Get yourself a host that can cook al dente pasta while sipping on some Rosé. 🍷AKA… me.
When I first moved back to Pittsburgh a little over 6 (!!!!) months ago (time truly does fly), I could not have imagined that I would have so many open arms waiting for me. What I also couldn’t imagine is how many new people I would meet as I navigated living on my own & growing my own business. I really wasn’t expecting much new love so quickly, but so many different people crossed my path in the first few weeks of me starting this journey.
One of the first events I attended upon moving back was a OneTable dinner at my new friend Lianne’s house. Growing up with a Jewish mother but being raised Catholic, I wasn’t a stranger to Shabbat dinners & the Jewish culture, from friends & their families’ celebrations to joining a nationally Jewish sorority & attending Shabbat dinners throughout my college experience. However, I was always intimidated by the possibility of messing up a prayer, or doing something wrong during the dinner at some point.
However, my Shabbat experience with Lianne and her circle was nothing what I was imagining, because it was her own Shabbat practices being used to bring people from many different places together & meet over a potluck-style meal. There was wine, laughs & a game of Cards Against Humanity, & I met so many incredible & welcoming people that night, not even a month into me being back in Pittsburgh. OneTable's mission is to empower people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable & valuable. They welcome all religions & cultures to share in that awesome experience.
I was raised learning that food brought people together, & all outside noises were silenced for a night of eating, enjoying, reflecting & resting. This was very evident for me every single Sunday growing up when I went to my Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner, where she made sauce and meatballs from scratch and everyone left their work and outside noise at the door. The only things we focused on were conversations with each other and the meal in front of us.
When I learned I could host my own dinner series with OneTable & discover my own Shabbat practices along the way, I couldn’t say no, especially feeling that I could have the same ability to bring people from many circles of my life together in one room, the exact way Lianne had done in her own home. This also tied into what my Sunday’s were growing up and how there always seemed to be an extra dose of love on Sundays.
I am here to tell you that my experience with Shabbat is a learning one. My initial dinner, and my plan as I love forward with my hosting, is to be mindful and incorporate the elements of community, rest, and gathering into my future dinners. At this time, I am still reflecting on what that will look like and how I will get there, but for now all I know is that I am extremely grateful for my community and circle of people I have met and shared challah with all because of my involvement with OneTable.
In the meantime, here are three things I learned after hosting my first Shabbat:
There is no right or wrong way to do Shabbat.
Shabbat doesn’t have to be difficult; takeout is always an option.
A very important part of my first Shabbat was focusing on self-care.
Planning for my dinner, I knew I wanted to execute the ULTIMATE charcuterie board. So, I headed to Trader Joe’s and Giant Eagle, used some knowledge Mama Iacullo passed onto me as the best hostess with the mostest, and even asked my IG followers for their favorite must-have staples.
In case you’re in need of some board inspo, here’s what I used at my Shabbat:
Italian bread, sliced (I prefer no seeds on mine)
Water crackers / assorted crackers of some kind
I found Parmesan-crusted crispy bread crackers (not sure if this is the official name but this name makes them sound as good as they tasted)
Fruits, such as grapes (I prefer green), cantaloupe, and berries
CHEESES. ALL OF THEM. A good parmesan is probably a must, along with some soft options and a special cheese. I had a truffle gouda on my board and it was a HIT
You really can’t have cheese without meat, aka prosciutto
Olive oil because duh
Spreads, such as eggplant or artichoke
Hot. Pepper. Jelly. Enough said
Round things such as olives and cherry tomatoes
Almonds / other nuts
What are your go-to cheese board items? Are you interested in hosting your own dinner? Want to be invited to my next Shabbat? Ask me all of the questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!