Moishe House has a global network of former residents, Moishe House Without Walls hosts, and retreat leaders, Camp Nai Nai Nai attendees, and program participants. In this spotlight we feature New York chef and former MHWOW host Jonathan Hartig.
How It Started
Jonathan Hartig (MHWOW 2015-2018) is a native New Yorker and preparing tasty meals is his superpower. Born and raised in New York, New York, Jonathan developed a love for hosting from his parents, who regularly welcomed friends and family into their home for Shabbat dinners. As an adult, he continued the tradition while attending college and would ultimately spend three years serving as a Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) host and a peer leader of Jewish retreats themed around Jewish cuisine. Today, he is a self-employed chef in New York City who provides catering services primarily within the Jewish community where he has built a loyal following.
Jonathan was first introduced to Moishe House while living in Philadelphia after high school. He periodically saw announcements for Moishe House Philadelphia and eventually attended a few events. This led to him meeting individuals who would become a part of his personal community of Jewish young adults. In 2015, he and a friend attended a Sukkot retreat about gardening the Leichtag Commons farm in Encinitas, California (also home of Moishe House Headquarters). It was an immersive experience that enabled participants to gather the shallots and onions from the fields and bundle them to be sold on-site at the local farm stand. This was a transformative moment for Jonathan and with the recommendation from former MH Philadelphia resident Shaina Weiner, Jonathan went on to become an MHWOW host shortly after that encounter. He participated in other Moishe House programming and in 2018 joined the inaugural cohort of attendees who traveled to Israel for 4HQ (The Four Haktivah Questions), a yearlong, immersive Israel experience fellowship that trains Moishe House residents and MHWOW hosts to create and facilitate meaningful programs about Israel.
Jonathan remained actively involved in the Moishe House network for three years because of the opportunity to connect with others, the variety of activities being offered, and the ability to help people build their own Jewish communities.
“Moishe House was very good about helping me to fine tune what resources I needed, what language to use to appeal to my clients, and how to make the greatest number of people comfortable and at ease,” – Jonathan Hartig
How It’s Going
Today, Jonathan is the owner of J² Food, where he uses his love and knowledge of food to provide custom experiences for his clients. He prepares ready-to-eat meals, Shabbat dinners, and catered events. He has incorporated what he learned as a Moishe House community builder into his business model — planning, preparation, and hosting with an intention of provoking certain sentiments in the attendees. “I was able to finesse how I wanted my programming to look, the impact I wanted to have, and how I wanted people to walk away feeling,” Jonathan said. “Moishe House was very good about helping me to fine tune what resources I needed, what language to use to appeal to my clients, and how to make the greatest number of people comfortable and at ease,” he said. This level of detail and attention have proven to be a formula for success that has enabled his business to thrive even during the pandemic. Jonathan’s clientele includes organizations such as JDC Entwine, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, One Table, The Jews of Color Initiative, as well as Moishe Houses throughout New York.
He often hosts events around New York City and happily introduces newcomers to the area with other community members. “It feels good to hear them say ‘I made that connection at John’s pop-up.” He also serves the extended Jewish community and most recently delivered seder meals to homebound Holocaust survivors during Passover this year. Jonathan has a bright future, and we celebrate his success and his commitment to serving his community.
Once you are connected to Moishe House through one of our programs, you become a part of our extensive community of alumni. We encourage you to remain connected with us as a member of our Ambassador Circle, through our Networking Forum on LinkedIn, as an employee of Moishe House, or even as a participant at one of our North American or Global retreats.
Visit our Alumni Page and discover how you can continue your involvement as an alumni ambassador and much more!