A three-alarm fire ravaged the Moishe Kavod House in Brookline last week. While the house’s four residents were unharmed in the blaze, the group sustained over $800,000 in damages.
The Moishe Kavod House offers a subsidized living arrangement to enable Jewish young adults in their 20s and 30s to come together to work on social justice issues and explore their Judaism. The house is part of a non-profit network of 86 similar residences around the world.
In an interview with JewishBoston, Moishe Kavod’s Boston founder, Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin, said the House’s recent work has focused on criminal justice reform, affordable housing and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. In past years the group has also had a hand in passing a tenants’ rights law, lobbying to raise the minimum wage and building community with Muslim young adults in Boston.
In a letter sent to supporters and posted on Facebook, Moishe Kavod members thanked the community for its assistance in the aftermath of the fire and asked for ongoing help. “Each of us is responding in our own way,” said the letter, “and many are feeling real heartbreak at the loss of our community’s physical home, and all we created within it. Yet, our space has always been an extension of us and our values, and will be again someday soon. Now is a time to dig deep—into our relationships, our community, our commitment to justice. We need your help to get through this difficult time.”
Combined Jewish Philanthropies, which supports Moishe Kavod House through a multi-year grant overseen by its Young Adult Initiative, is in conversation with residents about moving forward once initial and urgent needs are met. Dani Weinstein, senior director of CJP’s Young Adult Initiative, said that Moishe Kavod has been an important voice among the 70 organizations in the young adult network. “Moishe Kavod House is a huge part of the atmosphere and the ecosystem [of the Young Adult Initiative], and the community needs to come together to help,” she says.
Toward that goal, Weinstein noted that CJP’s latest Jewgooders event on Aug. 4 was dedicated to raising funds for and awareness of Moishe Kavod House. The evening’s proceeds would have traditionally been funneled to CJP’s Annual Campaign. But Weinstein said her department “quickly changed course and realized we needed to lend a helping hand, and in doing so learn more about Moishe Kavod House.”
Jewgooders events, which take place throughout the year, launch young adults on their personal philanthropic journeys. Recognizing that this demographic does not necessarily have a lot of disposable income, Weinstein observes that the program allows young adults “to be a philanthropist at any level. We are starting people on their tzedakah, or charity, path. We offer the event a few times a year at an $18 fee, of which $10 goes to the area of philanthropy we’re highlighting for the evening.”
And as Klein Ronkin observes: “Community members, alumni, parents, funders, organizational allies and many others have come forward to let us know what Moishe Kavod has meant to them. Some have shared how it was the first place they felt at home Jewishly. Others discovered their life calling to do social justice work, met their spouse or found new faith that Judaism would continue in good hands. It is this support, that financial support of those whom our community has touched, that I know will get us through this painful situation.”
Find more information on contributing to the Moishe Kavod House’s recovery effort at youcaring.com/moishe-kavod-house-614396.
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