Sign In Forgot Password

Our Rabbi & Staff



Hannah Spiro

Rabbi Hannah Spiro, Hill Havurah's rabbi, is a DC-area native and a 2017 Reconstructionist Rabbinical College graduate. Previously serving at Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative synagogues from Boston to Florida, Rabbi Hannah has become passionate about bringing daring and dynamic Torah, compassionate pastoral care, and the empowerment of a strong lay leadership to her work. She is additionally an accomplished singer/songwriter, and loves bringing music onto the pulpit and into the classroom. 

Rabbi Hannah and her husband, David Pfeferman, have two children: Julius, born in March 2018; and Dorothy, born in April 2021. The four of them are delighted to be a part of such a warm, creative group of people as the Hill Havurah community.  

If you have any questions or would like to connect with Rabbi Hannah, you can contact her at



You can enjoy Rabbi Hannah's Shabbat Divrei Torah here.

You can read about Rabbi Hannah's start at Hill Havurah in 2016 as reported in The Washington Post ("For the first time in decades, Capitol Hill has its own neighborhood rabbi") and Washington Jewish Week ("New rabbi in Capitol Hill neighborhood fills a gap we didn't realize existed").

And you can see Rabbi Hannah featured in the 5/24/20 edition of The Washington Post Magazine here.


David Picture

 Alan Shusterman
 Executive Director

Alan Shusterman, Hill Havurah's Executive Director, is a DC-area native and proud graduate of the late, semi-great Charles W. Woodward High School. He is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. Over the course of three decades, Alan served in a wide variety of leadership roles in both the nonprofit and private sectors. Most recently before joining Hill Havurah in the spring of 2019, Alan served as the head of an innovative nonprofit independent secondary school that he founded.

Alan and his wife Gila have three children: David, who attends the University of Maryland in College Park; Rebecca, who attends MassArt in Boston; and Jordan, who is a baseball podcaster with The Ringer and a Fox Sports MLB analyst.

If you have any questions or would like to connect with Alan, you can contact him at



Melissa Werbow
Education Director

Melissa Werbow, Hill Havurah's Education Director, is passionate about creating authentic communities and empowering learners to take ownership of the Jewish tradition. She graduated from Hebrew Union College with a master’s degree in Jewish Education and a master’s degree in Jewish Communal Service. In Los Angeles, she served as the Director of Religious School and Family Education at Stephen S. Wise Temple. In Pittsburgh, she taught Melton Adult Education programs and was a consultant for area religious schools through the Agency for Jewish Learning. In Sarasota, she served as the Director of Jewish Learning at the Hershorin Schiff Community Day School. 

Melissa's family moved to the District in the summer of 2020, and joined us as our Education Director in the spring of 2021. She also currently serves as the NoVA Program Coordinator for the Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies. She and Rabbi Mike Werbow are the parents of three mostly delightful children and one very spoiled dog.  She is currently obsessing about the best quilting stores in DC, parenting teenagers and what novel she should read next.

If you have any questions or would like to connect with Melissa, you can contact her at



Laura Vitiello
Gan Shalom Director

Laura Vitiello, Gan Shalom's Director, completed a degree in Organizational and Community Leadership at University of Delaware and a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Towson University. Before starting at Gan Shalom in the summer of 2020, she spent seven years as an educator and community leader, deepening her understanding of the Reggio Emilia philosophy in varying preschool environments, including as a lead teacher at Gan Hayeled, Adas Israel's preschool.

Laura loves spending time with children, reading books and exploring their curiosities. Her passion is driven by children’s natural wonder and watching them grow. She is currently working on her AIM4Excellence Director credential and is certified in Nature-Based Learning. She lives in Virginia with her fiance and two kittens. She loves spending free time with family and traveling to new places.

If you have any questions or would like to connect with Laura, you can contact her at



Vera Abankwa
Operations & Program Assistant

Vera Abankwa, Hill Havurah's Operations & Program Assistant, graduated from West Virginia University with a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in May 2021. She's now enrolled in a Master's program at American University in linguistics/TESOL. She is multi-lingual, fluent in Twi and Spanish (and English, too). She emigrated here from Ghana with her family in 2008.

If you have any questions or would like to connect with Vera, you can contact her at





Fri, September 24 2021 18 Tishrei 5782