Perhaps one of the least troubling issues that faces MHBJ is that of newcomers who might not know anyone. Our community is substantially comprised of people who have come to Beijing knowing few, if any, people living here already. Many members of our community stumble through our doors within the first few weeks of arriving in this city far from their homes. New faces abound in our members’ everyday lives and breaking the ice is a way of life amongst Beijing’s expats.
Despite our members having usually familiarized themselves with constant introductions and re-introductions in their daily lives here, we do our best to facilitate a communal feeling in our house. We often try to invite newcomers to our smaller events, allowing them to develop more intimate contacts than they would at a larger celebration. Though other Moishe House’s surely foster close-knit Jewish communities, ours undoubtedly serves double duty as a surrogate family for many post-college Jews living far from home. We make an effort to not only include newcomers in specific Moishe House events but in our general social lives, as well. This might mean attending Shabbat services, grabbing a drink, or simply inviting them to hang out at our apartment on a weekend afternoon.
One of the greatest aspects about living amidst a tight group of expats is that there are never more than a few degrees of separation between people at MHBJ events. Frequently, established Beijingers will come for their first time to find that they not only have friends in common with other community members but occasionally know myself or Alison and had not realized that we lived in MHBJ.