With five of us in the house it is often hard to tell who is truly a newcomer and who may be a friend of just one or two of us. There is however often one glaring characteristic of newcomers at Moishe House events; they always arrive on time. The newcomer can be found awkwardly standing in the kitchen as us roommates frantically work to whip up extra food or burn ourselves taking last minute items out of the oven. The newcomer brings things like dessert and stay late to clean because they don’t know any better. The newcomer always asks how they can help. They certainly have traits not embodied by most of our constituents.
Once a newcomer has been determined as such, protocol is pretty standard. We make conversation, show them around the house, introduce them to our friends and people we think they may get along with. I think we are all very good at welcoming everyone with a smile and a hello so this is applied to newcomers and old standards alike.
Certainly it is easier if a newcomer comes to a smaller program like a writing workshop or happy hour rather than larger program. If they come to one of these small programs, it is easier to have one-on-one conversations, incorporate them in the fold of MHDC and make sure that they have a great experience. At larger programs like Shabbat, it is crucial that newcomers find other people besides the residents to chat with. Because we are running around, cooking, refilling toilet paper and answering the door, our craziness can appear to be aloofness or disinterest which is not the case at all.
I think most of us have the wherewithal to pair up a new person with a friendly MH regular who will introduce them around and show them the ropes of the house. We understand that walking into a house with people piled in every room can be overwhelming but we try to make sure to make every single person feel welcome each time they enter our house.