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About Dov Gartenberg

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

What is Jewish Hospitality?

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is a community focused on the practice of Jewish hospitality. The Jewish hospitality traditions go back to Abraham and Sarah in chapter 18 of the Book of Genesis. Abraham greets and feeds guests soon after he had circumcised himself. The Rabbis saw his readiness to welcome guests even when he was physically uncomfortable as an indication of his extraordinary kindness. In rabbinic literature, the act of hospitality (hachnasat orchim) is greatly cherished and is regarded as a sign of good character and generosity.

The term “panim hadashot”-new faces is found in the Talmud to refer to the practice of inviting people in the community to share in the joy of bride and groom by inviting them to the ancient tradition of seven days of feasting and singing for the bride and groom following a wedding. The guests at these parties had to be new faces who had not attended the wedding celebration. The purpose of inviting new faces was to share joy and abundance with others beyond the bride and groom’s family and friends.  We draw inspiration from this old hospitality tradition.  We reintroduce this practice to modern Jews by helping households to practice home hospitality and the making our Sabbath and Festival tables a welcoming space for new faces-“panim hadashot.”

Jewish hospitality is associated with the observance of the Sabbath. It is traditional to invite guests to the home Sabbath table either on Friday evening or during the Sabbath day.  One sign of a strong synagogue community is an invitation to a newcomer to a Sabbath meal after the service in a home.

Panim Hadashot-New Faces is committed to reviving and adapting the Jewish hospitality traditions in our modern context in which Jewish households are spread out over a wide geographical area and many Jews are not regular synagogue attenders.   We see home hospitality as a way to revitalize Jewish connection and to inspire engagement with Jewish teachings, with the rich Jewish musical legacy, with the varieties of Jewish cuisine, and most of all to the Jewish practice of kindness to strangers.  Panim Hadashot does this by  fostering hosting partnerships all around Seattle.   

On a deeper level by practicing hospitality we are able to share our Jewish values as an expression of living in a free, diverse society.  We are also able to share with others who are different than ourselves.   In a troubled world where people talk of building walls, we wish to do the opposite.  The words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks express the vision guiding our understanding of Jewish hospitality in a world of diversity.

“There is all the difference in the world between the attempt to impose your faith on others and the willingness to share it with others. Our faiths are different. Judaism is not Christianity; Christianity is not Islam; the Abrahamic monotheisms are different from Eastern mysticisms on the one hand, scientific humanism on the other. Yet when we bring our respective heritages of wisdom to the public domain, we have no need to wish to convert others. Instead, we are tacitly saying, ‘if this speaks to you, then please take it as our gift.’ Indeed, it is yours already, for wisdom (unlike revelation) belongs to us all. The willingness non-coercively to share our several traditions of moral insight is, in a religiously plural culture, an essential part of the democratic conversation, indeed of societal beatitude.”

By Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

18 Ellul 5776, September 21, 2016

Dear Haverim,

This is my first communication since the beginning of the summer.  We have taken the summer off to review our direction and to continue to build up the ensemble which we began at this time last year.  Let me share with you a short history of Panim Hadashot and our plans going forward.

I started Panim Hadashot in 2004 after I left the Congregation Beth Shalom.   Panim Hadashot (pronounced “Paw-neem Chaw-daw-shote) literally means “new faces” in Hebrew.  The name is based on the ancient Jewish practice of sharing the joy of a newly married couple with “new faces” beyond the immediate circle of the couple’s family and friends.  The practice of inviting new faces to share in our personal joy is a unique aspect of the Jewish practice of hospitality.  The practice of hospitality (hawch-nasawt orchim) is considered one of the most important acts of loving kindness (Gemilut Hasadim).

Panim Hadashot was conceived as an approach of outreach to disconnected Jews by emphasizing the beautiful Jewish hospitality traditions centered around the sharing the home Sabbath meal.  I focused my rabbinic role as a convener, facilitator, and teacher, collaborating with hosts all around Seattle to create rich, meaningful, and inviting Shabbat experiences.   Our Shabbat around Seattle program won several awards and connected me to hundreds of hosts and guests in homes and commons rooms all around the Seattle area.

When I moved from Seattle to Southern California in 2007, I refashioned Panim Hadashot for a congregational framework.  When Joanne and I moved to Juneau in 2011, I adapted Panim Hadashot to reach out to the "hidden Jews" who had ended up in Alaska far from their families.

Last year, I returned with my wife to Seattle and resumed Panim Hadashot activities in Seattle.  Over the past year I worked with some talented musicians to create a lyrically and spiritually beautiful musical Kabbalat Shabbat service.  The one key element that was missing was Panim Hadashot’s previous home centered focus on hospitality.  We are bringing back our original inspiration of Jewish home hospitality.  I will return to convening, facilitating, and teaching at home celebrations.  But the key addition to our unique approach is sharing the vast and beautiful Jewish musical traditions to in homes across Seattle.

Starting with Sukkot in mid-October, 2016, Panim Hadashot will resume collaborating with hosts all around Seattle to create enriching Shabbat experiences in people's homes and shared spaces.  Our ensemble, named "The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble" will be portable, joining hosts to create both a beautiful musical Shabbat experience with rich conversation on Torah and Jewish topics.  Through this we will strive to foster a love of Jewish hospitality-sharing our homes with "New Faces".

In light of our decision to focus on Jewish home hospitality we have made the following changes.

First, we have decided not to offer High Holiday services this year so we can concentrate on our Jewish home hospitality efforts.  We encourage our friends to attend Seattle area synagogues.

Second, we are actively recruiting people to host Shabbat celebrations in their homes or in common spaces.   If you are interested in hosting or co-hosting read our suggested guidelines for hosts at our website at www.panimhadashot.org.

Third, in order to promote hospitality in our growing community, we are working on a new model of membership based on becoming a subscriber.  While we are still working on implementing our subscriber platform, you will be able to subscribe so you can be able to sign up as a guest to join home celebrations, participate in learning opportunities, and enjoy special community gatherings. Subscribing will also be a way to support the work of Panim Hadashot. We are setting up a unique model of connecting hosts, guests, and people who are interested in our model of Jewish community.

Lastly, I hope that Panim Hadashot-New Faces will be a catalyst for a renewal of the emphasis on hospitality in living a Jewish life.  The implications of taking this practice seriously range from making ourselves more open to sharing our Judaism with new people at our Shabbat table to advocating for and supporting refugees into our country.  Look to our blog on the website for our forum on hospitality.

Thank you for your past interest and support of Panim Hadashot-New Faces. Please note the new email dov@panimhadashot.org.

 

Shannah Tovah U’metukah,  A Good and Sweet New Year,

 

 

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener

Panim Hadashot-New Faces dov@panimhadashot.org

Cell and Text:  206 739-9924

Mailing Address: PO Box 7041 | Bellevue, WA | 98008

Dear Friends of Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat

We wish you a Happy Hanukah filled with light.   We wanted to update you about Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat.

Our focus in this early stage is to create powerful Shabbat experiences by reconsidering the way we pray and the way we are shaped by Shabbat. We have worked to create musical services and gatherings that have contemplative, joyful, and participatory elements and that preserve a loving connection to the traditional Hebrew prayer and song traditions. Everything we do seeks to inspire our participants and build community. At this stage, we are gathering in smaller venues to refine our approach to services and to create the conditions for connecting people in a joyful and welcoming Shabbat setting. In a sense, we are a Shabbat laboratory, experimenting with ways to reinvigorate an ancient but timeless spiritual treasure of Judaism.

In late summer 2015, Panim Hadashot introduced a series of select Shabbat and High Holiday activities.  In October and November, we experimented with two Shabbatons in Ballard called Urban Shabbat Retreats.   Going forward, we will focus on two dimensions of the Shabbat experience which have had the most impact so far and will meet in various locations around Seattle.

First, we are working on a Kabbalat Shabbat musical service (with instrumentation) which taps into both Western and Eastern Jewish musical traditions along with a spirited Shabbat dinner experience.

Second, we aim to integrate two Hasidic traditions into one beautiful end-of-Shabbat experience.  These are the Tisch – a late Shabbat afternoon table accompanied with teaching, storytelling, and song – and the Melaveh Malkah – an extension of Shabbat that is filled with joyful song and which culminates in the beautiful ending ritual of Havdallah.  We have given this event the moniker, Hootenanny and Havdallah.

We have intended all along to fully integrate Tikkun Olam activity into our vision and programming.  Joanne and I have a personal commitment to mental health advocacy and support.  Mental illness can be one of the most devastating forms of illness, severely impacting many individuals and families.  As you can see on our website, we are working with the Jewish Family Service and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Washington and Greater Seattle to promote courses in the Jewish community for families affected by mental illness.  I am a trained NAMI peer educator who will anchor the award-winning Family-to-Family class that will be starting in March 2016.

As our community develops, we hope to add other Tikkun Olam activities and foci. We believe strongly that Shabbat is a time to cultivate and renew our engagement in the world.  Shabbat is not an escape from the world, but rather a spiritual regrouping, a time for reflection and the regeneration of a permanent commitment to Tikkun Olam.  We welcome people's thoughts and wishes concerning how to shape a Shabbat experience that helps us renew and maintain our efforts of Tikkun Olam in the world, especially in these challenging times.

Panim Hadashot-The Heart of Shabbat is a work in progress – a fact we recognize and embrace. We hope you will help us shape and nourish our vision by connecting with us.  Please feel free to contact me with your questions and thoughts.  We are also grateful for your financial support, which is always easy to give through this link.

We hope to see you at a Panim Hadashot Shabbat program in the near future.

Hag Hanukah Same'ah,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

 

Monday, August 24, 2015/ 9 Elul, 5775

Dear friends,

During the upcoming Days of Awe we will chant the haunting prayer, Unetaneh Tokef. The famous dyads of this prayer reveal the existential anxieties of our ancestors. I am writing to you about three of the dyads which have absorbed my attention during my adult life.

Who will be at peace and who will be troubled? מי ינוח ומי ינוע

Who will be serene and who will be disturbed? מי ישקיט ומי יטרף

Who will be tranquil and who will be tormented? ומי ישלו ומי יתיסר

These dyads focus on an ancient fear- the fear of what we today call mental illness. There was no word for mental illness in antiquity. Like the fear of death, the fear of falling sick to mental anguish and suffering was part of their reality, and continues to be part of ours. While we know much more about mental illness than our ancestors, we have, like them, found no cures for the myriad ways it manifests in ourselves or in the people we love.

Before I moved back to Seattle in April 2015, I served as the Executive Director of an affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Juneau, Alaska. During my time there I learned and taught NAMI’s signature peer education courses for family members who are caring for a loved one with mental illness. I also brought to the community NAMI’s peer support and education courses for persons living with mental illness. Most important, I was able to mine my personal experience as a parent of a child with mental illness to become an advocate for people and family enduring the great challenges of living with it.

In moving back to Seattle I want to continue to advocate, support and educate persons and families living with mental illness as a rabbi in the Jewish community. Under the rubric of Panim Hadashot, the Jewish organization I have reestablished, I am working to bring NAMI’s outstanding peer support and education programs to the attention of the Seattle Jewish community. I am meeting with the leadership of Jewish Family Service and NAMI to foster greater collaboration in bringing forward the peer-led programs that NAMI offers.

One of NAMI's signature programs is Family to Family, a course designed for family members who care for a loved one living with a mental illness such as depression, Bipolar Disorder, anxiety disorders, and Schizophrenia to organize and teach a NAMI. I am working with the Seattle affiliate of NAMI to modify and teach this course to include unique Jewish cultural issues that can arise with Jewish families dealing with mental illness. I will be teaching this course not as a rabbi, but as a peer. A peer in this case is a person who has life experience caring for a family member.

The Family to Family Course has been scheduled to run on Mondays and Wednesday evenings from November 9 to December 16, 2015. It is for any family members or caregivers caring for a loved one living with mental illness. The course is currently offered under the rubric of NAMI of Greater Seattle and Panim Hadashot, my recently reestablished Jewish organization. The course will meet in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle. The course is free, but registration will be limited to twenty persons. You will be able to find information on the course by September 1st at www.nami-greaterseattle.org or at www.panimhadashot.org.

I am also working to hold in Seattle a gathering focused on Judaism and Mental Illness. The gathering would be modeled on a conference that took place in New York City in 2014 organized by the Jewish institute of Drisha.

I wanted to make you aware of these efforts and invite you to join me either as a participant or as a collaborator. I also hope that over time we will be able to train a cadre of persons in the Jewish community who can help others on this journey by becoming NAMI trained peer teachers or support group facilitators. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested at panimhadashot@gmail.com.

I remember many years ago when my son was hospitalized in one of the more severe depressive episodes. He was so sick and in such pain that I hardly recognized him. As I fell to the depths of despair, one of the aides saw the distress on my face and took me aside. He told me, “It will not always be like this. He will find a way out of this.” I will always remember those words of hope and solace. Over time they were prophetic.

I am calling on inspired persons in our community to provide hope, support, and encouragement for those we know who face this enormous challenge. As it says at the end of ‘Unetaneh Tokef’, “Teshuvah, tefilah, and tzedaka maavirin et roa hagezera”. I translate this beloved prayer to mean “by turning toward, by advocating, and by generous righteous and caring acts we diminish the severity of the decree.” We have the power to make a difference and bring hope to those who live with mental illness.

Shanah Tovah v’tikateivu,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Panim Hadashot