Scott Slesinger | Space Fund
In memory of the life of Rosi Goldsmith, sister of David Goldsmith
David & Marcia Hoexter | Youth Education & Programming Fund
In memory of Rosi Goldsmith
Nancy Weissman | General Hill Havurah Fund
Susan Ades | 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, July 10th
Meditation & Torah Study
at 8:45 am
Tot Shabbat (in-person outdoors)
at 10:00 am
in front of Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Friday, July 16th
Communal Kabbalat Shabbat Service
at 6:30 pm

Saturday, July 17th
Tisha B'Av Program
at 8:00 pm

Saturday, August 7th
Tot Shabbat (in-person outdoors)
at 9:00 am
in front of Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)
Shabbat Morning Service & Torah Discussion
at 10:00 am

For information about upcoming events not run by Hill Havurah -- including "NO FEAR -- A Rally in Solidarity with the Jewish People" on Sunday at 1:00 in front of the Capitol -- that might be of interest to our community, you can click HERE.
News and Shmooz
Special Tisha B'Av Program with Our Rabbinic Intern
Saturday, July 17th, at 8:00 pm
We hope you can join Hill Havurah's rabbinic intern Jenna Shaw for a special program, "If God Cries with Us," in observance of Tisha B'Av later this month, on the 17th at 8:00 pm.

Tisha B’av is the saddest day on the Jewish calendar in the midst of a really challenging year and a half. As we experience deep emotions of pain, grief, sadness, loneliness, where is God? Through some Biblical sources, modern readings, and Jewish thinkers, we’re going to explore if God cries with us and how/if God is able to hold complex emotions.

If you'd like to attend, please register here.
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 40 episodes, which are mostly 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 40th anniversary,
Michael Allen & Leslie Feder!
Happy birthday, Jenny Splitter!
Happy birthday, Adam Ruben!
Happy birthday, Adam Schiff!
Happy birthday, Brynn Epstein!
Happy birthday, Jonathan Reizes!
Happy birthday, Daniele Schiffman!
Happy birthday, Kenny Ames!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeit is coming up this week:

  • Adrian Birney, z"l, husband of Alice Birney

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 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

Alan Shusterman, Executive Director

Melissa Werbow, Education Director

Laura (Vitiello) Schiazza, Gan Shalom Director

Danny Tomares, Operations and Program Assistant