Guesting Pro-Tips

In 2014, I had just moved to New York City and was looking for Jewish community in Harlem. My friend told me about OneTable and when I checked the app, I was surprised to see someone hosting just a few blocks away from my apartment! My partner and I requested seats, and met the most amazing people over dinner. I signed up to host, and we returned the favor by inviting many of the people we had met plus a few local friends. I invited every new person I met to Shabbat, and added them to my growing Jewish community.

Fast forward to last summer during my capstone project for grad school. I was living in Boulder, CO and didn’t have many local friends or a place to host. Every week, I found a OneTable dinner where I was welcomed like an old friend.

Shabbat dinner unifies us across the globe — no matter where you go , there’s a magical way of being present with one another around the Friday night table. All that said, opening your home to a stranger can be intimidating. As a guest, my biggest tip is to share as much as possible with a potential host so you’re not a stranger by the time you walk through their door. Here are some ways to make it happen seamlessly:

  • Have fun with your bio. Head to ‘Profile Settings’ on your OneTable account to fill out some questions that can help your host get to know if you’ll be the right fit for their table. In your bio, think about including…
    • What do you do? Hobbies?
    • What kind of community are you seeking?
    • What’s your ideal Shabbat?
    • Bonus: upload a photo that shows off a little bit of who you are.
  • Send a note to your potential host about why you chose their dinner, and ask if there’s anything you can bring. 
    • Imagine you overheard someone talking about an awesome Shabbat they were hosting that you would love to go to. IRL, would you just ask if you could go? Or would you say something more like, “Hey, I also love board games and pizza. I just got a new game I could bring, could me and a friend join you?”
  • When you’ve been accepted to a dinner…
    • Arrive on time or message the host if you’re running late.
    • Don’t show up empty handed, wine or flowers are always easy host gifts.
    • DON’T GHOST YOUR HOST! Guest no-shows are the #1 reason hosts don’t continue hosting open dinners. Can’t make it? Things happen. Make sure to let them know as soon as possible.
  • When a table you requested doesn’t work out…
    • If you requested early, you may still have time to find another open seat!
    • If your host didn’t message you a reason, or waited to the last minute to reject, reach out to your local Field Manager. We always want to know what’s working and how it can improve.

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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