Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lessons from Capeside - Rachel Hodes, Moishe House Murray Hill

On this lazy, summer vacation Wednesday, I’ve decided to catch up on all of the Dawson’s Creek episodes I failed to watch during my teenage years. As I sit here watching the angsty teens of Capeside navigate through their melodramatic lives, I find myself continually rolling my eyes at their verbose and ridiculously dramatic explosions of love. However, as I have just completed watching the series finale, it struck me as I watched Jen Lindly, who upon her death bed had asked her best friend, Jack to “help my daughter find a place…I never really felt like I belonged,” that all they were trying to do (for six seasons) was find their community! Which, in reality, is really what we’re all trying to do. For me, I see this as a life-long process, an evolution, of which Moishe House is currently a huge part. Growing up, the Jewish community was a constant, I went to Hebrew school two days a week, and worked there as a teacher’s aide for another two, I participated in my local Young Judaea chapter, and was on the temple youth group board for three years. It was only when I entered college that I began to really engage with what being a member (and leader) of the Jewish community really meant…and what I decided was that it wasn’t for me.
It was this moment in my life that has shaped every other decision that I have made. What I realized after quite a few months, and with the help of a truly magnificent Hillel professional, is that the answer to solving my qualms with the Jewish community wasn’t DIS-engagement, but rather RE-engagement. How could I, as a thoughtful, smart, motivated individual form a place where people could come together comfortably? And thus, began the journey that led me here…helping to create small pockets of Jewish life on my college campus, and after moving to NYC last year, starting Moishe House Murray Hill. I see our job as young, Jewish leaders not to determine the direction of the Jewish communities we reside in, but rather to help empower the community to decide for itself – provide the space for any individual to explore what their Jewish identity means to them, and how that will manifest in their own lives. We have such a unique opportunity to organically grow our peer’s ideas and dreams, and as Jen Lindly so sagely advised us, to help them belong. 

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