Reshet Ramah Meets OneTable
Welcome Happy! A Conversation with Ramah Alumna and OneTable host Laura Belinfante
What makes a OneTable dinner different from the rest of the week?
I grew up in Los Angeles, the third out of eight kids, and we tended to do your standard Friday night dinner: blessings, wine, challah, food, all eaten on the nice dishes in the dining room rather than the kitchen. We’d often have friends over. So when I moved to New York and became roommates with two of my brothers, it was only natural that thought about having our own Shabbat dinners in the same way. Of course we don’t have a dining room, but that doesn’t mean we can’t host Shabbat dinner. It’s a special meal, separate from the rest of the week.
As a Ramah alumna, how does OneTable continue to support your Jewish camp experience?
Reshet Ramah, the Ramah alumni network, provides a ton of opportunities for Ramah alumni and friends, and OneTable is an instrumental piece to connecting Ramahniks in New York City. Shabbat is such a central part of the Ramah experience, and through OneTable, I’m able to have all my camp friends around the table just like when we were at Ramah.
How did you hear about OneTable?
Word of mouth. Someone mentioned that there was this initiative to inspire and support Friday night dinners, and I thought, “Let’s try it out.” Then my brothers came to a Nosh:pitality event, and we had a great time. We decided to host.
OneTable has these events that are about hanging out with other people in the OneTable host network and learning something that we can apply to the Shabbat dinner experience. They call it “reclaiming the lost art of hospitality.” There are cocktail parties where we learn how to make drinks with a professional mixologist, cooking classes, challah baking… all kinds of things.
How does OneTable support your personal dinner?
Look, it’s time-consuming to do the grocery shopping, then all the cooking. And even if we have everyone bring a side dish, it gets expensive, so we can only invite a couple people. But with support from OneTable, we have hosted anywhere from 12 to 24 friends. It takes the burden off of us financially and saves time. But the feeling in the room is all ours. It’s not like people feel like they are at a professional dinner or something. For me it’s about community, and having my friends together, and the conversation, and winding down from the week. It’s really great to be able to invite people into our home and make space for them to relax after a long week.
So who comes to your dinners?
The guest list varies each time we host. Sometimes it’s more of my friends, sometimes it’ll be one of my brothers’ friends, like when we hosted to celebrate one brother’s birthday. The one coming up is pretty special, though. The theme is “Wet Hot American Summer,” and it happens to be the same night that series premieres on Netflix. That movie, and the show based on it, is a parody of summer camp, and as it happens, the guest list is almost entirely our friends from Camp Ramah – a bunch were with us at Ramah California, a couple went to New England or Nyack, and then we have a few honorary Ramah alums. (I also work at National Ramah.) We asked people to dress up; I don’t know if they will. But they did last Purim, when this was our group costume, so – the outlook is good, I think.
That’s awesome. So OneTable helps make that happen?
Yes. We’re given “nourishment” that we can use with OneTable partners like Instacart, Seamless, and Etsy. We can use it on food or décor or whatever is helpful for us. I think the décor is going to be minimal this time. First of all, it’s camp. Second, we have a printer, we can make our own menus. And if you have the choice, you should use the whole budget for food, right?
Have you been able to meet Ramah alumni at OneTable events?
Totally, I’ve met so many Ramah alumni at OneTable events who went to different camps, but we still share the same universal Ramah experience. Whether it was at a Mixology event or dumpling making, I’ve been able to meet Ramah alums who are looking for similar Jewish experiences that are fun and unique.
How you can get involved: