Shari Rosen’s connection to her Jewish faith has fluctuated at times, but while attending Johns Hopkins University she felt a stronger pull when researching the Holocaust.
She delved into how Holocaust atrocities are still felt in Germany, and how Germans educate their children and students about it. She said she found that some Germans indirectly profit off of the history, a reality that alarmed her.
The experience helped solidify her faith, and she now lives in Philadelphia’s Moishe House, along with three other young professionals. The four plan events for Jewish people in their 20s and 30s, aiming to build a stronger local sense of community. Rosen, who works as a public relations senior account executive, said living in the house has helped her feel more comfortable in Philadelphia.
Q: What is Moishe House and what purpose does it serve?
A: It’s a house. There are many across the world. In the United States there are more than 100, I believe. Basically, we plan Jewish events for the community, half in the home and half outside of home. The programs will be philanthropy, social, some will be more religious-oriented and some more education-oriented. Then we’ll also do holidays and culture, stuff like that.
When I first moved here, I moved from Baltimore. I liked the idea of people coming to me in my house and me playing a leadership role, then forming a network of people.
Q: Have you always found yourself drawn to leadership roles?
A: No. This was a really unique opportunity, just the idea of living in a house with other people and planning events together. I also think it’s a really unique opportunity for people who are new somewhere. A lot of people who come to our events are new [to Philly], and the events provide a safer environment for people. They’re not like a party or a happy hour. It’s really about the idea of getting people to feel more comfortable and build relationships, versus being thrown into a setting like a happy hour where you have a very quick conversation and then it’s over.
Q: What are some of the events you have helped plan at Moishe House?
A: We had a really big apple-themed party around Rosh Hashanah. We made candy apples, and stuff like that. It was called Applepalooza. I would say that was huge. It got people together and excited around the High Holidays. That was cool because when people think of the High Holidays they think of having to go to family dinner. We created a community of young people in their 20s and 30s hanging out around the holidays, putting a fun spin on it so people were more excited to go home for the holiday. … In terms of other events, we do hikes. This month, we’re doing a blindfolded taco tasting.
Q: You won the John Koren Award for Holocaust Research in college. What was your research about?
A: The idea is how Germans educate their own children as well as students about the Holocaust, and how they relay the information and how they present it. I went to a lot of different museums and memorials. It’s fascinating, the business venture of it. How can you hire someone off the street to give people a tour of a concentration camp? Why are people continuing to profit off of this atrocity? While there are a number of reparations that are great, there is still a long way to go.
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