The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble

What is the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble?

It says in the psalms, “Tov Lhodot Ladonai, ulzamer bshimcha gadol.”  “It is good to give thanks to Adonai, and to sing to His great Name.”  The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble masters the Hebrew spiritual tradition of music that that views singing as an authentic form of prayer.

The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble was formed by Rabbi Dov Gartenberg in 2016 to create moving and beautiful participatory Shabbat experiences in the home and in the community through live music and community singing. We call these unique Shabbat events, The Musical Shabbat Table. We are the only Jewish musical ensemble that focuses on bringing our music to homes on the Sabbath as our primary musical venue.

The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble builds on the two thousand year tradition of Shabbat table singing in Jewish communities all over the world.  We master traditional melodies, but also share new compositions of Jewish songs to share the vibrancy of Jewish musical culture.

We follow the Conservative and Reform movements’ permission for instrumental music at the synagogue service, but innovate further by focusing on the folk and table musical traditions of the home. One of our aims is to revive the practice of singing around the table at home in concert with the practice of Shabbat hospitality. Singing together is a powerful way to connect to others. Our music then is not a mere entertainment, but is an expression of ‘oneg shabbat’, the joy of Shabbat that distinguishes it from all other days.

Unlike a klezmer or Jewish wedding band, we focus the musical traditions of  Shabbat and Jewish festivals. Our specialty is Shabbat music, niggunim, z’mirot (long Shabbat table hymns), and Shirim (shorter songs coming from the Jewish Bible or liturgy. We also have built up a large repertoire of Israeli folk and contemporary music.  Our music is meant to enhance prayer and add a distinct spiritual/Shabbasdik feeling to the music. But we also share music which shows the depth of Jewish and Hebrew culture, crossing the boundary between the religious and secular traditions.

  • Samples of the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble’s music, click HERE
  • Our approach to Instrumental Music and Jewish Song, click HERE
  • Reserve the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble for a Shabbat event at your home HERE


Ensemble Members

We engage several musicians and singers to join the Heart of Shabbat Ensemble.  Ensemble members vary according to the different formats we use and preferences of our hosts.  Below are the names of our ensemble partners who play with us most often.

Matt Sircely, Mandolin

Larry Machlis, Percussion

Daniel Salka, Piano

Tracie Marx, Vocals

Rebekka Goldsmith, Vocals

Craig Judelman, Violin

Tor Dietrickson, Percussion

Hugh Sutton, Accordion

Josh Niehaus, Guitar and Vocals

Chava Mirel, Guitar and Vocals