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

This fall, while walking down the street with Julius to take him to Gan Shalom, I’ve frequently seen the same man walking down the street with a bright red MAGA hat. I never thought much of it -- we’re right near the Capitol, and all sorts of people come to visit it. Then, this past weekend, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were named the President and Vice President Elect, and the streets of Capitol Hill erupted in joy. While 5.3% of DC residents voted for Donald Trump in this election, the number felt closer to zero on Saturday as people danced in the streets, mail carriers honked their horns, and neighbors put out leftover Halloween candy in celebration.

Then, just two days later, on Monday morning, as I walked Julius up to Gan, I saw the same man with the same bright red MAGA hat. He greeted me with a “Good morning” in the same way as always. I realized in that moment that he was likely one of the 5.3% of DC residents that voted to re-elect Trump -- and, likely, a neighbor of Reformation who was simply walking around wearing his favorite hat. A hat that he felt comfortable wearing in his very blue neighborhood, even after Saturday’s epic party.

I was incredibly surprised to see a MAGA hat in the neighborhood that morning and, for the first time ever after seeing a MAGA hat, I also found myself feeling a bit touched. I was touched that this very elderly man felt safe dissenting to the vast majority of his community’s decisions, very publicly, and trusted that nobody would retaliate against him. I don’t know that all people would feel that same degree of safety bearing their hearts, identities, and values for all to see in all environments. It’s strange to say it, but I love that our community is a place where the non-violence of its community members, even in the face of a symbol that is so triggering to so many, is a given.

At the end of this week’s parsha, Chayei Sarah, two brothers come together for the first time in many, many years. The last time Ishmael had seen Isaac was when Isaac was weaned and Ishmael was banished along with his mother from the family home, left to fend for themselves in the elements. While Ishmael ultimately did survive, and even thrive, his associations with Isaac cannot have been positive, to say the least. And, indeed, there’s no indication in the Torah that they ever see each other again -- until it comes time for them to bury their father. 

Despite what Abraham allowed to happen to Ishmael, Ishmael returned for that moment. Despite all that Isaac represented for Ishmael, Ishmael joined Isaac for that moment. Their gathering is mentioned quite sparely. It cannot have been easy. It likely was tense. But they came together and did the basic things they needed to do to move forward in peace and in dignity. Ken yehi ratzon -- may we in our community be leaders in doing the same, retaining deep pride and clarity in who we are and what we believe in all the while.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Hannah
Hill Havurah greatly appreciates the following donors who made generous contributions last month.
Sig & Susan Cohen | General Hill Havurah Fund
Phil Simon| General Hill Havurah Fund
Jared Weiss | General Hill Havurah Fund
Nellie & Chris Jaikaran| General Hill Havurah Fund
Richard Rubin & Carrie Levine | General Hill Havurah Fund
Mark Shlien | General Hill Havurah Fund
Maya Ajmera & David Hollander | General Hill Havurah Fund
Kim Fellner & Alec Dubro | General Hill Havurah Fund
Allison Ackerman | General Hill Havurah Fund
Marc & Kay Levinson| General Hill Havurah Fund
Joshua Salzman & Kathy Zeisel | General Hill Havurah Fund
Ricky & Adrienne Tropp | General Hill Havurah Fund
Michael Baskin| Rabbi's Discretionary 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, November 14th
at 8:45 am
Meditation and Torah Study with Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg
(you can find a more information about this event down below)
at 10:00 am
Tot Shabbat

Friday, November 20th
at 4:30 pm
Sundown Shabbat (a special family event)
(in-person) (registration required)
(you can find a more information about this event down below)
(supported by a generous grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington)
at 6:00 pm
Family Singalong: Bringing in Shabbat
at 8:00 pm (a later time than usual)
Special Blues Music Shabbat Service
with Congregation Beth Evergreen in Colorado

Saturday, November 21st
at 7:00 pm
Jack Levin's Bar Mitzvah

Sunday, November 22nd
at 9:30 am
B'nai Mitzvah Process Meeting for Parents -- With Rabbi Hannah
(you can find a more information about this event down below)

Saturday, December 5th
at 9:00 am
Tot Shabbat
at 10:00 am
Shabbat Morning Service and Bat Mitzvah of Emerson Duvall

Saturday, December 12th
at 8:45 am
Meditation and Torah Study
at 10:00 am
Tot Shabbat
at 6:00 pm
SAGES Havdalah and Conversation

For information about upcoming events not run by Hill Havurah that might be of interest to our community, including the Raising Antiracist Kids (RAK) Program, you can click HERE.
News and Shmooz
B'nai Mitzvah Process Meeting for Parents --
with Rabbi Hannah
Sunday, November 22, at 9:30 am
Join other parents of future B'nai Mitzvah students to learn from Rabbi Hannah about what the B'nai Mitzvah process looks like at Hill Havurah. How long is the process, and what should you be doing now to get ready for it? What will your child learn, and how? Rabbi Hannah will talk you through it all and make space for your questions.

Any parent is welcome, but this meeting will be specifically helpful for parents of kids in 5th grade and up. For more information and the Zoom link, click HERE.
Meditation & Torah Study with
Special Guest Rabbi
Sheila Peltz Weinberg
Saturday, November 14
8:45 - 9:45 am
Start your Shabbat morning with some meditation and Torah study with special guest Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg. Rabbi Weinberg is a Reconstructionist Rabbinical College graduate (like Rabbi Hannah) and served as as congregational rabbi for 17 years. She has taught mindfulness meditation and yoga to rabbis, Jewish professionals, and lay people.

If you’d like to join us, click HERE.
Sundown Shabbat (a special outdoor family event)
Friday, November 20th
Session 1: 4:30 - 4:55 pm
Session 2: 5:05 - 5:30 pm
Gan Shalom Director Laura Vitiello will be hosting a special in-person, outdoor family event, Sundown Shabbat, in front of Reformation (at 212 East Capitol Street, NE). With Shabbat blessings and stories, we'll welcome Shabbat in community.

A maximum of seven families will be able to attend each of the two sessions in order to properly social distance. In you'd like to attend, you must register here.
This event is supported by a generous grant from The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
New Weekly Yavneh Newsletter!
The inaugural edition of the Yavneh on the Hill Parents' Update was released on Sunday. If you want to be kept abreast of our religious school's news, we can add you to the Parents' Update mailing list; just email Danny at We also plan to provide a link here each week to the latest edition.
Little Lights Donation Drive
Hill Havurah members have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of some less fortunate children this Christmas. We are asking you to donate to the Little Lights Christmas Store, a place where parents living in Potomac Gardens or Hopkins Public Housing can select gifts for their children. Little Lights' goal is 250 gifts for parents to take home, wrap, and present to their children on Christmas Day.

From now through Monday, December 14th, you can either:

1) Give money directly to the Hill Havurah Little Lights Donation Page to enable Little Lights to purchase gifts. Our goal is to raise $2,000.

2) Select a gift directly through the Little Lights Amazon Registry (open until December 7th). 

Please contact Nate Allen ( of Hill Havurah's Tikkun Olam Committee with any questions.
Hill Havurah Customized Masks for Sale!
Click here for information about the new customized Hill Havurah masks that are now available.
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 the latest episode (#29) -- This episode contains a special treat, one we hope to make a regular feature. First, you'll hear Rabbi Hannah's interview with the insightful and experienced child psychologist Keri Linas. It was recorded just before election day but remains relevant. Then ... we bring you, for the first time, music from the talented Jewish-Canadian artist Aviva Chernick. (In future episodes we hope to feature other new musicians and introduce more music Rabbi Hannah loves to listen to.)
Lifecycle Events
Happy 8th birthday, Eli Neufeld!
Happy 8th birthday, Talia Neufeld!
Happy birthday, Jeremy Root!
Happy birthday, Roberta Shapiro!
Happy 8th birthday, Even Schvey!
Happy birthday, Gerald Tolk!
Happy birthday, Catherine Cassling!
Happy 12th birthday, Helene Kaufman
Happy anniversary, David & Marcia Hoexter!
Happy anniversary, Kenneth & Patricia Eisner!
Upcoming Yahrzeits
There are no yahrzeits that we know of this week. If you've not entered the 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