How Shabbat dinner led to The Jewish Planner

As a OneTable host, I found the joy and grounding power of a weekly Shabbat practice. I also became more curious about the Jewish calendar’s other wisdom for marking time throughout the seasons. My grad school classmate and I hatched the idea to create a planner based on the Hebrew calendar that had nuggets of wisdom spaced throughout. In my research for the planner, I discovered many special Shabbats throughout the year that I never knew about before. I feel like these Shabbats are an awesome opportunity for fun and creative OneTable dinners, and there’s a bunch coming up in the next month.  If you want more nuggets like this, check out my Kickstarter for the Jewish Planner and pre-order yours for 5780 today!

Leading up to Passover, there’s five special Shabbats:

  • Shabbat Shekalim happens on the last Shabbat before the month of Adar (or in a leap year Adar II). This year, Shabbat Shekalim is on Friday March 1st! The biblical reading for this Shabbat talks about the requirement for every Israelite to contribute half a shekel to the community fund for repairs of the temple.
    This is a good opportunity to host a Shabbat
    giving circle, ask every guest to bring $18 to give to a cause, and bring information on a charity they love. Spend time over dinner discussing how to use your collective funds to best repair the world.


  • Shabbat Zachor, or Shabbat of Remembrance. This is the Shabbat just before Purim, this year it falls on March 15th. This Shabbat is a solemn reminder that there is evil in the world, the story of Amalek is read, and a few days later we read the scroll of Esther, when Amalek’s descendant, Haman, will again try to wipe out the Jewish people. It’s a serious Shabbat in a month of levity, laughter, and joy… a reminder that there is still evil we must work to eradicate.
    The best way I know to fight evil in the world is to put out more love — host an open dinner this week (
    check out the Open Your Table guide) to welcome someone you don’t know. Acts of kindness have a way of creating ripples in the world.


  • Shabbat Parah, or Shabbat of the red heifer, occurs in the last week of the month of Adar, this year on March 29th.  This Shabbat is about cleansing the self in preparation for Passover. After imbibing on Purim, this is a great chance for a wellness Shabbat, perhaps order from sweetgreen and offer a tea-tasting after dinner with herbal chamomile and lavender to help your guests digest and transition to a healthy night’s sleep.

  • Shabbat ha’Chodesh occurs on April 5th, which is also Rosh Chodesh Nissan (the start of the new month).  Check out our At The Well partnership for ideas for your Rosh Chodesh Shabbat!


  • Shabbat ha’Gadol, the Great Shabbat, is the Friday night immediately before Passover. There are some special readings for this Shabbat, but in my house this is the great bread-baking / carb-loading Shabbat. It’s time to use up all that flour so we can spend the next week cleaning out the cabinets. I love to use Passover as a reason for spring cleaning. On April 12th I’ll be making tons of challah with copious dip options and sending home any leftovers with guests.  

If these Shabbat ideas are exciting to you and you’re ready to learn more about how you can make your Fridays special all year round, post your next OneTable dinner and back The Jewish Planner on Kickstarter to get your copy by August.

Amanda was the JOFEE fellow for OneTable, bringing food justice, sustainability, and Jewish food values to the Shabbat dinner table. Amanda has a Master’s in Experiential Education and Jewish Cultural Arts from GW. This position was made possible by a grant from The Morningstar Foundation and the United Jewish Endowment Fund of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, through Hazon’s JOFEE fellowship program.

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