Religious Cohousing Communities
From: Sandy Bodzin (
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 94 13:47 CDT
Excerpts from mail: 21-Jul-94 COHOUSING-L digest 207 by cohousing-l [at] 
> On Mon, 11 Jul 1994, Sandy Bodzin wrote:
> >     Can anyone please explain the difffernece between an intentional
> > community and a cohousing community?  
> To me, there are several key differences between intentional communities
> and cohousing communities: 
> 1. Intentional communities usually have some sort of economic base that is
> shared; some sort of communal means of support, or partial support.  Not
> so with cohousing, at least not yet. 
> 2. Intentional communities usually have either a shared philosophy, shared
> religious/spiritual beliefs and practices, and/or a single central leader.
> Cohousing communities usually have none of these.  Therefore, cohousing
> communities are usually not concerned that their members have similar
> views, beyond some very loosely defined values.  The process of new member
> "selection" is therefore less rigorous, less controlled, in cohousing. 
> Usually the process is one of "self-selection", in other words anyone who
> wants to can join. 
> 3. Cohousing has more extensive private spaces than most intentional
> communities, with each household (or family) having their own complete
> housing unit.  This is usually not the case within intentional
> communities. 

Thanks for this useful post.  I suppose some of my confusion stems from
the dual definition of intentional community from the literal definition
of the words to the way the concept is generally implemented (i.e.
communes, although thanks for pointing out that these vary a great deal
in and of themselves).

I suppose I've been feeling somewhat uneasy about my introduction to
cohousing/intentional communities because the community I seek to
establish mixes the three elements you specify (I've been figuring this
out myself and your post spelled things out clearly).  Specifically, I
adhere to the cohousing model for #1 and #3 (I favor independent
finances and recognize the need for privacy) but WRT #2 I lean toward
the intentional community design.  The idea of sharing true "community"
is appealing to me  but far more so if I share a common ideological base
with those who would be my neighbors.

I am a traditional/observant Jew who recognizes that the general state
of community where I live (suburban Philadelphia) is abysmal and the
Jewish community here suffers because it is limited by the constraints
of its surroundings (Traditional Judaism requires a community to live
close to a synogogue since driving on the Sabbath and Holidays are

I dislike where I live so much that I have given frequent thought to
moving.  However, I like my job and there is no guarantee that the place
I move to will be any better (though it's hard for it to be much worse
:-)).  So I got to thinking:  Why not form my own community where there
is a genuine sense of community (ala the cohousing model)?  But doing
this would leave me without a religious community.  Instead, if I could
form this cohousing community and establish a religious community at the
same time that would accomplish everything I look for.

Had I adopted a general cohousing model I would've struggled to get
started because the concept is very new in this area.  The struggle has
grown geometrically because I choose not to fit into either a strict
cohousing model or a communal model.  Therefore resources have been far

Just as I was getting discouraged I read Allen Butcher's letter (posted
by Rob Sandelin in the same COHOUSING-L Digest) in which he encourages
people to think of the notion of intentional community as a spectrum
ranging from a no private property/no private space commune (let's call
this the left end of of the spectrum) to a privately owned/no shared
facilities land trust (call this the right end of the spectrum).  With
this in mind I place myself to the left of center in this spectrum.  I
suppose that the communities Allen noted that have been fashioned from
an ideological perspective but which do not actively recruit/filter
participants based on the furtherance of that ideology would be just
left of center and I'd be just left of that.

So if anyone has any experience doing what I seek I'd love to hear from
you.  I'm not really sure that anyone has adopted this model for their
intentional community yet.  I do know that there are some communities
that have a been fashioned from an ideological perspective - as Allen
writes "Specific movements like Egalitarian, Emissary, Quaker, Sufi,
Catholic, Monastic, Hindu, minority,
survivalist, Lesbian separatist, Gay, Native American, Fundamentalist,
New Age Christian..." - and I'd like to contact them concerning what
role religion/ideology play in the functioning of their communities. 
One thing I struggle with particularly is the legal issues inherent in
choosing your neighbors from a common religious background.  How have
the above groups dealt with this issue?  Do you leave it to

If you or anyone you know is a traditional/observant Jew and is looking
for a more meaningful community experience I'd be thrilled to talk all
this over with you.

Thanks for all the help this group has been so far.  I look forward to
hearing your comments.


Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.