A Global Experience Around the Shabbat Table

A Global Experience Around the Shabbat Table

Every Friday night, Jews all over the world gather for Shabbat dinner. It’s a tradition that is both deeply personal — a meal shared around a table with family and friends — and powerfully universal — a ritual that bonds Jews across millennia and continents.

On September 13th, JDC Entwine and OneTable brought young Jews in eight cities together to embrace both aspects with a Global Shabbat Experience. At dozens of tables in spaces in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Richmond, Melbourne, Portland, and Seattle, 450 participants gathered to connect to the global Jewish community through food, ritual, and stories.

Some of the guests came to the potluck as friends, while many were strangers, but over the course of Shabbat, everyone grew closer. Each table had a distinctive energy, its organizer putting their own personal spin on the Shabbat potluck with a unique and engaging theme. In New York, a table of barbecue enthusiasts sat comfortably next to a group of West Coast transplants. Yet all of the guests were united in their passion to connect to the larger Jewish community, and each table had one thing in common: Entwine’s Global Shabbat Toolkit.

The Global Shabbat Toolkit — a boxed set of Shabbat resources created by Entwine — was the focal point of the event, both thematically and literally: Included in the striking yellow box is a centerpiece highlighting Shabbat experiences all over the world, from Rwanda to Argentina to China. The kit also includes candles, cocktail recipes with global flavor (designed by Gefilteria), and a deck of question cards, perfect for icebreakers and spurring discussion. Perhaps the most special piece is the challah cover, each one lovingly hand-crafted by the Jewish women’s group in Havana. (For one table of Jews with Cuban roots, it was a particularly moving connection to their own shared heritage.)

As the evening drew to a close, many of the guests lingered, enjoying the conversations and camaraderie of new friendships. “From the magical room set-up, to the logistics and organization before the event, to the details of boarding passes and global Shabbat kits — Entwine really created a beautiful evening for all the guests,” one attendee said. Whether it was the personal connections, or the connection to something much larger, people weren’t quite ready to leave.

But one of the many other beautiful things about the ritual of Shabbat is that it happens every week, and with it comes another chance to spend time with loved ones or new friends. That’s why the Global Shabbat Toolkit is available, free, for those who want to bring the experience — and the global Jewish community — into your own home.  You can sign up to receive your own free Global Shabbat Toolkit by clicking here.

We’d love to hear how you use the Global Shabbat Toolkit! Did you host your own potluck? Throw a picnic? Organize a weekly gathering based on each of the featured countries? Tell us on social using the hashtag #globalshabbat.