Monday, January 30, 2012

The Scalability of Dreams

Moishe House is universally acknowledged by those it touches as a hugely positive force in the Jewish world and beyond.
In some places more than others.
Many Jewish people are so acclimatised to being raised in community that they are quite unsurprised by another such initiative. But for so many urban dwellers, such possibilities of communal creation and re-creation revolutionise the very fabric of their day to day lives.

Moishe House HQ has great social action supervisors, spiritual content supervisors, geographically-related supervisors.
What it would be great to have at Moishe House is more research on effective community models.
Because we are at the next step.
We are the next step of recreating meaningful community in the urban jungle.
It is all very well to consistently encourage a Moishe House to bring in new residents, and with them, new circles of friends,
but as another resident leaves, whole circles are lost, too. In some cities, this causes no problem, as there are plenty of places to go to explore cultural identity. In many American cities there are great swathes of venues where people can find comon ground whilst proudly putting their own stamp on their cultural identity, but MoHoLo is an island at the moment.
There are some amazing independent minyanim, but the House is the only physical centre, where people can meet and re-meet time and time again.

It empowers the change-makers through small simple steps, and leaves space for people to take initiative.
It reminds participants that true community is created by self-inclusion and action.
There are no spectators. We are all participants in the circle of those, and consequently in our society.
Active or passive. Positive, negative, indifferent.
What we do in our daily actions creates the community we are a part of, whether or not we think ourselves a part of it.

So, what next in London?

When Moishe House began, it galvanised funders to address the shift in Jewish community dynamics. It highlighted the post-college community drop-out rate, as many people in their 20s no longer rushed to marry, settle down and fit into synagogue-centric life. But in some cities, community demographics have raced way ahead even of Moishe House's expectations. People who come to our house range in general from 20-40, with many people not fitting into the conventional family model. We are part of such a family, tribal culture, and many traditional funders are so concerned about intergenerational continuity, they may underestimate the potential of the single, the unconventional, the childless-by-choice-or-otherwise in our extended family that intersects through common ground.
But you never know how the ripples of the pond will affect the water and stir the depths.

The MH website boasts a 'scalable approach'. It would be wonderful if the creators and supporters of Moishe House would fully acknowledge the huge impact they've had in certain cities, and took some responsibility (deeper than the recent 'Moishe House Without Walls' funding) for the gap of knowledge that goes into scaling beyond what was dreamed at the beginning. It would be wonderful if they would face the consequences of success in providing meaningful Jewish experiences, supporting leaders and creating vibrant home-based Jewish communities.
Because if they don't, in some places, (such as London, say), all the circles that Moishe House has joined together may just as soon melt away if the knowledge to empower them doesn't match the speed at which they are shifting.

No comments: