This blog prompt comes at a good time for us, since we have now had almost 4 months since our January meeting with our MHBJ regulars where we devised a plan to serve their needs and push our activities to a new level. Our weekly yoga classes have provided us with a way to care for our bodies (necessary in such a dirty city) and ensure that every week people will come by the house, sometimes to stay for dinner too. We did not rely on these yoga classes as our "events", however, and continued to do around 3-4 more activities each month. Our monthly brunch and community-led text study has happened 3 times already, with the fourth one coming up this weekend. Although I wish these were better attended (usually we have around 5-7 people) I think it is important to have this space to bring in regular intellectual discussion on religion and tangential topics. Another regular activity, Shabbat dinner (usually once a month) is always very highly appreciated. This one I wish could accomodate more people when we do it. Right now we keep it invite-only for about 15 people, because of space limitations at our table. We have kept it a sit-down affair, although I suppose in the future we could try for more potluck/couch/floor seating, like our seder.
Speaking of our seder, that was a surprise. Led by efforts from community members we had over 30 people in our house, in a big circle on the floor. We were getting requests to come up to the last minute--- many saying they specifically were hoping to come and not attend the Chabad seder, where they do not feel as comfortable.. That just proved to me that the young Jews are out there, and our presence here in Beijing is a big plus for them.
For the next three months, I hope to make our brunches better-attended or else revitalize their formatting in some way. Also, when the weather finally gets nice, we would like to have more larger meals with our rooftop BBQ and get back that open feeling with lots of people in the house that we had last summer. At the end of the summer Tyler and I are not sure what is in store for us next: more expat life in Beijing, or a change of scenery. But we are both committed to the continuity of MHBJ and realize from our experiences how valuable it is to the city's young Jews. Part of our goal over the next few months is to find a stable way for MHBJ to continue if/when we leave.