Twenty-four-year-old Annie Prusky lives in D.C. and works as the regional manager for OneTable, a national nonprofit that helps young people find and share Shabbat dinners.
“People my age tend to be very disconnected and tech dependent and really looking for a sense of community and OneTable is a platform in which you can find that community,” she says.
Prusky started working for OneTable a week and a half before the pandemic hit, but her days are still plenty busy. When she’s not working, she’s been finding unique ways to celebrate pride during COVID-19.
How would you describe your Jewish background?
I’m from a very Jewish area of the Philly suburbs. I went to Jewish day school K-12. The Jewish community I grew up in was very loving and supportive and not super diverse.
When I got to college, I started learning about the much wider variety of backgrounds that Jews can have. I found that to be really exciting and interesting. That’s what sort of sparked an interest in Jewish community for me.
The Jewish school that I attended for middle school and high school was pluralistic. That was a really amazing way to grow up because it validated lots of different ways of looking at Jewish tradition and texts. I don’t really identify with any particular denomination, so having been raised in a Jewish space that was welcoming and encouraging of that was really wonderful.
What is your role at OneTable?
I’m the point of contact for everyone in the Greater D.C. area with the organization. I’m the person you get emails from and the person you talk to. When we add new local restaurants to the platform, I’m coordinating that. When we have D.C. area events, I’m organizing or facilitating those or helping make them happen. While I live itn D.C. and the plurality of our users are from the D.C. area, I also oversee all of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia.
Could you talk me through a typical day of work during the pandemic?
I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily a typical day of work. There are some things that are usually a part of my day. I spend some time talking to community members in the area. I give my best advice for folks needing help or connecting them to the many resources we have like how to make virtual dinner feel real and meaningful and not just like another work Zoom call. Or how to make Shabbat feel different from the rest of the week when you’re living alone in your apartment and you haven’t seen anyone except through your video screen for two months.
The nice perk about OneTable is that we’ve always been a national organization and so we’re on Slack and we’re on Zoom, we’ve been doing that since before COVID times, so that wasn’t too hard of an adjustment. I spend a lot of my other time planning events based on what I’m hearing from our community and what I’m feeling myself that we need.
Since D.C. is slowly opening up, has that had any effect on OneTable programming?
Yes, always, because our programming changes week to week based on what’s going on. As of this week, we’ve started allowing in-person dinners for people you don’t live with as long as you’re following our social distancingguideline so dinners that are outside, masks on except when you’re eating, six-feet apart and in areas where that’s allowed under local law. For the foreseeable future, we’re keeping all the same options that we had before so people will still be able to do solo dinners and virtual dinners.
Since pride parades have been cancelled, what are you doing to celebrate?
I’ve been making a killer playlist with some of my friends to have a dance party. I’ve heard some rumors about virtual pride, but honestly, being out on the streets and out at protests, while I know the protests aren’t about pride, I think they’re very much in the spirit of pride. As much as I can safely, I really want to be supporting them. That has honestly been a part of observing pride for me.