Jewish platforms such as OneTable and its offshoot HereFor are catering to changing needs perfectly.
The 2020 High Holidays, like much else in the world right now, are going to be completely different than they’ve ever been before. Jews all around the world are preparing to celebrate either virtually or socially distanced when in person.
OneTable is a national nonprofit that focuses on how young adults (ages 21-39) can connect with Jewish community wisdom, traditions and rituals, specifically based around the Friday night Shabbat dinner table.
OneTable, which bills itself the “AirBnB for Shabbat dinners,” has platform guides to help hosts with planning and promoting their customized dinners. Hosts create online profiles, post their dinners, and can share the dedicated link with whoever they decide to invite.
Approved dinner hosts are eligible for credit to partnered companies for resources such as groceries, food delivery, books and decor to help with costs.
OneTable also connects users with online Jewish resources such as recordings, ritual guides, tips for hosting and more.
With a grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and through the Jewish Community Response and Impact Fund (JCRIF), OneTable launched HereFor, a collaborative platform for people to create their own events, find events and connect with the resources to make the High Holidays possible and fulfilling for them this year.
Al Rosenberg, OneTable’s director of strategy and communications, said that while OneTable will continue supporting young adults for Shabbat during the High Holidays, HereFor focuses specifically on the High Holidays and is aimed toward more than just one age group.
“In addressing some of the current needs in the community, we realized that the High Holidays were coming up very soon,” Rosenberg said. “We wanted to take the wisdom and expertise we had gained over the past six years running OneTable and offer it to the broader community, not just our demographic, for the High Holidays.”
For Passover this year, OneTable created Seder2020.org, and saw about 38,000 people engaged through that platform. Rosenberg and OneTable are hoping to see similar numbers for HereFor.
“It’s not going to be the same as any year previous to now, and so I think there needs to be a lot of room for experimentation and access, so that we can really find the things that make us feel good and make the High Holidays feel meaningful,” Rosenberg said.
HereFor works with more than 50 partners to identify resources for each of the holidays within the holiday season, and is very much a collaboration with JCRIF partners, including Hillel, Reboot, Jewish Emergent Network, Moishe House, Center for Rabbinic Innovation, Hadar, JewBelong and the Institute for Jewish Spirituality.
Lauren Hoffman, who’s been an ambassador of Jewish communal organizations such as Moishe House in the past, has been a OneTable host for just over a year now. Hoffman says the platform is recommending dinner hosts and guests follow necessary precautions.
“They’re trying to encourage their hosts to take the pandemic as seriously as they are,” Hoffman said. “These days you can’t have a big potluck, and they’re encouraging bringing your own food or catering in individual servings, and to only gather outside and at a distance.”
Hoffman, who’s been to Rosh Hashanah seders but has never hosted one before, is hoping to change that this year through HereFor, and is eager to adapt to a High Holidays for the ages.
“Especially this year, because so many of the things that characterize what the High Holidays have looked like in every year prior of my life are no longer acceptable, I’m very interested in finding alternate ways to make some meaning out of this season and to really feel like it’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and Sukkot.”