Why Does Panim Hadashot focus on Hospitality as a Jewish Practice and Value?

This fall we are launching Panim Hadashot anew. Panim Hadashot was founded in Seattle in 2004. Panim Hadashot translated to English means new face or new faces. It refers to a beautiful hospitality tradition in Judaism of inviting new faces to share in and to bring joy to a new bride and groom. We took that name to emphasize our focus on Jewish Hospitality traditions. Our conviction was and is that Jewish Hospitality traditions are at the core of Judaism. Jewish hospitality practices such as sharing a Passover Seder, inviting guests to the Sukkah or convening Shabbat meals with family and others evoke a distinctive Jewish spirituality and sense of community.

We also believe that much of the liberal and secular Jewish community has become disconnected from the practice of Jewish hospitality. Reform and Conservative congregations have given more emphasis to communal worship at the expense of sharing the home table. Many secular Jews have lost the traditions of Jewish hospitality as part of ambivalence with religious practice or beliefs. Orthodox Jews still preserve Jewish hospitality traditions in many communities. Chabad, one of the most vibrant of movements of modern Judaism, has made hospitality central to its Houses that are found in almost every Jewish community.

Panim Hadashot seeks to bring back the practice of Jewish hospitality to liberal and secular Jews, combining Jewish tradition with modern notions of pluralism and humanism. Practicing Jewish hospitality is deeply beneficial because it cultivates in its practitioners generosity, empathy, curiosity, and openness. Hospitality practiced with intention generates joy, a respect for difference, and spontaneity. The intentional and mindful practice of Jewish hospitality provides structure and meaning to sharing life with a spouses, children, family members and friends and opens all to “new faces”.

Panim Hadashot promotes the practice of Jewish hospitality in very specific ways. Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, founder and director of Panim Hadashot joins hosts in co-leading sacred Shabbat feasts in their homes. We also hope to network people practicing Jewish hospitality in various congregations and communities and to create opportunities for sharing rituals, songs, teachings, recipes, and challenges of having a hospitable home.

We hope you find this focus unique and exciting. Share with us your practice, your ideas, and your interest in the practice of Jewish hospitality.

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