Events, News, and Shmooz
Rabbi Hannah's Letter

Dear Friends,

Like so many of you are, I am truly gutted by the Supreme Court's draft opinion on abortion rights. Many of us feel as though our bodies are under attack. The constitutional rights so many of us have taken for granted certainly are.

When someone is moving to cause serious, physical harm to another person, the rabbis tell us that they are a rodef, or pursuer. And in Talmud Sanhedrin 72b, we learn that even a fetus, without any agency at all, can be classified as a rodef, if the person whose uterus it dwells within is at risk of serious harm as a result of its birth. In the case when a fetus is a rodef, the Talmud states that the fetus must be aborted.

Fast forward to the modern day. The overwhelming Jewish consensus is that this concept of pregnancy as rodef applies even more broadly than cases where birth would cause death or severe bodily damage. Rabbis across the denominational and political spectrum have also applied the idea to situations in which a pregnancy would cause severe mental health damage to a birthing parent, or even severe damage to the health of a birthing parent’s family. One of countless examples is that of this Hill Havurah member whose story was published in Romper this week. Our modern political differences aside, Jewish law is clear: our rabbis advocate for abortion when a fetus is a rodef, a pursuer that would cause harm to a birthing parent.

This language of rodef speaks directly to the fear so many of us experienced when we read that draft opinion. The idea that one could be threatened by a rodef and yet forced to give birth is a powerful violation of one’s body, mind, and sense of self. As Jews, we have an inalienable right to abortion when a rodef dwells within our bodies. As Americans, many of us may soon be cut off from that right, even in the most dire of circumstances. Join me at the Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice on May 17th and we will make our Jewish voices heard.

It’s hard to find a silver lining here, but Shabbat is approaching and, with it, mandatory time to find peace and refreshment, no matter what the week has brought. May we all rest this Shabbat, assured that we truly are surrounded by a community that is poised to stand up for us, for our wellness, for our freedom, and for our families. The rest, we’ll worry about after havdalah. Mothers and others, have a blessed Mothers’ Day, a blessed weekend, and a blessed Shabbat.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Hannah


Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors

who made generous contributions in the past month,

as well as our multitude of Flowers & Friends Donors.


Lori Genderson | Jon Genderson Memorial Fund

In memory of Jon Genderson


Mel Schnapper | General Hill Havurah 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.

Saturday, May 7th

Tot Shabbat (in-person)

at 9:00 am

Monthly Shabbat Morning Service &

Lorelei Tarleton's Bat Mitzvah

at Sixth & I Historic Historic Synagogue (600 I St., NW)

at 10:00 am

Flowers & Friends Garden Party Fundraiser

at Hill Center East Garden (921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE)

at 7:00 pm

Thursday, May 12th

Jews of the World -- A Panel of Representatives from the Sephardic, Ethiopian, and Indian Jewish Communities (in-person indoors)

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

at 7:00 pm

Saturday, May 14th

Tot Shabbat (in-person outdoors)

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

at 10:00 am

Sages Havdalah & Potluck Dinner (in-person)

at The Residences at Eastern Market (777 C Street, SE)

at 6:15 pm

[more information down below]

Wednesday, May 18th

Lag B'Omer Picnic (in-person outdoors)

at Garfield Park (First & F Streets, SE)

at 6:00 pm

Friday, May 20th

Kabbalat Shabbat Service & Potluck Dinner (in-person indoors)

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

at 6:30 pm

Monday, May 23rd

The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalized Black Youth

(on Zoom)

at 7:00 pm

[more information down below]

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

The Rage of Innocence:

How America Criminalized Black Youth

Monday, May 23rd, at 7:00 pm

Henning image 2.jpg

Join us for a Hill Havurah-Capit0l Hill Village co-sponsored Zoom presentation and discussion with Professor Kristin Henning, Blume Professor of Law, Director of the Juvenile Justice Clinic and Initiative, Georgetown University, and author of “The Rage of Innocence.”

Drawing on her 25 years representing Black youth at Washington DC’s Public Defender Service, Prof. Henning confronts America’s irrational, manufactured fears of Black youth and compellingly argues that the crisis in racist American policing begins with its relationship with Black children. She explains why many Black youth are viewed as a threat to White Americans and how, when denied healthy adolescent development, the outcome can result in fear, resentment, and resistance to police as well as a lifetime of trauma.

If you'd like to join us for this special event, register here

Sages Havdalah & Potluck Dinner

Saturday, May 14th, at 6:15 pm

Those of you already on the Sages' mailing list, you should have already received communication about the May 14th Sages' event early last month, and you'll be receiving a reminder email with additional details early next week.

If you're an empty-nester, retired or nearly retired, a grandparent, etc. not already part of the Sages and interested in learning more, click here

Volunteers Needed!

We need of volunteers to help out before, during, and/or after the following upcoming events:

If you you are able to help at any of those events, please email Alan at Thank you!

A Big Thank You to Genderson Fund Donors

The Tikkun Olam Committee thanks all who have donated to the Jon Genderson Memorial Fund. Your generosity has enabled the committee to donate $5,000 (which almost matches the $5,900 raised by the Hill Havurah community!) to HIAS, whose work assisting refugees has taken on a new urgency in recent months -- and $3,000 to Mother’s Outreach Network, which focuses on empowering Black mothers in our city.

The Genderson Fund is dedicated to Hill Havurah’s direct action and advocacy work. Donations are administered by the Tikkun Olam Committee, with input and advice from the Board of Directors and Havurah members. More information about the Fund, including how to donate, can be found here.

Learn (or Re-Learn) How to Chant from the Torah
Have you never chanted Torah before, but have always wanted to try? Did you last chant from the Torah at your Bar or Bat Mitzvah, and want to get back into it? Chanting from the Torah is a powerful way to connect with the ancient words and melodies of our tradition. 

Rabbi Hannah is here to show you the ropes! Send her an email at to organize a learning plan.
Lifecycle Events

Happy 10th birthday, Polly Sperber!

Happy birthday, Justin Fisher!

Happy birthday, Cathy Duvall!

Happy 13th birthday, Kai Schneider!

Happy birthday, Robert Schwartz!

Happy birthday, Julie Gordon!

Happy 15th birthday, Ellie Kluger!

Happy birthday, Rachel Faulkner!

Upcoming Yahrzeits

We do not know of any yahrzeits that are coming up this week. 

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

Rebecca Freund, B Mitzvah Coordinator

Liz Woelkers, Operations & Program Assistant

Amber Ben-Hanania, Operations & Program Assistant
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