Moishe House: Young Adults create hub for parties, social action, connections

Southeast Portland’s thriving Moishe House is finishing up a successful programming season, welcoming a new roommate and preparing for a slew of exciting upcoming events.
Moishe House Portland is a residential home where young Jews live together to not only plan events for other members of the Jewish community, but also to explore their own Jewish identity. Their mission is to provide meaningful Jewish experiences for young adults in Portland by creating a home that becomes a hub for Jewish life. Residents put on seven programs each month for 21- to 30-year-old Jewish Portlanders, including social, religious, cultural, educational and social service programming.

Moishe House Portland opened in 2008 and moved to their Southeast House in July 2011. They have hosted more than 35 events in the new house since they opened in July. In addition to their puppy, Layla, there are currently four Moishe House Portland residents – Jonathan Morgan, Emly Oren, Yossi Shallman and their newest roommate Julie Auerbach.
Morgan hopes that the house will continue to grow as more Jews move to Portland. “There are many young Jews coming to Portland and we are one of the wonderful Jewish organizations trying to build the community,” said Morgan.

Over the past few months Moishe House Portland has done exactly what Morgan and other residents hoped for – brought Jews together for engaging and lively events. “In my opinion, our single most awesome epic event was our house concert featuring the CA Honeydrops in September. That was a real treat that attracted about 70 people,” explained Morgan.

Moishe House Portland also believes in providing strong Jewish programming for young community members. Morgan believes their Shabbat meals are a staple to their mission and community building efforts. At Shabbat dinners or Saturday lunches Moishe House residents cook homemade meals and average around 25 people.

Their newest roommate, Julie Auerbach, originally from Denver, Colo., is a raw food chef and moved to Portland on a leap of faith. “Living in the Moishe House gives me the ability to create programs which will attract like-minded Jewish young adults, the cushion to look for a full time job, and the comfort of knowing that I will not be on my journey alone. Over the next year I look forward to meeting Portland’s Jewish leaders, helping at charity events and making a positive impact on everyone I meet,” said Auerbach.

Portlanders can join Moishe House Portland’s Facebook group to see upcoming events including Shabbat meals, Tu B’Shvat celebrations, Jewish Dodgeball night and more. Of the community, Morgan asks, “What we need most is for people to help spread the word, to continue giving us love – and if they can drag a friend to an event that would be great too!”


Moishe House has teamed up with Tikvah, a social-recreational group for Jewish adults with special needs.

“This gives Tikvah members opportunities to interact with Jewish adults in the same age range who are providing a warm and inclusive social environment for Tikvah members,” said Jewish Family and Child Service inclusion specialist Corinne Spiegel, who oversees the Tivkah program.

As a Moishe House resident, Emly Oren plans and hosts events for all Jewish young adults in the metro area; as a life skills trainer for adults with disabilities at JFCS’s Partners for Independence, she has met many of the young adults who participate in Tikvah events.

Moishe House will partner with Tikvah every month, with events ranging from social activities to volunteering with Tikvah in the community.

The first joint event, a pizza night at the Lucky Labrador in Multnomah Village, drew about 10 Tikvah members and 10 Moishe House participants.

“Tikvah members seemed excited to be engaging with peers their own age who are open to talking with them,” said Oren. “One particular Tikvah participant was happy to find out that a Moishe House participant lived in close proximity to him and volunteered to take the bus with him to future Moishe House events.”

Oren said that Moishe House participants were happy to have been involved with Tikvah and look forward to continue spending time with them in future events and making a difference.
In February, young adults from both cohorts will gather at Moishe House for a Valentine’s candy and cookie exchange. To RSVP for this event or see future events as they are scheduled, visit Moishe House Portland on Facebook.

Vanessa Van Petten is a freelance writer and speaker who lives in Portland. She specializes in human relationships, with a focus on youth and family. Her websites, and her popular parenting blog, have both been featured in the media. Her latest book for parents, “Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?,” won the 2012 Mom’s Choice Award.

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