I wrote about Naomi Chana's shidduch that it was a wonderful instance of community building, and I was kidding. Though now that I think about it, there is no better way to build a community than to hook up community members so that they marry and maybe even have children together. It's a good way to get nice people to stay in your area. But that is not what I generally mean by "community building." It would be kind of like my mother, who through the many years that I was single used the words "social life" exclusively to mean "finding a husband," no matter how many times I misunderstood her.
In fact, inviting people to your Sabbath table is one of the best ways to build your Jewish community. Especially if you actually invite people to your home. I know that potlucks or catered oneg shabbat meals can make people feel close to one another. Nevertheless I find that inviting people into your messy house helps you to convey the idea that you want to get to know them. Even if they think it's weird that you are eating tofu instead of a cholent full of flanken. Even if you are religious and they are not. Not everyone wants to be proselytized to be Jewish in the way that you are, but they do want to be proselytized to nosh and hum, to hang out wiping the dishes dry at 5:30 PM on a dark winter afternoon post-Shabbos, talking about movies or philosophy or children. Hey, even if you are not religious and they ARE, if you provide an appropriate kosher meal and a warm friendly place to eat it, it will go a long way to making you friends.
Let me go one step further with this idea, before I let go of it to return to it later. Inviting your non-Jewish friends for your special ritual meal will help you build your personal community. I have been thinking of ways this was successful for me in the past. It's hard to extend yourself and let the most important, private part of your life be known. To me, it's very private that I am attempting to have some kind of relationship with God. I know people who aren't Jewish will think it's weird that I don't operate light switches on Shabbat (and that my husband does, that's complicated!). In writing this I'm trying to remind myself of how welcome I have made people who aren't Jewish feel in my life by showing my authentic self. Sometimes it's so difficult to be real. Obviously, I'm not even giving my real name on this blog, I have some sense that it's not so safe, these days, to be a Jew in public. Anyway this is a direction I think I need to take things, because this is the time that we need to be thinking about building those bridges.