By Loán Lake, Moishe House Senior Communications Manager
Members of the Moishe House community welcomed the opening of Moishe Pod Charlotte-South End and celebrated the ongoing community building of Moishe House Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina on May 11 with a spirited panel discussion on the importance of belonging and the benefits of connecting with others with a shared identity. The virtual gathering culminated with a mezuzah hanging ceremony and blessing to officially distinguish the residence as a Jewish home. This ritual, which has origins in the book of Deuteronomy, is considered a sacred demonstration of the practice of Judaism in a household. The new Moishe Pod, located in South End, is the second Moishe House location in the city, with Moishe House Charlotte having recently relocated from NoDa to Ashbrook-Clawson Village.
Moishe House senior director of advancement, Dave Press, facilitated the event and was joined by members of the Moishe House staff, partners and local supporters. Panelists included Moishe Pod Charlotte-South End residents Alison Shay and Emily Koller, and Moishe House Charlotte residents Calvin Newman, Caleb Seidler, Josh Kindler, and Daniel Rich.
The discussion highlighted the importance of cultivating a sense of identity and belonging for young adults, particularly when juxtaposed with the growing feelings of isolation resulting from a year-long global pandemic. A recent study from Brandeis University’s Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies suggests that the social, economic, and political uncertainty of the past year is having a negative emotional effect on young adults, with 75% of the respondents reporting feeling at least some sense of loneliness or emotional difficulty.
“It’s been good to bring stability to my life after moving [from Raleigh] and starting a new job right after college,” says Kindler.
“We find a place, bring [the community] in, and make them feel welcome. We let people know we are there for them,” says Seidler.
Following the panel and breakout sessions, Rabbi Brandon Bernstein, Moishe House’s director of Jewish learning, officiated the blessing and shared that the mezuzah being hung was designed by Moishe House Warsaw founding resident and Polish artist Helena Czernek. She and her partner, Aleksander Prugar, created Mi Polin, the first Polish Judaica company since World War II, and the two have designed a special set of mezuzot specifically for Moishe House.
Since its founding, Moishe House has worked toward being an open and inclusive place where the full spectrum of Jewish life and Jewish backgrounds can find a home. For Pod residents Shay and Koller, the evening was an emotional reminder of their role as community builders. “We want to make sure everyone knows we’re here to help. We always try to accommodate everyone,” she says.
Moishe House is the global leader in peer-led Jewish young adult engagement. Every year, thousands of young Jews experience innovative, engaging, exciting Jewish programming. All programming is planned and executed by their peers, creating countless opportunities for young adults to connect with their own Jewish identities, their friends and their wider communities. By 2023, Moishe House will dramatically extend its impact on Jewish young adults by scaling its community-building programs, expanding alumni efforts, and successfully experimenting with innovative programs that engage new segments of the young adult population. Moishe House is providing an important pathway for young adults to take part in — and create — Jewish homes and communities. For more information, visit www.moishehouse.org.