Moishe House Faces Challenges in New York City

from The Jewish Week:

Moishe Houses Here Struggling For Foothold

Since opening its doors in January, the Williamsburg Moishe House has been drawing 20-30 people to its twice-monthly Shabbat dinners.

But the rest of the week its three residents can feel a little like chopped liver.

“We have events where we struggle to get three people – I think that should never happen in a city with millions of Jews,” said DeJohn Rose. (The five boroughs actually have slightly less than a million Jews.)

Rose’s house was one of four Moishe Houses to open this winter in New York City …

It’s not yet clear whether the Moishe House model will take off in New York, however, given that the city already has a plethora of activities for unaffiliated Jews in their 20s – including hip cultural programming offered by the 92YTribeca, Brooklyn Jews, and countless other groups like Heeb Magazine and the Soho Synagogue.

Indeed, the array of existing programs in New York was the reason Moishe House leaders initially were reluctant to set up a Big Apple outpost.

“We were under the impression that the needs of the community were being met,” said David Cygielman, Moishe House’s founder, referring to why New York was not an early priority.

But applications from prospective residents eager to open New York houses had been coming in since the organization first began, in 2006. So once Cygielman found funding to start New York houses – UJA-Federation of New York is putting up $180,000 – he decided to open four, all at once.