My partner and I applied to be OneTable hosts in New York when they were first arriving on the scene; we love hosting our friends for dinners and both find that hosting in our home is the most fulfilling way to celebrate Shabbat. Going to a synagogue where we don’t know anyone and leaving immediately after services can feel cold, uninviting, and distant. A home-cooked meal feels like the Shabbats we both knew growing up, however cost and time are both factors that keep us from hosting more often.
After applying to be hosts, we were contacted by Rabbi Jess Minnen to set up an appointment. We grabbed coffee in midtown and talked about the kind of atmosphere we hoped to create at our first dinner. We talked about our commitment to ethically-sourced ingredients and intentional conversation. We don’t serve kosher food or follow observant laws on Shabbat, but we try to bring the intention of mindful food choices and a present attitude to our Fridays. Jess was very supportive of any way we wanted to observe Shabbat, and told us she was our personal on-call Rabbi if we had any questions! I must admit, the online platform where hosts posted their meals was intimidating at first; I was afraid random New Yorkers would show up at our apartment! So we decided to attend a few programs and meals before posting out first Shabbat.
We attended a mixology workshop just for hosts where we learned how to make three fun cocktails and discussed the Jewish value of welcoming guests into our home. We also delved into the meaning behind L’Chayim, and spent the night making many toasts. There were great people there who had hosted OneTable Shabbats all over the city. We talked about how to select attendees, whether to post an event as open, open but password protected, or invite only, and all our fears were alleviated. We ended up going to a Shabbat at the home of an amazing couple that we met at the mixology event. Kate and Jason’s Shabbat confirmed that OneTable was right for us. It felt unlike any awkward Jewish singles mixer I’d been dragged to in the past. People were there to enjoy the company, appreciate the food and have an engaging Shabbat experience.
We hosted several Shabbats after that, inviting other guests and hosts we had met through the OneTable network along with our friends and family. I even incorporated values-driven discussions from our OneTable workshops into our events. The “nourishment options” are unlike any of the Shabbat reimbursement programs I’ve used before. Instead of creating more work for the host by requiring receipts and follow-up reports, OneTable offers a variety of accessible delivery options for busy millennials. Having groceries or alcohol delivered on my schedule helped alleviate the cost of hosting a large group and at the same time checked one task off my list for the event. The options OneTable has include apps like Drizzly, Etsy, and Seamless. It honestly couldn’t be easier to be a Shabbat host.
As newcomers to DC, we’re so happy to introduce OneTable to this community! OneTable has stepped into the home-hosted DIY Shabbat scene in thoughtful ways, effectively creating small communities within big cities. For young Jews who want an in-home Shabbat experience that is DIY and tailored to your taste, OneTable is it. I especially love that OneTable collaborated with the JCC and Repair the World in New York. It’s incredible that these organizations are working together to make points of access for everyone’s preference. I can’t wait until the OneTable community in DC is up and thriving the way it is in New York. I loved scrolling through my list of options for Friday night, and feeling connected to the other hosts in my community every week. Sign up to host a OneTable Shabbat today, or come to our next meal–we’d love to have you.