What is Seattle Moshav?
We are a forming “Jew-ish" cohousing community in North Seattle, WA.
What does cohousing look like?
Cohousing is a form of intentional neighborhood, with private homes and extensive common facilities, in which residents know their neighbors well and engage deeply in community life. Common facilities include a group dining hall and kitchen and possibly also indoor or outdoor recreation space, a lounge, a community garden, a children’s playroom, guest rooms, an art or exercise studio, a workshop, office space, and vehicles. Buildings are purposefully designed to support and promote community among residents. Individual homes are usually privately owned and have the full suite of amenities typical to private homes, including full kitchens. Residents share two to six meals together each week and a commitment to community, a respect for privacy, and the reward of daily connection, planned and impromptu gatherings, and being a part of each other’s lives. Cohousing was developed about 50 years ago in Denmark, and more than 1% of the Danish population currently lives in cohousing. There are about 165 cohousing communities across the U.S.
What would "Jew-ish" cohousing look like?
The secular rhythms of our society are based in Christian tradition. They are so pervasive that we often don’t stop to question them. We want to create a space that is outside of those rhythms and runs in accordance with Jewish cycles. The flow of the week culminates in rest and community time on Shabbat, and the flow of the year is punctuated by Jewish holidays. Jewish history and tradition provide many “technologies” for creating community, such as Shabbat dinner, Shabbat afternoons reading and playing board games together, mourning together, celebrating together, and kvetching together. We want a place where everyone can take part in these rhythms, regardless of their level of observance or whether they are Jewish. These traditions are the foundation, but not the sum total, of our communal life.
Who will live in Seattle Moshav?
Anyone who wants to live a close-knit, intentional community with a Jewish heart. Our vision is to be an inclusive community of 10-25 households that are diverse in age, income, family composition, and Jewish observance. We are open and welcoming to people of every religion, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
Do I have to be Jewish to live in Seattle Moshav?
No! While we have a distinct focus on Jewish tradition and values, we are open to everyone regardless of religious affiliation. Much like cohousing attracts people who want to engage their neighbors in regular, meaningful community, we imagine Seattle Moshav will attract people who want much of this neighborly engagement to occur via Jewish tradition, values, and culture. But residents need not be Jewish or participate in Jewish-related activities, and while many of our communal activities will involve Jewish life, we will engage communally in other ways, too. We also intend to participate fully in the life of the surrounding civic community, being good neighbors, hosting neighborhood events, sponsoring service projects, and offering support and community to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
Where will Seattle Moshav be located?
We plan to build our community in northeast Seattle, and hope to be within walking distance of the many synagogues in the area including Merkaz, Congregation Beth Shalom, Temple Beth Am, and Shaarei Tefilah.
When will this happen?
It will take at least three years to acquire a site, design the building(s), obtain planning approvals, and construct or renovate the buildings. In the meantime, we will be building our group, and becoming a community even before we move in!
Wait, you plan to develop this yourself? That’s a big project!
It is a big project, but we will not be going it alone. Our community values professional expertise, and we are already working with a cohousing consultant who is helping us plan and hit our milestones. We expect to partner with a professional developer with experience building multi-family housing, and who has the industry and banking connections to make the project feasible.
How much will it cost?
We expect prices to be similar to newly constructed Seattle condominium units of similar size, but it’s hard to produce accurate cost estimates until we have a site and approved plans. Market prices in Seattle are expensive, and we cannot avoid that reality. However we are interested in exploring possibilities for creating some more affordable options.
What will the buildings look like?
We’ll likely be in rowhouses or a condominium building, depending on the site. From the outside, the community will resemble comparable Seattle medium or high density housing, but on the inside it will be designed to encourage spontaneous interaction and facilitate community gathering. There will be a dining room where we can eat together, a kitchen where we can cook for one another, and other spaces to play and relax together, including (hopefully) outdoor space. The “flow” will direct people through communal and social space before entering private space, to create more moments for connection.
How will you accommodate differences in Jewish observance?
Within each household, religious observance is entirely at the discretion of that household. In communal spaces, we strive to accommodate a wide range of observance and realize this will require compromise, especially around questions of Shabbat and kashrut. Our guiding principles are to be (i) inclusive of diverse practices, (ii) respectful of tradition, and (iii) welcoming to newcomers.
How will you make decisions?
We are using a governance structure called Sociocracy, also known as Dynamic Governance. This method ensures that we hear all voices and consider all perspectives, while also allowing us to delegate responsibilities and make decisions efficiently. Our members are studying Sociocracy, and new members will have opportunities to be trained in the method and continue to deepen their understanding of community decision making. (You can learn more about Sociocracy here or here.)
How can I get involved?
Join our email list so you can learn about upcoming informational and social events. And don't hesitate to email us with questions, to set up a time to meet, or to let us know that you’re interested in taking the next step along the road to membership!