MILWAUKEE — A home like no other in Wisconsin is celebrating its first anniversary as a destination for young Jewish professionals.
the Pod Moishe on Milwaukee’s East Side is both a home and a gathering place for young Jewish professionals in the greater Milwaukee area. But it’s not just for Jews. The goal is to open it up to everyone as a place for casual encounters, to share experiences and learn more about each other.
“We’re a space for everyone, you know. Our goal is not to just bring in Jews and make it a Jewish-only space, because a Jewish community is a space full of Jews, non-Jews. -Jews, allies, friends, etc,” said Nicole Gorelik, co-founder of the Moishe Pod in Milwaukee.
Gorelik lives with her best friend in the house, Leah Biller. The two spearheaded the initiative to establish a Moishe House in Milwaukee. They are both 25 years old, which fits with the mission to attract young professionals from the region between the ages of 22 and 32. It’s not so much about age, but more about people finding themselves in the same phase of their life as another.
LOOK: Take a look inside the Moishe House in Milwaukee.
Moishe Pod, a home for young Jewish professionals in Milwaukee, celebrates its first anniversary
There are Moishe houses around the world. It’s the only one in Wisconsin, though.
“Well, most of the time when we’re not in college, we don’t really have a space to go to. We’re not really going to go to synagogue as one person, and it’s hard to find other Jews without some sort of single place to do it,” Biller said.
The Moishe Pod on the east side is that central place for everyone to gather.
Both Gorelik and Biller emphasized that it was a relaxed setting. The goal is not to push an agenda or get people to leave home with the intention of converting. It is about sharing experiences, cultures and beliefs. They organize non-religious events like concerts in the garden, trivia parties and low-key hangouts. On the other hand, they organize Shabbat dinners and celebrate Jewish holidays. There’s a menorah above the kitchen sink.
“You know, saying we had Narcan training. We had a concert in our backyard. We do all these really fun social things – have a beer, and we do these things. But we also hosted the son of “a Holocaust survivor last month who told us about his family’s Holocaust survival story,” Gorelik said.
It also provides a safe space where Jews can congregate. According to Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitism has increased in recent years. The Moishe Pod gives people like Gorelik and Biller a comfortable and safe place in the city.
“We’ve experienced anti-Semitism on so many levels. So it’s scary to be in the public eye sometimes. Like we were worried before (TMJ4 reporter James Groh) happened – kinda. Like ‘ oh man, the Jewish community knows about us, but now this is happening on the Milwaukee news. We need to beef up our security. And that’s a real problem,” Gorelik said.
“I think a Jewish space in Milwaukee is really important, especially since anti-Semitism is on the rise across the country. It’s important that we as a community support each other,” Biller said.
Another part of the Moishe Pod’s mission here in Milwaukee is to advocate against social injustices. They champion causes such as reproductive rights, racial disparities and the environment. It is a religious and Jewish organization, but it does not have a particular program.
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