Be a Guest to Experience Community
What’s it like to be a guest at a OneTable dinner? We’ll pose that question to some of our guests, so you can see the range of experiences that bring people to our table.
For Oliver Rosenberg, being his authentic self has given him the ability to experience Shabbat dinner in his way. It’s that sense of belonging — of being a guest and finding your people.
I grew up Modern Orthodox in Los Angeles. The Shabbat tables from growing up – they were where people would talk about whatever was on their mind, you know? Your crowds change throughout life, and when you grow up, you want to create your own kind of discussion around your own experiences. I’ve taken the Shabbat practice from growing up and made it my own.
The first OneTable dinner I attended was on Fire Island, which is a collection of beach communities about two hours outside of New York City. It’s a casual place where you go to have fun and do a million things. When a friend of mine told me he was going to host a Shabbat there, I was like, “That’s awesome.” It was nice to have that thing that centers you, that quiet moment around the table where we could get to know each other and have a sense of community for a couple hours. It made a real foundation for the whole weekend.
At the dinner, we sang Shalom Aleichem, and a few of the people didn’t actually know it, so I became a sort of instructor teaching another man the song. That was a lovely bonding experience. At the dinner, we ended up having deep conversations about Judaism and whether we had been to Israel and our different experiences with Judaism.
I wasn’t nervous about going, but maybe that’s just my personality. I knew the host, I knew it was just a couple hours. Plus, I would have wanted to do a Friday night thing regardless, and it was a bonus that it wouldn’t be me at some table mentioning “by the way, it’s Shabbat,” and everyone looks at me strangely. So the risk of not knowing anybody was outweighed by the fact that it was a Jewish event.
I’ve hosted many Shabbats before I came to OneTable, so after attending two it was a natural for me to host. My third one is planned for this Friday night, and I am also now a Shabbat coach. What OneTable has changed is that I’m more attentive to décor, making things look a little nicer, and good wine, which always puts people in a good place. And I put a little more thought into how to make people comfortable when they haven’t had as much experience with Shabbat as I have.