Hosting a Solidarity Shabbat

Written by: Hilary Forrest

Hosting a Solidarity Shabbat

During the week, we lose some of the light in our eyes; it is restored to us by the reflection of light in our kiddush cup on Shabbat.  

—Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 113b

Whether Friday night is a time for you to engage in powerful conversation or take a break from the work of change-making to recharge, the work of racial justice can start — or continue — at your dinner table.


From a thoughtful discussion to letter writing to community care, Shabbat is about envisioning a better world. Here are some ways to help end your week with intention, to restore your energy, to replenish your mind and soul.

A Note on Judaism and Justice: Jewish values can help frame the imperative need to address racism both in and outside of our Jewish communities.

  • Tzedek (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world) highlight direct service and social action locally and beyond.
  • Tikkun ha’nefesh v’olam refers to the repair, balance, and integration of one’s self and soul and the world we are part of. We are encouraged to create a more just and inclusive society whether that be through protest, ritual, meditation, activism, or community organizing.
  • Chesed is radical kindness, the kind that doesn’t have a prompt. Chesed is a way of living through compassion, empathy, and mutual responsibility to Jews and non-Jews alike.

April N. Baskin writes: “We all have a stake and rightful place in the important work of racial justice. And we each have different work to do based upon our position (e.g. social status, identity).”

What grounds you in this work? Let’s use Shabbat to elevate where change begins at our own table…

Talk About It

Real conversations take real work. It’s normal to fear saying the wrong thing — to be vulnerable and to apologize and recover. A difficult conversation can be healthy and productive. Here are some tips for creating a brave space for your guests:

  1. Know who’s in the space. Being white and benefiting from white privilege does not disqualify you from having a voice in the fight. Help amplify the voices of those who face racial inequality so that you can recognize the validity and reality of other experiences.
  2. Hold Yourself Accountable. Identify whatever race-based bias you might implicitly hold. This is okay! We all have implicit biases, and we can work to deconstruct them.
  3. Listen & Learn. Listen to understand and then speak to be understood. Empathy and a willingness to learn go a long way.
  4. Be Yourself. Understanding who you are, your values, and your morals will help guide your journey.
  5. Embrace the discomfort of not knowing. Find out what you don’t know through individual and group learning. If you make a mistake, own it. It will help you grow.
  6. Know that change doesn’t come easy. Through active engagement comes forward progress. A well-intentioned journey against racism is a commitment, not a one-time event.

Here are some more tips on fostering respectful but difficult conversations. Need some help getting started? Try these table topics:

  • Speaking personally: Do you experience a connection between Judaism/Shabbat and social justice? Can you speak about a time when you felt compelled to act because of your Jewish values?
  • “So much depends upon us and our intention. 
All of those intentions fill the Kiddush cup to overflowing — 
they are the moments of brokenness that we bring from the week that has passed. They are gathered into the cup of blessing, and they are lifted up in the moment of Kiddush.” — Dr. Eitan Fishbane
  • Shabbat can hold both blessing and brokenness. What struggles or challenges are in your cup this week?
  • The Talmud teaches, “One who saves a single life saves the entire world.” How does this relate to solidarity and how one shows up for justice? 
  • Complete the Jewish Multiracial Network’s Privilege ChecklistHow did it make you feel?

Share resources & amplify Black voices

Invite your guests to include poems, songs, prayers, art, etc., that either celebrate the work of Black artists or speak about racial healing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • OneTable’s In Solidarity Around the Shabbat Table resource, curated with the help of Repair the World and April N. Baskin.
  • Dear White America by Danez Smith | A sprawling testimony to the effects of racial violence in the U.S. that engages the audience in a wake-up call and an indictment of the country’s systems that have enabled violence against Black people.
  • D.I.D. (Dissociative Identity Disorder) By Ikysha Jones | A spoken word poet, jewelry maker, and artist,  Ikysha Jones has spoken at several Black Lives Matter protests. At a rally in Penn Park on June 8, Jones recited this original poem.
  • What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black by Margaret Burroughs | A story that describes the fear that Black women experience as they brought children into the world and were mothers during the 1960s.
  • Black Lives Matter: A Prayer from T’ruah |Rabbi Menachem Creditor seeks to relieve the polarization, division, and hate between communities calling Black Lives Matter a statement that should bring us together.
  • Equality by Maya Angelou | How are Black women seen and treated in the eyes of men? The call for an end to gender and racial inequality.

Use your Nourishment at a Black-owned restaurant

OneTable is working to ensure that you can spend your Nourishment at Black-owned businesses, and we encourage you to support local eateries in your community. Using an app like EatOkra or EatBlackOwned, you can locate Black-owned restaurants near you.

Read, Learn & Self-Educate

Shabbat can be a time for reading and reflection on how to create change. There are so many anti-racist readings to dig into. With that in mind, OneTable is now offering these books as Nourishment credit when you post a OneTable dinner:

  • How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi (digital copy), which weaves together personal narrative with action items on how to fight anti-Black racism
  • My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem, which examines white body supremacy from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology
  • The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, the James Beard Foundation Book of the Year by Michael Twitty traces his ancestry–both Black and white–through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Donate to/share a cause that is meaningful to you  

While it may not seem intuitive to connect tzedakah and Shabbat, the idea of tzedakah — that the Jewish people are commanded to behave righteously — is intrinsically linked to the practice of Shabbat, stopping on the seventh day. At its core, tzedakah is more than charitable giving, although giving is a huge part of its meaning. Tzedakah is about the tension between privilege and action, the value of our money and our time, and the notion that we are, in a very real way, connected to the most vulnerable people in our society and in the world. Shared Shabbat dinners (even virtual ones) can create a collective effort to bring good. Learn more here, then check out some ideas of where to give a gift below.

  • Jews of Color Equity Challenge is a mutual aid fund and mental health network for Jews of Color
  • The National Black Food and Justice Alliance is focused on food justice issues and building Black power over land and food production while pursuing initiatives like restorative justice.
  • Fund Racial Justice promotes economic relief to organizations combating police brutality and racial injustice and assists protestors and small Black businesses.
  • Equal Justice Initiative works to remedy the problems of mass incarceration by providing representation to those who have been unfairly sentenced
  • BEAM works to remove barriers that Black people experience when getting access to emotional health care and healing

Write to your local representatives and sign petitions …

…about issues in your own community. You can find your federal, state, county, and local elected representatives here, and has many petitions related to justice for Black lives. Color of Change has information about issues including the criminal justice system, income inequality, and disparities.

There is a realm of time where the goal is not to have but to be, not to own but to give, not to control but to share, not to subdue but to be in accord. Life goes wrong when the control of space, the acquisition of things of space, becomes our sole concern.

– Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath