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About Dov Gartenberg

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg is the Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces.

Sunday, October 20, 2019, Erev Shemini Atzeret

Dear friends of Panim Hadashot-New Faces,

In case you did not get this message, I am sending it a second time. 

After much reflection I am recommending to our board of directors to permanently suspend our programs and activities. As you may know I have taken an interim rabbinical post in Albuquerque this past August. Our attempt to find a successor to lead Panim Hadashot was not successful. It is time to close our doors and to set aside the initiatives we brought to the Seattle area.

Our mission was to bring people together through Shabbat hospitality. Since 2016 we joined over 75 hosts in their homes for enhanced Shabbat meals. Our Heart of Shabbat Ensemble brought people together with music and song from the voluminous Jewish songbook. We shared the joys of “hachnasat orchim”-welcoming guests in everything we did.  We also brought to Seattle a taste of the Jewish musical renaissance taking place in both the United States and Israel.

I want to thank all those who hosted Shabbat meals in their homes and collaborated with us to bring joy and spirituality to their tables. Thank you to all the wonderful donors and subscribers that enabled us to fill a gap in communal Jewish life by focusing on the sharing of Shabbat meals and highlighting the Jewish group singing traditions. Thank you to the talented musicians who inspired hundreds of folks with their sharing of rich Jewish music.  Thank you for the many people who joined us for Shabbat gatherings, bringing food and fellowship wherever we met. 

I will be back in Seattle for the last Shabbat in October, Shabbat Bereishit.  On Friday evening, October 25th we will hold a “Musical Shabbat Table” hosted at the Metzenberg home in the Montlake/Capital neighborhood. Shabbat dinner will start at 6:30. It will be a chance to say goodbye to me and to celebrate the work of Panim Hadashot.

We will have an extended Shabbat group singing session starting at 7:30 led by Ari Joshua and the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. We’ll sing and share Torah until 9:30pm  If you can’t come for dinner, come for the music and singing.  This event is free. The kosher fleichik with veggie options will be prepared and donated by the Metzenbergs. There is no need to bring food. If you have an instrument, bring it.  

To attend please make an RSVP at dov@panimhadashot.org. Once you email us with an RSVP you will receive the address where the Musical Shabbat Table will take place. Please RSVP by Wednesday evening, October 23rd. 

Hag Same’ah
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces

I wanted to share with friends of Panim Hadashot-New Faces that I have accepted a full time interim rabbinic pulpit position with Congregation B'nai Israel in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I will begin my work at the congregation in late August. In consultation with the Panim Hadashot board of directors we have decided to suspend our programming for the time being as I transition to my new position.  

I have reached a stage in my rabbinic career where I can bring considerable rabbinic experience and wisdom to congregations going through transition.  I feel a return to the pulpit as an interim rabbi is best suited for me as I enter the final stages of a long and fulfilling rabbinic career. 

The board and I are searching for new leadership so we can continue to serve the Seattle Jewish community.  We will certainly communicate with you before the High Holidays if we find a new leader who is capable and committed to our vision. I hope you will continue to support the work of Panim Hadashot going forward.  For now, we will suspend accepting donations and will cancel monthly subscriptions. We will be in direct contact with donors and subscribers about these steps. 

Panim Hadashot-New Faces has been a labor of love. The practice of hospitality has been my signature mitzvah throughout my adult life. Panim Hadashot's focus centered on bringing people together through Shabbat hospitality.  Our goal was to offer an experience of authentic Jewish spiritual combination of rest, renewal, joy, and fellowship that comes with Shabbat hospitality.

Group singing of Sabbath and Jewish melodies has characterized home Shabbat gatherings in Jewish homes for centuries.  Panim Hadashot pioneered the combination of group singing with the beautiful accompaniment of our live musical ensemble, The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. The experience of singing together in homes has been a distinctive feature of the Shabbat hospitality practice that we fostered. 

We have also shared the dynamic musical creativity that is taking place in contemporary Jewish life. We shared this music all over Seattle and at Limmud the past two years.  Panim Hadashot enlivened nearly 100 Shabbat gatherings in homes, gathering spaces, and communities over these past three years and inspired others to start singing circles in and beyond synagogues.  I want to give credit to the wonderful musicians who I partnered with to create these spiritually powerful experiences. I especially want to thank Ari Joshua, Daniel Salka, and Chava Mirel who served as ensemble leaders for our Heart of Shabbat Ensemble.  

We have brought together hundreds of people over the past few years to share in the joy of Shabbat. I am tremendously grateful to the dozens of people who supported Panim Hadashot-New Faces with donations and with monthly subscriptions. You made it possible to bring people together and share the joy of Shabbat in powerful ways. I am especially grateful for the work of the board of directors, Nir, Hilary, Joel, and Sam with their good counsel and integrity. 

I felt it was not the right time to plan a goodbye event before I leave town in mid-August. Instead we will plan a community event in Seattle after the holidays in the fall when I return to Seattle for a visit. We will announce the event through email and our website. 

If you have any questions, please contact me at dov@panimhadashot.org.  My personal email is dovgartenberg@hotmail.com.  

Shalom and Rav Todot, 

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg's signature.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces 

Rabbi Richard Levy was a Rabbi's Rabbi

Rabbi Richard Levy, one of my mentors and rabbinic guides passed away on June 21, 2019. He was a remarkable man in his goodness, his wisdom, his insight, and his leadership. He was a leading Reform Rabbi who worked in the Hillel setting in Los Angeles and then went on to leadership roles in the Reform Movement.

Richard played a central role in my choosing to become a Rabbi when I met him in 1973 after my freshman year at college. He taught a class on the literature of the Holocaust. His powerful commentary and his empathy for suffering of the victims of the holocaust deeply moved me. During the class I met with him several times He was not only a great listener, but a man of great depth. He helped me through many challenges then and in subsequent years. I so admired his qualities, that I began to seriously consider the rabbinate as a future career. For me he was a Rabbi's Rabbi.

Over the decades I kept up with Richard and followed his career as a leader in the Reform Movement. I also know that Richard was a support for countless colleagues and inspired many young people to enter the rabbinate of all the denominations. But most of all, I found him to be a wise counselor and a caring heart. He was a remarkable man. We have suffered a great loss, but have been blessed by a magnificent life.

You can read more about his career here:

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

I picked up a couple in Capital Hill area of Seattle to take them to the airport. The woman saw my kippah and quickly surmised that I was a rabbi. It turns out that she was a therapist who had a unique insight into the work that I do for Panim Hadashot. She explained that she works with lots of familie, especially ones with teenagers. Many of them are Jewish. One of the big problems that she sees with so many families is teen addiction with social media. Families spend less and less time together, and when they are together many members are absorbed with their cell phones. She followed the studies about the serious problems of cell phone use and the connections to depression and loneliness among young people. Because of her awareness of the screen addiction and the decline of facetime, this therapist was passionate about recommending to her families to rediscover the Sabbath and the Sabbath meal.

The fascinating thing was, she was not Jewish. But she knew about Shabbat from friends and colleagues. She was fascinated by my focus on Shabbat hospitality and thought it might be a concrete suggestion she could offer to her clients. I told her about the Sabbath Manifesto, http://www.sabbathmanifesto.org/. The Sabbath Manifesto is a creative project designed to slow down lives in an increasingly hectic world. For the entire way to the airport we discussed the challenges of limiting the damage of screens on young people and society.

I certainly think a Shabbat practice, especially a hospitality practice elevates connecting to people as a very important activity in our lives. If young people are taught as early as possible that the Shabbat table is a cell free zone, a foundation for interconnection to others becomes possible. I have not relied on a critique of technology to promote the beauty and joy of Shabbat hospitality, but it is certainly in the background of what Panim Hadashot is trying to do. Our goal is to connect people through hospitality, the old model of sharing meals and making people feel comfortable in a new place. In the age of distraction this practice becomes harder to do, and even less interesting than the enticements of the screen.

One of the oldest comments about hospitality in Jewish tradition refers to a reading in Genesis 18 that Abraham gave higher priority to meeting wayfarers than greeting the God. The rabbis conclude that greeting guests was greater than receiving the Divine Presence. It would seem to me that the presence of the Divine would be a 100 times more compelling than any screen. If we are to care for people more than receiving God’s presence, then how much the more so should we turn away from our screens to regard the people who sit with us at our Shabbat table. Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Yesterday and today brought to me one interesting rider after another. It started with a rider who put his euphonium horn in my back seat. It turns out that he plays it with 35 other wind musicians of the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band. I took him to his rehearsal and learned about the world of horn and tuba players.  It turned out that he also had played with a Klezmer band. The word sedentary signifies that the band only plays sitting down as opposed to a marching band. The band gives about 12 concerts a year at various public ceremonies and events.  Sounds fun!

The next morning I picked up a passenger who was going to visit her parents in Southern Oregon.  She told me that had recently moved there from Paradise, California where she had grown up.  Fortunately, her parents were not in town when the fire came through in 2018, but dozens of people died in the fire which is now considered the worst conflagration in the history of California (so far). The family home burned down as well as most of the town.   My passenger vividly remembers seeing videos of people she knew from grade school fleeing the fire. She described the trauma of watching her hometown burn down on the television set. What a trauma? 

I wished her well and hoped that she found her parents in good spirits.

My next passenger was a visitor to Seattle who had been on a panel the night before on the topic of the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.  He was a professor at an Eastern University.  I was taking him to the airport so we had a longer time to talk. He shared with me that the rise of Artificial Intelligence has been rapid, but most people don't understand it or it's implications.  The issue that he was concerned about centered on the ability of democratic governments to limit and regulate applications of AI. He shared with me how China was using AI to create "a surveillance state". 

Because of his interest in ethics and AI, he finds himself in the midst of an historical moment when AI is emerging. Can he slow it down to allow for a full ethical deliberation for citizens and government? Can AI be deployed in a way that protects our freedoms and preserves the primacy of human relationships?  

Another passenger I picked up that morning was from Mumbai, India. When he discovered I was a Rabbi, he was surprised to discover in our conversation that there were Jews in India. In fact there are currently 5,000 Jews in Mumbai. He wanted to know more of the history of the Jews of India and I shared with him what I knew. The conversation veered into the problem of religious extremism.  I asked him whether he was an optimist or a pessimist about the future of the world.  He told me he was a realist, which meant he was a pessimist. Then I dropped him off at Microsoft. 

Driving a Lyft continues to expose me to wide range of people and personalities. My role is to be curious, to ask questions, to learn, and sometimes to comfort.  What a blessing it is to experience humanity's many hues, one person at a time.   

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Shabbat Animators is a person who can animate a Shabbat home gathering. Enliven your home with an incredible Shabbat experience with one of our Animators.
Chava Mirel, One of 3 New Shabbat Animators offered by Panim Hadashot-New Faces

Announcing the Home Shabbat Animators Initiative: Animate Your Shabbat Gathering with Incredible Shabbat Table Leaders 

A few months ago Panim Hadashot received an Ignition Grant from the Jewish Federation called Home Shabbat Animators Initiative.  The grant provides funding for Panim Hadashot to recruit and train talented individuals who can "animate" home Shabbat gatherings with their talents and experience.  I am happy to announce that we are launching the initiative.  I would like to introduce our initial group of Shabbat Animators who are available to if you wish to host a home Shabbat gathering with any of them.  

  • Chava Mirel is one of the leading Jewish musical voices in Seattle.   Chava Mirel is a nationally touring Jewish musician, composer, prayer leader and recording artist, bridging communities with her universal approach to Jewish spirituality through song. Chava can bring to your Shabbat gathering a rich experience of Jewish music that will engage everyone in the room.  She is an inspiring teacher and well versed in Sabbath traditions.  
  • Ilan Speizer is a unique talent and educator.  He is a lover of Midrash (interpretations of the Torah) and a Musician.  He combines his musical talent with his love of music by writing original songs that interpret biblical characters. He is a scintillating teacher.  Ilan can enrich your Shabbat gathering by stimulating thought provoking discussion on themes in the Torah.  
  • Sam Perlin is a coach and athletic director and former Jewish camp director, he is a lifelong Jewish family educator.  He knows how to create "a feeling of Jewish fun".  Sam gears his Shabbat animation for families, engaging children in activities, stories and creating a uniquely joyful Shabbat experience for children and their parents.  

The ignition grant allows us to offer Shabbat Animators for no charge (although donations to Panim Hadashot are always appreciated). It is easy and a great experience to host. Of course, Rabbi Gartenberg and the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble remain available to enhance your Shabbat gathering either with music or Torah study.  Contact Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, our Director, to arrange to have a Shabbat Animator for a future Shabbat gathering.  He can be reached at dov@panimhadashot.org or 206 739-9924.  You can also check out our "hosting" recommendations on our website at: 
https://panimhadashot.org/host/

Shalom, 

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg 

On behalf of Panim Hadashot, we extend our condolences to the victims of the attack on the Chabad of Poway. They were gathering at shul for the last day of Passover like many of us in our own communities. The attack in Poway was a terrorist attack inspired by anti-antisemitism and a conscious imitation of the acts of the Christchurch terrorist in New Zealand. This is a worrisome development, but also should be a wake up call to our community and our national leaders.

To quote Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL. "People of all faiths should not have to live in fear of going to their house of worship. From Charleston to Pittsburgh to Oak Creek and from Christchurch to Sri Lanka, and now Poway, we need to say "enough is enough."

Let us stand in unity with our community as we send condolences to the members of the Chabad of Poway and pray for a quick recovery of those who were injured. We mourn the death of Lori Kaye who died in the attack.

But let us not be intimidated by hate. Let us be determined to live our lives as Jews free from fear. Panim Hadashot will remain committed to encouraging Shabbat hospitality and will continue to connect people to one another.

We urge our local and national leaders not to diminish the danger posed by these extremists and to take strong action to fight this danger that threatens the Jewish and other minority communities of faith in our country.

If you can, join with Chabad Lubavitch of the Pacific Northwest in solidarity for the Jewish community of Poway, San Diego tonight at 6pm. The gathering will take place at the Eastside Torah Center, 16199 Northup Way, Bellevue.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

After losing her mother-in-law in last October’s Pittsburgh massacre, Marnie Fienberg quit her job.

Pushing Back on Anti-Semitism with Love and Matza.

This is an inspiring story about how a person turned tragedy into an act of tikkun olam.
LINK

The project referred to in the story is called 2 for Seder. Consider this as you prepare for Passover this year. 2 For Seder Website


One of the Torah’s central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility.

For my Pesah message this year I bring a beautiful Dvar Torah from Rabbi Shai Held, a young and upcoming teacher at the Hadar Institute in New York City. I share it with you because of it's insight into the Jewish understanding of "ger" the stranger. Shai's teaching illuminates the central insight of hospitality. He links the teaching of the stranger to the experience of the Exodus and the central Jewish teaching of empathy. May this inspire discussion and insight at your Passover Seder

Turning Memory into Empathy The Torah’s Ethical Charge

Rabbi Shai Held

One of the Torah’s central projects is to turn memory into empathy and moral responsibility. Appealing to our experience of defenselessness in Egypt, the Torah seeks to transform us into people who see those who are vulnerable and exposed rather than looking past them.

The Book of Exodus contains perhaps the most well-known articulation of this charge: “You shall not oppress a stranger (ger), for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves

been strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 23:9; cf. 22:20). By ger, the Torah means one who is an alien in the place where he lives—that is, one who is not a member of the ruling tribe or family, who is not a citizen, and who is therefore vulnerable to social and economic exploitation. The Torah appeals to our memory to intensify our ethical obligations: having tasted the suffering and degradation to which vulnerability can lead, we are bidden not to oppress the stranger. The Torah’s call is not based on a rational argument, but

on an urgent demand for empathy: since you know what it feels like to be a stranger, you must never abuse or mistreat the stranger......

This prohibition is so often cited that it’s easy to miss just how radical and non-obvious it is. The Torah could have responded quite differently to the experience of oppression in Egypt. It could have said, Since you were tyrannized and exploited and no one did anything to help you, you don’t owe anything to anyone; how dare anyone ask anything of you? But it chooses the opposite path: since you were exploited and oppressed, you must never be among the exploiters and degraders. You must remember what it feels like to be a stranger. Empathy must animate and intensify your commitment to the dignity and well-being of the weak and vulnerable. And God holds you accountable to this obligation.

On one level, of course, the Torah is appealing to the collective memory of the Jewish people: the formative story around which we orient our collective life is about our harrowing sojourn in Egypt and our eventual miraculous redemption by God. We should not oppress the stranger because we as a people remember what oppression can mean. But I would argue that we should also individually personalize the Torah’s demand that we remember. Each of us is obligated, in the course of our lives, to remember times when we have been exploited or abused by those who had power over us. (Such experiences are blessedly rare for some people. Tragically, they are part of the daily bread of others.) From these experiences, the Torah tells us, we are to learn compassion and kindness.

It may be tempting to imagine a Manichean world in which the “good guys” learn compassion from experiences of vulnerability and suffering, while the “bad guys” learn only hostility and xenophobia. But it is far more honest, I think, to wrestle with the ways that each of us often has both responses at the same time. Part of us responds to the experience of suffering by wanting to make sure that no one else has to endure what we did, but another part of us feels entitled and above reproach: if you had been through what I’ve been through, we can hear ourselves saying, you would understand that I don’t owe anybody anything. As contemporary writer Leon Wieseltier once remarked of the Jewish people, “The Holocaust enlarged our Jewish hearts, and it shrunk them.” The Torah challenges us to nurture and cultivate the compassionate response and to make sure that the raging, combative one never becomes an animating principle of our lives.

Where Exodus commands us not to oppress the stranger and ties that obligation to the ways memory can be harnessed to yield empathy, Leviticus goes further, moving from a negative commandment (lo ta’aseh) to a positive one (aseh): “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God” (Leviticus 19:3334).

With these startling words, we have traveled a long distance; we are mandated to actively love the stranger. A lot can be (and has been) said about what the commandment to love the neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) does and doesn’t mean in Leviticus, but one thing is clear: the love we owe to our neighbor we also owe to the stranger who resides among us. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus is famously asked about the reach of the obligation to love your neighbor as yourself: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). Leviticus anticipates the question and offers a stunning response: the stranger is your neighbor, and what you owe to your own kin you owe to her as well. The Torah forcefully makes clear that the poor and downtrodden, the vulnerable and oppressed, the exposed and powerless are all our neighbors. We are called to love even those who are not our kin, even those who do not share our socio-economic status, because, after all, we remember only too well what vulnerability feels like.

Deuteronomy subtly introduces still another dimension to our obligation to love the stranger. Along the way, it offers a remarkably moving lesson in theology: “For the Lord your God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe, but upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, providing him with food and clothing. You too must love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:1719). The text begins by praising God as “great, mighty, and awesome.” Of what does God’s greatness, mightiness, and awesomeness consist?

According to these verses, not of God’s having created the world, and not of God’s having demonstrated God’s ability to smite God’s enemies. No, God’s grandeur is rooted in God’s fairness (“who shows no favor and takes no bribe”) and in God’s championing the oppressed and the downtrodden. This is reminiscent of a verse from Psalms that we recite every Shabbat and holiday morning.

If you want to love God, love those whom God loves. The verse begins, “All my bones shall say, ‘Lord, who is like You?’” What is the source of God’s incomparable greatness? Again, it is not raw power or might, but rather mercy and care for the vulnerable. “You save the poor from one stronger than he, the poor and needy from his despoiler” (Psalm 35:10). The God Jews worship, in other words, is a God who cares for the distressed and persecuted.

All of this helps us to understand Deuteronomy’s presentation of our obligation to love the stranger. Here, loving the stranger is a form of “walking in God’s ways,” or what philosophers call imitatio dei (the imitation of God). Just as God “loves the stranger” (10:18), so also must we (10:19). The Torah here presents a radical challenge and obligation: If you want to love God, love those whom God loves. Love the fatherless, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. In other words, Deuteronomy gives us two distinct but intertwined reasons for what lies at the heart of Jewish ethics: we must love the stranger both because of who God is and because of what we ourselves have been through.

Exodus teaches us the baseline requirement: not to oppress the stranger. Leviticus magnifies the demand: not only must we not oppress the stranger, we must actively love her. And Deuteronomy raises the stakes even higher: loving the stranger is a crucial form of “walking in God’s ways.”

Literature scholar Elaine Scarry hauntingly asserts that “the human capacity to injure other people is very

great precisely because our capacity to imagine other people is very small.” 1 By reminding us again and again of our vulnerability in Egypt, the Torah works to help us learn to imagine others more so that we allow ourselves to hurt them less.

The obligation to love and care for the stranger and the dispossessed is a basic covenantal requirement incumbent upon us as Jews. We surely have moral obligations which are incumbent upon us because of the simple fact that we are human beings. In its recurrent appeals to memory, the Torah seeks to amplify and intensify those obligations, to remind us, even when it is difficult to hear, that the fate of the stranger is our responsibility. This mandate may seem overwhelming at times, and its concrete implications may sometimes be difficult to discern. But loving the stranger is fundamental and lies at the heart of Torah. If we wish to take the obligation to serve God seriously, and to be worthy heirs of the Jewish tradition, we have no choice but to wrestle with these words, and to seek to grow in empathy and compassion.

1  Elaine Scarry, “The Difficulty of Imagining Other People,” in For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, edited by Martha C. Nussbaum et al. (Boston: Beacon, 1996), pp. 98-110.

Rabbi Shai Held–theologian, scholar, and educator–is President, Dean, and Chair in Jewish Thought at Hadar, where he also directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas. Previously, he served for six years as Scholar-in-Residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and Halakhah at the Jewish Theological Seminary. His book, The Heart of Torah, a collection of essays on the Torah in two volumes, was published by JPS in 2017.

Read the whole essay and other Passover materials from Hadar at this LINK

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

The news of the massacre at a Mosque in New Zealand is another reminder of the destructive virus of acts of hatred and violence that shatter our world. The painful echoes of Charleston and Pittsburgh are heard again.

As an organization that brings people through hospitality, we are especially pained when people who are engaged in worship are cruelly taken from the world in an act of rage and hatred. We practice hospitality to bring people closer and to welcome the stranger. These acts are antithetical to a humane outlook and way of life.

In solidarity with the Muslim community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has established the New Zealand Islamophobic Attack Emergency Relief Fund. Please consider making a donation.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot