Why do we open the door for Elijah so late on Seder night? I learned from my Talmud teacher that the tradition of opening the door for Elijah late in the Seder was not the original tradition.
Instead, the opening of the door on Pesah took place at the very beginning of the Seder, corresponding to our lifting the Matzot and saying, “Ha Lachma Anya.. This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and enjoy the Seder of Passover……”
The act of opening the door at the beginning of the Seder was an explicit act of hospitality, to welcome the stranger whether they were in physical or spiritual need. The text comes to teach us that the bread of Passover is meant to be shared with others.
Hospitality is at the core of the Passover Seder experience. I also believe that hospitality is at the core of the Shabbat experience. Hospitality, I believe, is at the core of Judaism.
It is the emphasis on hospitality that makes Panim Hadashot-New Faces a unique Jewish initiative. We bring people together by highlighting the practice of Shabbat hospitality. We empower, educate, and inspire Jews to become Shabbat hosts. We help Jews reclaim the tradition of sharing the Shabbat meal, singing together around a table, studying Torah, and resting in the fellowship of others. We add one missing ingredient.
We formed a musical ensemble that specializes in playing both old and new Shabbat and Jewish folk music. The ‘Hiddush’-the innovation, was creating a musical ensemble that was dedicated to playing on Shabbat and playing our vast treasure trove of songs accumulated over 2000 years.
We call our musical group the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble.
The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble offers a special experience: The Musical Shabbat Table-MUST, a gathering that takes place in a home or community room that combines a Shabbat meal with musical interludes of singing, storytelling, and conversation. We have already done over 30 Musical Shabbat Tables all over the Seattle area.
I am writing to you to ask you to support our initiative for Shabbat renewal through soulful hospitality. You can support us in one of two ways, and if you are inspired you can do both.
A Financial Gift
You can donate a gift to Panim Hadashot to bring our MUST to homes all over Seattle. Your gift helps us absorb the costs of bringing this unique experience to dozens of households and their many guests.
Click HERE to make a secure tax-deductible gift to Panim Hadashot-New Faces.
The Gift of your Hospitality
Or you can donate your time and offer your hospitality to host a Musical Shabbat Table during 2018. You can invite your family and friends and a few new faces for a unique Shabbat experience in the home.
Click HERE to learn more about and to request to host a Musical Shabbat Table.
Thank you for advancing our initiative to revitalize Shabbat hospitality. May you have a joyful Passover.
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot
dov @ panimhadashot.org 206 739-9924