Accessibility + Mindfulness at Your Table

Written by: Naomi Davis + Lilli Stordeur

Accessibility + Mindfulness at Your Table

Hi everyone! Lilli (she/her) and Naomi (they/them) here. We’re OneTable’s New York Field Manager and Associate Director of Field, respectively!

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 has fostered a partnership for OneTable in New York with Adaptations, a group that supports neurodivergent Jewish young professionals.

From our experience as OneTable Field Team members 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 about 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, fire pit, 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 of every human being. It creates opportunities for connection in the modern world. Be warm and 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: 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 OneTable’s Associate Director of Field 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.