Registration for Winter 2020 Shabbat Clusters is now open!
We are so excited to celebrate our 20th year of Shabbat Clusters! This winter, we are offering virtual and in-person Shabbat options with alternative ways to celebrate Shabbat beyond gathering for a meal. We are also looking forward to celebrating our 20th anniversary in the spring
Keep connected to your community and make new friends during our first season of Winter Clusters. Light candles and join themed small group Shabbat gatherings every two weeks. Stay cozy inside by joining a virtual Cluster, or start the season with an in-person Cluster and bring blankets and hot cocoa to the park or hang by the firepit on your group member’s rooftop. We will have Hanukkah, Chinese and a Movie, Jews Around the World, Blast from the Past and more themes.
Groups are formed by age and neighborhood and sometimes interests and you can request to be placed with friends or significant others
Winter 2020 Shabbat Clusters 1st Round Deadline: November 27*
* We will accept applications on a rolling basis after this date.
What are Shabbat Clusters?
Interested in joining a community for Shabbat, but don’t have a place to go? Want to meet new people? Shabbat Clusters create community by gathering people by their interests and neighborhoods to eat and celebrate Jewish life together. Over 20 years of Shabbat Clusters, thousands of young adults have participated. Our spring 2020 session saw a record 475 participants!
In the News
Learn more about Shabbat Clusters from past participants!
Due to COVID-19, the upcoming session of Shabbat Clusters will be a little bit different than past years. Read on for more information!
How are Shabbat Clusters different this season?
- There are two Shabbat Cluster tracks to choose from: Virtual group OR in-person outdoor group.
- Smaller group sizes: If your Cluster is meeting in-person, groups will be 10 or fewer people and will meet outdoors only (if the weather is bad, you can move to virtual format). Clusters will follow CDC guidelines by maintaining 6 feet of distance and will wear masks at all times. Virtual Clusters will most likely be 10-14 people.
- Clusters will meet every two weeks from September to November: To keep our community members connected, we will offer programming every two weeks instead of monthly; groups will meet for 3 months instead of 6 months. We will reassess groups for the winter based on CDC guidelines and weather.
- There will be set dates and suggested themes for Clusters, but each will group will determine what works best for them. Shabbat Clusters has traditionally been a potluck-style dinner program; to address concerns that some community members may not be comfortable eating in-person with their group even if everyone brings their own meal and that it can sometimes be difficult to engage in community virtually around food, we will provide alternative Shabbat themes and activities if your group decides to not center their experience around sharing a Shabbat meal together. Shabbat Cluster gatherings will begin with lighting candles, prayers for wine and bread, and group members sharing their highlight of their week.
What will not change?
- Opportunities for community and connection (and a chance to meet your new best friend, significant other, or roommate).
- Cluster groups will be led by a coordinator or co-coordinators who will get to know you and send more information about when your group will gather.
- Similar Cluster groups may come together for Shabbat gatherings.
- Commitment from our community members to the program and their peers.
- Nourishment options from OneTable, a community non-profit and social platform to elevate your Shabbat experience if your group chooses to post their Shabbat Cluster gathering.
Q: Does our group have to meet on Fridays nights for potlucks?
A: We want you to connect to Shabbat and your community however you feel most comfortable. In the past, groups have had Shabbat lunch on Saturday afternoon, done an activity after Friday night dinner, or had dinners at a restaurant. For the Fall 2020 session, due to COVID-19, groups may meet virtually at times other than Friday nights.
Q: What is the difference between a Shabbat Cluster and an Interest Shabbat Cluster?
A: A few seasons ago we introduced Interest Shabbat Clusters. If you would like to meet people with similar interests this is a great option for you. In the past, interest groups have included couples (including interfaith couples), outdoors, arts, community service, foodies, and LGBTQ community members. We encourage our interest groups to meet outside of Shabbat potlucks either virtually or for outdoor socially-distanced activities.
Q: How will I know when my Shabbat cluster meets?
A: Each Cluster is assigned a Cluster Coordinator who will contact the group and help plan details for each meal.
Q: Do I have to attend all of the meals?
A: It is okay if you can’t attend every meeting, but it is encouraged!
Q: What does it cost me?
A: There is a small administrative fee to register for Shabbat Clusters. If this fee would prevent you from signing up, please get in touch.
Q: Can I sign up for my friend/partner/spouse?
A: Each individual person must have a separate registration form.
Q: Can I be placed in a cluster with my friends or significant other?
A: We would love to put you in a cluster with your friend! There is a section in the registration form to request this. Please make sure that both of you fill this out in order for the request to be considered. We will do our best to fulfill all requests.
Q: Oops! It’s a day after the deadline and I forgot to sign up! Can I still be in a cluster?
A: The deadline ensures we will have enough time to organize the groups before the program begin. If there is still space in a group, we will try our best to place you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about rolling registration.
“I realize I got extremely lucky with my group, because we all got along and continued to meet once a month for Shabbat dinners over the course of the year. As the year progressed, we gathered for more than just Shabbat. We hosted Hanukkah parties, Passover seders, and Yom Kippur break fasts. Even when the Clusters program was over, we continued to meet and our social circles all began to merge.
Soon our cluster expanded beyond just our group and began to include friends of friends and significant others until it was just a group of friends gathering together – as it is today.
Shabbat Clusters introduced me to some of my closest friends, Jewish life in DC, and helped this new kid in town feel at home in a new city. ” – Caryn
“It wasn’t until the final meeting of that Cluster, which Dan and I hosted in our apartment, and fortunately decided to go all out with two kinds of soup, chicken, and a whole mess of sides. It was a great way to send off the Cluster. A girl named Juliet made an appearance as well, after being unable to make it to the previous meetings. I sat across from her at dinner, and made sure I got her phone number to ask her out later on. We got married in August 2015 and six of the friends we met at Clusters were in attendance at our wedding. We’ll be forever grateful to have found each other, albeit a few months late, and great friends at a Shabbat Cluster.”- Daniel