Sukkot, Hospitality, and the Strangeness of the End of the Holidays


A Blog Post Rabbi Dov Gartenberg for the New Faces Blog

Completed on Friday, October 28, 2016/26 Tishrei, 5777

I love the festival for Sukkot for many reasons. I love the strangeness of building a temporary structure. I love the often-amusing annual effort to procure the Sechach-the cutoff branches needed to cover the Sukkah. I love sitting in a sukkah (on a dry day) with a coat on while enjoying the fall colors enveloping me. I love the special rain roof-(called a schlock) that I have to rig up for the Sukkot I have built in Alaska and Washington. I love the antiquity of the four species and the rain inducing shaking and circling we do with them. I love the reading of Kohelet-Ecclesiastes that we read in the synagogue.

The sense of roots that permeates this festival moves me deeply. This festival is so detached from the regular pace and homogenizing context of our lives. As I get older I love Sukkot more and more. While Sukkot is a wonderful holiday for children and for families, I find it is very much compelling festival as I move through my 60s and beyond.

But what I love more than anything on Sukkot is the ritual of Ushpizim, the invitation to ancient guests to sit in the Sukkah with us. Not only is Sukkot about physical hospitality, it is also about spiritual hospitality. The ritual of Ushpizin has us invite our ancestors into the Sukkah. What the ritual signifies is that hospitality helps us to transcend our limited lifespan. On Sukkot we are invited to imagine knowing and relating to our long dead ancestors. We express our desire to share a meal with them, talk to them about their lives, their worries, their satisfactions, and their aspirations. We may even crack a joke with them or tell a story.

This is the power of hospitality. It takes something that is remote, and brings it close. The strange act of inviting the forefathers and the foremothers into the Sukkah is making the distant, the ancient, the arcane past close and imaginable. So too with those strangers who live in the same arena of our lives. Their distance is not over generations, but rather of physical proximity, cultural difference, class status, or other outcomes of human complexity. The act of hospitality is the attempt to reduce alienation from others.

A number of social scientists have argued that human beings can only make as much as 154 friends or significant relationships.   The idea is that human groups have an upper limit of intimacy. If this is true, then hospitality is not so much about making friends, but also connecting to others outside our 154-person network. While we cannot befriend the whole world, we need to be connected to others who are different than us. This is the secret of the practice of hospitality.


I found this striking poem in the new siddur about this period immediately after the end of the fall Festivals. Lev Shalem on page 368

The Journey On by Tamara Cohen

The s’khakh on my sukkah

is browning,

the gourds are growing

soft from the rain


Soon it will be time to take

down the sukkah:

unscrew the screws,

unhinge the walls.


Soon these days of celebra-

tion will end

and i will drag the poles

back to the garage.


I want a prayer for this:

the courage to take down

what we erect,

the willingness to let the

temporary be temporary.


Because it is,

because the fullness of the

moon is no longer

but will be again.


We have been schooled

once more in the fragility

of shelter,

in the wisdom of walls and

the welcoming of guests,

in the joy of song and soup

shared outdoors.


Let us turn to Heshvan:


See how the etrog can

become a spicebox,

each clove piercing the

yellow skin,

a teacher for the year



What was holy can be holy


Bob Dylan in the Sukkah

In honor of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature we are holding a Dylan in the Sukkah Havdallah event

In honor of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in literature we are holding a Dylan in the Sukkah Havdallah event, a musical singalong on Saturday, October 22nd at 6pm the home of Rabbi Dov Gartenberg in the Lake Forest Park Area with the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble led by master musician, Ari Joshua.  Bring your Bob Dylan songbooks (if you have one) , your raspy voices, an instrument (if you play), and lot’s of Ruach-spirit. Free.

For details and to sign up for the event, click HERE.

Panim Hadashot Hosting Parntership Event-Friday Eve, Oct. 21, 2016

Host:  Mariya Shapran, South Seattle
A Musical Kabbalat Shabbat with the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble
with Ari Joshua and Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

If you would like to join us for a culinary experience (Mariya is an incredible cook) and a beautiful evening, call Mariya at 917 318-4439 or email her at mariya.shapran at gmail dot com.  She will give you the time and location of her home and instructions if you wish to bring something to contribute to the meal.  Please contact her no later than Thursday, October 20th.

In Silence on Yom Kippur


The tag I will be wearing during Yom Kippur prayers


Silence on Yom Kippur

This Yom Kippur I will have the rare opportunity to be a regular worshipper for the entire holy day from Kol Nidre to Ne’ilah.  Since 1978 I have been a  regular worshipper on Yom Kippur only a handful of times . As a rabbinic student and a rabbi, my place during the High Holidays was always on the Bimah.

In 1977 I moved to Boston to study in a graduate program.    A friend who had grown up in a rabbinic home told me that he was going to be in silence for all of Yom Kippur.  I was intrigued by his example.  Since I was new to Boston and did not really know anybody yet in the community, I thought I would try remaining silent for that Yom Kippur.

It was the most powerful Yom Kippur of my life.

The experience of prayer was heightened.  I was attuned to the flow of the service and experienced the repetition of the prayers as waves washing over me.  I remember reflecting about how easy it is to fill space with words and niceties.  I became more aware of the everyday mindlessness of much of my speech.  I remember feeling clarity and renewal on that day that lasted for weeks after the holy days had ended.

Thirty nine years later I am going to go into silence for Yom Kippur again.

It is a bit scary to decide to remain in silence again.   My wife is very supportive and is joining me in silence.  We have sat silent retreats together and found them to be very intimate and powerful experiences.  There are several reasons I am seeking silence on Yom Kippur and I will share a few of them with you.

First, I would like to meditate on how the years of adulthood have changed me.  I want to reflect on the ebb and flow of my life.  I lost my beloved father this year, and as I enter the latter stages of my life I seek insight about the challenges before me.

Second, I have found these times we are living in to be very confusing. The technology I use fills so much space and sucks my attention.  I am normally somewhat distractible, but the devices I use have made me more distractible.  To be silent is to put down my devices, to be immersed in the prayers, and to be unworried about interactions for 25 hours.

Third, my silence this year is in part a protest.  This presidential election has exposed the cancer of celebrity culture, the collapse of civility, the screaming rage flowing from social media, and the scary vulnerability of our democracy.  I need time to retreat from all this cacophony and to focus on the words of the prayers and the prophets that remind me to turn toward good.

Lastly I am seeking silence to reach out toward God.  I began serving as a rabbi in Seattle nearly three decades ago. I have had the fortune of meeting many wonderful people but pressure I feel to be politely social on Yom Kippur can be distracting.   To be silent for all of Yom Kippur lets me set aside my sense of social obligation to focus on my relationship with God.  After all, our tradition urges us to repair our relations with our fellows during these nine days with the tenth day, Yom Kippur, focused on our relationship with the Holy One.

Psalm 65:2 proclaims, “Silence is praise to You.” לְךָ דֻמִיָּה תְהִלָּה   As Maimonides writes in The Guide to the Perplexed, “…..(this) signifies: silence with regard to You is praise.”

I share these reflections with you as encouragement to consider this practice for yourself. You might try it for a portion of the day.   If you are inspired to try this, let your loved ones know beforehand.  Spend a few minutes after the Break the Fast to jot down any insights you want to record.  Most of all, experience the beauty and the power of Yom Kippur in stillness-with the still small voice of the Divine.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Jewish Hospitality in the 21st Century

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.”

Panim Hadashot Hosted Kabbalat Shabbat Event

Host: Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Date: Friday evening, September 30, 2016

7:00 pm nosh

7:30 pm Musical Kabbalat Shabbat with Ari Joshua and Rabbi Dov

8:15 pm Shabbat dinner and more singing and schmoozing.

Location: 2806 236th St. SW, Brier, WA 98036

Contact:  206 739-9924,

Brief Description:  I am hosting an informal Friday evening at our home.  Ari Joshua and I will share a beautiful Kabbalat Shabbat service featuring melodies from the Jewish Oriental tradition.  At 8:15 pm we will sit for a fun Shabbat dinner with more opportunities to sing including a some melodies from the upcoming holidays.

  1. Dress code is casual.
  2. Bring two dishes to share — an entrée and a side — at least enough to feed your household plus a couple of other folks. The meal is dairy/parve.
  3. Desserts are left to the imagination of the attendees. If you have a dessert you’d like to share, bring it.
  4. The event is free because it is Shabbat.
  5. Send RSVPs to by Friday morning, 9/30.
  6. Most important – come over and have a good time!



A Fall 2016 Message to Friends of Panim Hadashot

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

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


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



Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener

Panim Hadashot-New Faces

Cell and Text:  206 739-9924

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

Friday, July 8, 2016: Soulful Shabbat: A Friday Evening of Music, Song, and Joy

Soulful Shabbat: A Friday Evening of Music, Song, and Joy

Soulful Shabbat

A Friday Evening of Music, Song, and Joy

Friday, July 8,  2016 at Hillel of UW

Shabbat Potluck Dinner 6-7:30pm (See sign up below) 

Kabbalat Shabbat  7:30-8:30pm  

Kiddush, Singing, and Shmoozing to Follow

The service is led by Rabbi Dov Gartenberg and the Panim Hadashot Ensemble.  The service includes music from all over the Jewish world with a participatory format with contemplative moments.  Rabbi Dov also offers a short Torah teaching.  Services are open to all. The potluck does require sign up.  See below.

Sign up for the potluck at this LINK

1st Night Community Passover Seder with UW Hillel

Come to our Community Seder on the First Night of Passover, Fri. April 22, 2016.

Panim Hadashot, the Heart of Shabbat will be co-sponsoring a First Night Community Seder in collaboration with UW Hillel on Friday Evening, April 22, 2016.  Rabbi Gartenberg will be leading the seder. To enhance and enable more singing, Ari Joshua will co lead with guitar for a wonderful evening of song, ritual, and joyful celebration of the night of Freedom.  The UW Hillel site will accept reservations by April 1st.

More details will follow.

Go to to register for the Seder.