Chapter Three: Blessed is the Couple Who Welcomes the Stranger

Laurie Rutenberg and Gary Schoenberg

“Welcoming guests is more important than communing with God.”

From the Babylonian Talmud,  Rabbi Yehudah in the name of Rav


Laurie Rutenberg and Gary Schoenberg met in Jerusalem during their first year in rabbinical school. They didn’t hit it off.  It took five years for them to discover a love and partnership that has made for an amazing journey.  Together, they have encountered the challenges of infertility (their children are both in vitro babies), the deaths of two of Gary’s younger brothers and all of their parents, and faced the challenges of parenting set against the demands of their workplace.  They have managed to make their home, which they lovingly call “Gesher—A Bridge Home,” the center of building a bridge back to Jewish life, the Jewish people, and Jewish learning in Portland, Oregon. They have welcomed over 8,500 different individuals to their family’s Shabbat and holiday dinner table.  Amidst afflictions of greed, war, displacement, loneliness, and, today, the coronavirus, they have celebrated a life’s work and life’s partnership that has built a village and made for a vibrant home life.  They currently live in Portland, Oregon and enjoy their relationship with their two adult children, recently married. Their website is: