Chaim Romano (l-r), Daniel Kay and Ben Scheiner started a Moishe House in Delray Beach to give young Jewish professionals a place to network with people of similar minds. The house is the third of its kind in Florida. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Janis Fontaine
At a spacious townhouse just off U.S. 1 in Delray Beach, three young, charming, single Jewish men are creating a community for young adults interested in knowing more about Jewish religion and culture. And being Jewish isn’t a prerequisite to participate.
The place is called Moishe House, and this is the third of its type in Florida. There are Moishe Houses (Moishe is Yiddish for Moses) in Miami and Aventura; and now, with support from the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, Delray Beach is on the Moishe House map.
Here’s how it works: In exchange for a housing stipend and some cash for expenses, the residents must plan and execute about one “Jewish-related” event every week — in addition to holding down their full-time jobs.
Moishe House’s purpose is to fill the gap between graduating from college and getting married and having children. Young professionals moving to a new town for work want a way to network with like-minded people. And young adults produce the kind of activities young adults want to attend.
So — Moishe House.
The first Moishe House opened in Oakland, Calif., in 2006 with four young men hosting Shabbat dinners for their friends. The casual atmosphere and the eclectic makeup of the group were just what the young, vibrant community needed. Young, fun, interesting programs attract young, fun, interesting people.
Now there are 104 houses in 26 countries. According to moishehouse.org, an estimated 50,000 young people attended a Moishe House event last year.
The South Palm Beach trio — Ben Scheiner, Daniel Kay and Chaim Romano, all of Boca Raton — moved into their house in July after making a one-year commitment. Scheiner’s brother lives at a Moishe House in Denver, and he brought the idea to Kay and Romano.
Before long, they were picking out their bedrooms in a 3,000-square-foot home just a few blocks east of Federal Highway.
Kay, 27, is the house’s cruise director. He’s the emcee and host. He has hosted a cooking challenge modeled after the TV show Cutthroat Kitchen and emceed “La Casa de Moises Jam Session,” a lively night of unscripted musical entertainment. Kay also steps up to lead Shabbat dinners. The trio’s first event, a barbecue, drew about 50 people. The first Shabbat dinner drew about 30.
Other events included a yoga class at Anuttara Yoga in Delray Beach and a Game of Thrones watching party. Coming up with a variety of events, which can be held on-site or off, takes a creative mind, or three.
Scheiner, 26, is the scholar of the group, the one best versed in Jewish history. He chaired a podcast on Jewish history (you can watch it on Moishe House SPB’s Facebook page) and chaired a Q&A about Jewish traditions. “I’m always happy to educate and they can do with it as they please,” he says.
Scheiner is also a nature lover who recently organized a nature walk at the Yamato Scrub Natural Area in Boca Raton. “I’m really into the outdoors,” he says.
It’s all very casual and laid back, but the guys still have big aspirations.
“What I hope is that the three of us can establish a community of Jewish young professionals, people who make a connection, and people that can rely on each other. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone and it’s also great just to be a listening friend. I feel honored to be in that role,” Scheiner said.
“I want non-Jews to feel welcome too,” Romano said. "We welcome people of all creeds.”
To learn more about Moishe House South Palm Beach and to find out about events, visit www.facebook.com/mohospb. For more information about Moishe House, visit www.moishehouse.org.
Janis Fontaine writes about people of faith, their congregations, causes and community events. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.