Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Making Jewish connections across cities via Moishe House

The 20s are a complicated age for Jews of this generation (yes I know, what age hasn’t been complicated for anyone ever?) Finished with college and its comforting social environment and life structure but not yet settled into permanent family units or long-term careers, 20-somethings often find themselves fighting against alienation and uncertainty about where to be and what to do and who to associate with. Even without current economic difficulties, the pace and realities of globalized life today require a significant variety of professional experience and graduate degrees, and to obtain them young people have to go from one city to another looking for the right credentials, while hoping along to the way to have meaningful experiences and if they’re lucky enjoy themselves. Many Jewish organizations have stepped up their efforts to reach out to people of our age, and we are very appreciative of that, but in my case Moishe House has been the crucial niche.

I was in Boston for graduate school for 2 years (after living briefly in NY), and I made great friends at school and went to Hillel events. But as a graduate student I realized that I was looking for something a bit more organic and independent when it came to Jewish community and something not so clearly tied to a university framework, which I knew to be fleeting. Through a fortuitous encounter with someone very involved in the Boston Moishe Kavod House I ended up going there for Shabbat dinner and loved it. The feeling of the place and the range of activities they offered was wonderful. Because as it turned out I discovered it late in my stay in Boston I was never able to fully take advantage of that great community, but it clued me in to what kinds of opportunities were out there for people like me if I went looking.

When I knew that I’d be moving to Philadelphia I straightaway looked up the Moishe House to see if they were looking for new housemates. Fortunately for me they were, and after a brief interview process I was happy to be accepted. Living in a Moishe House has been an enormous boon to me as someone moving to a new city. Not only do my housemates Cody, Becca, and Heather serve as an immediate friendly family, but working together on a broader mission, even when that just means going shopping together for an event, forms a deeper set of relationships than housemates otherwise have. And of course it’s been great simply being at the center of the social, educational, and volunteering activity that goes on at Moishe House Philly. I’ve had the opportunity to meet people active both in our community and in other Jewish networks and organizations throughout Philly, and also to be connected to interesting events and opportunities I otherwise would not have known existed. And just as importantly, I’ve enjoyed reaching out to young friends and relatives of mine who are in the Philly area and encouraging them to come to our events. This is how Moishe House works; young Jews use the space and forum it provides to bring their friends into a more intentional zone of Jewish community, and by extension a large interconnected network of friends, family, and previously unknown people are involved and energized. It’s been a privilege and an honor to be part of it, and I hope that some of the people I’ve brought in have been affected as I have.

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