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June 20, 2022 9:07 am

Survey Shows Jewish Young Adults Crave Shabbat Dinner as Chance to Connect

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Shabbat candles. Photo: Olaf.herfurth via Wikimedia Commons. – Planning a Shabbat dinner? Invite some young adults, they’re likely to say yes.

That’s one of the takeaways in a survey conducted on behalf of OneTable, a non-profit founded to support people in their 20s and 30s who want to share the beauty of a Shabbat meal together.

According to the survey, participants sign up for a OneTable Shabbat dinner to have both a Jewish experience and a chance to connect with their peers and build a community.

OneTable Shabbats are offered in about 20 cities across the United States. Participants can connect through the organization’s website, which also has plenty of advice on how to mark Shabbat, although it is up to individual hosts and participants as to how they celebrate.

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To that end, the survey noted that 71 percent of participants enjoyed challah as part of their meal, 69 percent said blessings, and 63 percent lit Shabbat candles.

The survey found that some 40 percent of young Jews who participated in OneTable said they didn’t have a regular way to mark Shabbat before signing up for a meal. After participating, however, the survey found they were more likely to engage in Shabbat celebrations. Some 75 percent of OneTable participants said they are celebrating Shabbat when they otherwise wouldn’t.

Further, the survey found that participation in OneTable spurs additional interest in Jewish life and practice as about one in four participants said they’ve adopted new practices since attending their first OneTable Shabbat and nearly one in three have sought out new Jewish organizations or communities.

Some 2,000 young adults participated in the survey, “Craving Connection: Researching OneTable’s Impact,” which was conducted last winter by Benenson Strategy Group. Among the other findings:

  • Some 60 percent of participants are women.
  • 90 percent identify as Jewish, with those identifying as Reform accounting for 27 percent of participants, 25 percent identify as “just” Jewish, and 19 percent said they are Conservative.
  • OneTable serves a racially diverse spectrum of the Jewish community as 23 percent said they are not “white only.”
  • Nearly a third did not have a bar or bat mitzvah growing up and about half did not mark Shabbat in their homes growing up.

“Young adults, in particular, want the powerful social and emotional components of a peer Shabbat dinner and the Jewish experiences. To many participants, they are intrinsically tied together,” said Aliza Kline, co-founder and CEO of OneTable. “These findings can inform how we all think about engaging young people in meaningful ways that add value and support to their lives.”

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