Accessibility + Mindfulness at Your Shabbat Table

by Naomis Davis and Lilli Stordeur

Hi everyone! Lilli (she/her) and Naomi (they/them) here. We’re your New York and Miami Field Managers, respectively!

Lilli, New York Field Manager (above) and Naomi, Miami Field Manager (below), authors of Accessibility + Mindfulness at Your Shabbat Table
Lilli, New York Field Manager (above) and Naomi, Miami Field Manager (below)

Naomi is on OneTable’s accessibility roundtable,* work that is near and dear to their heart as their brother is on the autism spectrum. Lilli is currently fostering a partnership for OneTable in New York with Adaptations, a group that supports neurodivergent Jewish young professionals. 

From our experience as Field Managers and as humans navigating the world (in our 20s!), we’re learning that the more accessible and inclusive we make our tables, the more we’re elevating the holiness of Shabbat. So now, we’re here to have conversations around how to make gatherings more inclusive + accessible. 

We rounded up our best tips and tricks for you:

1. Slow down…be mindful

Shabbat connection: Shabbat is about shifting gears away from productivity and into mindfulness. Make sure you aren’t rushed when you’re posting your Shabbat dinner on our platform. 

Ideas for putting this into practice:

  • Did you check off the wheelchair accessibility box? Are you all sitting at a table, firepit, or on the floor? Let your guests know what to expect so everyone is comfortable there, from the minute they sign up until they leave after Shabbat.
  • Plan your menu a few days in advance so you have enough time to accommodate specific allergies and dietary restrictions.
  • Ask your guests intentional RSVP questions to find out if they have any additional needs that might need to be addressed, such as dietary restrictions, or anything else that a host might need to know about.

2. Don’t make assumptions…ask questions

    • Shabbat connection: Rooted in the foundations of Judaism, welcoming guests is an expression of radical hospitality that honors the essential value in every human being, and creates opportunities for connection in the modern world. Be warm, welcoming, and lead with curiosity — before, during, and after Shabbat!
    • Ideas for putting this into practice: 
      • Have name tags and invite the use of pronouns so that guests can show up authentically. 
      • Connect a new person in the room to a friend they might have something in common with, so that they aren’t left alone upon walking in if they don’t know anyone. 
      • Make sure your dinner description and pre-event communications prepare folks for what to expect at the event, so they come prepared accordingly. 

3. Make sure to check in!

    • Shabbat connection: Needs evolve and change over time. Where are we at right now and how can we best be available, adapt, and support one another?
    • Ideas for putting this into practice: 
      • Before: Did you write an RSVP question that asks guests if they have any accessibility needs?
      • During: At the dinner, check in privately with guests and/or hosts and see if they need anything else to make them more comfortable. 
      • After: Feel free to reach out to folks and find out if there’s anything that could be improved for next time.

For more information, check out these Mindfulness + Unplugging Shabbat Resources.

OneTable is on a journey and on a mission to provide resources and tools to make our Shabbat dinners (and yours) as accessible as possible — we want to hear from you! Do you have a story you want to share about what has made you feel welcome and included in different community spaces? Share it with your Field Manager

*accessibility roundtable: A cross-departmental working group of OneTable staff members that meets regularly to discuss and implement accessibility improvements for OneTable users, both online and in-person, as well as auditing and improving our accessibility offerings internally. 

About the Authors:

Naomi Davis (they/them) is the Miami Field Manager and has been on the OneTable team since 2021. 

Lilli Stordeur (she/her) is OneTable’s New York Field Manager and has been on the OneTable team since 2020.

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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