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Roommate Case Studies


Case Study No. 4: Urban Kibbutzniks

Talia Klein, Gabi Wachs, Kevin Siegel, and 25 other Columbia University students living together at the Bayit, a Jewish housing community in Morningside Heights.

What is the Bayit exactly?
Gabi Wachs: The 30-second pitch is that it’s a Jewish food co-op that functions like a kibbutz in Israel.
Talia Klein: There are 30 rooms and 28 people living here. Everyone pays $800 a semester for food and dues.

How do you make sure everybody does their share?
Wachs: We have weekly chores in the common spaces that everyone’s assigned on a rotational basis.
Kevin Siegel: Mondays to Thursdays, two people cook for everyone else in the house. Dinner is at 7 p.m.

How do you even cook for 28 roommates?
Klein: It’s a huge kosher kitchen! We also have a huge walk-in fridge, a huge freezer, and a huge pantry.
Wachs: The kitchen is totally nuts, especially on Fridays, when everyone is in a frenzy trying to cook before sundown. You have ten people at a time cooking ten different things, asking each other advice, and negotiating how to share the space.
Klein: Yesterday, for example, someone was pickling, someone was making chicken, and I was making apple crisp.
Wachs: It’s organized chaos. But part of communal living is making compromises. We all choose to live this way.


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