Monday, February 13, 2012

The Big Easy

My goal as a Moishe House resident is to create an inviting, inclusive, vibrant space for young Jews in New Orleans. This means designing exciting programming for folks with a wide range of interests. It also means plugging into and partnering with existing groups and spaces. The New Orleans Jewish community is small* but extremely active. Many synagogues offer deeply moving, deeply meaningful, truly intergenerational programming. Independent minyanim have sprung up to meet all kinds of needs; since moving here, I’ve been able to attend everything from an anti-racist to a body positive to a traditional egalitarian meditative Shabbat service. (That last sentence absolutely belongs in a Sh*t Progressive Jews Say video.) The Jewish community in New Orleans – as I’ve experienced it – is warm, welcoming, committed to celebration, open to new voices and ideas.

In this kind of community, it feels just as important to build relationships and form partnerships as it does to create our own events. We strive to be a gathering place for and connector to other Jewish individuals, groups and organizations. Rather than hungrily steering young folks away from other programs and toward our house, we exist and operate as part of a wider community. My roommates and I work to strike a balance between creating and hosting our own programming – cooking nights, creative writing workshops, text studies, film screenings– and partnering with other people and groups. This balance is what makes us such a strong and special space.

In the past couple months, Moishe House New Orleans co-led, with three other groups, a powerful Healing Shabbat. We partnered with a local synagogue on a musical Tu B'Shevat seder. We hosted a "Mini Taste of Limmud" event to generate interest in and excitement about LimmudFest New Orleans. (Guests chose between two compelling learning sessions: The Sociology of Contemporary American Jewish Life in D Minor and The Road is Long: LGBTQ Rights in Israel). These programs drew in new participants and deepened our relationship with the wider Jewish community. They were fun and engaging, meaningful and moving. My roommates and I will continue to design our own creative programming - and we'll continue to pursue rich community partnerships.

*The size of the New Orleans Jewish community depends on your frame of reference. When I moved here from rural Vermont, I was astounded by the size. My friends from bigger, more bustling cities were not.

Mallory Falk, MH NOLA

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