Strengthening Your Connections at Shabbat Dinner

From Friday night dinners throughout his life to his leading role in launching the crowd-funded loan venture SparkIL, read a reflection about Noah Allen’s experiences with connecting and reconnecting around the Shabbat table.

How do you take time to pause?

Who do you need to reconnect with?

What does it mean to welcome the stranger?

Throughout my life, the answer to all three questions has been Shabbat dinner.

Growing up, Shabbat dinner featured guests around my parents’ Friday night table. As a young adult,

it meant socializing with friends. Today, with a family of my own, Shabbat dinners are centered around our community in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood.

Young Adults talking over a shared meal

Through it all, connections have been paramount. But what, exactly, does it mean to connect at Shabbat dinner?

Rather than the rat race of chasing as many reactions as possible on Instagram or Facebook, Shabbat dinner represents a key opportunity to rejuvenate yourself — as well as those around you, both familiar and new faces — by connecting in person. 

While on the surface, Shabbat dinner may have looked different throughout the years, at its core it was very much the same. The theme weaving through each Friday night has been that of connection. As a child, the opportunity for connection was framed by my parents. As I got older, I framed it for myself. Today, my wife and I create it for our family.

A man in Israel packing up a vehicle full of equipment.

Shabbat is a time to take a breath, to let go, to reconnect.

OneTable enables us to spend endless Friday nights laughing, singing, and chatting with the people we cherish the most. At Shabbat dinner, time seems to stand still as the stresses and pressures of the preceding week melt away, even if only for a few hours. In good times or hard times, connecting and reconnecting with your people is an essential source of nourishment for the soul.

Through promoting connection and reconnection, OneTable is working towards precisely the value that has stuck with my Shabbat dinner experience throughout my life. As you sit around your Friday night table with family, friends, and individuals you’re meeting for the first time, you have an indispensable opportunity to reflect on how you can make a meaningful connection in the week to come.

Most recently, the value of connection once again shaped my experience as I played a leading role in the launch of SparkIL, the first peer-to-peer lending platform supporting small business owners in Israel. Through crowdfunded zero interest loans, business owners on the periphery of Israel are getting access to capital at fair terms and lenders are building connections to real people on the ground.

Funding loans through SparkIL speaks to a desire to create a connection with someone who is located thousands of miles away, in Israel, while helping the small business community at the same time. Much like the message behind OneTable and Shabbat dinner in general, it’s all about connections.

Check out the OneTable Tzedakah Shabbat Dinner Guide for more ways to consider others, reflect on how and why we give, and discuss the impact that our actions have in the world.

About SparkIL

Noah Allen is the Director of Marketing and Business Development at SparkIL, a platform for combining Israel engagement and social impact lending. The platform provides a meeting place for peer-to-peer lending focused on social impact investing. Lenders will self-select small businesses and provide them with an interest-free loan.

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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