by Erin Searle
Recently, on a hot and humid late afternoon, I had the opportunity to sit down (inside) with the new residents of Moishe House Phoenix: Jake Khazanovich, 22; Chase Alyeshmerni, 24; Josh Traulsen, 27; and Haley Halsted, 23.
During our conversation, it became clear that these young adults care about deepening Jewish engagement with their peers, truly love the Jewish community, and want to make Moishe House a pillar in that community.
It makes sense that these four would end up living in the Moishe House. For two years, Josh had been on the Moishe House board, and jumped at the chance to live in the house when a spot opened. Both Chase and Jake moved in hoping to impact the community through Moishe House Phoenix. Haley, the first girl to live in the Moishe House, is a Phoenix newcomer. After graduating from the University of Texas – Austin, a job at Yelp brought her to the Valley. Haley knows what it is like to be new to the community. Not only is she grateful to have finally found a peer network through Moishe House, but also a home.
Asking the four residents about their connections to Judaism, they shared their earliest Jewish memories. Jake remembered his upshernish, a special ceremony marked by haircutting that signifies a 3-year-old boy’s readiness to produce and share their gifts through education. Josh and Haley reminisced about their preschool Torah ceremonies, while Chase remembered finally being able to play youth baseball because the JCC had games on Sundays rather than on Shabbat. It was evident that the residents were full of pride while sharing these memories and proud of their Judaism.
When asked about the Greater Phoenix Jewish community and the place that Moishe House has in that community, all the residents echoed the thought that the community must unite in order to grow— that every member must invest back into the community to strengthen its future.
The Federation is investing in the Moishe House and by doing so, Moishe House, its residents and their board, are able to connect with hundreds of Valley Millennials, plan and execute a diverse array of programs, and connect Jews and provide a forum “do Jewish” in ways that are meaningful to them.
By bringing in new people, with different interests, the residents hope to diversify their programming even further, broaden their reach, and engage more young people, no matter their Jewish background or level of observance.
Chase invites the community’s young people to join them, “There’s something at Moishe House for you, there’s something at Moishe House for everyone.”