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High Holidays 2020/5781

Below you will find the following sections:
  • How to Access Our Live(streamed) Services & Digital Machzor
  • July 27th Letter About This Year's High Holidays
  • High Holiday Schedule
  • High Holiday Family Services
  • New High Holiday Packages
  • Two Tikkun Olam Opportunities to Help Our Neighbors
  • In-Person Tashlich and Shofar Blowing
How To Access Our Live(streamed) Services & Digital Machzor
In order to view our livestreamed services, just go to the Hill Havurah YouTube page, from any computer or smartphone.
Once you get to our YouTube page, you will see the top video with a "LIVE" icon (during the service, and a few minutes beforehand); just click on that to watch.
If you are logged in with your Gmail account (YouTube is a subsidiary of Google), you can participate in the live chat below the video. (At times Rabbi Hannah may invite you to post in the live chat; but you'll never be required to.) If you don't already have a Gmail account, you can sign up for one here.
An online version of the Hill Havurah Machzor is now available here.
Moreover, this year we have a special supplement focused on racial justice, crafted by Hill Havurah members Rachel Conway and Virginia Spatz, in consultation with Rachel Faulkner (National Jews of Color Organizer, Dimensions Educational Consulting). You can view it on your computer here and on your phone here; and if you'd like to see the EPUB version for screen-readers or braille, just let us know.
If you have any questions, please email Executive Director Alan Shusterman at Thanks.


July 27th Letter About This Year's High Holidays

Dear Friends,

The safety and well-being of each of our members is our highest priority. Indeed, pikuach nefesh, saving a life, is the commandment that overrides all others in our tradition. Sadly, COVID-19 continues to impact our city and community significantly, and will for the foreseeable future. Therefore, Hill Havurah has made the difficult decision to host High Holiday services online this year. While we hoped we might be able to meet and pray in person, it will not be possible to safely host our services inside a building, nor does it seem likely that we can do so in a socially-distanced-appropriate manner outside (although we are still investigating). 

As we have for other services over the last few months, we will offer all our our High Holiday services online, including Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah morning, Kol Nidrei, Yom Kippur morning, and a combined Yizkor and Neilah. Like always, our services will be available to anyone who wants to attend. We are planning to host one in-person event: an outside Tashlich and Shofar blowing service. We will likely host this gathering along the river, where we can safely host a smaller, socially-distant event. We will also be part of a city-wide Share the Blast experiment to get shofars blowing all over the city! We will share more details on all our services and programs over the next few weeks -- make sure to read the Shmoozy Nuz every Friday..  

Rabbi Hannah has been working with the Ritual Committee to adapt our services for virtual delivery. We are hopeful that we can maintain as much participation and community interaction as possible. Rabbi Julie has been working with the Education Committee to adapt our children's programming for online delivery. The Kehillah Committee is putting together "care packages" for members to pick up, so that you will have the option to use printed prayer books and other materials to support praying and celebrating in our homes.

We know that the Days of Awe will feel differently this year, and that praying online feels like a loss for many of us. Like always, we will work hard to offer services that are meaningful and beautiful. While we won't be physically next to one another, we will still be connected as a community. And as we enter the new year together, we will collectively focus our hearts, minds, and souls on renewal, on the future, on healing, and on how the new year will be different from the last one. 

We hope it will be possible for us to gather, celebrate, and pray together soon. Until then, we hope you remain safe and healthy.

Rabbi Hannah Spiro & Eric Paisner, Ritual Committee Chair


High Holiday Schedule
Friday, September 18th
at 5:00 PM
[See information down below.]
at 6:00 PM
(Sermon by Rabbi Hannah after the Amidah)
Saturday, September 19th
at 10:00 AM
(Sermon by Rabbi Hannah before the haftarah reading)
at 3:00 PM
at 4:00 PM 
[See information below.]
Sunday, September 20th
[See information down below.]
Sunday, September 27th
at 7:30 PM 
(Sermon by Rabbi Hannah before Aleinu)
Monday, September 28th
at 10:00 AM
(Sermon by Dr. Jeremy Root, Hill Havurah member and emergency medical physician at Children's National Hospital,
before the haftarah reading)
at 1:30 PM 
at 3:00 PM
at 4:00 PM 
[See information below.]
at 5:30 PM 
at 6:00 PM 
* Because our services will be virtual this year, Rabbi Hannah and Michael Allen will be making some adjustments to keep them shorter than usual. As such, we'd like you to know that, if you're someone who generally arrives after the beginning of the service (like many of us), and times it so you don't miss certain things, those certain things will likely be occurring a bit sooner this year.
Please note: All services this year will be offered solely online -- and should be easily accessible from any computer or phone. See the instructions on how to access these live(streamed) services up above.
High Holiday Family Services
Our High Holiday Family Services will be virtual via Zoom, at the following times:
  • Rosh Hashanah Family Service (K-5th grade families) -- Sat., Sept. 19th, at 3:00 pm -- register here.
  • Rosh Hashanah Tot Family Service -- Sat., Sept. 19th, at 4:00 pm -- register here.
  • Yom Kippur Family Services (K-5th grade families)-- Mon., Sept. 28th, at 3:00 pm -- register here.
  • Yom Kippur Tot Family Service -- Mon., Sept. 28th, at 4:00 pm -- register here.
The services will be led by Rabbi Julie (Hill Havurah's fabulous Rabbi Educator) and the very talented Ari Jacobson.
Also, to discover all kinds of great activities and learning opportunities, you can visit our "Hill Havurah Family Resources to Celebrate the High Holy Days" document, put together by Rabbi Julie.


New High Holiday Packages

The deadline has now passed for ordering High Holiday packages. If you didn't order a package but still would like a machzor, you can contact Alan at for one. (In any event, the machzor will be accessible online.) We look forward to seeing those who ordered packages at their selected pick-up time in front of Reformation (Thursday from 5:00-8:00 pm or Friday from 9:00-12:00 noon).



The BLAST -- Friday, September 18th, 5:00 pm

Hill Havurah is excited to be a co-sponsor (along with about three dozen other local organizations) of “The Blast,” an opportunity for the Washington Jewish community to welcome Rosh Hashanah with city-wide shofar blasts. We are asking people to blow the shofar from locations around the city at 5:00 pm on September 18th, right before Rosh Hashanah begins.

Just walk outside your house with your shofar and sound the shofar as best or as loud as you can! The sound of the shofar will reverberate around the city as we awaken to the coming of a new year, and it will remind us that we are all in this together. Join us as a diverse, pluralistic community of Jews comes together to mark this sacred season. For details (including "How do I participate in The Blast?" and "How do I blow a shofar safely during COVID?"), you can visit this FAQ page.


Two Tikkun Olam Opportunities to Help Our Neighbors
As we head towards the High Holidays, the Tikkun Olam committee is offering Hill Havurah members two opportunities to help our underserved neighbors:
1. The Lutheran Church of the Reformation’s Food Pantry, to which the Havurah traditionally donates food during the High Holidays, is currently closed due to COVID-19. Instead, Havurah members may donate $25 Safeway or Giant gift cards to the pantry to distribute to community members most in need. Our goal is to provide 40 gift cards. To contribute, please visit our donation page, which will be open through the end of September.
2. In support of the East of the River Mutual Aid Network serving residents in Wards 7 and 8, Havurah members can donate the following food items, as well as diapers or hand sanitizer:
  • 14 oz. can of corn
  • 1 - 14 oz. can of string beans
  • 1 - 14 oz. can of lima beans
  • 1 - 14 oz. can of black beans
  • 1 - 14 oz. can of kidney beans
  • 1 can of pasta sauce
  • 2 - 7 oz. boxes of macaroni and cheese
  • 1 – 16 oz. box of pasta
  • 1 - 6 oz. can tuna or chicken
  • 1 breakfast item (box of cereal, jars of peanut and/or jelly, oatmeal, or grits)
Families can drop off diapers, hand sanitizer, or food when they pick up their High Holiday packages at Reformation (212 E. Capitol St., NE) during their selected pick-up time on September 17 and 18. They may also drop off these donations between 2:00 and 6:00 p.m. on September 25, 26, or 27 at the homes of Sarah Erdreich (at 1358 D St., SE) or Sig Cohen (at 125 Tenn. Ave., NE).
In-Person Tashlich and Shofar Blowing -- Outdoors and Socially Distant
Sunday, September 20th, 4:30-5:00 pm
On the second day of Rosh Hashanah we'll gather on the Kayak Dock in Yards Park (along the Anacostia River) for tashlich and the sounding of the shofar. With tashlich, we'll reflect on the pieces of the past year that we want to move forward from, and with the sounding of the shofar we'll reawaken to a new year. (Shofars will be blown from a very far distance from attendees for safety purposes.)
For Covid-19 social distancing and contact tracing purposes, pre-registration will be required and a maximum of 20 households will be able to attend. If you register after the first 20 households, Alan Shusterman will notify you that you've been placed on a waiting list.
In addition to registering, before you attend this special event you must complete and sign Hill Havurah's online ASSUMPTION OF RISK AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY RELATING TO CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 and carefully read our "In-Person Event Protocols," which must be followed during the event.
In an effort to preserve the ecosystem of the Anacostia, we’ll be using dissolvable paper with messages written on it. So, there's no need for you to bring breadcrumbs. (Unless you really want to, which would be fine.)
The Kayak Dock is along the Riverwalk close to the 4th street entrance to Yards Park just west of the Navy Yard gates. And it's a short walk from The Yards LOT Q, where you can park for $3.00 per hour on Sundays.
The registration page for this event can be found HERE.
If you have any questions, please email Alan at Thanks!
Fri, September 18 2020 29 Elul 5780