In 2014, the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life and The Paul E. Singer Foundation came together with an amazing challenge at hand: “How might we invite a new generation to make the most of Friday night and create a lifelong practice around Shabbat dinner?”
Their first step was hiring founding director Aliza Kline, who launched a design cycle to identify strategies for more millennials to engage each other through Shabbat dinner. Together, they turned to partners, supporters, community members and friends to help create a program that was meaningful, customizable and fun: OneTable. Communities rose to the occasion—hosting unique dinners, inviting their friends, testing new recipes and sharing their wisdom.
Throughout the process, Kline learned that it’s not about reinventing Shabbat dinner, but about making it feel relevant. It’s not about perfection, but about practice. It’s about one community that all of us can relish and share. It’s about carving out time to slow down and enjoy, together.
OneTable’s brand identity was also inspired by that beloved Shabbat dinner staple: challah. Shabbat dinner can be celebrated in so many different ways, but no matter how you make it your own, the challah has a place on the table. The warmth, the sweetness, the fresh-baked possibility of challah was incorporated into the logo by combining the soft overlapping braided lines. The icon’s woven quality also visually speaks to OneTable’s many social benefits: meeting new friends, making connections and forming a community.
Now, two years later, OneTable is proud to have helped over 18,000 people in their 20s and 30s around the country find, enjoy and share Shabbat dinner. Onetable.org, an online and in-person hub makes it easy for hosts to welcome guests to a dinner at their home, for guests to savor a Friday meal and for all to experience unique events for Shabbat dinner out. The OneTable team encourages hosts to get creative: we’ve seen everything from social justice dinners to a Shabbanikuh ugly Christmas sweater dinner to a red carpet, Oscar-themed Shabbat.
Being at a OneTable dinner is about slowing down, coming together, feeling a sense of belonging, sharing stories and making new connections. Whether it’s dinner at home or on a blanket under the stars, the host is free to do Shabbat his/her own way. Something beautiful happens when a host gets creative and welcomes people into their home.
So next time you’re craving good company, serenity or even an awesome homemade meal, consider joining or planning a Friday night dinner with OneTable. All you have to do is fill out a brief sign-up form, register your event and create your guest list.
Need inspiration on what to bring to the table? Look no further than Herring and Potatoes, a blog written by Sarit Wishnevski, a member of the OneTable staff.