REALITY Nosh: A delicious way to build community

Lana Alman is an ROI Community member, OneTable host, and people connector. From Chile to China, Lana has visited global Jewish communities around the world, and loves to bring people together from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Lana is originally from Tiraspol, Moldova and speaks Russian, Spanish, English and Portuguese. After attending DC’s first REALITY Nosh, she shared her photographs and thoughts on Shabbat, community building, and the REALITY Experience.

A cooking class at a local Italian restaurant, a communal meal, and some of the brightest and most talented minds around DC were the main ingredients at DC’s first REALITY Nosh: Shabbat. REALITY Experience is a Schusterman Foundation initiative that brings young changemakers from around the globe on transformative journeys through Israel to ignite their passion for repairing the world. In a collaborative partnership, OneTable and the Schusterman Foundation brought together REALITY alumni, their friends, and significant others for an evening of community building, Italian food, and conversation.

We gathered at Via Umbria, a local Italian restaurant in Georgetown that seeks to create community around the love for all things Italian. Huddled around cooking stations to prepare a meal together was the perfect way to break the ice. As we chopped the ingredients for the mushroom salad, and took turns whisking the eggs for the custard, chatter and conversation filled the room. Common connections through social entrepreneurship, previous trips to Israel and upcoming partnerships with local organizations were some of the conversation topics.

The candles were lit, the challah was blessed, and the wine was served. Shabbat had arrived. The week’s stress and worries were left behind and a time to rest, eat, and reflect set in. As the clinking of glasses and the sounds of knives and forks set the background tone, conversation continued to flow. REALITY participants, some of whom were not Jewish and celebrated their first Shabbat in Israel, shared their experiences. Emily Renzelli, REALITY Forbes Under 30 participant, described her first Shabbat in Israel as a feeling of home. To her, Shabbat symbolizes family, building community, and nourishing the soul. Isabella Martinez, REALITY Adelante participant, was part of a journey that focused on the commonalities between Israel and the Americas. Isabella left her career in accounting to establish NetWings, an organization that exposes youth to cross cultural experiences by attending prestigious conferences abroad. Taking a creative approach to fundraising, Isabella asked her former accountant colleagues, who constantly travel to client sites, to donate their frequent flyer miles in support of the first NetWings trip. REALITY Sport alumna, Bethany Henderson, runs D.C. SCORES, a local nonprofit that creates educational opportunities for kids through sports and art. Most recently, Bethany was named Washington Business Journal Executive Director of the Year. These were just a few of the inspiring stories that we heard throughout the evening, which will hopefully serve as the foundation for future REALITY Shabbat gatherings.

Whether in Jerusalem or Georgetown, community building in the Jewish tradition is what OneTable and the Schusterman Foundation do best. Gathering individuals who commit to a common goal or interest takes time and nurturing, however the benefits are insurmountable. As the old saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and the synergies created in a community lead to results far more powerful than any one of us can achieve on our own. In a transient city like D.C., community can be hard to build, as people constantly come and go for projects, career opportunities, and higher degrees. I am grateful to the Schusterman Foundation and OneTable for giving us a feeling of home and a sense of belonging. Community is food for the soul, and whether we’re searching for a place to bring our energy or already energizing the world, doing it with the support of others is much more powerful than going at it alone.

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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