Turn the Tables: Last Words/First Words

Shabbat offers the perfect time to reflect about the larger issues in our lives and the lives of our neighbors. Through our campaign, Turn the Tables, Repair the World is working to build upon Shabbat’s ritual base to add an additional level of significance. Our Turn the Tables dinners – special meals hosted and attended by individuals across the country (hint: YOU!) – carve out time to raise complex issues that challenge our vision of a just society. Below you will find one of the activities/rituals that can be used to host your own Social Justice Shabbat dinner.

Last Words / First Words


΄ Last Words cards (download PDF below)

΄ Pen and “I am here to ___” printouts, 1 for each guest (optional) (download PDF below)

We believe in setting intentions. With our LAST WORDS/FIRST WORDS activity, we ask you to begin your dinner by reflecting on past tragedies and setting intentions for the discussion.

Over the summer, Iranian American journalist and filmmaker Shirin Barghi created a powerful statement by illustrating last words from people whose lives were cut short due to police and vigilante violence.

Take a moment to pass out the Last Words cards to guests.

Going around the table, ask each guest read their card aloud starting first by sharing the victim’s story and then reading their last words.

Share with guests that by reflecting on the lives and deaths of each of these victims we hope to transform last words of tragedy into first words of intention. Going around the table again, ask each guest to read the last words again and then state their first words of intention for this conversation in a statement: “I am here to ___.”

For example, guests could share “I am here to learn more about racism and injustice.” Or “I am here to confront privilege” or “I am here to observe lives that were lost.”

If it’s ok with your diners, hand out the “I AM HERE TO” printouts and have guests mark their actions in ink.

Turn the Tables is a program created by Repair the World.

Repair the World works to inspire American Jews and their communities to give their time and effort to the causes they are passionate about. We aim to make service a defining part of American Jewish life.
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