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Would You Share Shabbat with your Affinity Group?

A Preview of of Panim Hadashot Home Shabbats in the Web Launch, August 30th.

Shabbat Experiences for Your Affinity Group

At the end of August 2018, we are launching a new website for Panim Hadashot-New Faces. We will be introducing  "Panim Hadashot Home Shabbats" which will include an expanded list of Shabbat experiences we can bring to your home.  Not only do we offer musical and singing Shabbats, but we will offer personalized Shabbat experiences for affinity groups.

I want to share with you a Home Shabbat that I am doing for my own affinity group. It may give you ideas about doing a Shabbat experience for your own affinity group, whatever it is.

I do a lot of volunteer work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, known as NAMI.  NAMI is a national organization facilitating support, education, and advocacy for people living with mental illness and the families that take care of them.  I got involved because members of my family live with mental illness that has deeply impacted their lives and all of us who care for them.  NAMI helped me to learn how to help my loved ones and to better understand their unique challenges. NAMI also made it possible for me  to connect with other family caregivers who were struggling with the difficult issues of supporting a loved one with mental illness.

As a volunteer peer leader/teacher for NAMI, we talk a lot about self-care for people caring for a loved one living with mental illness.   We often talk about mindfulness meditation, yoga, and other techniques.  As a Rabbi I have been thinking in recent years about how Jewish tradition offers relief and self-care for fellow caregivers.  I wanted to create a Shabbat space of rest and joy as a unique spiritual respite for caregivers.

Next month Panim Hadashot will offer a Shabbat experience for family caregivers in my home.  Here are some of the elements of this Shabbat experience that is being planned for September (on a Shabbat near the Holidays).

  • The Shabbat meal which will take place on Friday evening is limited to 18 or so people and will take place in my home.  Jewish and non-Jewish people are welcome.
  • I will reach out to my Jewish friends and acquaintances who are caregivers and invite them personally so we have a core of Jewish participants who have experienced Shabbat.  We are also sending out an invite to members of NAMI Eastside as well.
  • My plan is to hold a veggie potluck. I have found that potlucks create a more participatory mood and a sense of stake-holding for everyone who comes. I use a potluck app to make this easy.
  • Unlike the support groups I lead, we will not talk about our "tzuris", but will spend time getting to meeting the new faces gathered in our living room.
  • The meal will be anchored by a 45 minute singalong of Jewish and American melodies led by members of the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. Singing together is not only therapeutic, it is spiritually powerful, unifying, and easy for people to participate in.

Are you a participant in an affinity group? Can you think of how a Shabbat experience would enhance your group cohesiveness or create an opportunity for unique discussion?  Let me know if you are interested in having Panim Hadashot bring a beautiful Shabbat experience to you special group.



Shanah Tovah, Rabbi Dov Gartenberg