There are a few places where people live longer than anywhere else in the world. These include Okinawa (Japan), Ovodda (Sardinia), and, oddly, Loma Linda, California - all of which boast exceptional numbers of centurions (people who live to be over 100). Scientists have all kinds of theories about why this is, starting of course with the obvious; dietary habits, lifestyle, inbreeding (oh, those Sardinians!).
But the one that really stood out to me was Loma Linda - a seemingly normal California town - a place that obviously has the same food and culture as anywhere else in America. What do they have that the rest of us are missing?
The leading theory is that people there live longer for one reason: community. It happens that the 7th Day Adventist church in that particular area has brought a lot of people together, and members of that community simply live longer. Not only that, but a study done by Loma Linda University school of Public Health found that those who went to religious events and observed the Sabbath reported being happier and experiencing better mental health than those who did not.
Before I was asked to be a founding member of the new West LA Moishe House (Which officially opens next week), I was a big Moishe fan. When I moved to Los Angeles and was first feeling my way around, it was really comforting to know I could go to the house and would always be welcomed. And once I was there I never wanted to leave. I was not the only one who felt this way; sometimes the residents had to politely shoo people out because it was getting late and people just didn't want to go. I think they would have stayed the night if they could have.
I know many of us at this moment aren't really focused on longevity. Frankly, I'm a little more concerned with when to eat the second half of the chocolate chip cookie I started last night. But much of our happiness at any age depends on our sense of purpose and meaning. And so much of our purpose and meaning comes from the communities we align ourselves with. They have a profound impact on what we think, how we act, and how we feel.
This is what I have always admired most about those of you who are involved with Moishe House. You have made the decision to open up your private homes and lives in order to fulfill that deep desire we all have for community; to create a shared sense of belonging and tradition, to learn and celebrate together, and to contribute to each others' success and well-being.
I'm honored to be a part of this community, and I know that the four of us who are opening our new home in West LA next week look forward to striving for the ideal that the rest of you exemplify so well. May we all live to be 100, and have plenty of time to sit around and recount our favorite Moishe House memories in the years to come. In the meantime, I'm going to go finish that cookie I started.