When I moved overseas in my 20s, I willed myself to start having Shabbat dinners. I knew that repetitive action changes behavior, and I wanted to get better at creating community.
There was only one (admittedly big) challenge: There often weren’t many Jewish people in the places I was living.
Faced with the choice between isolation and community, I chose to start a practice of inviting non-Jewish people to the Shabbat table.
My first one was in Kabul, Afghanistan with my Ethiopian, Sudanese, French, and Israeli colleagues.
This practice is one of many surprising and significant consequences of my living in small communities in developing countries around the world for years.
My daughter’s birth added another layer to my Shabbat. I never wanted her to feel unlucky to be Jewish, or associate being Jewish with being alone and isolated.
And so I’ve strengthened and continued this practice of inviting non-Jewish people to Shabbat in order to create and share joy.
Shabbat gives us a structure to create community.
This is such a relief, because it’s tough to think of ways to grow your community on your own. We all are looking for ways to “show up” for one another—what if you let your Shabbat invitations be one of those ways?
Over the years, my family and I have had such interesting, deep Shabbat experiences with our non-Jewish friends.
They always leave our Shabbat having had a firsthand positive experience with Judaism, which builds peace and understanding in a world that could always use more of it.
In the comments, tell me: Have you ever invited non-Jews to your Shabbat table? Why or why not?