Extending the Table

Does Shabbat Dinner as a Spiritual Practice Increase Social Connectedness?

Last year, OneTable, through our partnership with CASJE (Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education) at George Washington University, was awarded a research grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to study Shabbat dinner and human flourishing. We are now inviting you to participate in this research project to help us learn more.

Sounds cool, right?! If so, keep reading for answers to some frequently asked questions. You will find information about how you can get involved and who to speak with if you still have questions.

It’s important to us that you are well-informed and feel comfortable about being part of the study so we have a lot of details to share! Like, a lot of details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is this study about?

This study is about Shabbat dinner and well-being.

It’s an experiment, which means people who choose to participate will be randomly assigned to be part of a gathering that offers a variation on a typical OneTable Shabbat dinner.

When is this happening?

Sign up now for gatherings that run January 12 – April 16.

Your gathering can be on a Friday or the following Tuesday (four days later). We will let you know 2 – 3 weeks before your gathering so that you can update your schedule and let your guests know. You will be emailed to let you know which condition you’ve been placed in, and your dinner description will be updated on the backend so that you can keep track and your guests stay informed.

Why is OneTable involved in this study?

At OneTable, we care deeply about the well-being of our community. We want to understand how the work we do of making Shabbat dinner accessible to more people may or may not make a difference in everyday lives. This study will help us better understand how Shabbat dinner matters in your life. We will use what we learn to improve our program, and share our learning with other Jewish, interfaith, and civic groups that care about building community.

Who else is involved in this study and part of the research team?

The study is a partnership between CASJE at George Washington University and OneTable. The research team is led by Dr Arielle Levites at George WashingtonUniversity.

  • GW affiliated team members include Dr. Jordan Lawson and Naomi Gamoran.
  • Julia Logan Labow, Pammie Shapiro, and Anne Prusky, who are employees of OneTable, are also affiliates of George Washington University and are conducting research on behalf of the University.
  • Additionally, Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad (BYU), Dr Adam Cohen (ASU), Dr Gage Gorsky (Stanford), and Dr. Hollen Reischer (University of Buffalo) are part of the research team but will not have access to any individual or identifying data about you.

Who is funding this study?

This study is funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation . Additional support for the project is provided by the Jewish Federations of North America’s BeWell Initiative.

If I decide to participate, what will I be asked to do?

This study involves an experiment, which means people who choose to participate will be randomly assigned to be part of a gathering that offers a variation on a typical OneTable Shabbat dinner. You can choose to participate as either a host or a guest. You can only participate in this experimental gathering once.

Some people will be asked to participate in a gathering that seems like a fairly ordinary OneTable Shabbat dinner. Some people will be asked to participate in a gathering that is more unusual and might include gathering on a Tuesday night and/or a gathering without any food served. Pretty weird, we know.

You won’t get to choose which variation you are part of, instead, your group will be assigned to one of the variations at random. You will be told one to two weeks in advance what kind of gathering you will be attending.

You will also be asked to fill in three surveys.

More details can be found in the consent form. You will need to submit a signed consent form to participate in the study.

Can I invite my regular guests or will I have to host strangers? And how many people do I need to have?

As the host, you will host as you normally would. So, if you’d like to host a private dinner and just have your regular guests, amazing. If you want to host a host approval dinner, also amazing, and, like usual, you’ll be able to say yes or no to folks.

Your guests must consent to be included in the experiment for the one gathering you’re hosting as part of the study.

A note — in order to host a gathering included in the study, it will need to be you + at least two guests (so, a minimum of three people).

What kinds of information about me will the research team collect and what risks are there for privacy and confidentiality?

The research team will collect data using three short surveys that ask about you, your attitudes, well-being and relationship with others, and the gathering you participated in.

The research team will use your primary OneTable email to communicate with you and to link all of your information.

The information linked to your primary email includes: if you signed your consent form as host or guest, if you submitted your three survey responses, your group and the kind of gathering you participated in, OneTable participation, and if you received your incentives payments.

You can find out more important details about the data the research team will collect and what they will do to protect your privacy and confidentiality in the consent document. You must submit a signed consent document to participate.

Will I be paid?

Yes, if you choose to participate you will receive two small incentive payments:

  1. After you submit the second survey (48 hours before your gathering) you will receive a “nourishment” payment through OneTable in the form of an emailed gift card from our nourishment catalog. Most participants will receive $5 nourishment dollars, but if you were assigned to a variation with no food you will receive $15 nourishment dollars. (You know we don’t want you to go hungry!)
  2. After you submit the third survey (48 hours after your gathering), you will receive a $15 Amazon gift card from the CASJE/GW research team. All participants who submit the third survey will receive the same amount, no matter which variation they were in.

Do I have to do this?

Nope. Not at all. Participating in this study is entirely voluntary. And, even if you start out in the study, you can decide to end your participation at any time.

I want to participate: What do I need to do next?

If you would like to participate you will need to carefully read the consent document from the research team and submit a signed consent form. The consent document includes important details about the study, what you will be asked to do, any risks to you, and who to speak with about questions or concerns. You will also let us know if you would like to participate as a host or guest and confirm your OneTable primary email address. Once the research team has your signed form, you will receive further instructions via your OneTable primary email.

I am interested, but I still have more questions. Who can I speak with?

  • If you have general questions about the study itself you can reach out to either Julia Logan Labow (julialogan@onetable.org) or Arielle Levites (alevites@gwu.edu).
  • If you have specific questions about privacy or confidentiality please reach out to Arielle Levites (alevites@gwu.edu).
  • If you have concerns about your rights as a human subject please be in touch with the IRB at George Washington University at telephone number 202-994-2715 or by email at ohrirb@gwu.edu.