Challenge Grant: New Orleans Moishe House Seeks Local Support

To help ensure the future of Moishe House in New Orleans, the national Moishe House is announcing the Rubin Family Foundation Challenge Grant to attract local support.

Moishe House engages Jewish young adults in their 20s and develops emerging Jewish leaders. The innovative organization now counts 37 houses in 14 countries around the world. Since 2009, Moishe House has concentrated its fundraising efforts on building local community partnerships with donors and Jewish organizations.

Most recently, Moishe House has launched its innovative program in San Diego, Detroit and Vancouver through the development of strong local partnerships with donors, foundations and Jewish Federations.

Additionally, over the coming months, Moishe House will open new houses through this local partnership development model in New York, Phoenix, Miami and a house in San Francisco geared towards young adults from Russian-speaking families.

“Currently, there are several Moishe Houses where less than 25 percent of the program costs are funded by the local community — including New Orleans,” said David Cygielman, CEO of Moishe House. “Given this, we are focused on leveraging The Rubin Family Foundation Challenge Grant to build upon our recent success in developing strong local community partnerships and to enable Moishe House to raise the money needed to grow beyond our initial funding from a small group of national donors. It is absolutely critical that we secure funding from the local community in order to keep these houses open and thriving into the future.”

Jen Kraus Rosen, chief operating officer of Moishe House, said their model is “based on a local funding strategy and every house has to have local support in place,” and if they can’t raise “33 percent of the house’s costs from locally designated sources by May, we simply do not have the funding to keep them going.”

Moishe House New Orleans, located in the Garden District, is a unique, vibrant and inclusive residential home where young Jews in their twenties come together to explore their Jewish identity, build strong personal connections with their peers, and meaningfully engage in community service. Over the past few years, Moishe House New Orleans has achieved tremendous success, including features on PBS and the front page of the Times-Picayune.

Since opening in May 2008, Moishe House New Orleans has attracted over 4.000 participants through over 200 programs including programs to help rebuild the local community.

Recent events for the New Orleans Moishe House have included a Shabbat dinner with the AVODAH Jewish Service Corps and an alumni event, Iron Chef cooking night, Independence Day barbecue, a locally-produced products Shabbat luncheon at Shir Chadash, Shabbat on Lake Pontchartrain, blueberry picking outing in Mississippi, and an “ethical taste test” at Green Charter Elementary. They also partnered with the Jewish Newcomers program and AYLA, the New Orleans LGBTQ Jewish group, for a Shabbat dinner and service.

Through April 2012, the grant, from Moishe House board member Ron Rubin, will match each new dollar donated to Moishe House New Orleans with two dollars of additional support, offering an incentive of up to 200 percent.

In addition to New Orleans, The Rubin Family Foundation Challenge Grant is being concurrently launched in seven other communities.

Birmingham house plans fall opening

The Birmingham Moishe House is one step closer to reality. In mid-August, Moishe House began taking resident applications for the Birmingham house.

The house will be located on 21st Way off Highland Avenue, in a house next door to Temple Beth-El that is owned by the congregation. Nevertheless, Moishe House is a community-wide initiative not connected with any particular stream of Judaism.

Vikki Grodner, president of Beth-El, said she anticipates the house opening in late fall, after the High Holidays.