Friday, April 21, 2023
As the founder of Shabbat with Friends NM, I am frequently asked, “What is Shabbat with Friends (SWF)? I frequently get this question from synagogue members and rabbinic colleagues. I explain, “SWF is not a synagogue, nor does it aspire to be a synagogue. Shabbat with Friends does what its name suggests. We organize home Shabbat celebratory gatherings that build friendships and recapture the joy of sharing Shabbat over a meal, singing together, and engaging in group Torah learning. SWF is an emerging Shabbat centered Jewish community that seeks to revitalize the experience of the Jewish Sabbath. We are rooted in the New Mexico Jewish community, blending Jewish tradition with the enchantment of the Southwest.”
To better understand with SWF is doing, I have summarized some of the basic differences and overlaps between SWF and synagogues in the table below.
As a rabbi who has served congregations for most of my career, I have profound respect for the role of synagogues in Jewish life. However, I founded SWF to address the gaps in synagogue and Jewish life, especially the way Shabbat is presented and experienced in our community.
I believe that Jewish communal life is so diffuse and overextended that it can become boring, uninspired, and detached from its original purposes and its spiritual wellsprings. I believe Shabbat is the source of the Jewish genius of community, of the value of relationships, the context for joyful activity, and the source of rest and rejuvenation.
Shabbat with Friends is also infused with the influences of the vigorous experiments in Jewish life going on in other communities across the United States and in Israel. One such influence is the work of the Jewish Emergent Network. This network comprises several Jewish communities around the country that offer exciting approaches to Jewish life. I have long enduring relationships with leaders in many of these communities. Their values statement reflects the vision that animates Shabbat with Friends. It shapes our efforts and helps guide our programs and initiative.
If you want to be part of a engaging conversation on new ideas about Jewish life in our region, please join the Shabbat with Friend open forum the next steps for SWF on Sunday morning, April 23rd from 10-11:30am MDT. You can attend in person at the JCC in Albuquerque at 5200 Wyoming Blvd NE (boardroom). Or if you live in Santa Fe or beyond, you can register on Zoom to attend virtually. There is no charge. The forum is open to the community.
For questions, please contact me at 505 582-9577 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Convener, Shabbat with Friends NM
Leave a Reply.
Rabbi Dov Gartenberg
Rabbi Dov is the founder of Shabbat with Friends NM. He became a rabbi at 29 after schooling at UC Berkely, Harvard, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has maintained a blog for over twenty years, giving commentary on a wide range of themes, concerns, and passions.