Creating a Space (literally) for Shabbat

Summer in Chicago is always a little hectic. The entire city forgets about subzero temperatures and indulges in outdoor concerts, walking on Lake Shore Drive, fireworks at Navy Pier, and WARM WEATHER. We love warm weather.

And in this summer of long days and outdoor seating, I moved into a new apartment. Moving always makes me reassess how I create my space and what I surround myself with. That, and there’s a lot of “what were you thinking” moments while I clean out my closet… black + denim forever. This time, I took a different approach to nesting into my new place. With the help of some friends, favorite podcasts, and The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up, I was able to be really intentional about what was coming into my apartment. As I transitioned to my new space, I was able to reflect on the things that, in the moment, seemed SO IMPORTANT to own and surround myself with – but in the long run, those items didn’t bring me joy. Note to self, the sale section at Target is a quick fix for something new but just creates clutter in my home.

“But how can I take this lesson and apply it to Shabbat dinner?” – I ask myself, as I always do. It doesn’t matter if it’s trying a new restaurant and my brain visualizes how we’d be able to rearrange the tables to fit a group of 30… Or if I’m reading a new book and my thoughts tangent into a discussion group Shabbat dinner book club setting. I. CAN’T. HELP .IT.

Maybe that’s because of my role; it’s DEFINITELY because Shabbat dinner makes my heart happy and I love treating it as a blank canvas for reflection. So sometimes I’m bringing a new game to a dinner table or introducing a new topic of conversation. In this process of moving apartments (again), I have been able to see how my space sets the tone for my day and tells a story to anyone that comes into it. In the case of Shabbat dinner, my goal is for guests to see that I’ve only brought the best things I own into my space; I’ve only moved my favorite items, items with a story. So in the same way I’ve been able to bring only the meaningful things with me in the move, I hope my space allows people to find meaning within themselves. This is why when I saw this apartment, I was hooked immediately by the openness of it; if the space is open, so is the mind.

I have this habit of writing in my journal on the last night of my time in an apartment. It’s cool to re-read my thoughts and remember what home was like at that time in my life. In my first Chicago apartment, I’ll remember forever that the shower was horrible and that it’s where I hosted my first OneTable Shabbat dinner. In my second, I’ll remember that our kitchen was perfect for entertaining and we always had enough seating. As I make my new spot a home, I can already anticipate the way that this space will help me feel centered. I can already feel that it will hard to leave this place, even though that’s not happening anytime soon.

So, some questions for you: If you were to write a letter to the space that you take up on Shabbat, what would you compliment it on? What would you change? Who would be there? What do you want to remember most about your Friday nights?

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