Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thoughts on Community in Chi Town (by Kelly V.)

Two weeks ago the age range at our Shabbat varied much more than normal. Five year olds and twenty sometimes; thirties, fourties, fifties, sixties…maybe seventies (i'm an awful judge of age). It is safe to say that most ages were present. Why, you ask? It was Moishe House Chicago's Intergenerational Shabbat!People sat according to different questions that defined their generations. A "I used a typewriter regularly" was sitting next to a "I was a huge fan of 'Nsync" and not next to a, "I remember what I was doing when JFK was shot." (see above) It seemed that perhaps Moishe House Chicago, a community for those post college and pre-adult/synagogue life, was straying off mission a little bit…or was it? I would argue, not at all. The conversations happening around the room as generations mixed was among some of the most interesting and diverse that we had ever had. I talked about healthcare, about the difference between being young and jewish today and being young and jewish thirty years ago, and about the changes that the city of Chicago has gone through. I felt inspired by the different perspectives. The Moishe House community had opened its doors to outside of our typical age range and for this evening, all ages were better because of it.

As proof, look at all these smiling faces:

For me personally, Moishe House is most powerful because it is a welcoming community. And in this community is energy, contagious energy, that people (even adults with families who mostly find their jewish communities in synagogues) want to be a part of for a night every once and a while. I felt lucky to be able to take part in this event and to know that I was a part of this unique community.

Even better follow up to this event was running into one of the Shabbat attendees, Dr. Anne, at a labor rally downtown. We were able to reconnect over our interest in worker justice. This was a further solidification of the way that Moishe House can bring people together. If we had not held the intergenerational Shabbat, Dr. Anne would just have been another face in a crowd.

I'll end this blog with another feel good story. It's also about community. You might even say that I'm developing a theme here. Last friday evening before Shabbat I got a wonderful phone call. It was from Karin, a moist house regular who had moved out of the Chicagoland area calling from her summer post as a camp counselor. She was wrestling with the possibility of moving back to Chicago, and wanted to know if there were any spots in the Moishe House that were open. "If there were, I'd move back in a heartbeat, it would make the decision so easy," she said. She continued by saying that Moishe House was her community in Chicago, and a community that she hope to recreate if she stayed on the East Coast. It felt amazing to hear feedback about the positive impacts of the community; the fact that Moishe House was a marker for her about feeling settled in a city speaks to the power and importance of Moishe House.

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