On Sunday, the sukkah went up at the newest gathering place for Jewish young adults in Northern Virginia. Moishe House Arlington opened on Sept. 1, the third house in the Washington area operated by the international organization created to provide a community for Jews just out of college.
Moishe House Arlington’s three residents are just beginning to put their stamp on the house and its activities.
“It will have a unique personality,” said resident William Cubberson, 28, a doctoral student in political science at George Washington University. “I just can’t tell you what it is. We’ve lived together now for two weeks.”
In exchange for a room, a rent subsidy and a small program stipend, Cubberson and his housemates will organize five-to-six programs a month for their friends and peers. Some will be strictly social, like a trivia night the house had at a local bar. Others will have Jewish content — on Rosh Hashanah, the housemates and their friends ate dinner together. The goal is to build an informal Jewish community.
“We have a bucket list of things we want to do around here,” said resident Orly Halpern, 28, who is beginning law school at George Mason University. Like Cubberson, she’s new to the Washington area.
The house is actually a three-story townhouse near the Clarendon Metro station. The residents will keep a kosher kitchen. “In planning what the house would be, we didn’t want people to feel excluded,” Cubberson explained.
The Maryland-based Emanuel J. Friedman Philanthropies has provided $50,000 to support the house’s operation, according to the foundation’s president, Simone Friedman Rones.
The foundation, which supports initiatives for young Jewish adults, also provided $33,000 to support the Moishe Houses in Rockville and Adams Morgan in Washington, and $25,000 for an initiative by The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to support the local houses, she said.
Moishe House has “a very exciting model of having young adults reach out to each other in a peer environment,” Rones said. “They’re innovative and can actually show their impact.”
Although it is early in the life of Moshe House Arlington, everything seems to be on target. A new Moishe House generally takes a half year to get up to speed, said Rebecca Bar, senior regional director of Moishe House. “What we’re looking for is consistent growth,” she said.
That goal and all the other ingredients that go into a Moishe House are on the new housemates’ minds, Halpern said.
“All we think about is the house.”