MILWAUKEE — A home unlike any other in Wisconsin is celebrating its one-year anniversary as a destination for young professional Jews.
The Moishe Pod on Milwaukee's East Side is both a home and gathering place for young professional Jews in the greater Milwaukee area. But it's not just for Jewish people. The goal is to open it up to all people as a place for casual hangouts, share experiences, and learn more about each other.
"We're a space for everyone, you know. Our goal isn’t to bring only Jews in and making this a Jewish-only space, because a Jewish community is a space full of Jews, non-Jews, allies, friends, etc.," Nicole Gorelik, the co-founder of the Moishe Pod in Milwaukee, said.
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 the mission to attract young professionals in the area who are between the ages of 22 and 32. It's not so much about age, but rather people coming together who are in the same phase of their lives as one another.
WATCH: Take a look inside the Moishe House in Milwaukee.
There are Moishe Houses across the world. This is is the only one in Wisconsin, though.
"Well, a lot of time when we're out of college, we don’t really have a space to go. We're not really going to go to Synagogue as like one, single person, and it's hard to find other Jews without some kind of like sole location to do that," Biller said.
The Moishe Pod on the East Side is that central location for everyone to come together.
Both Gorelik and Biller emphasized that this is a casual setting. The goal is not to push any agenda or have people leaving the home with the intention of converting. It's about sharing experiences, cultures, and beliefs. They host non-religious events like backyard concerts, trivia nights, and low-key hangouts. On the flip side of that, they do host Shabbat dinners and celebrate Jewish holidays. There is a menorah above the sink in the kitchen.
"You know, saying we’ve done Narcan training. We’ve had a backyard concert. We do all of these really fun social things - let's grab a beer, and we do those things. But we also hosted a Holocaust survivor's son last month who talked to us about his family’s holocaust survival story," Gorelik said.
It also offers a safe space for Jewish people to congregate. According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitism has been on the rise in the past few years. The Moishe Pod gives people like Gorelik and Biller a comfortable and secure place to be 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) came - a little bit. Like 'oh man the Jewish community knows about us, but now this is going on the Milwaukee news.' We got to up our security kind of thing. And that's a really real problem," Gorelik said.
"I think that a Jewish space in Milwaukee is really important, especially with anti-Semitism being on a rise nationwide. It's important that we as a a community support each other," Biller said.
For those interested in attending an event hosted by the Moishe Pod or if you want to learn more, go to their Facebook page or send them an email at email@example.com.