Atlanta’s fourth Moishe House, located in Brookhaven, is a little bit different from its “sister houses” in VA Highland, Toco Hills and Buckhead. First, this house launched in the midst of the pandemic, requiring all programming to be virtual right from the start. Second, the residents of this house are all children of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and they all grew up in metro Atlanta. And finally, this house came into being thanks to a Propel grant from Federation Innovation.
Atlanta’s newest Moishe House is one of six in the U.S. and one of 23 Russian Speaking Moishe houses (known as RSJ’s) located in 10 countries around the globe…”Here in Atlanta, the new RSJ House reflects the incredible growth and prosperity of Atlanta’s Russian-speaking Jewish community which was resettled here 25+ years ago with assistance from JF&CS and other Jewish agencies. Atlanta’s Russian Jewish community is currently estimated at 30,000.
For many Jews of Russian heritage, being Jewish is, well, complicated! With parents who were denied access to their heritage in the FSU, this Russian-American generation eagerly embraces Judaism, but doesn’t feel 100% accepted. They are hungry to learn, observe, feed their Jewish souls, and feel embraced by the wider Jewish community. It’s another reason why this Moishe House plays a special role.
Sasha Avchukov: Starting a Moishe House was already something that I felt very excited about because of my passion for the Jewish community, but having it be an RSJ Moishe House was an even better way to make a difference for Jews in Atlanta, and it has been awesome so far. Growing up as a first-generation American with my Ukrainian parents, I had a very unique upbringing compared to most Jewish people in the U.S. I had no idea what Shabbat was, nor high holidays, and we celebrated Christmas just for fun. I didn’t understand that I had this very important Jewish identity. “After going to Jewish camp and youth group, I realized how significant this piece of me was. Discovering the Jewish community changed my life and continues to enrich it every day, so being able to create that in my own city and additionally, in our own way, for other Russian Jews is very special. We are a community that is still untapped in many ways. I think starting this RSJ Moishe House in Atlanta will make a profound impact and I am excited to see what the future holds!”
Michelle Gofman: “Moving into the new Atlanta RSJ Moishe House has been a long time coming. I went to an RSJ retreat back in 2017 as a community member. That retreat made me realize that Moishe House is the place for me. Describing where I am today as serendipitous would be an understatement. Birthright, UGA Hillel, and Emory Hillel connections are what brought me to my current roommates. Living with girls from similar backgrounds is something I only dreamed of.”
Gabi Iskhakov:”The RSJ Moishe House has been such a blessing in my life. I have already learned a great deal about myself and my culture while living with these incredible girls! I have never gotten the chance to embrace my Russian roots and my Judaism the way I do now, and I feel so lucky to get to share this with my roommates, as well as the people who attend our programs. I am so thankful for my parents, friends, and Jewish experiences in college that brought me to where I am today.
“During this difficult time facing COVID-19, it was really comforting to start a Moishe House as a group. There were more opportunities to learn about each other and bond. Though there were many ups and downs in getting a new house up and running, we achieved some great milestones as well. We are patiently waiting until we can start large, in-programming once again, but for now, we are thankful for the tight-knit community that has formed around us virtually to make our first Atlanta RSJ Moishe House a success.”