A Beautiful Observation on the ‘Virtue’ of Hospitality

 

“Hospitality is a bridge to all the great

 

virtues, but it is immediately accessible.

 

You don’t have to love or forgive or feel

 

compassion to extend hospitality. But

 

it’s more than an invitation. It is the

 

creation of a safe, inviting, trustworthy

 

space — an atmosphere as much as

 

a place. It shapes the experience to

 

follow. It creates the intention, the

 

spirit, and the boundaries for what

 

is possible. As creatures, it seems,

 

we imagine a homogeneity in other

 

groups that we know not to be there

 

in our own. But new social realities

 

are brought into being over time by a

 

quality of relationship between unlikely

 

combinations of people. When in doubt,

 

practice hospitality”

 

 

 

From Krista Tippett

 

Sukkot/Shabbat Feast and Musical Tish with Heart of Shabbat Ensemble

A freilich Sukkot celebration with the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. Great food, great music, great guests, great fun!

Join Panim Hadashot for a joyful and musical celebration of Sukkot Rabbi Dov Gartenberg and the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble led by Ari Joshua will lead a freilach Sukkot celebration with a catered feast by Eric Gorbman Catering.

Please bring a historical guest who you would like to invite to the Sukkah and tell us why you want to bring them with you. We will do an Ushpizin (the tradition of inviting ancient guests to the Sukkah).  We will be serenaded with great festival music and opportunities to sing favorite holiday songs and to learn new ones.

This evening will be filled with joy and fun and with great people.

Catered by Eric Gorbman Menu: BBQ Salmon, Northwest Style, Egyptian Chick Pea Salad, Hummus, Ajvar ( Balkan vegetable spread), Greek Salad, Roasted Vegetable Platter, Melon Platter, Brownies

$20 for adults

$10 for children between 8-13

Free for children below 8.

RSVP HERE

Sukkot Message 2017

Sukkot is called in the liturgy “the season of our joy”-zman simchateinu. Honestly, it does not feel in the world as a season of joy. Our hearts go out to the devastated inhabitants of Puerto Rico and to the victims and their families of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. (Please continue to donate tzedaka to help them.) Everyday we are confronted with a leadership crisis we never could have imagined last year at Sukkot. And so many more events around the world challenge any sense of joy we could attain.
However, the traditions around Sukkot exhibit an understanding about how troubled our world is as well as the need to dig deeper for the joy that is at the heart of this festival. The “book” of this festival is Ecclesiastes-Kohelet which is easily one of the most dark books of the Hebrew Scriptures. It’s tone of weariness about the world seems completely out of synch with the description of the holiday as a period of joy.
Many have reflected about the asymmetry of reading Kohelet during Sukkot. My take on this pairing is that Sukkot asks us to find joy through simple gratitude while we acknowledge the realities of the world we live in. We find joy in the appreciation of shelter, of our enduring relationships of family and friends, of the joy of sharing our bounty with strangers and guests. The humbling act of building or eating in or even residing in a temporary booth-sukkah can bring to us an awareness of the basic conditions that enable us to live with gratitude. “Who is rich? Ben Zoma asks in Pirkei Avot, “those that are content with their portion.”
Sukkot is the festival of hospitality-hachnasat orchim. It is a great mitzvah to invite guests into the Sukkah. Our tradition considers hospitality the joy of doing a mitzvah-“simchah shel mitzvah.” I believe this relational dimension of Sukkot is key to understanding joy. We find joy in active connection with others. Sharing our table, our homes, our sukkot is a basic ingredient for joy.
Panim Hadashot-New Faces is an organization that is centered around Jewish hospitality practices. We view hospitality all year around as not only an way to personal joy, but a practice that improves the world and brings joy to others. I love Sukkot for this reason. It demands that we acknowledge the world around us, but that we not succumb to despair. We start building the joy from within most temporary structures and build outward from there.  Similarly, we build the joy within ourselves and extend it to others in an ever expanding circle.
I wish you a joyous festival and the strength to build resistance to despair from the difficulties of the world.
May you be worthy of a Sukkat Shalom, a Sukkah of peace,
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Please Invite Us to Your Home for Shabbat!

September 2017, Elul 5777

 To my fellow Jews,  

Please invite us to your home for Shabbat!  I know this sounds hutzpidik (audacious), but we would like to team up with you to create a wonderful experience of Sabbath joy and to share with you the beautiful practice and mitzvah of Shabbat hospitality. I invite you to become a host and to team up with us to be a Shabbat Hospitality Partner.  

We do something unique. We team up with hosts all around Seattle to celebrate an experience of Sabbath joy through home hospitality, music and song, and engaging conversation around a Shabbat meal.   We add one ‘Hiddush’ (innovation) to this ancient Jewish tradition.  We utilize master musicianship to share and sing melodies from the great treasure house of acapella Shabbat music with you and your guests. We can also share much more, including Israeli and contemporary Jewish music (and American masters such as Dylan, Cohen, and Simon)

As a Shabbat Hospitality Partner, we offer for your Shabbat home event our gifted musicians of the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble.  I’m part of the ensemble as a singer, teacher, and a facilitator of timely discussions.

Shabbat Hospitality Partners invite their circle of family and friends and a couple of new faces (acquaintances or people outside your circle of friends. Hence our name).  We can come to your home on a Friday or Saturday evenings (Havdallah) and even on Festivals such as the upcoming holidays of Sukkot and Hanukah.   

We do not charge hosts to host because we want to show how wonderful it is to practice the ancient Jewish traditions of hospitality. Nor do we insist that your kitchen be a certain way.  Rather, we want to make it easier for people to do Shabbat Hospitality and to experience what Shabbat can be.  Whether you are an experienced Shabbat host or someone who has never hosted, we believe that this experience will be precious and inspiring to you and your guests.   

During these troubled times, we cannot think of anything more important than to bring folks together and raise their spirits, and renew their hope to make the world a better place.  

All the information you need to learn about how Shabbat Hospitality Partnerships work is in this online guide including a way to RSVP and setup your event.   We have dates open through February 2018. We recommend that you RSVP soon to get your preferred date.   

Let me know if you are interested in becoming a Shabbat Hospitality Partner.

Thanks for considering this unique opportunity to share in a mitzvah.  Shannah Tovah, 

 Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces

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.