Last month we asked you to send us your burning Moishe House questions, and now we’ve got the answers! Let’s see what our hosts and residents needed some advice on this month…
Dear Moishe House,
Participants who are older than our age demographic keep attending our events and it makes residents and community members uncomfortable. What is the best way to approach this? Do we ask them to leave? How do you recommend proceeding and ensuring that they do not come back?
What a great question! This is something I know that many residents have struggled with, and here’s a few suggestions to help:
- Make sure that you have the Moishe House age range published on your advertising methods (Facebook groups, events, newsletter, etc), so that the age range is explicit. You can explain Moishe House is a peer-led home-based Jewish community organisation for young adults aged 22-32.
- Being upfront and honest. Share with them during or after a program they attended (either in person or over email/text) that you really hope they enjoyed the event, but that Moishe House programming is for specifically for the 22-32 age range. You can then share with them some other organizations or local partners that may cater to their age group. It’s one thing to turn someone away, but to be able to show that you want to support them in finding their ideal community can mean a lot.
I’m sure you’re an amazing and inclusive host, but often we are afraid to be in a position that makes someone feel excluded. It is inevitable to run into this situation when you are trying to create a space for a specific niche of the community and that is okay. Wishing you lots of luck in creating an amazing community!
Dear Moishe House,
What is the best way to turn an applicant down who applied to be a resident?
This can be a really tricky situation to manage. The new resident search can be a long and arduous task in some cities and often you have people apply that just aren’t the right fit to be a Moishe House resident or roommate. So what can you do to make the blow a little easier?
Firstly, make sure you respond to them so they get some closure and know that their application isn’t going to go any further. It’s important to share that you appreciate the time they took to complete an application, and that you’d still like for them to be a part of the Moishe House family through becoming or continuing to be a community member. If you know that there are other openings in the same city where there are multiple Moishe Houses (and you think they’d be a good fit), share their application with the other residents—maybe it’ll work out elsewhere! This example written by MoHo Cambridge alumni is a really positive way to let people know that their application isn’t moving forward:
‘We wanted to let you know that we’ve selected another candidate for the August spot opening in our MoHo.
Apologies that our decision-making process was long—this was not easy. We appreciate your patience, kindness and support of the community. We want you to be an essential part of the community still – the rare people like you are critical to our success. Your energy is what makes people feel genuinely welcome and belonging, and we want to make sure you have room to lead still within our community. Feel free to reach out if you want to talk about other great housing options, Cambridge community, and anything else.’
It’s up to you if you want to share the exact reasons why you didn’t pick the candidate. If you decide to do that, be honest and genuine in your response, and remember to throw in some kindness and appreciation for their interest in becoming a resident.
Sending prayers for lots of applications for your next resident opening, as well as the opportunity to choose a great new future resident!
Dear Moishe House,
How can we elevate our Shabbat to an 11-star experience (aka incredibly welcoming, intentional and meaningful), and go beyond a standard and repetitive program?
There are so many ways to make Shabbat a momentous occasion each time you host it in your Moishe House. It’s pretty common that most Houses host 1-2 Shabbat dinners a month and always thinking of new, fun, and engaging ideas can be difficult. Here are my top tips for making Shabbat an 11-star experience for you and your participants:
Pick a theme! You don’t need to do this every Shabbat, but occasionally throwing in a theme, whether it’s a Morrocan Shabbat or a Marvellous Mrs. Maisel Shabbat, can make the experience much more fun and interactive. Think about asking people to wear clothes that match the theme, make theme-specific foods, or even play some trivia to see how much your community members know about a certain topic. Reach out to your Community Manager and/or Regional Jewish Educator if you have a great idea but not sure how to make it work as I’m sure they have all the ideas and suggestions to help make it an extra special Shabbat!
- Make your Shabbat feel distinctly different and special from your other programs. Create a different ambiance and experience for your guests. Craft table place cards for those who RSVPed so they know that were expected and welcome in your home. You could even put a question on the inside of the placecard, and during the dinner they can use this question as an ice breaker. You could also go the extra mile on Shabbat by dressing the table in nice linens & making the space look more elevated with fresh flowers or candles on the table. Lecha Dodi (which means ‘come my beloved’)! Make your guests feel as special as the bride or queen!
- Bring in new people! You can do this a few ways. Similar to introducing a theme, invite a guest speaker to your dinner who can share their knowledge or experience and potentially attract a specific or different crowd than you typically reach. Another alternative to finding new people is to have your community members to bring a friend with them to dinner who’s never been to your house before. Activate your existing network to reach new people and reinvigorate the space.
I hope these give you a few ways to make Shabbat more of an exciting event, and make sure to share your best tips on the Moishe House Residents Facebook page! Best of luck!
Dear Moishe House,
In our house, we really struggle with TIkkun Olam (making the world a better place through volunteerism or social action) programs. How do we make more participants want to come and engage with Tikkun Olam programs in our community?
You are not alone! Tikkun Olam is the program type that residents often shy away from or find most difficult to fit into their monthly calendars First, does your community understand what Tikkun Olam means? Tikkun Olam is a very North American- and United Kingdom-centric term that isn’t always used or translated in other places. What does it mean? According to Reform Judaism (see: https://www.reformjudaism.org.uk/tikkun-olam/), it is defined as ‘repairing the world’, leading towards ‘peace, prosperity, health and justice for all.’ At Moishe House, this means programs that include some kind of volunteerism, social action, or social action-related activity.
If you’re not sure what your community would like or engage in, run a Tikkun Olam think tank or idea brainstorming event. It’s a great opportunity for your community members to share what type of thing they’d like to participate in, as well as a great chance for you to find out from them what they’re already doing in the community that you can join and/or build on. Don’t underestimate the amazing work that community members are already engaged in, and utilize those skills to hone in on what you could do as a community to better the world around you!
Each country has multiple sites where you can explore volunteer opportunities in your local area. If you live in the USA, you could use a site like www.volunteermatch.com or https://werepair.org/, in the UK there is https://do-it.org/, and for wider international volunteering, explore www.jdc.org which have some incredible long and short term placements.
Often, people think that Tikkun Olam is only when you physically participate in something such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or walking around the streets of a major city, handing out scarves and gloves during the winter to the homeless, but this is not the case. Bringing in a speaker from an organization to discuss the impact of global warming on animals and exploring the small changes everyone can make in their lives to help combat this would be a great Tikkun Olam event. If you wanted to do a more arts and crafts based event, you could even do a workshop to reduce plastic consumption by creating reusable shampoo bars, or homemade natural lip balm.
There are so many great ways to implement Tikkun Olam programs which can be just as fun and engaging as any other event that you do. If you need more suggestions, contact Molly Cram, Director of House Programs. She would gladly help bounce around ideas to support your house and community.
Do you have any other questions that you’d like answered? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and your questions could be answered in a future edition!