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Hospitality and this Week’s Executive Orders on Immigration

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is a unique organization in the Jewish community that is focused on revitalizing Jewish hospitality traditions.  We believe that hospitality is not only a critical spiritual practice.  It also has important ethical implications on how we treat the stranger.   As leader of Panim Hadashot, I feel moved to react with alarm and concern to this week’s Executive Orders on Immigration.

I have signed onto to a statement which I have appended below which clearly states my objection to these orders and deep concern for the impact these orders will have on millions of people and the reputation of the United States around the world.  Please join me in objecting to the emerging policy on immigration by the new administration.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

The Faith Action Network of Washington State

Statement on President’s New Executive Orders on Immigration

 

The Faith Action Network of Washington State strongly opposes the Trump Administration’s executive orders to drastically restrict refugee admissions to the United States, especially from war-torn nations like Syria; build a barrier wall at the southern border of the United States; and aggressively pursue and deport unauthorized immigrants. We join with millions of Americans of all faiths, leaders of local and state government, and other community leaders to say we will step up our own efforts to provide direct support to immigrants and refugees who are threatened by these new policies, and organize our faith communities to challenge these policies through nonviolent means.

We believe these new executive orders violate our cherished religious values and what it means to be an American. ­­­­­­­­­­As people of faith, we are called to love and serve our neighbors from near and far, particularly those most vulnerable to violence and persecution. We honor the God who commands that “the alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens…” As Americans we know the great contributions that immigrants and refugees make to our nation’s culture, history and economy, enriching our life together. Welcoming the stranger is at the heart of the American story.

Therefore, we call upon President Trump to uphold our shared American values and rescind his new executive orders. We call upon the members of our own faith communities to speak out and act in support of refugees and the neighbors among us who may face deportation. We offer our support to elected leaders and local law enforcement agencies that refuse to be part of implementing aggressive deportation policies on behalf of the federal government.

As leaders of diverse faith traditions, we have come to know that our differences are a blessing and that love can cast out fear. We must act boldly for the vision of an America, where the most vulnerable are protected and welcomed.

The Origins of Jewish Hospitality

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The word hospitality in modern parlance is commonly understood as an industry. To study hospitality at a school today is to learn about hotel management and business practices to follow to be successful in this industry. The term has been “capitalized”, referring to a way of making money by providing travelers and tourists shelter, meal service, and the amenities.

Yet hospitality is a practice and concept that has an older, deeper meaning.   The ancient Jewish practices of hospitality certainly revolved around welcoming strangers into the home and offering them food, shelter, and protection. But Jewish hospitality practices have different dimensions. My reflection about Jewish hospitality traditions center on two Hebrew terms associated with this ancient practice.

The first term is the classic rabbinic term for hospitality: הכנסת אורחים hachnasat orchim, literally “bringing in guests”. Joseph Telushkin in A Code of Jewish Ethics, volume 2 correctly notes that the Hebrew term implies that we should actively recruit (bring in) guests and seek opportunities to invite people to our home. (p.44).   The origins of the rabbinic term flow from the story of Abraham when he sees three men passing near his tent on a scorching day not long after he had circumcised himself. (Genesis 18). The Torah tells us that Abraham ran from the entrance of his tent to greet them. He proceeds to invite them in, shelter them from the heat, bathe their feet, feed them, and even walks alongside as when they leave. The Jewish hospitality traditions arise from these core texts. (I’ll explore these texts in a future blog entry.)

A second term for hospitality arises from rabbinic literature is פנים חדשות panim hadashot-new faces. The origin of the term derives from an ancient Jewish wedding practice not mentioned in the Jewish Bible. New faces-first time guests-were to be invited to the seven days of smaller wedding parties following the wedding at which the seven wedding blessings were chanted in honor of a new bride and groom.

This practice continues to this day in very traditional Jewish communities. I witnessed the practice when I attended a party for my nephew in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem during the week following his wedding. I accompanied his friend down the elevator to the street where he called out “panim hadashot”.   A few minutes later we brought back three men, perfect strangers to the folks gathered around in my nephew’s apartment (They were also needed to make the minyan of ten men required to chant the seven blessings.). These folks knew the script and immediately joined the party (separated between men and women) to sing the seven blessings in honor of the bride and groom.

The search for panim hadashot taught me about another element about Jewish hospitality practice. Jewish hospitality is about sharing joy and abundance with others beyond our immediate circle. The deeper insight of the tradition is that our joyful life experiences are uncommon and the awareness of the earth’s abundance is rare. In those uncommon moments, we practice hospitality with strangers to share our joy and abundance.

My experience of the practice of panim hadashot led me to wonder if it was possible to broaden its application and make it egalitarian.   Could it be possible to apply this practice of seeking new faces to apply to when we gather at our Sabbath tables. Years later when I founded Panim Hadashot in Seattle I followed through on this original insight.

Jewish hospitality as I understand it then combines both hachnasat orchim-the active bringing in of guests and panim hadashot-the act sharing of our joy and abundance with strangers, new faces.

Practicing hospitality is a profound commitment. It involves openness, generosity, readiness for encounter. It involves a willingness to leave our comfort zones in encountering new, unfamiliar persons in our intimate, private space.

 

A Message to Friends of Panim Hadashot-New Faces Concerning the Election

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Written 16-11-10

 

For me the results of the presidential election were devastating. I was so concerned about the racist and Anti-Semitic undertones of the Trump campaign that I volunteered to canvas for HRC in a battleground state for a week before the election. I spent a week canvassing neighborhoods in SW Las Vegas and meeting wonderful, committed and idealistic persons of all ages as canvassing partners. It was a great experience, but a crushing result.

 

I did not want to write in the first twenty four hours after the election since I was overcome by the demons of astonishment. I needed some time to start getting perspective. Because I am a student of history, I feel the echoes of past historic elections and transitions. But I also know that facile comparisons can mislead and confuse. But of this I am sure. We have just experienced a political earthquake of huge proportions. We are entering a time of uncertainty and possibly a period of great chaos.

 

Given Mr. Trump’s dangerous and hateful rhetoric throughout the year and one half of his campaign, I am deeply alarmed at the prospect of his presidency. But I do heed President Obama’s wise words, that we must have a “presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens.” In rabbinic parlance we say concerning Trump, “Kab’dehu v’Chash’dehu”, Honor him (or the office he is about to occupy, but suspect (scrupulize) him. Let us be vigilant. Let us be alert, Let us watch carefully for statements and actions that endanger our liberal democracy.

 

The next few days and weeks is a time like the month of Ellul before the High Holidays when we are supposed to do a Heshbon Hanefesh-an accounting of our souls. I believe a special Heshbon Hanefesh is called for, a collective one and a personal one. How did we get here? Why are we so polarized? Why are people so angry? What did we contribute to digging the silos that litter our political landscape.

 

In a week I will be ending my year of chanting the mourner’s kaddish for my beloved father, Allan Gartenberg. My father was a man of strong beliefs and moderate in temperament. He was extraordinarily humble and always made room for others. Most of all he was the greatest listener and empath that I have ever known. In essence he was a hospitable man, aware of others and always ready to hear their stories. I have been asking myself how he would have responded to the outcome of this election?

 

I believe that my father would listen and seek to understand others. He would reach out to those in pain and fear. He would act hospitably.

 

I see a deep connection between the way I was raised by my father and the organization I founded, Panim Hadashot. Panim Hadashot-New Faces is an emergent Jewish community committed to the Jewish teachings of hospitality. While we reflect on this moment, I believe a renewed commitment to hospitality is a very powerful way to act in these times when the fear of the other has come to dominate our political discourse. To practice Jewish hospitality is to share our Shabbat tables with “new faces”. I believe we should seek out new faces, Jews of different backgrounds, non-Jews of different communities, persons with differing views on the issues of the day. Hospitality is the Jewish way of affirming pluralism and inclusion. It is a way of conducting conversation, of listening, and learning from one another.

 

In this fascinating story that appeared in the Washington Post on October 15th LINK, we learn about a prodigy of the White Supremacist Movement who is exposed to a wider world by a Jewish peer who intentionally invites him to his Shabbat table so he can meet real people from other backgrounds. Shabbat after Shabbat he is exposed to new views and real people. His prejudices melt as he comes to see the humanity of people he had once denied.

 

Practicing hospitality is both a moral and spiritual act in these scary times. I hope you will join us by becoming a hosting partner in Panim Hadashot and building your hospitality practice. Let us welcome the other and share our humanity and our hope.

 

 

 

Sukkot, Hospitality, and the Strangeness of the End of the Holidays

 

A Blog Post Rabbi Dov Gartenberg for the New Faces Blog

Completed on Friday, October 28, 2016/26 Tishrei, 5777

I love the festival for Sukkot for many reasons. I love the strangeness of building a temporary structure. I love the often-amusing annual effort to procure the Sechach-the cutoff branches needed to cover the Sukkah. I love sitting in a sukkah (on a dry day) with a coat on while enjoying the fall colors enveloping me. I love the special rain roof-(called a schlock) that I have to rig up for the Sukkot I have built in Alaska and Washington. I love the antiquity of the four species and the rain inducing shaking and circling we do with them. I love the reading of Kohelet-Ecclesiastes that we read in the synagogue.

The sense of roots that permeates this festival moves me deeply. This festival is so detached from the regular pace and homogenizing context of our lives. As I get older I love Sukkot more and more. While Sukkot is a wonderful holiday for children and for families, I find it is very much compelling festival as I move through my 60s and beyond.

But what I love more than anything on Sukkot is the ritual of Ushpizim, the invitation to ancient guests to sit in the Sukkah with us. Not only is Sukkot about physical hospitality, it is also about spiritual hospitality. The ritual of Ushpizin has us invite our ancestors into the Sukkah. What the ritual signifies is that hospitality helps us to transcend our limited lifespan. On Sukkot we are invited to imagine knowing and relating to our long dead ancestors. We express our desire to share a meal with them, talk to them about their lives, their worries, their satisfactions, and their aspirations. We may even crack a joke with them or tell a story.

This is the power of hospitality. It takes something that is remote, and brings it close. The strange act of inviting the forefathers and the foremothers into the Sukkah is making the distant, the ancient, the arcane past close and imaginable. So too with those strangers who live in the same arena of our lives. Their distance is not over generations, but rather of physical proximity, cultural difference, class status, or other outcomes of human complexity. The act of hospitality is the attempt to reduce alienation from others.

A number of social scientists have argued that human beings can only make as much as 154 friends or significant relationships.   The idea is that human groups have an upper limit of intimacy. If this is true, then hospitality is not so much about making friends, but also connecting to others outside our 154-person network. While we cannot befriend the whole world, we need to be connected to others who are different than us. This is the secret of the practice of hospitality.

******

I found this striking poem in the new siddur about this period immediately after the end of the fall Festivals. Lev Shalem on page 368

The Journey On by Tamara Cohen

The s’khakh on my sukkah

is browning,

the gourds are growing

soft from the rain

 

Soon it will be time to take

down the sukkah:

unscrew the screws,

unhinge the walls.

 

Soon these days of celebra-

tion will end

and i will drag the poles

back to the garage.

 

I want a prayer for this:

the courage to take down

what we erect,

the willingness to let the

temporary be temporary.

 

Because it is,

because the fullness of the

moon is no longer

but will be again.

 

We have been schooled

once more in the fragility

of shelter,

in the wisdom of walls and

the welcoming of guests,

in the joy of song and soup

shared outdoors.

 

Let us turn to Heshvan:

 

See how the etrog can

become a spicebox,

each clove piercing the

yellow skin,

a teacher for the year

ahead.

 

What was holy can be holy

again.

In Silence on Yom Kippur

silence-tag

The tag I will be wearing during Yom Kippur prayers

 

Silence on Yom Kippur

This Yom Kippur I will have the rare opportunity to be a regular worshipper for the entire holy day from Kol Nidre to Ne’ilah.  Since 1978 I have been a  regular worshipper on Yom Kippur only a handful of times . As a rabbinic student and a rabbi, my place during the High Holidays was always on the Bimah.

In 1977 I moved to Boston to study in a graduate program.    A friend who had grown up in a rabbinic home told me that he was going to be in silence for all of Yom Kippur.  I was intrigued by his example.  Since I was new to Boston and did not really know anybody yet in the community, I thought I would try remaining silent for that Yom Kippur.

It was the most powerful Yom Kippur of my life.

The experience of prayer was heightened.  I was attuned to the flow of the service and experienced the repetition of the prayers as waves washing over me.  I remember reflecting about how easy it is to fill space with words and niceties.  I became more aware of the everyday mindlessness of much of my speech.  I remember feeling clarity and renewal on that day that lasted for weeks after the holy days had ended.

Thirty nine years later I am going to go into silence for Yom Kippur again.

It is a bit scary to decide to remain in silence again.   My wife is very supportive and is joining me in silence.  We have sat silent retreats together and found them to be very intimate and powerful experiences.  There are several reasons I am seeking silence on Yom Kippur and I will share a few of them with you.

First, I would like to meditate on how the years of adulthood have changed me.  I want to reflect on the ebb and flow of my life.  I lost my beloved father this year, and as I enter the latter stages of my life I seek insight about the challenges before me.

Second, I have found these times we are living in to be very confusing. The technology I use fills so much space and sucks my attention.  I am normally somewhat distractible, but the devices I use have made me more distractible.  To be silent is to put down my devices, to be immersed in the prayers, and to be unworried about interactions for 25 hours.

Third, my silence this year is in part a protest.  This presidential election has exposed the cancer of celebrity culture, the collapse of civility, the screaming rage flowing from social media, and the scary vulnerability of our democracy.  I need time to retreat from all this cacophony and to focus on the words of the prayers and the prophets that remind me to turn toward good.

Lastly I am seeking silence to reach out toward God.  I began serving as a rabbi in Seattle nearly three decades ago. I have had the fortune of meeting many wonderful people but pressure I feel to be politely social on Yom Kippur can be distracting.   To be silent for all of Yom Kippur lets me set aside my sense of social obligation to focus on my relationship with God.  After all, our tradition urges us to repair our relations with our fellows during these nine days with the tenth day, Yom Kippur, focused on our relationship with the Holy One.

Psalm 65:2 proclaims, “Silence is praise to You.” לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה   As Maimonides writes in The Guide to the Perplexed, “…..(this) signifies: silence with regard to You is praise.”

I share these reflections with you as encouragement to consider this practice for yourself. You might try it for a portion of the day.   If you are inspired to try this, let your loved ones know beforehand.  Spend a few minutes after the Break the Fast to jot down any insights you want to record.  Most of all, experience the beauty and the power of Yom Kippur in stillness-with the still small voice of the Divine.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Jewish Hospitality in the 21st Century

What is Jewish Hospitality?

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is a community focused on the practice of Jewish hospitality. The Jewish hospitality traditions go back to Abraham and Sarah in chapter 18 of the Book of Genesis. Abraham greets and feeds guests soon after he had circumcised himself. The Rabbis saw his readiness to welcome guests even when he was physically uncomfortable as an indication of his extraordinary kindness. In rabbinic literature, the act of hospitality (hachnasat orchim) is greatly cherished and is regarded as a sign of good character and generosity.

The term “panim hadashot”-new faces is found in the Talmud to refer to the practice of inviting people in the community to share in the joy of bride and groom by inviting them to the ancient tradition of seven days of feasting and singing for the bride and groom following a wedding. The guests at these parties had to be new faces who had not attended the wedding celebration. The purpose of inviting new faces was to share joy and abundance with others beyond the bride and groom’s family and friends.  We draw inspiration from this old hospitality tradition.  We reintroduce this practice to modern Jews by helping households to practice home hospitality and the making our Sabbath and Festival tables a welcoming space for new faces-“panim hadashot.”

Jewish hospitality is associated with the observance of the Sabbath. It is traditional to invite guests to the home Sabbath table either on Friday evening or during the Sabbath day.  One sign of a strong synagogue community is an invitation to a newcomer to a Sabbath meal after the service in a home.

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is committed to reviving and adapting the Jewish hospitality traditions in our modern context in which Jewish households are spread out over a wide geographical area and many Jews are not regular synagogue attenders.   We see home hospitality as a way to revitalize Jewish connection and to inspire engagement with Jewish teachings, with the rich Jewish musical legacy, with the varieties of Jewish cuisine, and most of all to the Jewish practice of kindness to strangers.  Panim Hadashot does this by  fostering hosting partnerships all around Seattle.   

On a deeper level by practicing hospitality we are able to share our Jewish values as an expression of living in a free, diverse society.  We are also able to share with others who are different than ourselves.   In a troubled world where people talk of building walls, we wish to do the opposite.  The words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks express the vision guiding our understanding of Jewish hospitality in a world of diversity.

“There is all the difference in the world between the attempt to impose your faith on others and the willingness to share it with others. Our faiths are different. Judaism is not Christianity; Christianity is not Islam; the Abrahamic monotheisms are different from Eastern mysticisms on the one hand, scientific humanism on the other. Yet when we bring our respective heritages of wisdom to the public domain, we have no need to wish to convert others. Instead, we are tacitly saying, ‘if this speaks to you, then please take it as our gift.’ Indeed, it is yours already, for wisdom (unlike revelation) belongs to us all. The willingness non-coercively to share our several traditions of moral insight is, in a religiously plural culture, an essential part of the democratic conversation, indeed of societal beatitude.”

A Fall 2016 Message to Friends of Panim Hadashot

By Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

18 Ellul 5776, September 21, 2016

Dear Haverim,

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 dov@panimhadashot.org.

 

Shannah Tovah U’metukah,  A Good and Sweet New Year,

 

 

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener

Panim Hadashot-New Faces dov@panimhadashot.org

Cell and Text:  206 739-9924

Mailing Address: PO Box 7041 | Bellevue, WA | 98008

Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat 2015 Update

Dear Friends of Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat

We wish you a Happy Hanukah filled with light.   We wanted to update you about Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat.

Our focus in this early stage is to create powerful Shabbat experiences by reconsidering the way we pray and the way we are shaped by Shabbat. We have worked to create musical services and gatherings that have contemplative, joyful, and participatory elements and that preserve a loving connection to the traditional Hebrew prayer and song traditions. Everything we do seeks to inspire our participants and build community. At this stage, we are gathering in smaller venues to refine our approach to services and to create the conditions for connecting people in a joyful and welcoming Shabbat setting. In a sense, we are a Shabbat laboratory, experimenting with ways to reinvigorate an ancient but timeless spiritual treasure of Judaism.

In late summer 2015, Panim Hadashot introduced a series of select Shabbat and High Holiday activities.  In October and November, we experimented with two Shabbatons in Ballard called Urban Shabbat Retreats.   Going forward, we will focus on two dimensions of the Shabbat experience which have had the most impact so far and will meet in various locations around Seattle.

First, we are working on a Kabbalat Shabbat musical service (with instrumentation) which taps into both Western and Eastern Jewish musical traditions along with a spirited Shabbat dinner experience.

Second, we aim to integrate two Hasidic traditions into one beautiful end-of-Shabbat experience.  These are the Tisch – a late Shabbat afternoon table accompanied with teaching, storytelling, and song – and the Melaveh Malkah – an extension of Shabbat that is filled with joyful song and which culminates in the beautiful ending ritual of Havdallah.  We have given this event the moniker, Hootenanny and Havdallah.

We have intended all along to fully integrate Tikkun Olam activity into our vision and programming.  Joanne and I have a personal commitment to mental health advocacy and support.  Mental illness can be one of the most devastating forms of illness, severely impacting many individuals and families.  As you can see on our website, we are working with the Jewish Family Service and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Washington and Greater Seattle to promote courses in the Jewish community for families affected by mental illness.  I am a trained NAMI peer educator who will anchor the award-winning Family-to-Family class that will be starting in March 2016.

As our community develops, we hope to add other Tikkun Olam activities and foci. We believe strongly that Shabbat is a time to cultivate and renew our engagement in the world.  Shabbat is not an escape from the world, but rather a spiritual regrouping, a time for reflection and the regeneration of a permanent commitment to Tikkun Olam.  We welcome people’s thoughts and wishes concerning how to shape a Shabbat experience that helps us renew and maintain our efforts of Tikkun Olam in the world, especially in these challenging times.

Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat is a work in progress – a fact we recognize and embrace. We hope you will help us shape and nourish our vision by connecting with us.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions and thoughts.  We are also grateful for your financial support, which is always easy to give through this link.

We hope to see you at a Panim Hadashot Shabbat program in the near future.

Hag Hanukah Same’ah,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

 

What is Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat?

פנים חדשות-Panim Hadashot
The Heart of Shabbat

Updated Vision Statement 9/9/15

The mission of Panim Hadashot* is to create a Sabbath-centered community, involving meaningful practices that transform the Sabbath into a joyful spiritual and ethical practice in our lives.

We believe that a rich Shabbat practice is a path toward opening the heart, connecting us to others, fostering compassion and building personal resilience. Arthur Green, one of the leading figures of modern Jewish thought, has observed that the Jewish Sabbath “is the best gift Judaism has to offer the world.” The rest, revival, and renewal of the Sabbath can help us to reduce our anxiety, overcome our sorrows, and mend our broken hearts.  Shabbat allows us to build the spiritual strength that enables us to contribute toward repair (tikun) of the brokenness of the human condition that we encounter.

Panim Hadashot, meaning “new face” in Hebrew, is a Talmudic term that connotes joyful hospitality.  In later Jewish literature Panim Hadashot emerges as a name for the Sabbath itself.   These texts embody the Sabbath as a beautiful new face welcomed with love each Friday evening.  The Jewish people and the Sabbath are imagined as two lovers meeting again after a prolonged absence.

We seek to instill this love of the Sabbath by offering a full Shabbaton over one Shabbat each month, which will feature both new and old Shabbat practices, including:

  • Musical services that invite participation, featuring new and old melodies
  • Sabbath feasts combining great food, experience and explanation of table rituals, and enlivening table talk that will move us into a more communal experience
  • Shabbat Torah study, which engages the curious mind and provides insight into issues that touch our lives.
  • Mindfulness meditation teachings and practices incorporated into the experience of Shabbat prayer and Shabbat rest

This non-residential retreat begins Friday evening and runs through the end of Shabbat. People can join us for as many activities as they would like. We believe that this “wall to wall” Shabbat experience will enhance participants’ observance of the Sabbath and be a unique contribution to Jewish life in Seattle.

We invite you to experience Shabbat through Panim Hadashot and to join us in shaping and implementing our vision. For more information, visit our website panimhadashot.org or contact us at 907 314-0810 or panimhadashot@gmail.com.

* Pronounced Paa-neem Chod-ah-shot.panim_01-04

An Elul Letter from Rabbi Dov Gartenberg on Mental Illness and the Seattle Jewish Community

Monday, August 24, 2015/ 9 Elul, 5775

Dear friends,

During the upcoming Days of Awe we will chant the haunting prayer, Unetaneh Tokef. The famous dyads of this prayer reveal the existential anxieties of our ancestors. I am writing to you about three of the dyads which have absorbed my attention during my adult life.

Who will be at peace and who will be troubled? מי ינוח ומי ינוע

Who will be serene and who will be disturbed? מי ישקיט ומי יטרף

Who will be tranquil and who will be tormented? ומי ישלו ומי יתיסר

These dyads focus on an ancient fear- the fear of what we today call mental illness. There was no word for mental illness in antiquity. Like the fear of death, the fear of falling sick to mental anguish and suffering was part of their reality, and continues to be part of ours. While we know much more about mental illness than our ancestors, we have, like them, found no cures for the myriad ways it manifests in ourselves or in the people we love.

Before I moved back to Seattle in April 2015, I served as the Executive Director of an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Juneau, Alaska. During my time there I learned and taught NAMI’s signature peer education courses for family members who are caring for a loved one with mental illness. I also brought to the community NAMI’s peer support and education courses for persons living with mental illness. Most important, I was able to mine my personal experience as a parent of a child with mental illness to become an advocate for people and family enduring the great challenges of living with it.

In moving back to Seattle I want to continue to advocate, support and educate persons and families living with mental illness as a rabbi in the Jewish community. Under the rubric of Panim Hadashot, the Jewish organization I have reestablished, I am working to bring NAMI’s outstanding peer support and education programs to the attention of the Seattle Jewish community. I am meeting with the leadership of Jewish Family Service and NAMI to foster greater collaboration in bringing forward the peer-led programs that NAMI offers.

One of NAMI’s signature programs is Family to Family, a course designed for family members who care for a loved one living with a mental illness such as depression, Bipolar Disorder, anxiety disorders, and Schizophrenia to organize and teach a NAMI. I am working with the Seattle affiliate of NAMI to modify and teach this course to include unique Jewish cultural issues that can arise with Jewish families dealing with mental illness. I will be teaching this course not as a rabbi, but as a peer. A peer in this case is a person who has life experience caring for a family member.

The Family to Family Course has been scheduled to run on Mondays and Wednesday evenings from November 9 to December 16, 2015. It is for any family members or caregivers caring for a loved one living with mental illness. The course is currently offered under the rubric of NAMI of Greater Seattle and Panim Hadashot, my recently reestablished Jewish organization. The course will meet in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle. The course is free, but registration will be limited to twenty persons. You will be able to find information on the course by September 1st at www.nami-greaterseattle.org or at www.panimhadashot.org.

I am also working to hold in Seattle a gathering focused on Judaism and Mental Illness. The gathering would be modeled on a conference that took place in New York City in 2014 organized by the Jewish institute of Drisha.

I wanted to make you aware of these efforts and invite you to join me either as a participant or as a collaborator. I also hope that over time we will be able to train a cadre of persons in the Jewish community who can help others on this journey by becoming NAMI trained peer teachers or support group facilitators. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested at panimhadashot@gmail.com.

I remember many years ago when my son was hospitalized in one of the more severe depressive episodes. He was so sick and in such pain that I hardly recognized him. As I fell to the depths of despair, one of the aides saw the distress on my face and took me aside. He told me, “It will not always be like this. He will find a way out of this.” I will always remember those words of hope and solace. Over time they were prophetic.

I am calling on inspired persons in our community to provide hope, support, and encouragement for those we know who face this enormous challenge. As it says at the end of ‘Unetaneh Tokef’, “Teshuvah, tefilah, and tzedaka maavirin et roa hagezera”. I translate this beloved prayer to mean “by turning toward, by advocating, and by generous righteous and caring acts we diminish the severity of the decree.” We have the power to make a difference and bring hope to those who live with mental illness.

Shanah Tovah v’tikateivu,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Panim Hadashot