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Rediscovering the Joys of Shabbat Hospitality

A Message from Shabbat with Friends Convener, Rabbi Dov Gartenberg: Shabbat Hospitality. 

For July 2024.  

I am restless, always working, and reworking things. Right now, I have been rethinking the SWF tagline or "elevator pitch" which is how we describe our organization in the simplest of terms.  The elevator pitch is supposed to capture the essence of an organization’s mission. Thanks to new leadership team members, Janet Sanders and Douglas Jardine, I was inspired to reformulate our tagline: Rediscovering the Joys of Shabbat Hospitality.  

I chose this rephrasing because of our discussions about Shabbat with Friends calling itself a Shabbat Cooperative. Our focus as a Jewish organization is on Shabbat, especially a specific dimension of the Jewish Sabbath. We are passionate about Shabbat hospitality.  

In our discussions, we have agreed that to become part of the Cooperative, we will ask partners (the term we will use instead of members) to commit to hosting or cohosting a Shabbat gathering at least once a year. The gathering can take place in the host’s home or in a venue which SWF will provide. Every hosted gathering will include a Shabbat meal and at least one type of Shabbat activity: Music and singing, singing with dancing, Torah study and discussion, group play, or conversation and storytelling. SWF will provide support, resources, and guidance for our partner-hosts.  

Most importantly, by choosing to be a host or cohost each partner becomes engaged in the mitzvah of “Hachnasat Orchim’-the welcoming of guest on the Sabbath. The welcoming of guests does not only can include family and close friends but welcomes people in the wider Jewish community and Jewishly adjacent of New Mexico. We cherish this mitzvah (which is also called a “gomel hesed-an act of lovingkindness”,) because it fosters meaningful and enduring relationships and builds loving and empathetic communities.  

Our arena of effort is the liberal and secular Jewish community of New Mexico. This ancient Jewish practice fell into the margins of organized liberal Jewish communities for various intentional and unintentional reasons. Our mission is to bring it back to the center of Shabbat and to the center of Jewish life. We hope you will join us in this holy effort. 

 Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, Convener, SWF 

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