What’s at Stake

I don’t know about you, but I am left in astonishment each day by the disturbing revelations about corruption and deceit in the current administration.  The unprecedented and steady stream of this news is overwhelming. I fear that over time that it dulls our moral clarity.  Over time a feeling of resignation grows like a cancer.

Every so often I read a piece that helps restore clarity and states eloquently what is at stake during these times.    I share with you a piece I read in The New York Times by Justin Gillis entitled, “Scott Pruitt’s Civilization Threatening Lie.”

Gillis states precisely the stakes of Pruitt’s Climate Change denial.

“This is not just any old white lie that Mr. Pruitt has been telling. This is a civilization-threatening lie, a lie that will kill people and destroy small nations, if not some large ones. Future generations will see him as a man guilty of a major historical crime, along with his enablers in Congress and their puppet masters in the fossil-fuel industry.

How bizarre, then, that Mr. Pruitt is now in trouble not for this epic lie, but for petty ethical violations.”

Commentary:  The insight of the piece is helping us to understand why the Pruitt’s long trail of ethical violations that are coming to light are a part of the same cloth as his climate denial. The extraordinary venality, however, can mask the potentially massive and destructive consequences of his immorality on all of us.

I became convinced from my reading in my 20s of the serious civilizational threat of climate change and have devoted time to environmental activism and teaching as part of my rabbinate. I watch with horror the smoke screens of greed and willful ignorance toward scientific inquiry and facts have derailed action in the face of the greatest threat to our children and grandchildren. But, Gillis piece, helps us to come back with the need to “resist” and do all in our power to bring an end to what will  be a costly, but temporary detour from what we need to collectively work for.

Panim Hadashot-New Faces Passover Appeal

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.
Live music.
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

Passover Hospitality

I have always loved to invite new faces to our home Passover Seder. This included non Jewish friends or new acquaintances I met in the course of daily life.  I practiced this hospitality for two reasons. I found that the Seder caused astonishment among my guests, since there was nothing comparable to it in their religious traditions. The second reason flowed out of the first. My non-Jewish guests constantly asked questions because everything is so new to them.
For readers who hyperlinked, start here:
This curiosity engaged me and the Jews around the table in doing ‘hagadah’-telling the story. Telling the story is a central mitzvah of the Seder. Simply put, our guests can inspire us to fulfill the Mitzvah of Passover.
My vision for Panim Hadashot-New Faces is inspired by these encounters flowing out of hospitality. Guests bring a new set of eyes to the rituals we do repeatedly. The new encounter opens doors for guests, but reopens doors for the host. I see the Sedarim of Shabbat, the ritual meals of Friday night, Shabbat lunch, and Havdallah like the Seder. The ritual order and variations of familial and communal custom should arouse curiosity in guests, and enable us to engage in self reflection. We can find new in the old and old in the new.
In the Buddhist tradition there is a notion of Beginner’s Mind which I understand to mean looking at familiar things in a new way. Hospitality helps us to go back to beginner’s mind and dig deeper for the meaning of familiar things.
The great annual recurrence of Passover is nearly upon us. Take the opportunity this season to invite non-Jewish guests to your Seder, or simply some folks you have recently met to your Seder, or bring them to our Panim Hadashot Seder on March 30th. Find joy in their astonishment and wisdom in their questions.
Shalom, Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces

January 2018 at Panim Hadashot

To Friends of Panim Hadashot-New Faces,
I wish you a happy secular new year. We are grateful for the support Panim Hadashot received in response to the year end appeal. The support of our growing community is gratifying and exciting.

January 2018 Update

  • Host a Shabbat in your home with the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble:  We invite you to become a Shabbat host through our Shabbat Hospitality Partnership Program.   Learn more HERE and reserve a date to experience the joy of Shabbat with your friends, family, and new faces.
  • New Panim Hadashot Singing Circle in collaboration with the Stroum JCC.  Click Here for details and Signup Info.  We are thrilled to introduce my coleader, Michael Seidel, who bring his considerable community singing skills.
  • You will love our Musical Shabbat Table on January 19th. We bring the joy back into Shabbat by doing a big “Shabbatluck” and the participatory music of the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble and the storytelling of Rabbi Dov Gartenberg.  This is free, child friendly, and a wonderful way to share Shabbat with others.  Details and RSVP HERE
  • Go to Limmud Seattle:   Motzai Shabbat 1/13 to Sunday evening, 1/14.  LINK to Register.  The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble will be co-leading the Havdallah on Saturday night and will be participating in the closing ceremony on Sunday evening. Rabbi Dov is teaching along with dozens of other wonderful teachers and topics.
  • Participatory Musical Shabbat Morning Minyan: Save the Date:  March 10th at our site in Greenwood, 115 N 85th St. Seattle, 98103. Contact Rabbi Dov at dov @panimhadashot.org or text 206 739-9924  if you would like to read Torah or volunteer to help with organizing our first Shabbat morning minyan.

A lot is going on. We invite you to participate and experience the hospitality of Panim Hadashot.


Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot.


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


A Preview of a Hanukkah Seder in 8 Parts

Here is a preview of our Hanukkah Seder in 8 parts which will take place on Friday, 12/15.  This was written by the chef, Emily Moore, and me in 2006.  Send me a note if you are interested in the text of the “haggadah”.  For more information and signup links for the event, CLICK HERE.
Hanukkah and History:
The Meaning of Hanukkah through Olive Oils and Artisan Breads
An Original Seder of 8 Dippings with 8 Questions
With Shabbat and Hanukkah Music and Song by the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble
 Part 1
1st Dipping: Light Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Pumpkin Bread
1st Question: What was the Miracle of Hanukkah?
Part 2
2nd Dipping: Greek Olive Oil with Greek Pita
2nd Question: How was Hanukkah a Cultural/Religious War?
Part 3
3rd Dipping: Burnt Almond Oil with Lavash
3rd Question: What was the Cause of the Maccabean Revolt?
Part 4
4th Dipping: Robust Olive Oil with Bitter Aftertaste with Rosemary Bread
4th Question: Why Did Some Jews Choose Martyrdom?
Part 5
5th Dipping: Canola Oil with Cardamom and Sumac and Dark Rye
5th Question: Why Did Other Jews Choose Resistance?
Part 6
6th Dipping: Chile Infused Olive Oil with Roasted Garlic Bread
6th Question: Were the Maccabees Heroes or Zealots?
Part 7
7th Dipping: Lemon Infused Olive Oil with Rose Water and Challah
7th Question: What are the Historical Lessons of Hanukkah?
Part 8
8th Dipping: Rich Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Banana Walnut Bread.
8th Question: What are the Lessons of Hanukkah for Our Time?

December 2017 Message from Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

December 2017 Message from Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Let’s get ready for Hanukah which starts on Tuesday evening, December 12th.  Panim Hadashot-New Faces holds a Hanukah celebration on Friday, December 15th with a unique Hanukah Seder, Shabbat meal, and our signature Shabbat Musical Table.  Our Hanuakah Seder will feature live music from the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. The seder is in 8 brief parts, each featuring a combination of bread and olive oil blends and one illuminating text about the holiday. We will have child care and will once again offer a bountiful Shabbatluck.  Here are the Links: Shabbatluck RSVP. Childcare RSVP
We are busy planning for a great 2018 year.  I am planning on introducing some new hosting formats for our Shabbat Hospitality Program which will enable you to choose from more than 3 options including a “Shabbat Salon” format to a family Shabbat concert.  Stay tuned.
Another plan in the works is a musical Shabbat morning service following the success of our High Holiday musical services which blended traditional prayer leading with live music and participatory singing that enhanced the liturgy.
We will also be offering a new singing circle in collaboration with the Stroum Jewish Community Center starting in mid January and a collaboration with Moishe House.
There are two events outside Panim Hadashot that I strongly recommend you to consider.  The first is coming up very soon, but if you have the time and funds to go to the Community Singing Intensive with Joey Weisenberg, I cannot recommend it more enthusiastically. I will be going again.  It is a life changing four days of Jewish community singing led by a brilliant composer and teacher.  It has the qualities of a spiritual retreat, an inspiring religious service, and a mesmerizing singalong.
The other event is our first Limmud Seattle taking place on January 13-14th 2018.  This will be a wonderful opportunity to participate in unique Jewish learning experience with dozens of great teachers and the participation of people from all over the Jewish community.  I will be among the teachers participating.  Please join me and support this wonderful initiative.
Lastly, I hope you will support Panim Hadashot-New Faces  with a year end gift or an annual subscription. As you can see above, we are growing and thriving.  We want you to be a part of it!
Happy Hanukkah,
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener and Director
Panim Hadashot-New Faces

Participation in Panim Hadashot-New Faces Initiatives Metrics from October 2016 through October 16, 2017

  1. Shabbat Hosting Partnerships: In this program we team up with hosts all around Seattle to hold Shabbat hospitality events in their homes with our Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. Hosts organize a meal and invite guests and new faces. Panim Hadashot-New Faces brings a joyful Shabbat experience with music, storytelling, and conversation.

Results: During the past year we held nineteen Shabbat Hosting Partnership events in Mercer Island, Clyde Hill, Redmond, Meadowbrook, View Ridge, Kirkland, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Ballard, Leschi, Queen Anne, Madrona, Riviera, Hawthorne Hills, Burien, and Brier. Eleven of the hosts were affiliated with synagogues. Nine of the hosts were not affiliated. Our hosts ranged from secular to Conservative Jews. Numbers Attending: 421 

  1. Panim Hadashot-New Faces Community Events: These events featured the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble. They were either free or offered at low cost to the community. They included a monthly community Shabbat service starting in February, a monthly Shabbat in the park in the summer, a complete set of High Holidays services, and special holiday celebrations. Our community events were held at Works Progress in Greenwood, Carkeek Park in the summer, and the the Seattle Jewish Community School in Pinehurst during the High Holidays and Sukkot.

We had seventeen community events or services during the above-mentioned period. We started doing community events in February 2017 to complement our Shabbat Hosting Events. This enabled our hosts, guests, from the Shabbat Hospitality Partnership events to participate in a regular and open to all Friday evening service. During this time, we also developed a signature musical service and broadened our repertoire. Most important we shared our hospitable and welcoming approach.   Numbers Attending: 383

  1. Ignition Grant, Embracing New Faces Events: Panim Hadashot-New Faces was awarded a $5,000 grant in February 2016

Eleven out of twelve grant related events have taken place This grant helped us to bring the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble to seniors, persons with special needs, and other Jewish communities on the margins. Seniors: The Summit on First Hill (2), Kline-Galland Home, Aegis Living on Queen Anne, JFS Russian Seniors program. Special Needs: Alpha Supported Living Communities on the Margins or Under Resourced: Beth Shirah in Port Townsend, Beth Israel in Bellingham, the Kehilah Havurah in Woodinville, and the Secular Jewish Circle, and Moishe House in Seattle. Numbers Attending:   385

  1. Community Collaborations: These are events in which we were hired by Jewish organizations to bring our approach and music to a special occasions they organized.  

The UW Hillel, Camp Solomon Schechter, and Congregation Kol Haneshamah hired the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble to do special projects related to music, prayer, or hospitality. We anticipate this number going up in the coming year as the community becomes more familiar with us. Numbers Attending: 195

Other Metrics:

Total number of events: 49

Total numbers of attendees: 1384

Numbers of Guests Who Became Hosts: 3

Number of Hosts Unaffiliated with Synagogues: 8

Number of Israeli American Hosts: 2

Number of Hosts Requesting Repeats: 4


Build Sukkot, Not Walls-A Celebration-Protest by my Colleagues

From Haaretz, 10/9/17

Claiming that the president’s “anti-welcome” policies are antithetical to Jewish and American values, two dozen rabbis – men and women covered in prayer shawls – walked Monday morning from Central Park to Trump Tower, widely known as White House North. Once in front of the building, they quickly stretched out a small, symbolic sukkah and topped it with a wooden cover as required by tradition.

“Welcoming guests is an integral part of the holiday of Sukkot,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, a 1,800-member network of rabbis and cantors.

“President Trump’s executive orders and other policies break up families, turn refugees away from our shores – the very opposite of the sense of welcome that has defined our country’s history.”

CLICK HERE for the full article in Haaretz.

As the festival of Sukkot draws to a close, I wanted to highlight the way that the practice of hospitality which is central to its observance extends beyond the walls of our Sukkot.  Panim Hadashot-New Faces’ mission is to revitalize Shabbat and other forms of Jewish hospitality.  Our commitment to this act of lovingkindness also influences the way we regard the debate over immigration policies in the US.  Jews have benefited enormously from this country’s immigration laws in the past.  We also saw the calamity when immigration laws became too restrictive.  As leader of Panim  Hadashot, I strenuously object to the emergent policies of this administration.  I hope that the festival of Sukkot will help us to renew our resistance to these policies and to support approaches that are more generous and fair minded.

As we linger in the Sukkah over Shemini Atzeret, which begins this evening, may we reflect on ways we can add our voice to the advocates of decent and more immigration policies and to those working to secure the ability of DACA recipients to remain in the US without fear.  Hag Sameah,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg


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