Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Rabbi Donniel Hartman on Jewish Identity, May 20, 2005

Here is a wonderful talk given by Rabbi Donniel Hartman on Jewish identity before a group of Jewish lay and professional leaders on Friday, May 20th. I invited Rabbi Hartman to be the Bierman scholar in residence in Seattle under the auspices of Panim Hadashot and Congregation Beth Shalom. I have the privelege of being a rabbinic fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute which enables us to refelct on cutting edge issues facing modern Judaism. This speech was given at a federation leadership event. Rabbi Hartman is the co-director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Both Rabbi Hartman and Barry Goren of the Jewish Federation have given permission for this talk to be available.

Any one who cares about our community should listen to this outstanding analysis of how Judaism becomes meaningful and compelling in our lives here in America. A second recording of Rabbi Hartman's outstanding speech on Moral Challenges Facing Israel given on May 22nd is located at www.panimhadashot.com in the announcements section.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Download donniel_hartman_on_jewish_identity_52005.WMA

Monday, May 23, 2005

Recording of Rabbi Donniel Hartman on Moral Challenges Facing Israel, May 22, 2005

This is a recording of the outstanding lecture given by Rabbi Donniel Hartman on the Moral Challenges Facing Israel on Sunday, May 22, 2005.

This very original and lucid presentation explores the national identity crisis in Israel provoked by the planned disengagement from Gaza to take place this summer. We make this lecture public because it is an outstanding example of the level of public discourse we seek to foster about Israel and Jewish affairs. Rabbi Hartman is the co-director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and Bierman scholar in resdience for Panim Hadashot-New Faces of Judaism and Congregation Beth Shalom. The recording starts with the talk which lasts @ an hour and is followed by Q and A. We have received permission from Rabbi Hartman to upload his talk to the web.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Download donniel_hartman_on_moral_challenges_facing_israel_52205.WMA

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Moral Values Divide Recording 5-17-05

Dear Students,

I am attaching the recording for 5/17 for your listening pleasure.

Download moral_values_51705_israel.WMA

Please note that there will not be class on 5/24. The final class has been rescheduled to 5/31 at Beth Am. Please read the texts on Israel that I gave to you earlier. We will focus on the Liebowitz and Ben Gurion text. I would also like to have a siyum-party to conclude our class. Would a student like to volunteer to bring some desserts? Please email me at gartenberg@comcast.net.

Shalom, Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Announcements for Foundations Class 5-15-05

Dear Students of Foundations to Jewish Identity Sunday morning class,
I have attached the voice recording of this morning's class.

Download foundations_51505.WMA

Please note that we will not meet until Sunday, June 5th. Please look at Chapter 19 in the Book of Leviticus for our next class. At this session we will set dates for the fall continuation of the class, so please be sure to attend and bring your calendar. I am also enclosing information about the next weekend's scholar in residence Donniel Hartman. I urge you to attend his lectures. He is a wonderful speaker and teacher.

Shalom, Rabbi Dov

Announcements for Foundations Class 5-15-05

Dear Intro class,

We will meet two more times: 5/25/05 and 6/1/05, both at my home Beit Midrash. Joe Fuller is organizing a dessert potluck siyum (conclusion) for June 1st. Please make sure you can be there. The recording for the 5/18 class is attached which was a close study of Chapter 11 in the Book of Numbers.
Download intro_to_judaism_51805_num. 11.WMA

Our next class will turn to liturgy. We will focus on the Shema Yisrael and the prayers surrounding it to understand a basic liturgical structure and tradition.

Rabbi Dov

Friday, May 13, 2005

70 Faces of Torah- June Schedule

June Schedule for Shivim Panim LaTorah.

All sessions take place from 10:30-12:00pm on Shabbat mornings at the Panim Hadashot Beit Midrash, 3827 NE 90th St. in North Seattle.

D0ors open for light refreshment at 10:15am. No rsvp necessary, but if you are new, let us know you are coming.

For a description of this innovative Shabbat morning program click Shivim Panim

June 4: Portion: Bamidbar. Numbers 1:1-4:20 Our discussion will focus on the metaphor of wilderness in Judaism. How does the tradition understand the metaphor and how do we understand it in our own lives (especially in the Northwest)

June 11: Portion: Naso. Numbers 4:21-5:10 We will explore the passage of the Nazirite, a status that disappeared in Jewish life after antiquity. The Nazir devotes his life to God. What is the equivalent in Judaism today? Why does Judaism not have monasticism? Why does it not seem to cultivate individual spirituality? Why is Judaism such a hopelessly communal religion?

June 18: Portion: Behaalotcha. Numbers 8:1-12:16 We will focus on the dramatic chapter 11 which the rabbis saw as an example of 'chutzpah kelapei shamayim'-audaciousness toward heaven. Why does Judaism glorify frustration with God? What does that mean for us and our relationship with God. Why can faithful people be more chutzpadik than athiests? We'll explore Moshe's famous complaints to God in this light.

High Holidays with Panim Hadashot: A New Approach

Panim Hadashot's Approach to the High Holidays

Panim Hadashot has made a commitment to offer a unique and different High Holiday program in the fall. The unique program follows the innovative models we created over this past year. The aim of our High Holiday programs are simple.

First, We want to foster more fellowship between Jews by gathering around the festive table. We want to be hospitable. We hope by making our programs interactive and around tables to increase the social dimension of the holidays. We hope people will connect and that their spiritual experiences will be shared with others.

Second, We want to reverse the priority between worship and learning by making learning our primary activity and worship second. Therefore our high holiday program features unique learning opportunities to explore the great themes of the holidays. We will offer our interactive Torah reading called 70 Faces of Torah on the first day of Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur morning, and Yom Kippur afternoon.

Third, We want to be accessible to all Jews, both those without backgrounds and those who do. Our programs are designed to make it possible to feel comfortable and engaged in a unique Jewish experience.

Fourth, We want to provide a deep and enriching holiday experience which will inspire greater interest in and awareness of Judaism's message and its relevance as a religion engaged in the modern world. We do not present Judaism as one way. We celebrate the diversity of Jewish expression.

We value the high holiday services offered by our local synagogues. We also see a need for a different approach for those who hunger to connect, but have not found the current offerings meaningful. We hope that our program will enrich the entire community and bring people closer to connecting to Jewish life.

About the program
We feel that most Jews no longer appreciate or find meaningful the traditional liturgy of the holidays. Many sit bored or disconnected through long and fast paced services. As an alternative, our other learning focus is entitled: One Great Prayer at a Time. Rabbi Gartenberg has selected seven of the great prayers of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur which will be the subject of study, meditation, and communal chanting. By learning and interpreting the prayers together we hope to make these great liturgies more meaningful and more understandable to all our participants.

Both Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur will feature shared ritual moments of Shofar Blowing and Yizkor. But our emphasis will be on learning and exploration of the great themes and insights of the holidays so that everyone who attends will come away with a deeper sense of the purpose of the high holidays than ever before.

Our High Holidays will feature 3 forums on subjects central to the spiritual concern for these days. The forums will take place on the holidays themselves and will allow people to participate collectively in exploring the great spiritual themes of these holy days. One forum will consider the meaning of prayer? Why do we sit in the synagogue all day in prayer? Do these traditional prayers still carry our spiritual sentiments. If not, why?

A second forum is tentatively titled: Modern Relationships and Teshuvah-Repentance. Does the traditional concept of Teshuvah work in relationships between modern people? We are working on assembling a great panel to explore this theme and to help people better understand Jewish views on how we repair or change our most important relationships.

Tentative Schedule:
Location and Reservations information will be announce during the summer.
Monday evening , October 3: Rosh Hashannah Seder-a festive meal for 150 persons featuring unique customs associated with the New Year's meal
Tuesday, October 4: Rosh Hashannah moring program. See below.
Tuesday evening, October 4: Forum on Modern Relationships and Teshuvah.
Wednesday afternoon, October 12 Seudat Hamafseket-A communal pre Yom Kippur meal for 150.
Wednesday eve, Oct. 12. Kol Nidre and program followed by a forum on the meaning of prayer.
Thursday morning, Oct. 13. Yom Kippur morning program. See below
Thursday late afternoon, Oct 13. Forum with topic to be announced, followed by 70 Faces on the Book of Jonah, a Neilah program and end of the fast.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

God Prefers Broken Vessels: Message From Rabbi Gartenberg 5/6/05

“God is not like a king of flesh and blood who uses whole vessels and throws away those that are broken. God prefers broken vessels, as the Psalmist declares: ‘A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.’” (Ps. 51:19) Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg

Moriel loved Havdallah ever since he was a little boy. He focused in on the flame of the candle and delighted in the smell of the spices. He gulped down the grape juice and moved with the songs. From the earliest age Mori showed an enthusiasm for the ritual moment. As we discovered Mori’s autism, we became more and more aware of the restrictions of his condition. As he grew older he would have to move into special environments to accommodate his disability. His social oddities, his physical perseverations, his strange gestures, his otherworldly droning made him more and more separate from the rest of the world. His condition forced him into a separate classroom, a specialized home, a highly routinized existence. As this process took place over many years, I noticed that one very important area remained open for Mori to participate with others-the ritual realm of Jewish life.

Mori loves the tastes of a seder or the singing at a service, or the flame at a Havdalah, or the blast of a shofar. They seem to offer an alternative to the routine. These unusual moments focus his attention. It was Moriel’s love of Jewish rituals that inspired me to dream of a program called Shaarei Tikvah-Gates of Hope. The idea behind this program was to bring the richness of Jewish festival gatherings and ritual moments into the lives of persons with special needs and their families. In partnership with the Jewish Family Service we created a series of festival celebrations for persons with special needs and for their families. This initiative led to four beautiful experiences including a Rosh Hashannah Service, a Hanukah celebration, a Purim Megillah Reading, and a Passover seder. Each of these moving occasions reminded me of certain central teachings in Judaism about how we relate to others and how we connect to God.
These programs are not meant only for people with special needs and their families. Our hope is that people in the community will join us and celebrate with us. We want people with special needs to have an honored place in our community. We seek to reduce their estrangement and isolation.

There are five Jewish values that inspired me to create Shaarei Tikvah. The first is the notion of that we are all made in God’s image-btzelem elohim. If we truly believe in this principle we need to practice it with those who often are the most marginal and hidden in our society. By sharing our tables, our holy times together we confer honor and dignity to those with special needs. At these occasions when we praise God together, we all acknowledge our common standard of dignity.

A second value that inspired Shaarei Tikvah is the Hachnasat Orchim-or welcoming the guest. This is considered one of the basic acts of loving kindness-Gemilut Hasadim for which there is no limit. Hospitality is the quality of generosity, of sharing our bounty with others. It is the giving over of physical resources-food and temporal resources-time to give value and attention to another. Hospitality is a critical dimension of community, for through it relationships form, grow, and become real. To be hospitable to people with special needs is particularly important because in some cases they do not know how to reciprocate.

The third value comes from a rabbinic teaching that we should greet people with a Seber Panim Yafot-a kindly face. Disabled people often face strange reactions from others. A kind and friendly face makes a person relax and feel accepted. In Judaism, the sacred meal is a gathering of people who sit Panim el Panim-face to face. It is over a table that people’s faces are most significant and their smiles and joy most impactful.

A fourth value is gleaned from Maimonides who distinguishes between the simchah shel creiso and the simchah shel mitzvah, the joy of the stomach and the joy of the mitzvah. We can gather for our celebrations to feed our bodies, or we can gather at our tables to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s command. To share our ritual occasions and our sacred gatherings with those with special needs is to make the focus the sharing of a mitzvah experience. Everything is elevated into something more special, more significant. Simchah shel mitzvah is the capacity to transcend our selfishness, to connect to others, and to sense God’s presence in our finite lives.

The final value of Shaarei Tikvah is Havruta-fellowship. Most of us do not have the opportunity to cultivate fellowship with those who are disabled. They and their families are often isolated because of the special requirements of care and attention. But we have an imperative to reduce estrangement for those with special needs. In reaching out we fulfill the commandment of Loving our fellow as ourselves. (Lev. 19:18). One of the goals of Judasim is to instill humanity within each of us. We can only do this by discovering the humanity of the other, especially the other who is more remote, harder to connect to, but fully human.

I hope that people in our community will help Shaarei Tikvah to grow and will participate as partners and celebrants in these beautiful celebrations which bring so much joy to all and bring close those who had been far.