(JNS) One Table, an organization that empowers those in their 20s and 30s to envision new rituals and build community through Shabbat dinner, is reopening with indoor dinners of up to ten people as it marks its 500,000th dinner guest, including repeat engagers, since its founding in 2014.
As the coronavirus pandemic wanes, young adults are eager to engage in in-person experiences with peers, yet are also experiencing anxiety about “re-entry” into life.
“Just before the pandemic, I thought a lot about kindness,” says Aliza Kline, co-founder and CEO of OneTable. “What would it mean if kindness was our driving force? This last year answered that question in a way. We saw how Jewish young adults care for each other when times are hard and anti-Semitism is on the rise. Shabbat dinner offers a consistent, elevated space for us to discuss the events of the world around us, check-in with one another, and pause as we imagine the world we want to build together.”
During COVID restrictions, OneTable only allowed solo Shabbat dinners, Shabbat events for people who live together and virtual Shabbat dinners; in total, more than twenty-five thousand meals took place.
The new Pew Research Study on Jewish Americans in 2020 affirmed that young Jewish adults are spiritually connected and crave community, though not necessarily within institutional walls. OneTable’s DIY approach to Shabbat—tailored support, coaching and online resources to make ritual personally meaningful, plus financial boosts in the form of “Nourishment Credits” if cost is a barrier for hosts—enable both host and guest to create the dinner/community experience that they want.
“OneTable has been able to grow so quickly because young adults take the lead,” adds Kline. “They set the table, so to speak, and build their own meaningful Shabbat communities. We are excited to reopen in-person dinners and begin a new era.