West Hartford "Moishe Pod" Educates and Builds Community

Moishe House is a pluralistic global network of group residences designed for young adults who commit to organizing Jewish-centered programming in their community. It is open to all Jewish adults between the ages of 21 and 32. Following an application process, the network subsidizes living arrangements for four or more residents (Moishe Houses), two to three residents (Moishe Pods), or members who participate without living together (Moishe House Without Walls). Our Federation is a proud supporter of the new West Hartford Moishe Pod, founded in 2020.

For Moishe House residents, home is more than where you hang your hat — it's a hub for building strong Jewish connections. This international program connects a global network of group residences populated by young Jewish professionals looking to live with like-minded individuals and deepen their community roots. Emma Strumpf and her partner, Daniel Saxon, founded a new Moishe Pod in West Hartford in 2020. Since then they have built partnerships with several local Jewish organizations including our Federation, and they have become a vibrant source of social and educational programs.

In order to host a Moishe Pod, Emma and Daniel committed to organize three monthly programs open to Jewish young adults in Greater Hartford. In January, they collaborated with Federation's Emerging Leadership Division on an online sustainable-living workshop inspired by the holiday of Tu B'Shevat. Participants learned the science of pickling and shared sustainable swap ideas. "Partnering with amazing community colleagues like Moishe Pod allows us to offer opportunities and outlets that help everyone find their connection to Judaism and each other," says Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Federation’s Emerging Leadership Director. Building Jewish community is one of Federation’s key goals.

The West Hartford Moishe Pod has found communal Shabbat dinners to be a great way to engage new members and build deep connections. Other events have included community-service outings, holiday gatherings, and a kosher shopping trip to Trader Joe's — dubbed "Trader Jews." "We like to keep our events fun," explains Emma.

Emma is quick to point out that the Pod's programming generally has an educational component, often exploring an aspect of Jewish culture. "Some of those who have attended our Shabbat dinners are new to that experience, so we explain the ritual of handwashing, for example," she says. "Or we'll discuss why we eat cheese on Shavuot. We always try to explain not just what we're doing but why we're doing it." 

Moishe Houses and Pods fill a need for young Jewish professionals who find themselves between their college years and a more settled domestic life. "When you start to form a family and settle down, that tends to be when you join a synagogue, a JCC, and meet others," notes Emma. "But we're not all ready for that stage, so a Moishe Pod allows us to create a family-like community of our own — which is especially helpful for someone who has just moved to a new city." The West Hartford Pod is currently the only one of its kind in the Greater Hartford area, but it is connected to Moishe Pods and Houses worldwide, comprising more than 153 residences in 30 countries. 

This year, your contributions to Federation’s Annual Campaign helped to financially support the West Hartford Moishe Pod, allowing Emma and Daniel to expand their program offerings, collaborate with more Jewish organizations, and broaden their reach. "Our short-term goal is to consistently get about a dozen people at each of our programs," says Emma. "And we'll continue to tap into existing networks here in Hartford to extend our community even further."

Click here to learn about programming at the West Hartford Moishe Pod, or here to learn more about becoming a Moishe House or Pod resident. 

Photo: Moishe Pod recently collaborated with Federation's Emerging Leadership Division on a virtual pickling and sustainability workshop inspired by Tu B'Shevat.