Some great community resources are not planned, they’re just born. The Oneg is one of them. A good friend and his family were moving from the outskirts of Kew Gardens Hills to my block. After they moved, he invited me over for a L’chaim one Friday night. It was a great time and I said, “Why don’t you have an Oneg every week?”. And thus “The Oneg” was born.
Every Friday night, this family opens their heart, their house and their kitchen to whoever wants to come by. Some fruit, some cake, some chips and now the weekly Frulent – the Friday night Chulent. And beverages and a L’Chaim for whoever wants. Many people come and don’t partake, and even those who do, it’s very limited and controlled with no one even come close to drunkenness. People come for the people, the comfort, the conversation.
One family comes regularly with the youngest giving over his short weekly Dvar Torah. There are other people who stop by regularly, but many come periodically, whenever it works for them. I personally try to stop by at least once a month, and it’s truly a warm, wonderful place. Whoever wants can say a Dvar Torah, and people have the good sense to keep it short and relevant. We’re not such a singing chevra, so there’s no regular zemiros, but if anybody started, others would quickly join it.
To replicate this it’s good to have a host family where people really feel comfortable coming by. It’s nice that it’s weekly, but monthly would also work. You can rotate homes. If it’s hard to find host homes, then do it in Shul. Every community Oneg will have it’s own feel – and it’s all good! The bottom line is that people have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Shabbos with their friends, after the busy week many of us experience.