Emily Gilgoff's Blog
That time when walking into a stranger’s house paid off (and why you should give it a go)
Most of us would agree that it is not usually wise to walk into a stranger’s house. But what if I told you that it was really pretty inside, that the people there were super nice, and that they often provide free food and entertainment?
Well, last Friday, I took my chances and what I found was pretty great: a room full of young people sitting around two long tables laughing and eating, and they didn’t even kick me out! In fact, they pulled up a chair and invited me to stay. It was awesome.
Okay, so while the Moishe House is not truly an open house to anyone who wanders in off the street like I previously described, it is in fact a gathering space for young Jews to engage with other young Jews (and their friends) and do fun Jewish stuff. Basically, the people who live there will be hosting events that vary in size and extravagance on a regular basis with varying themes and purposes. Some will be strictly social while others may be a bit more culturally or Jewishly meaningful.
Moishe House has had great success in other cities—and our community recognized that and made real moves to bring it here. Moishe House-Cincinnati was one of four winners of this year’s Jewish Innovation Grants, which provided the capital for them to open their doors in the Queen City. (To learn more about the Jewish Innovation Funds and the three other winners, click here.)
By bringing Moishe House to Cincinnati, our community is providing a unique opportunity for young Jews to simply hang out together in a low-pressure, personal setting.
“I know there are some people in the Jewish community who are not super connected, but when given the opportunity to do something that may feel less intimidating, like watch a movie or play a board game in our basement, it could encourage them to become involved,” said Sean Sherry (one of the three Moishe House tenants who live at the house and host gatherings).
In a similar vein, Ben Pagliaro, another tenant, described what excites him about the house. “When people come to the Moishe House, we want them to feel like they’re truly being invited into someone’s home, like we really want them here,” he said.
On that first Friday evening, their efforts to create a feeling of warmth were evident from the moment I walked in the door—and that’s not by accident or coincidence. That welcoming feeling has everything to do with the tenants who live there, and their reasons for taking on that role. They are serious and genuine about what they’re doing, and they believe passionately in it.
“I want to bring my passion for Jewish leadership and involvement back to the community I grew up in,” said Moishe House tenant Becca Pollack, who coincidentally went to Sycamore and graduated a year ahead of me in 2011.
This project is truly meant to serve the young adult Jewish community by creating another space to stay engaged in Jewish life here in Cincy. Although each host comes from a different background, their shared love for Judaism is amazingly apparent and is swiftly fueling a fantastic Moishe House Cincinnati. Take my advice and stay tuned to see what they’re planning for this year!