Moishe adopts Euro

By Simon Rocker, October 11, 2011

An international venture pioneering a new form of programming for Jews in their 20s and 30s has set up a European office in London.

The American-founded Moishe House network will have a team based at JHub, the centre promoting Jewish social action and innovation.

Moishe Houses are community houses run by young Jews for their peer group. In return for help with their rent, the housemates stage social, cultural, educational and spiritual events throughout the year.

There are 37 Moishe Houses spanning 14 countries, including China. Eight are in Europe. The Willesden-based London Moishe House - Moholo for short - has hosted 540 events attracting a total attendance of 10,000 since it opened four years ago.

Upcoming Moholo activities include a Shabbat gathering in its succah on Friday. On Sunday there will be a tea party on its allotment, as well as a chutney-making class, led by the house's newest resident, 24-year-old Becky Daniels from Hull, who recently returned from seminary in Israel to start an MA in museum and gallery education.

A Moishe House has been compared to "a Chabad house without Chabad", said former Moholo resident Joel Stanley, who has just started as director of international programming for Moishe Houses outside North America. "It hands over responsibility to the residents of the house to form their own Jewish community," he explained.

The network will have a team based at JHub

Musician Brett Leboff, whose drumkit stands in the Moholo lounge in front of an artwork bearing the greeting, "Gut Shabbes", said that at university he had shunned the "ritualistic Judaism" of his childhood because he thought it was not cool to be Jewish.

But Moishe House events had "opened up the whole Jewish subject and started inspiring me".

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, director of JHub, said the London house was "one of the hidden treasures of British Jewry".

Moishe House's new relationship with JHub will enable it to expand its presence in Europe. Mr Stanley will be based there with the newly appointed Moishe House director of international development, Alejandro Okret, who previously worked in Eastern Europe for the American Joint Distribution Committee.

"JHub is thrilled to welcome Moishe House Europe," Rabbi Boyd Gelfand said. "While historically JHub has been limited to projects in London or the UK, this is a welcome expansion because we felt we could use JHub's location and expertise to help build an organisation that will benefit Europe and the former Soviet Union as well as London."

Last updated: 11:41am, October 11 2011