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

Last week, Hill Havurah hosted its annual membership meeting. During the meeting, we heard Rabbi Hannah (pre-recorded, pre-parental leave) and Chair Marlene Singer remind us of all of the wonderful services and programs we conducted this year (there were tons!). Even though for most of the year we didn’t know when we might meet again in person, our community was undaunted. We found new and creative ways to come together to pray, learn from each other, celebrate holidays and rituals, raise money for those in need, teach our children, and more.

In this week's Torah portion, Sh'lach L'cha, as the Israelites are travelling through the desert after leaving Egypt, Moses sends 12 spies into Canaan to report on the state of the country. After 40 days, the spies return. Ten of the spies returned with bad reports. Only Joshua and Caleb believed that the Israelites would be able to conquer the inhabitants who'd taken over in their absence and return to their land. After hearing the reports, and having been conditioned to slavery for generations, the people were scared. Some even pleaded to return to Egypt.

Like the Israelites who wandered through the desert and were almost ready to enter the land of milk and honey, we're also nearing a return to a life that looks like the past. And, like the Israelites, many of us harbor fears about what that return will look like. Some may wonder if our young children will stay healthy despite not being able to get vaccinated. Others may worry whether COVID cases will flare up in the fall. Still others may worry about returning to their office, or taking the metro, or fighting traffic, or whether our nice pants will fit.

The anxieties of what our lives will look like are real, and likely all of us share them to some degree. If former slaves expressing desires to return to slavery illuminates anything, perhaps it's that once we're used to some conditions, however confining they may be, it's hard to quickly adapt to a new paradigm, even if outsiders would find the new circumstances considerably better. In the Torah, just 2 in 12 are excited to charge ahead full steam into their former homeland; 10 out of 12 are anxious. 
Fortunately, Joshua and Caleb's reports are proven accurate, and the Israelites eventually return successfully. Moreover, upon their return, the people greatly improve the land, including by building the Temple and Jerusalem. Much of what flourished can be connected to the determined spirit of the people who wandered the desert, even though they struggled with doubt when finally crossing into new territory. 

As Rabbi Hannah and Marlene so eloquently articulated last week, our community has also been determined to move forward together, through our proverbial desert. Now that we are on the precipice of our return, despite our fears, I'm sure we will take the Havurah to new heights. I hope this will be true in all parts of our lives. 

Shabbat shalom. 

Eric Paisner
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, June 5th
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

Saturday, June 12th
Meditation & Torah Study
at 8:45 am
Tot Shabbat
at 10:00 am
in front of Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE)

Friday, June 18th
Communal Kabbalat Shabbat Service
at 6:30 pm

Saturday, July 3rd
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 that might be of interest to our community, such as the Sunday, June 13th Benefit Concert by The Barkley Brass to Support Refugee Resettlement in front of Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE), you can click HERE.
News and Shmooz
Two More Days to Complete Our Survey on "Reopening"!
We're extending the deadline to complete our survey on "reopening" (i.e., seeking your perspectives on the nature of in-person events to be offered in the coming months) until Sunday at midnight. We'd very much appreciate your input!

You can access the survey here. It likely won't take more than 3 minutes to complete. Thank you!
The Tikkun Olam Committee Wants You!
Dear Havurah Members,

The Tikkun Olam Committee is looking for new members! Through acts of community service and by fighting for social justice, the committee is dedicated to both serving our community and working toward a more fair, equitable, and just world. Whether you would like to help plan activities or manage a direct service project, the committee is looking to partner with individuals who might:

  • Be willing to manage an annual donation drive or community service activity with established Hill Havurah partners such as Good Neighbors, Everyone Home DC, Little Lights, or Yachad;

  • Be interested in developing a new community service project, annual event, dialogue, or partnership; or

  • Want to help guide the committee’s work on issues of social and/or racial justice.
If you're interested in joining the committee or supporting the committee’s work, please contact Nate Allen, co-chair of the Tikkun Olam Committee, at
Is Your Child Attending Camp This Summer?
New Hill Havurah Education Director Melissa Werbow would love to send mail to current, former, and potential Yavneh students at camp this summer. If you'd like your child to receive mail from Melissa, please complete this short information form.
Hill Havurah Job Opening -- In Search of Candidates!
As our fantastic Operations & Program Assistant, Danny Tomares, prepares to leave us for graduate school, we have begun our search for his replacement. If you know anyone who might be interested in this 20-30 hour per week position (view the job posting here), Alan ( would be happy to hear from them -- and about them from you, if you're so inclined. Thank you!
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 our latest episode (#40) -- In this episode, Rabbi Hannah interviews Havurah member and Georgetown Law Professor Brad Snyder, an expert in constitutional law and sports law. He discusses the case before the Supreme Court regarding NCAA athletes -- a case that involves sports, money, race, and the law. The author of the 2006 book A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency, Brad also talks about his longtime interest in sports and civil rights.
Lifecycle Events
Happy 13th birthday,
Mirabelle Keselman!

Happy birthday,
Andrew Kaplan!

Happy birthday,
Christine Stearn!

Upcoming Yahrzeits
The following yahrzeits are coming up this week:

  • Murray Braverman, z"l, father of Lenny Braverman

  • Harry Arthur Nevel, z"l, father of Amy Nevel, grandfather of Cora Nevel

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

Alan Shusterman, Executive Director

Melissa Werbow, Education Director

Laura Vitiello, Gan Shalom Director

Danny Tomares, Operations and Program Assistant