By Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
18 Ellul 5776, September 21, 2016
This is my first communication since the beginning of the summer. We have taken the summer off to review our direction and to continue to build up the ensemble which we began at this time last year. Let me share with you a short history of Panim Hadashot and our plans going forward.
I started Panim Hadashot in 2004 after I left the Congregation Beth Shalom. Panim Hadashot (pronounced “Paw-neem Chaw-daw-shote) literally means “new faces” in Hebrew. The name is based on the ancient Jewish practice of sharing the joy of a newly married couple with “new faces” beyond the immediate circle of the couple’s family and friends. The practice of inviting new faces to share in our personal joy is a unique aspect of the Jewish practice of hospitality. The practice of hospitality (hawch-nasawt orchim) is considered one of the most important acts of loving kindness (Gemilut Hasadim).
Panim Hadashot was conceived as an approach of outreach to disconnected Jews by emphasizing the beautiful Jewish hospitality traditions centered around the sharing the home Sabbath meal. I focused my rabbinic role as a convener, facilitator, and teacher, collaborating with hosts all around Seattle to create rich, meaningful, and inviting Shabbat experiences. Our Shabbat around Seattle program won several awards and connected me to hundreds of hosts and guests in homes and commons rooms all around the Seattle area.
When I moved from Seattle to Southern California in 2007, I refashioned Panim Hadashot for a congregational framework. When Joanne and I moved to Juneau in 2011, I adapted Panim Hadashot to reach out to the “hidden Jews” who had ended up in Alaska far from their families.
Last year, I returned with my wife to Seattle and resumed Panim Hadashot activities in Seattle. Over the past year I worked with some talented musicians to create a lyrically and spiritually beautiful musical Kabbalat Shabbat service. The one key element that was missing was Panim Hadashot’s previous home centered focus on hospitality. We are bringing back our original inspiration of Jewish home hospitality. I will return to convening, facilitating, and teaching at home celebrations. But the key addition to our unique approach is sharing the vast and beautiful Jewish musical traditions to in homes across Seattle.
Starting with Sukkot in mid-October, 2016, Panim Hadashot will resume collaborating with hosts all around Seattle to create enriching Shabbat experiences in people’s homes and shared spaces. Our ensemble, named “The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble” will be portable, joining hosts to create both a beautiful musical Shabbat experience with rich conversation on Torah and Jewish topics. Through this we will strive to foster a love of Jewish hospitality-sharing our homes with “New Faces”.
In light of our decision to focus on Jewish home hospitality we have made the following changes.
First, we have decided not to offer High Holiday services this year so we can concentrate on our Jewish home hospitality efforts. We encourage our friends to attend Seattle area synagogues.
Second, we are actively recruiting people to host Shabbat celebrations in their homes or in common spaces. If you are interested in hosting or co-hosting read our suggested guidelines for hosts at our website at www.panimhadashot.org.
Third, in order to promote hospitality in our growing community, we are working on a new model of membership based on becoming a subscriber. While we are still working on implementing our subscriber platform, you will be able to subscribe so you can be able to sign up as a guest to join home celebrations, participate in learning opportunities, and enjoy special community gatherings. Subscribing will also be a way to support the work of Panim Hadashot. We are setting up a unique model of connecting hosts, guests, and people who are interested in our model of Jewish community.
Lastly, I hope that Panim Hadashot-New Faces will be a catalyst for a renewal of the emphasis on hospitality in living a Jewish life. The implications of taking this practice seriously range from making ourselves more open to sharing our Judaism with new people at our Shabbat table to advocating for and supporting refugees into our country. Look to our blog on the website for our forum on hospitality.
Thank you for your past interest and support of Panim Hadashot-New Faces. Please note the new email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannah Tovah U’metukah, A Good and Sweet New Year,
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener
Panim Hadashot-New Faces email@example.com
Cell and Text: 206 739-9924
Mailing Address: PO Box 7041 | Bellevue, WA | 98008