A brave new year to… Invite me for Shabbat dinner

By Kristy Evans

I’m hoping for a brave new year to Friday Night table hop. (Disclaimer: That probably sounds really weird.)

What I actually mean is that I want to visit, eat, drink, dance(?) at as many Friday night tables as possible this upcoming year. Clearly, I’m not observant — which gives me the opportunity to even contemplate doing this.

But, my reason for wanting this is that I have a lot of ‘in-person’ connecting to do. And this is my strategy.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve done way too many ‘not in person’ Zoom calls in the last six months. During these calls, I’ve often had to make very difficult and serious decisions with regards to our community alongside some unbelievable people. These have not been easy meetings. There has been lots of laughter. And many, many tears (not just by me).

One thing all of my Zoom meetings have had in common is the caliber of people who I have had the privilege of working alongside. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked at the UJC for the last six years — and I have unbelievable staff members, lay leaders and volunteers. But the last six months has forced me (and the entire community) who has tended to work in silos, to come together and survive one of the most difficult times in recent history — and it was only possible in collaboration.

I can tell you something without a shred of doubt — those that have been involved in steering our communal ‘ship’ (especially during the last six months) are the most dedicated, passionate, hard working individuals I have ever met. I can’t tell you the number of late nights, Sundays etc. that I have been on calls, hosted webinars, looked at PPE quotes and COVID expense sheets, prepared community ‘update’ mailers. I also can’t tell you the number of children, wives, husbands, cats, dogs that have made ‘appearances’ in these meetings.

I have seen into the homes of colleagues who I probably never would have gotten the chance to before. I know what mugs people drink their tea out of. I know what art is hanging, whether you’re a ‘plant person’ or not, and what color you paint your walls.

So, for my brave New Year, all of you whose homes I have ‘virtually’ been in over the last six months… I’m coming over! And instead of waving to your spouse, child, cat as they whizz by the screen, I’d like to share a meal. I’d like to eat, drink, laugh (hopefully not cry) over a glass of wine and breaking of bread. Because there is a time to work hard with our heads down and our cameras on, and there is a time for cameras off and to look at each other, and maybe even share a hug.

So the answer is ‘yes’. All you have to do is invite me.

L’chaim to 5781 — we’ve got this!

Kristy Evans is the Canadian-born, Metis-tribe descended, Jewish-converted Director of Strategy and Operations at the United Jewish Campaign. She has lived in Cape Town for 20 years — so no, she’s not on holiday. But yes, she does love Cape Town and plans on staying.

Click here to read the other Brave new year to… opinion pieces in this year’s Rosh Hashana theme.

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