Sitz im Leben of Moishe House
How does Moishe House fit into the everyday life of a local community? What is the historical and cultural context, and how can Moishe House relate to it, add to it? In a series of blog posts over the coming months I will be looking for answers to questions such as these.
It’s worth pointing out that at the moment I would have trouble giving in-depth answers to these questions. However, it is my hope that meaningful answers will emerge by the time we get to the last piece of the series. I hope so because I believe that these are the questions that leaders of every community (and every Moishe House community) have to continuously keep in mind, and one should never be satisfied with partial solutions.
Every Moishe House community is in some way part of the local Jewish community and the local community in general. To be a succesful organisation, all Moishe House residents must be aware of the potential that active communication with the wider community holds, as well as the rules and limitations involved. People don’t simply appear on the doorstep of Moishe House out of thin air. Most of them are already members of other communities, or at the very least, they’re all determined by the cultural context of the city and country they live in. If our aim is to make Moishe House into a place where visitors can take part in a variety of creative and colorful programs, and embrace their own (jewish) identity in a stress-free environment, then we must have a clear knowledge of the needs and expectations of current and potential members of the community.
These needs and expectations can be quite varied, some more easily defined and expressed than others. The more tangible expectations (good food, quality films, etc.) are relatively easy to assess, even if at times they may be difficult to satisfy. The more profound needs pose a greater challenge. Few people can pinpoint what they are in need of as Jews, as members of a Jewish community, or just as individuals with an interest in Judaism. What exactly helps them develop and express their own relationship with Judaism. Our job is to help bring these internal proccesses to the surface, gather our shared stories which then can foster the sort of atmosphere and mentality that Moishe House is built upon.
I myself have begun this work starting a bit far back, with the story of our grandparents. I hope my findings will help shed some light on some of these important issues, and maybe inspire other young Moishe House leaders to begin their own research.
To get closer to an understanding of the contemporary Jewish community of Budapest, we first have to reach a couple of generations back. Therefore, the next post will tell the story of our grandparents, the World War and the long era of silence that followed.
 (German, “setting in life”)
In biblical hermeneutics (methods of interpretation) or biblical criticism, this refers to the “situation in life” that gave rise to the various genres or literary forms used to communicate the message of Scripture in a particular sociological context.