Remember dining in person? So does OneTable, a national nonprofit with a Boston branch that connects people under 40 with Shabbat dinners, either as hosts or guests. It’s a social dining platform (think Airbnb, but for Shabbat!) that helps hosts produce their own Shabbat “experiences”—perfect for people who might get a little bit overwhelmed beyond takeout.
It’s also good for people who are young and seeking connections, new to Boston or not affiliated with synagogues or Hillel who are eager to make new friends post-pandemic.
“It’s a nonprofit for people in the 21 to 39 age range to make the most of their Friday nights,” says Boston field manager Hannah Weinstein. OneTable enrolls hosts who then have access to themes, playlists, resources for Jewish learning and rituals, conversation-starters and other supports, like “Nourishment” digital gift cards ($10 per guest) to markets like Whole Foods to help cover the cost of the meal.
Not equipped to host? Have a kitchen the size of a closet? That’s fine: You can also sign up as a guest, then choose your ideal group based on food style or themes like vegetarianism or Israel. You can then identify what type of guest you are (ah, if only Evite did this!) and your intentions, such as helping your kids to identify more strongly with Shabbat, learning more about Israel or simply unplugging.
“The real benefit of doing Shabbat with OneTable is that we have an incredible amount of resources to support hosts and guests to find the Friday night that they’re looking for. We think of ourselves as being Shabbat dinner guides, with blessings compiled together in Hebrew, the transliteration, recordings of the blessings in case people want a refresher—which is our most popular offering. And we have field managers who can say, ‘You’re looking for a place to go on Friday night? Let me connect you with a board game Shabbat or a vegan Shabbat,’” says Julia Edelstein, director of field operations, who notes that the Boston OneTable demographic is particularly heavy on people in their young 20s, fresh out of our many colleges.
People with families can host Shabbat meals, too, although OneTable asks that hosts note whether kids will be in attendance ($10 credits are only for adults).
Beyond Shabbat, OneTable hosts “Nosh:pitality” in-person events with activity themes like challah-baking or mixology, which will hopefully come in handy for your next dinner. They also connect hosts with local field guides who can help strategize themes, connect hosts with guests and offer resources—sort of the travel agents of the Shabbat world.
Sound intriguing? Need plans? Check out upcoming Shabbat dinners in Boston!