Radically Welcoming You

Written by: Naomi Davis + Lizzy Wallis

Radically Welcoming You

After spending the last few years having Zoom meetings, we’ve become accustomed to sharing and receiving one another’s names and pronouns right next to our faces on screen. This practice of sharing one’s name and pronouns empowers each person to choose how they are ready to show up in the space.

At OneTable, we’ve asked ourselves, “How can we bring this option off of our computer screens and out into the ‘real’ world?”

How can we ensure that each person entering a space has the power, autonomy, and choice to share themselves in whatever way is present and holy for them?

It turns out the answer is surprisingly Jewish! One of our core values at OneTable is hospitality (hachnasat orchim).  Shabbat is an invitation to connect; an antidote to loneliness. Rooted in the foundational texts of Judaism, welcoming guests and being a guest are expressions of radical hospitality that honor the essential value in every human being (kavod ha’briot) and create opportunities for connection in the modern world.

In the same way that we don’t know a person’s name until they tell us, we never know someone’s pronouns (or lack thereof) until they tell us as well. No matter what a person looks like, or how they present, we cannot assume pronouns.

To lean into our core value of radical hospitality, we’ve created a tool that you can use at your dinners to help make each guest (and yourself!) feel a true sense of belonging. In addition to providing name tags for each guest to fill out, we invite you to print and use our welcome sign as a way to greet guests when they walk in the door.

This seemingly simple addition to entering a space serves as an invitation for someone to share their full self. Key word: *invitation*. Sharing pronouns is not a requirement. Every person is on a journey, and there are many reasons someone might not be ready or comfortable in sharing their gender identity. Providing this tool and space allows someone to make that choice for themself.

Welcoming your guests for who they are enhances the experience of your Shabbat for everyone. When people can gather from a place of authenticity, the conversation and connection feel deeper and more real, and it allows the night to be more joyful and elevated as a whole (hint hint: our other 2 core values)!

Friday night is a chance to imagine the world as it could be. Our ideal world includes a space where every person feels seen, celebrated, and affirmed in who they are. Creating that world is an active choice, so let’s do it together. If you put up this sign at your dinner – we’d love to see it! We invite you to take a picture and tag us @onetableshabbat.

Bonus: Name tags are helpful in so many ways, including reducing the stress of needing to remember each and every name in the room.

Enjoy meeting and introducing yourself at your next Shabbat dinner (which you can plan now!)


Written by Naomi Davis (they/them) and Lizzy Wallis (she/they), OneTable Associate Directors, Field Operations.