Sunday, December 31, 2006

Margie's first blog, honoring the work of MoHouse Boston in '06

Here's to Moishe House Boston, 2006!

10 hours till 2007. I like take time on New Years to reflect on my last 12 months and make some resolutions for next year. Still have a lot to work on, but this year, I'm feeling pretty good, and a lot of that is because of Moishe House Boston.

Last year around this time, I was feeling pretty good. I had moved to Boston 3 months before, and had pulled off a few successful Shabbat dinners. I'd made 5 good friends, usually finished my homework, and made it to the gym a few times a week. For a recent transplant, that felt like good progress.

But I hadn't been able to find the kind of community I was looking for. I kept visiting different synagogues and social groups hoping to find it, and talking with my friends about what we felt was missing. Together we dreamed about finding a community that was creative, engaged with the world, filled with interesting people that cared about each other. We dreamed about creating a space allow young Jews to create this kind of community, with programs and gatherings that represented their skills, passions, and interests.

Thanks to the Forest Foundation, that dream is starting to feel real. Our house is regularly packed with amazing people, doing fun things that mean something to us.

Like just last week, we held a Chanukah party where we cooked latke's with exotic vegetables like beets and turnips. Our friend Andrew created an elaborate wheel-of-fortune-like Chanukah game to get us thinking about the story of Chanukah and what it means to us. Andrew is a Jewish educator and Burning Man scenester, but doesn't usually get to combine his interests to create giant art for grown ups (ala Burning Man) with his talent at creating meaningful Jewish ed. programming. The game was hysterical, but more than the fun I had playing, I felt deeply fulfilled that our house could an outlet for this amazing person to share his talent and passion.

Beyond the (literal) fun and games, our house is also become a vehicle for powerful social action work. Last Friday, our friend Peter, who helps run the Harvard Homeless Shelter, called to say that the shelter was in dire need of volunteers. He knew that if we sent out an email, we could help cover the needed shifts. I was scrambling to finish my history final paper, but I knew that it was worth it to stop, because I really believed that members of our community would step up. And they did.

There is still lots more work to do, buiding up our leadership, encouraging more people to get involved, and working to make an even greater impact on social justice work. But thanks to the help of the Forest Foundation, Moishe House has made 2006 an fabulous and fulfilling year.

That's all for now. Happy New year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Blogging from NYC...

So, peeps, I celebrated my first Christmas this year. What's that you say? I'm a Jew?

Too true, too true.

But MHB: KJSJH (MoHouse Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House) took some time off this past week, and so I decided to celebrate the birth of the little baby Jesus -- not the Jesus who rocks out with Lynyrd Skynyrd with angel wings, for all of you Ricky Bobby fans -- with an old friend in Long Island. Suffice it to say, I now have enough myrrh and frankincense to last me a lifetime.


Anyhow, our December actually rocked in Boston, Jew-style. Not only was our visioning meeting a beautiful thing at the beginning of the month, but that good vibe kept on going, with two gorgeous Shabbats and an exotic latke party that just about blew all of our minds. By mind-blowing, I simply mean that latkes of squash and beets and other such roots of the earth, when dropped in enough delicious oil, will trip you out like LSD never could. Not that I'd know that, of course.

Plus, I've been getting serious about this "personal board of directors" thing -- even if it's not a requirement, I like the idea behind it -- and I spent some quality time with Rabbi Josh Elkin of PEJE (the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education) back home in Boston and with Rabbi Steve Greenberg while I've been here in NYC (you might recall him from the awesome film Trembling Before God) talking about, among other things, "my Jewish journey." By that I mean we mostly just bull-shitted and caught up and talked about jobs and girls and doing good in the world and doing well in the world, but both meetings felt really good. Like I've got some folks looking out for me. And that ain't too bad at all.

So with that, let me wrap this post up here. Onward to '07, I s'pose...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

My first Blog too!!

So this is my first blog ever as well. The Moishe House L.A. in December has been putting on social events galore for our Jewish peeps and a few goys ;) I think one of my favorite nights was the night we had The Ventriloquists play in our backyard. If you look at the pictures you can see a 5 (and at times 7) piece band jamming in our tiny backyard. In fact, some of us even crawl up to our roof just to watch them play from above. These guys are fantastic musicians and it was one of the best shows I had heard them play ever. BBQ, Beer, and a Band in you can't beat that.
We also had a great time during our Chanukah party which produced some latkes that would even make your Bubbie cry (or so we were told). In fact we even went for a round 2 of latkes at 3 AM!!!
We are looking forward to next months events...hope we have as much fun as we did this month!!!

LA Moishe Has big huvos

After a long but quite enjoyable month, I would like to sit back open a lambic and spill my guts to you bloggers out there. I wanted to write something off the wall but I think Morris said it all. This month was filled with celeb sightings, parties and raising toys for tots along with a threepeat for good old me at poker. That's right I won three times in a row and lets just say rent was on moishe this month. All in all we had a well rounded month for those of you keeping tally not to name names. (Isaac, Morris, Dave, Levi) It looks like thats just things to come. As the new year comes so too continues debauchery, so stay tuned for the next events to come and for your enjoyment hannah gets it on with nate and the gang.

Love ya all a little,

Lee Levin

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Seatle's November

This is the first blog I've ever written, and attempting this, I don't know who to address, or who my audience is. November has concluded, and it was none to soon. Seattle had a record breaking month, turning the grey and soggy stereotype into a reality. The rain did not cease, lasting longer than it has in Seattle than in any month in history dating back to the beginning of weather record keeping. The good was in how the city came together to celebrate the dreary, but astonishing month. A woman next to me on the bus broke the unspoken rule of pure and utter silence to show me Seattle's rainy picture on the cover of the New York Times. And so it was. My life was immersed this month in the great outdoors, as I traversed the icy, slipper slopes of the Seattle hills to the downtown center where I was temping. It was just a job, and I just a temp. But sometimes it's good to have somewhere to go.


Sunday, December 3, 2006

Seattle House

With the memories of the retreat fading, our house has had more bonding and enjoyed the opportunity to spend time together. We had a fun ski trip weekend and almost got snowed in at Mt. Baker. Norah's Woman up was a great start to Ladies' Night. Stephen had another game night with a new game addition: Apples to Apples. We are looking forward to a lot of fun events in December, even without a visit from the great Levi himself.


Saturday, December 2, 2006

Da Visioning Meeting...

Thought I'd post the agenda of the house visioning meeting we're having with about 20 key leaders from our community here in Boston tomorrow. Not as much fun as Borat, I admit, but with smoothies beforehand and kosher Chinese food for dinner afterwards (sandwiching a solid meeting of big ideas), we should still have some fun.

Any feedback on the agenda we've got planned...?

MEETING GOALS: not process but substance-oriented; not committee-building but team-building; articulating shared vision & concrete objectives...

4pm -- warm-up & smoothie time
4:15 -- intros
4:25 -- a bit of learning
4:35 -- different visions for the house (a few individuals' perspectives)
4:45 -- initial "dreamstorming" session: what's the kind of community we want to build? what's an ideal month with the moishe/kavod house community look like? where would we want to be at this time next year?
5:05 -- "world cafes" {the "world cafe" is a unique form of small group break-out/rotation that allows for increased dialogue with a broader group of participants that Ben will introduce} around various core themes
5:45 -- reconvene, focus in on core themes, discuss team creation
6pm -- eat dinner/discuss next steps informally

For us, the internal goals are to develop new leaders, expand the number of those involved in planning/organizing events, lessen our own workload over time, and give more people ownership over the sort of community we're building.

Feel free to comment with any thoughts on this, and I'll definitely report back to let everyone know how this baby goes down...!

Friday, December 1, 2006

The Many Faces of MHSanFran resident Isaac Zones

From Borat to Ballstars, Voter-Info Night to Very-fun Retreat - November marked an incredible month in the life of Isaac Zones.

Having already seen the movie in a sneak preview - I knew what my friends were in for when I rallied the troops for an incredible night of Borat. My girlfriend, Vivian, and I (picutured to left) dressed in character and my family even tagged along too. Wah Wah Wee Wah!

Days later we got the Matzah Ball Stars back together for a fun pick-up game which we are hoping to turn in to a monthly tradition until our season picks up again in the spring (eat that East Coasters - sports in the winter!). Inspired by the movie - my team's name was the "Back Pussies." In the evening we did a voter info night co-sponsored with the Progressive Jewish Alliance where we got everybody ready for the big election in California.

A few days later we had one of my favorite events yet - The Matzah Ballstars (Softball Team) awards dinner to recognize all of the great play we had this past fall. Some awards included a trophy with leather chaps on it commemorating East Bay Moishe resident - Brady Gill's invaluable contribution to the team on and off the field. I also received one of the best presents I ever could have hoped for - a sweatshirt with a ridiculous picture of myself on the back and the phrase "I love to huddle" on the front (which is true).

In addition to poker night, a dinner with we four San Fran residents and a couple of events that actually happened without us - I also participated heavily in the MH retreat in November! Beyond putting most of the food for the weekend on my credit card - I also organized a lot of the weekend and lead quite a bit of it too. The retreat got me re-energized for this project after doing Moishe House for an entire year (in Dec) and I now love my life more than ever!!

Oh...and - Boom Boom Yum Yum - represents America's approach toward foreign policy - bomb all the commies and then lick up the profits!

What I did last month...

Wah wah wee wah! That is about all I could say after seeing Sasha Cohen's anti-Semitic art film about modern European aristocracy. NOT!!! What a F&%#$^@ brilliant movie and it was even better to see it with fifteen or so other Moishe House faithful. Oh and the beers we sneaked in to the theater helped. But Moishe House is not all about drinking and fraternizing (only on the good days), and this was highlighted at the Moishe House retreat.

I never thought I would be a pioneer in Jewish community organizing. At our retreat at Zaca Lake I could tell that I was not alone. But the retreat invigorated me and I now see my role with a new sense of purpose and responsibility. Wah wah wee wah!

Can you name this Moishe House regular?