As one of the newer entries to the Twin Cities Jewish community scene, Moishe House has had a successful run in its first five years in Minneapolis. But pretty soon, there are two issues the fledgling group is going to face: needing a new house, and needing new residents to live there.
“The house in the Twin Cities has been wonderful and successful,” said Shula Ornstein, the midwest community manager for Moishe House. “We had some who were ready to move on, and then the landlord ended up wanting to move back into their house.”
When a house member leaves, Ornstein explains, part of their responsibilities is to help find a new replacement.
“They are still working to find residents because they have a network I don’t have,” she said. “They are great ambassadors.”
Moishe House is a global program for Jewish young-adult engagement. Residents, who are between the ages of 21 and 32, live in a house with a normal lease that is subsidized by Moishe House up to 50 percent of the rent. The residents also have a monthly programming budget that can be used to host community-wide events.
“The residents search for a place to live that meets the needs of Moishe House,” Ornstein said. “During normal times, they need a place that’s big enough to host events. But we look for people first, the space second.”
Anna Glassman-Kaufman has been in the house for two years, moving in shortly after returning to Minneapolis after graduating college.
“I really did not have any friends here at all and I was living with my parents, who conveniently lived three blocks from the old Moishe House so I had no excuse not to go to their events,” she said. “It became a really nice community for me away from home. Six months later they were moving to a new house and were looking for new residents. It really just made sense for me.”
The current house is the third in Minneapolis since the program first came to the Twin Cities in the summer of 2016. All have been in different parts of Uptown.
Nate Lewin, another of the outgoing residents, said he believes in the mission of Moishe House and what his responsibilities are as a resident.
“Moishe House is trying to create Jewish social space and build a community for Jews in their 20s in town,” he said. “I had lived here for a few years before I started going to events, so seeing Moishe House and really appreciating what it brought to me as a Jew in their 20s who had been living here for a few years and not appreciating that.”
Moishe House receives an annual allocation from the Minneapolis Jewish Federation of $37,500. MJF is committed to the allocation for one more cycle, which will carry Moishe House through March 31, 2023.
“We’re reaching young adults that [Federations] won’t,” said Larry Gast, Moishe House’s director of advancement. “We’re not looking for members; we’re looking for people who want to engage.”
Gast said that 20 percent of Moishe House programming is done in partnership with local organizations. Ornstein said that even though the past 13-plus months of the pandemic, the house has been incredibly active, both in putting on their own events and partnering with the likes of JFCS NextGen, YALA, and JCA.
“There is a tremendous breadth of things in the Twin Cities,” Gast said, “if you want to get involved in Jewish life and come to Moishe House.“
The pandemic has been challenging for Lewin, most of whose time in the house has been spent during coronavirus.
“I think I got into this expecting it to be this big social hub and big social space and meet people and hang out, and it hasn’t become that,” he said. “But I really appreciate the community we’ve had and I really lucked out by living with our current residents throughout the pandemic.”
Glassman-Kaufman hopes that as they start to ease back into in-person programming, it’ll give an opportunity for the current residents to recruit potential residents.
“We’re really excited to be getting back into in-person programming. And we’re doing everything outdoors and in smaller groups,” he said. “But we’re definitely excited to end these last couple of months as this group strong and with lots of exciting programs. Hopefully, in the next couple of months, we’ll we’ll get some new faces in events and people who will stick with MoHo in the new house.”