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Why SWF Does Not Offer High Holiday Services

Shabbat with Friends NM is introducing our inaugural fall programs. This post gives me an opportunity to explain the place of the Fall Jewish festivals in Shabbat with Friends NM (SWF). We intentionally are not offering Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah services. Many of those who participate in SWF are active members of local synagogues which offer comprehensive services of these festivals. We encourage affiliated and non-affiliated SWF participants to attend a synagogue for these festivals.

I founded Shabbat with Friends to focus on enhancing the experience of the Jewish Sabbath, specifically on convening Shabbat gatherings in homes. These Shabbat gatherings are not formal worship services. Rather they are organized to bring people together around meals, singing, and Torah study. They are meant to revitalize the spiritual and social Shabbat traditions such as table singing, informal Torah study, enlivening conversation. These gatherings also aim to foster relationships, friendships, and fellowship among participants.

In future posts I will write about the unique attributes of Shabbat with Friends NM as a Jewish organization and why it is important for similar types of organizations to emerge in Jewish communities. I will also address the role of the rabbi as a critical element of what Shabbat with Friends is attempting to accomplish. I hope these writings will engender a vigorous and thoughtful conversation in the New Mexico Jewish community.

Shanah Tovah U’metokah- May you have a sweet new year,

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

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