A thought from Jen Taylor Friedman in honor of the one-week anniversary of Yom Iyyun.
Source sheets and videos from the Yom Iyyun can be found here: http://www.mechonhadar.org/yomiyyun.
You know what one of the really nice things about eating lunch at the Hadar Yom Iyyun was? Leaning across the table afterwards to some total strangers and being able to say "Rabbotai - nevarech?".
And knowing that they'd understand that I meant "Would you care to join in this shared grace-after-meals which I am now initiating?".
And knowing that, since the default setting was "egalitarian," I didn't have to worry that there wasn't a quorum of men at the table and perhaps they would be offended at being expected to do shared-grace-after-meals with women and perhaps the women wouldn't count women in the sharing-quorum and be discomfited and all those other awkwardnesses that crop up when the default is "non-egalitarian," because gender just wasn't an issue either when eating or when giving thanks for eating.
And knowing that, since the default setting was "observant," there wouldn't be that excruciating pause when people think "grace? what a weird thing to do after a meal on a weekday" or else "oops am I imposing religion on people?" and those who know the words don't want to embarrass those who don't and before grace can be said someone has to shuttle off to hunt down some gracebooks, because everyone either knew the grace by heart or had a gracebook in their pocket.
It was awfully nice just to be able to say grace in company without it being a huge performance, that's all. Spending all day doing halakha geekery is jolly good fun and all that, but being able to say "Rabotai - nevarekh?" to random people at your table, that's better.