Young adult group searches for next set of 20-something housemates

By Eric Berger, Jewish Light Staff

When the residents of the Moishe House in Ladue moved out in July, the Jewish organization did not describe it as closing, but rather, “transitioning.”

That’s because it’s not unheard of for the organization, which provides housing to four or five 20-something Jews who then host events, to have all the residents move out around the same time.

“We fully recognize that young adults in their 20s are transient by nature, and we know that it’s a high probably that after a year or two, they may move out of the city for a job elsewhere,” said Jason Boschan, Moishe House director of marketing and communications. 

Moishe House in a non-denominational, pluralistic Jewish organization with homes throughout the United States and in some parts of Australia, Europe and South America. The group first opened a house in St. Louis in 2008. In exchange for hosting a certain number of events each month, the organization subsidizes a percentage of residents’ rent.

The organization prefers to have a group of friends move into one of its houses together to ensure that they are compatible with one another. 

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That combination means restarting a house often does not happen right away, but the organization is determined to bring the house back to St. Louis as soon as it has the right group of residents. 

“When a group applies all together, they already have the connectivity, and often they are already having this type of engagement on their own,” said Boschan. Residents usually organize a mix of events including community service opportunities and dinners on Shabbat and other Jewish holidays.

The house often helps people who have moved to St. Louis for graduate school or jobs acclimate to their new surroundings, said Greg Alper, a drafter and design engineer who lived in Moishe House from 2013 to 2015.

He also described it as “more cultural rather than religious Judaism, so for a lot of people that have for whatever reason drifted from their Jewish background,” the house serves as a way to bring them into the community. 

In St. Louis, the group is leaving it to the new residents to decide where they would like to live. There is already a similar organization, Next Dor, in the Central West End near Central Reform Congregation.

About 15 people, including potential residents and guests, met last week at Pi Pizzeria in University City to discuss “what is most important for bringing Moishe House back to this city,” said Adam Dobrusin, who is the organization’s director of expansion and lives at the Moishe House in Phoenix.

The organization does not own any of the houses around the world. Dobrusin said a new group could start looking at houses this month. But they are not rushing the process.

“If we can find the perfect group to pick up where the last one left off,” he said, “then this house will hopefully be there for next 1,000 years.”