It is with great sadness that we share the loss of Kasey Passen, aleha ha’shalom, our Associate Director of Hubs, who died tragically this weekend. She was an incredible person who will be dearly missed by the OneTable team and everyone who knew her.
It was clear the first time we spoke on the phone that Kasey would be at home on the OneTable team, almost as if her work in the hospitality industry, her attentiveness to wellness, her openness to spirituality and growth, had been building to this point.
As the Associate Director of Hubs, she was able to use every part of herself to build a Shabbat dinner movement from New York to DC to Atlanta to Colorado, and of course in Chicago. She knew how hard it can be to practice that most deeply rooted Jewish value, hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests. But she also knew hard it can be to approach Judaism as an adult, and she led by example: step by step, always open to learning, serving as a conduit for others to become a part of a Jewish practice that could be personal, authentic, and yes, delicious.
She embodied the best of what Shabbat can be: intentional yet spontaneous, grounded yet reaching for the stars. And what a star she was! She was the first one to dance on the table at our staff retreat and her joy was palpable, infectious. She made us all feel a little bit lighter, a little bit more capable. By being so true to who she was, she inspired all of us to be ourselves, to value ourselves, and to recognize that gathering with food, drinks, and friends just might change someone’s life.
You certainly changed ours, Kasey. We miss you, and will continue to carry on your good work.
Ways to Honor Kasey
Donate to Her Favorite Cause
Kasey cared very deeply about spreading awareness about Lyme Disease. She threw an annual food-as-medicine gala to raise money and educate people. Her family has asked for donations to be made in her memory to Global Lyme Alliance.
In addition to lighting Shabbat candles this Friday night, I am lighting a yartzeit candle in Kasey’s memory. (Yartzeit is Yiddish; yar means year and zeit means time.) In Jewish tradition, these are candles that can burn steadily for at least 24 hours, and are lit during the seven days of shiva, on Yom Kippur and other holidays when the Yitzkor memorial service is held (Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Passover, Shavuot), and on the anniversary of a person’s death. I did not purchase a typical yartzeit candle, rather a brightly colored and scented “woo woo” candle. Go for it. Get a candle Kasey would have loved.
Shabbat and Mourning
Shabbat interrupts the public aspects of shiva, but shiva itself is not annulled and continues after Shabbat. On Shabbat itself, we may dress up, gather with friends, and celebrate Shabbat in Kasey’s honor, the way she would have wanted: delicious food, great conversation, and laughter until we snort. It is also perfectly appropriate to have a quiet Shabbat and to be still in our sadness.