Saturday, March 31, 2007

woo hoo
so i am officially a useless blogger
a. cause we never have working internet (africa, you know)
b. i'm reletively lazy when it comes to this kind of thing
anyway, my apologies...
the first month in the house has been, well, amazing to say the least.
we've eaten heartily, made some good friends and strengthened bonds with the old (including with each other), we've shouted at emma for being such a dirty housemate and we made food with lots of onions and garlic (our two national vegetables).
thereaftere, we taped a matress over emma's door so she couldn't get out.
oh, the fun living with other Jews is just astounding - it's even inspired me to go to my local synagogue twice since we've moved in... a whole two more times than last year.
of course, we are busy with our everyday lives - this includes calling our internet service provider for at least an hour a day, breaking the gate of the house and not getting it fixed (oh the crime, the crime) and sitting on our balcony till the early hours debating and discussing.
then, there is table tennis. what a distraction, as the frustration and competitive spirit of all come out.
daanie used to think he was good, but he's really become quite average. i feel sorry for him, as he lives all alone at the bottom of the house and has few friends to interact with. it's almost as if table tennis was his one and only love. but now that's all changed.
nonetheless, despite the inadequacies of us all, we still have our moishe house to love and cherish, which makes every day worth living.
the end.

Friday, March 30, 2007

In Moishe House Jerusalem, we have a snack drawer. It's the middle drawer down immediately to the right of the fridge and you never know what you'll find there--but it's where to go to find the perfect afternoon nosh or complement to a movie night. It's probably my favorite part of our house (Andrew and Jacob can attest to my snacking tendencies), but more than that, it really embodies what Moishe House means for us. Although we have our planned events every month, we also have a constant stream of people coming through our house at all times--friends learning in yeshiva or midrasha who need a place to sleep in Jerusalem for a night, random friends of friends, people we pick up off the street, etc... (not so much the last part, but we just joined Couchsurfing, an internet network that allows people to post their "couches" online and invites people traveling through their area to come stay for a night or two). Anyway, the snack drawer is known to regulars here, and people feel free to take whatever they want or need; it adds to the atmostphere of a home away from home for all who pass through, which is what we're really aiming to create. In the same vein, people know they can also always come for Shabbat or anytime, and that we'll take them in--something that we wouldn't necessarily be able to do without the support of Moishe House. I wouldn't go so far as to say that the snack drawer should be part of the Moishe House requirements wouldn't hurt!!
At the beginning of March, I took a vacation. My trip to Europe was eye-opening to say the least. I liked Budapest, but I loved Vienna. The moment I stepped out of the train station in Vienna, I knew that I want to study abroad in Europe, overflowing with history and culture, Vienna whetting my desire to explore the rest of Western Europe. I thrive in the cultural intermingling of the cosmopolitan atmosphere, absent in America, well at least in Houston. Both cities are great for walking, with a long history and thus lots to see and do. Bratislava, on the other hand, is a relatively tiny city, crumbling (literally the buildings are visibly deteriorating) after fifty years of Soviet rule. The differences between Bratislava/Budapest and Vienna blatant, Communism envelops the physical landscape as well as the people of Eastern Europe, disillusioned with the promises of improvement of their governments since the fall of the Soviets and admittance into the European Union.
Toward the end of March, some Moishe-Housers and I ventured to Bethlehem through Encounter of the Holy Land Trust, a program designed to foster dialogue between international Jews (as Israeli citizens are forbidden to enter Zone A areas of the West Bank, the areas of dense Palestinian settlement) and non-violent Palestinian activists. We toured the security fence/wall, the Hope Flowers School (a secular institution promoting peace and democracy), Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Nahalin (three villages around Bethlehem, the inhabitants of which will be significantly affected by the completion of the security fence), and various sites of house demolition. The highlights of the trip were the session meeting and having dialogue with Palestinian high school and university aged students and the Palestinian home stay. I plan to participate in the follow-up trip in Hevron in April.
I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity this year to travel--an experience that truly teaches that which cannot be taught in a classroom or learned from watching television, and I have arrived at one overarching conclusion about the improvement of humanity, thus far: empathy and selflessness are imperative to combating the social, political and economic injustices of the world. I must use the best of my resources to combat class rigidity, corruption and poverty and I am so glad that Moishe House has helped me to expand my horizons in this way.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Moishe House Exploding

This month has been huge. Our community is coming together to create the experiences of Judaism that they are seeking, and the members of our house have really started stepping into the roles of facilitators and supporters for the dreams that our community want to create--a Jewish experience filled with creativity, spiritual exploration, and striving for justice. I just took a count on the mintranet, and Moishe House Boston has organized 20 events in the month of March. Twenty.

Let me provide an example of how incredible our community is. The Shabbat team, a group of folk in our community who make Shabbat experiences happen through the house, has been meeting monthly. Last week, there was a meeting in our house that occured entirely independently of house members--other members of our community facilitated, organized, and attended. I was in New York City for the night, so I called in to participate in the meeting by phone. But it was amazing--just a few months ago, Margie and I were organizing Shabbat basically on our own on behalf of the community, and now there is this incredible dynamic group of people in our community who are taking it into their own hands, and I can focus my efforts in supporting this amazing group, rather than on working on my own on behalf of the community. The experience has been somewhat like starting a concert as the performer and having it gradually transform into a jam session in which everyone is playing.

Inspiration All Around

In my living room, I’m surrounded by amazing people, finger painting, having a heart to heart about unleashing our artistic creativity as we mash goopy colors onto shiny paper.

At the Boston Labor Seder, at a table with workers, labor organizers, and young Jews. In every direction, I see our social justice team leaders, beaming with pride that we pulled off a gathering of 130 Jews, interfaith clergy, workers, and organizers, despite that the Jewish Labor Committee decided it didn't have the resources to plan the Labor Seder this year. Big wigs in the Jewish community tell us this is the best Labor Seder ever. They tell us this is the first time in years that young Jewish have worked so effectively to create an event for the broader Jewish community, and that the interfaith, inter-class, inter-racial, inter-generational nature of the event makes it so much more powerful.

At Shabbat dinner, Ruthie - a spunky activist that I met at the Labor Seder and invited to dinner – sits down next to me. She tells me, “Margie, I wanted to thank you. I went to day school through eighth grade, but after that I ran as fast and as far as I could from the Jewish community. It felt like a risk coming here tonight, but I’m glad I did. This is the first time I’ve felt comfortable in a room of Jews since 6th grade. "

These are just three moments over the last two weeks. At Moishe House Boston, it's like we witness miracles on a weekly basis, -- someone opening up for the first time, getting turned on to Jewish ritual and practice, making the connection between religion and social justice, friendships forming, leaders emerging.

Being part of this house gives me so much faith in the potential for young people to create their own Jewish communities. It gives me faith that when we set high expectations and believe that young people can think deeply and act boldly, our peers step up.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lions, Tigers, and HAMAN boooooooooo!

So, just wanted to kick it off by saying how much of a b-l-a-s-t this year's Purimpalooza party was for us Montevideans. It took place in this brand spanking new dope bar (Pony Pisador) in the middle of downtown Montevideo Uruguay. With all the publicity we did including flyers, an email database, and a HUGE banner hung over two of the principle streets in Pocitos (the Jewish 'hood), we had over 450 guests walk the door dressed in such costumes as an iPod, a pharoah, a hippie (me--and what a stretch it was), a cook, and Where's Waldo (there may be a trademark on that). To our luck we had a large group of American and Canadian university students visiting our Uruguayan Jewish youth, and approximately 55 "gringos" were able to spend their first Purim outside of the US and they did it in style. Folks from University of Michigan, Michigan State, McGill, and Concordia came to dance the night away and swear at that damn bearded a--whole, Haman for all the pain and suffering he almost caused the Jewish people.
Man, I love this holiday...a day on the Jewish calandar that commands us as a people to let our guard down, to leave our inhabitions at the door, and to throw up all over ourselves (as did Roi, whom I've never seen drink even a sip of anything alcoholic that wasn't Manezshevitz). So Roi thought it would be funny to drink as much whisky and red wine as he could and in any order. That left Zev (the self-proclaimed "mother" of our Moishe House) to clean up after Roi and help him stumble back to our flat. So it was a day of many new things for many of us and a great day for Moishe House Montevideo.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Purim SA - Food and Drink is exhausting

Cooking a meal for 40 people is tiring stuff especially when one hasnt showered, gotten dresed and smells like onions and people are arriving in 2 minutes but its the rush that makes it all worth while.
An awesome party we had at our place. Alot, I mean alot of eating, alot of meat, salad, pasta, chicken, u name it. Some wine, of course, as is customary, and some crazy dress ups. Karla and Gabi, 2 good friends of ours decided to dress up as Moulin Rouge style chicks which seemed to be to the liking of maany of the people their especially our DJ friend, Wags.

We did a little dance, some people made a little love and then by that time it was time to lie down tonight.
Well done to all the house mates on what was a ton of work.
We also had a few young kids pop in as the children of this one old, yet kewl, guy in the communit decided to pop in.
Thank you to Kevin for taking 5 photos the whole event and then your messing up your own camera for the night.

Peace and Shavua Tov,


Monday, March 12, 2007

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly PURIM party

While Lee and Dave were in Southwest USA shooting skaters with cameras, I managed to put on the biggest MoHoWeHo event of the year!
Knowing that our community would need a little more motivation than just a "Purim Party", I decided to slap on a costume theme that would speak well to this film industry saturated town: THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Quite simply, dress as a movie character that fits one of those themes. The party was a huge success, with more than 50 in attendance! Everyone had a blast and by the end of the night no one knew the difference between Mordachai (GOOD) and Haman (BAD)--also relating back to our genius theme. Michael Silver clearly had the best costume with his homemade "Towelee" (South Park), and took home the prize in the good category. Even Hannah dressed up. She wore an old school Cleveland Indians jersey as Wild Thing Rick Vaughn (bad). We awarded prizes to the best costume in each category:

GOOD: Little Miss Sunshine DVD and the new Norah Jones CD.
BAD: The Departed and James Brown's 50 Greatest Funkin' Hits
UGLY: Jackass 2 and Gnarls Barkley

Make sense?

We had plenty of food and hamentashen. Instead of encouraging people to bing mishloach manot for each other, we asked that everyone bring a can of food to donate to those who aren't fortunate to have such a good time this Purim. We collected about 25 cans of food.

Thank you Moishe, especially Brady, for making this night possible for our community.

Nate a.k.a. ELWOOD BLUES!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Why Blog when you can comment!

(This was left as a comment on Norah's blog)

I am just going to comment on other people's blog because for the life of me I can't seem to start my own. So then there were three. Stephen left us which will force to rest of us to pay attention to what is going on. He was definitely was the most organized of all of us. We had our biggest event in months this past Saturday with our Purim party. There were over 200 and plenty of great costumes. I had a number of my friends puking in the alley behind the building so I guess they were successful in their Purim promise. We as a house are really excited about some upcoming events. We are trying to plan more exciting evets for the spring including surfing, paintballing and possibly a rafting trip. So in closing life is good.
-Jonathan, Seattle

Monday, March 5, 2007

I Feel Good

This month has been very busy but I feel good about that. After a month of living in Hoboken I finally we as if we are slowly building up a base and drawing Jews from the greater Hoboken area. Tonight we are having an event and my friend from Jersey City is going to come and we have active participation from various Hoboken people. Today Ami, a native, called me and asked me what kind of food he could bring for Shabbat. It felt really good to see someone taking the initiatve and really excited to take part in these events.

We spoke to Levi this week and I have to say that while I had to leave the phone call early, I really enjoyed it. He gave us so many great ideas about how to spice up our events and opened our minds to possibilities and stipulations that we weren't even aware. I know that the next month of programming will be so much more exciting because of his great ideas.

On a personal note, I've been sick the last few days which makes things just a bit more crazy. Things are busy at work and the law school process moves forward. I got accepted this week to Notradame with a great scholarship. I think the idea of a black jew studying with the fighting Irish would sure make life interesting.

I recently read this article by David Gordis, a Jewish intellectual, about the future of Israel and the Jewish people. This article expressed what I have been feeling for a long time - that now that we have the state of Israel, a secure Jewish presence in the United States, what is the vision for the Jewish people? What is our purpose? What is the great idea that will unify our nation? I realy want to have a Moishe House event, a round table discussion, about what young Jews feel is the future of our people and what separates us. What unique vision to we have to recreate our destiny? If Zionism has completed its goals, what is next? J.R. Rothstein / NJ

Women's Retreat

This month, six young women did something none of us
had ever done before: came together to spend a retreat
weekend exploring and sharing our thoughts and
feelings on young adulthood and womanhood. The
inspiration to carve time out of our busy lives for a
women’s retreat came to me when I was on the Moishe
House retreat at Zaca Lake remembering the powerful
potential of retreat space for deep reflection and
connection between participants. Thus the first-ever
weekend-long Moishe House program was born! The six
core members of the MHSF women’s group, interested in
leadership and planning, came together to spend a
weekend on the Russian River in a small house nestled
in a beautiful Redwood grove.

I asked Jane Zones, medical sociologist and
early women’s health advocate, to join us for the day
on Saturday to facilitate discussion. Jane is a leader
in the Re-Evaluation Counseling community, and I had
had the chance to participate in discussion she had
facilitated before, to outstanding success. Before the
retreat, I asked the ladies to fill out a short survey
to help guide my programs for the retreat, and Jane’s
discussion points, which responded to the desires of
the participants. After driving up caravan-style and
making a delicious Shabbat dinner, sharing our
blessings from the week, and playing some silly and
thoughtful ice-breakers Friday night, we spent the day
of Saturday sharing our thoughts, feelings, fears,
challenges, and hopes with Jane facilitating. The
exercise undoubtedly shed light for each of us and
brought us together in a deeply meaningful way. It was
special for all of us to spend time with Jane, who is
a mother and grandmother, since we are all living here
in the Bay Area away from home and the communities of
women we may more traditionally rely upon for advice
or support.

We relaxed Saturday night in the hot tub, and
stayed up late talking and laughing. Sunday morning we
packed up and did a closing game that I had planned
before the retreat began. Each of us brought a book
that was especially meaningful or influential in our
lives to give as a gift. Over the course of the
weekend, we each chose a receiver for our books, and
presented them to each other with special wishes and
thoughts for that person – it was a great way to close
the meaningful weekend we had enjoyed together.

Then we piled into cars again, stopping on the way
back to the city for a quick lunch and wine-tasting in
the Russian River valley.

The six of us are meeting this week for dinner
to re-connect and talk about taking some of the ideas
we had over the retreat and making them a reality for
our group. The retreat was an exceptional opportunity
for each of us, and for our community here in San
Francisco to foster leadership and bonding between
young women.

Is Winter Over Yet

As one of four California transplants in Moishe House DC, I really don't get what this fuss about global warming is all about. It's cold here and we're all suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a condition so new and so painful to me that I really don't care if that capitalization is presumptuous. I'd put the whole thing in caps if my fingers weren't too numb to stretch all the way to that damn caps lock button.

So I'm taking action. Sometimes I get into cabs and tell the drivers just to drive until I say stop. I leave the heater on even when nobody is home, which is an especially altruistic gesture considering the massive gas bill, but I read somewhere that natural gas is one of the less destructive environmental agents, so I guess it's just compensation, really. I know that bovine flatulence heats things up, and I assume that the human bowels can't be that much more evolutionarily advanced, so, well, let's just say that I've been spending lots of lunches out at the Mexican joint by our house. I should think of way to get all these selfless gestures onto my resume.

Tragically, Moishe House DC lacks adequate heating on the ground floor. The oil in our kitchen is coagulated, our pipes have been frozen in the past, and breath is commonly opaque. So I propose an addendum to the Moishe House mission statement: To populate the frigid spaces of Moishe House DC's ground floor with hot Jewish bodies, so the earth can be a greener and, unfortunately, a colder place. Also, it might smell a little better.

Adam in DC

I love non competitive sports!

I just want to say that competitive sports are way over rated! People get so caught up in who wins or who loses and they lose track of where the fun's at! Sports is not about winning or losing but about playing the game! I am sick and tired of watching basketball and football and baseball where people are so driven by the urge to WIN!!! No one's smiling. No one's laughing. It's all shouts and screams. If I had it my way I would just take the scores out! If every basket sunk earned a player a really nice hug or piece of candy I think they would play just as hard; if not harder! Three points could be rewarded with a really nice flower or something, heck I don't know! I just think we're sending our kids and ourselves the wrong message. A man very dear to me once said, "if you're not first you're last!" Well I've got a new saying.

"If you're not first you are still special in my book so keep playing as hard as you can and feel good about yourself no matter what people might say because people don't know what they're talking about!"

You're probably asking yourself why am I writing this? Well I'll tell you. Manishevitz Revenge! I went to Moishe Soft Ball practice yesterday and it was perfect. Our time wasn't spent on trying to win, but trying to love... through sports. All ctaches were good catches; even the ones that included the ball bouncing out of a mit and rolling on the ground for an extended period of time! After the game we all got in a line and gave high fives. back when I was in highschool we would all spit in our hands. No one even thought to do that yesterday- except for Dena who likes to spit on her hand and then touch other people with it either on their hand or with a slimy finger in their ear.

In conclusion I love non-competitive sports and I hate Wet Willies.


March Madness

March is here. Adar is now. So let the happiness enter. MHDC Purim was a great start to the second half of our first year with Moishe House. 200 people attended and all had a great time. Shabbat dinners are continuing to attract veterans and rookies alike. We've got an exciting month ahead of us with new programs and new partnerships. We showed an Israeli film, Sof HaOlam Smolah (Turn Left at the End of the World), last night and attracted a nice, mostly new crowd, of 15. We are hosting a salon in about two weeks which I'm very excited about. That's about it for now but will definately keep you all posted!

much love,
C Silvs

Levi has come home to roost

So LEVI has moved to the Bay Area and this IS a very big deal. Levi is A man who gets things done I feel that San Francisco could use his go Get'emness. San Francisco has grown stagnant and needs Levi to DOUCHE it out! Be careful suits downtown! Clear out BAG ladies! Levi's here and HE comes packing heat! When else HAS one man brought so much to A city? Some might say what about Gaven Nusome but I say he is but a SMALL man compared to our Levi. What about Henry WANG? "PEH!" I say! Frankly Levi is the new hotness. He is the new Jelly to our toast. BUT seriously, WE can only speak kindly of this man. I STILL remember our adventures in Cambodia as if they were yesterday and they fill me with such LOVE. All bow down to HIM. He is a a grand man!

All hail Levi!


A Fantastic February

February is just one of those months. A short number of days, unpredictable weather, hot cocoa by the fireplace, the scent of baseball season around the corner, snowboard season is in full effect. These were all very true statements for myself in the East Bay house this past month. Another birthday came and went, and now I am no longer part of the young 20 year olds crowd. Ski trips were few and far between, though I am still hopeful I can squeeze a few more trips under my belt come spring time. A handful of days with beautiful weather managed to remind us spring time weather is soon upon us. However, torrential downpoors and three foot snowstorms in the Sierras reassured the reality we are still in the winter months.

Purim was a nice start to the month of March, and what a month to look forward to. Moishe House softball is in full effect with two squads this spring! The madness of college basketball, the beauty of daylight savings, long spring afternoons, all to be rounded out with the communal gathering of Passover come the first week of April. Although I am a snow bunny at heart, the lull of winter months is in our past, and the oportunistic future of spring flowers and wearing shorts and flip flops oh so soon is a great thing to look forward to.

Danny in the East Bay
February was the end of an era for Moishe House Seattle. Stephen's departure marks the beginning of the end for all of us. With the weather breaking some days, we can feel spring coming and we look around, and at ourselves, and see change creeping from every angle. This is the start of something new. Mark my words.
But as for February, we were pretty comfortable. The events seemed to form easily and run out smoothly. We mixed it up with museums, concerts, house get-togethers. It was a diverse month in terms of events and it felt pretty good. My life has also been settling into place. the personal and professional balance has started to take form, and I've eased in. For now. It has been very good. March is now here and we kicked it off right with a huge Purim event. With 300 plus people, the mood was right and we began with a bang. We'll have to follow it up well.

Until then,

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Snow in the Sierras

I was fortunate enough to spend the last two weekends in the snowy foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The economically depressed former gold rush counties are home to some of my favorite California scenery. From east to west along Highways 120, 4, 108, 88, and 50 and north to south along 49 sleepy towns with names like Auburn, Grass Valley, Arnold, Murphy, Groveland, Angels, Twain Harte, Sutter Creek, Jamestown, Columbia, and Sonora share a common history and current fate. Today most folks, including myself, only know these places by name as they drive by on their way to more "exciting places" such as Yosemite, Tahoe, and the great national forests of the majestic Sierra Nevada.

Sadly on my last two visits to this region of California I did not get any closer to knowing more about these towns. I merely passed them by while traveling on Highway 4. But what I did notice for the first time was the amazing greenery of the foothills during the winter. Having visited the region countless times in the last spring, summer, and fall I have only seen the brown hills covered in sprawling green oaks and sprinkled with boulder. On this visit the world had been turned upside down. The oaks were bare and the hills were lush with green grasses and swollen seasonal streams.

The beauty of the green California foothills was merely a feather in my cap. The real treasure was hiking and camping in the snow. First at Lake Alpine and this weekend at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The beauty and the mystery of a snow covered forest is incomparable. The intensity of snow camping can also be a humbling experience. My first night in a snow cave it snowed two feet and I found myself buried inside. The extreme environment makes simple tasks like going to take a piss or making safe drinking water difficult and time consuming. By the same token, when the snowfall subsided, I found myself and ten students camping alone in a beautiful state park because no one else was brave enough to stand up to the elements.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

On my own for black history month

February has been crazy. Got a new gig at myspace running music marketing for Canada. Since no one has yet to take my old position, I am juggling both the old and new. I've also been holding down the Moishe fort since Dave and Lee embarked on their journey through the dirty dirty an the southwest. Hannah is pissed at Lee for leaving her for so long. As the Jewish princess she is, she pooped in his room on two occassions. It smelled. I had to throw out Lee's rug. Nevertheless, Hannah is still a slut and has been having a lot of fun at our events. The highlight of February was the Super Bowl party, but we also had a fun event at Wyclef Jean party at House of Blues.

Last night was our Purimpalooza party. I called it: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly". Everyone had to dress as one of those things. We had at least 50 people here. Stay tuned for next blog!


Back in the USSA

While Lee from LA has been traveling the US, seeing cows, gators and hillbillies. Leo from DC has been traveling Guyana seeing cows, caimans, and rural Guyanese villages. I got to spend the last few days of February with my MHDC boys, and, as David snow! Sadly it hasn't warmed up to my hopes of 75 degrees. It has been great to step back into Moishe's shoes and see where MHDC has gone since I last left home. Our Purim party last night was huge....I mean HUGE!!! So many new faces and new excited moishees and moishettes. With a growing list of newbies I can only imagine what is going to come. We might even have to scale down. I began thinking that with 40 people regularly attending Shabbat dinners, we are more successful than most Hillel Houses across the country (that is no insult to Hillel, which does great work and provides us with fun Shabbat informational fliers). Anyway, all I can say is that it is good to be home. I am looking forward to spring and all the outdoor Moishe events and BBQs to come!

All the best,

Leo (MHDC)

Saturday, March 3, 2007


we've been getting 30-45 peeps to shabbat every week now. I can't even imagine what turnout'll be like now that the snow is over and it's starting to warm up outside.

so I led a group to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum the other week, which was way overdue. It was incredibly moving and pretty much everyone was devastated and rebuilt about six or seven times by the end of the tour. But I say overdue largely because we live in such a unique city with so much to offer in terms of facilities, monuments, organizations, and perspectives, allowing us to really mine into a deep store of resources for fulfilling and creative Jewish programming. I'm very glad we been lucky enough to start a Moishe House out here.

on an additional note, we had the pleasure of playing host to two of the FFoundation's finest: Phil-a-buster and Levi-rite marriage themselves! aside from one frightening Indiana Jones-esque incident in which Phil almost fell off an icy cliff in the course of his filming duties, the biggest surprise was when we were expecting an ordinary shabbas and instead had an extraordinary one with some excellent interviews filmed and good times had. I'm glad they came, and I think we learned a lot from them.

well, as Purim close approaches, I bid a hearty and healthy chag sameach to you all. My your groggers be loud and your hamentashen succulent.


Friday, March 2, 2007


After the last out had been recorded in our final playoff Matzah Ballstars game last fall there was an amazing sense of loss that overwhelmed me. Our softball season had it's ups and downs, but as a whole was one of the most valuable experiences I have had as part of a team. And now it was over.

This past month the next chapter in the Matzah Ballstars history began. On Monday, February 5th past Ballstars and a number of hopefuls gathered at 1250 Fell Street for delicious pizza and our first ever Moishe House Softball Draft. Forms were passed out to organize our prospects, and the managers were sequestered in a closed door meeting to divide more than 35 players into two teams.

As one of the managers I was involved with, and privy to, all the behind the scenes action. This, in no small way, was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to be involved in the creation of my own sports team. Hundreds of times while watching my beloved local pro teams flounder once again I have imagined how I would reconstruct these franchises to achieve optimal performance. Finally I had my chance.

We wheeled and dealed, compromised, and most importantly, laughed at ourselves throughout the entire night. After all was said and done my co-managers and I found ourselves with both a talented and spirited bunch. When we emerged from our meeting we were happy and eager to make the announcement of who what play for each team. As names were announced many cheered, high fives were exchanged, and nods of approval could be seen throughout the room of players.

Now my team stands at the brink of a new season. Armed with a new fierce name, the Yamakazees, and a willingness to makes this another great season, I have nothing but the highest of hopes for what's to come. Let's play ball!

Praises for PurimPalooza Party

Thanks to Brady Gill and the Forest Foundation's hard work we were able to usher in another massive Jew party in this city by the bay. We got a great deal on renting out The Canvas Gallery - a classy joint just blocks away from the house I grew up in and where my parents still live. With 150 humentaschen laid out for the ensuing crowd we got the evening started with a schticky Jewish Surf Rock band called Meshugga Beach Party. They effectively got the party rolling with lightening fire licks on songs like "Niggun Atik" and "Mayim Mayim" and the horah dancing was not far behind.

A brief clown act laid the way for all star DJ's Teeko and Max Kane of 4oneFunk. Teeko - also known as Shimon - also known as my best friend since Kindergarten - has done 2 apples n honey shows in the Bay Area including one in our house last October that was off the hinges.

The best part of the whole evening was that because of the generous money put out by the Forest Foundation we were able to have all proceeds picked up at the door go directly to former students of mine in Kenya. In 2003 I taught math at a high school in a rural village called Shikokho in the Western Province for 6 months (left - where's waldo?). Since then I've been raising money when I can to help my former students continue with their high school education (which is not free in Kenya and is inaccessible to many of the children of subsistence farmers) and even for a few of the most talented to continue on with University and trade schools. We raised nearly $500 at the door which will put a student through almost a full year of University.

Thanks much to the Forest Foundation for making this all possible. Chag Purim Sameach!!

Travel Blog

Hey everyone out there in moishe land. I have been traveling the United States for most of the month of Feb. I have seen hillbillies, cows, gators, eating contests, skateboarders and more. I have been spreading the word of Moishe across the land. Nate our fearless worrior has been planning and taking care of things at the LA moishe crib. A big warm pat on the back for that guy. Dave has been here the whole time taking in the sights and sounds that this lovely country has to offer. We will be back soon and can't wait to continue the fun in the sunny town known as Moishe House LA.

Selfishly Yours,

Lee Levin

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Make My Funk the M-Funk

A great February moment in our house was the first Moishe House Boston Jam. We had a little funk, a little jazz, a little Shlomo, a little Jimi, a little Britney, a little Eye of the Tiger, and some original poetry.

We had a Moishe House moment when Jonathan, a holy man who just recently has become part of our community, read a poem by a friend of his who lives in the new Hoboken house. Jonathan explained that his friend from Moishe House Hoboken told him about the Moishe House network, and that is how he found us. So thank you, Moishe House Hoboken, for the poetry and for Jonathan.

transitions galore

The coming of spring in Seattle is sorta like the coming of Meshiach. We even had the plague of barad (hail) rain down on us yesterday.

Both come with their fair share of growing pangs. My pang came Monday as I (finally) resigned from my job, effective March 15. Of course, my (over-reactive) boss had different plans for me. On Tuesday, I found out that Wednesday (yesterday) would be my last day.

I felt blacklisted.

After an emotional last 72 hours, I find myself blissfully unemployed, Purim-prepping (our Moishe Purim-palooza will be extravagent and awesome on Saturday night), and a bit in shock with...time off.

The plan is the relish the time off, get my mintranet things due in on time, and learn guitar. Oh, and pray more. I appreciate my relationship with the divine, but I have been super tuned out since taking this job...mostly because if I took notice of the beauty of the world, I would be sad at how I could not enjoy it. Ah, but that too did pass, and I finally woke us...just in time for spring, my 28 birthday, and planning for how to become engaged with my sweetie with true kavana.

Hope other Moishe-niks are enjoying this season of transition!

Life on the road

So I'm not sure if all the Moisheniks know but Lee and I are working on the road filming a skateboard lifestyle dvd as well as web content. (quick A big shoutout to our Moishe House roommate Nate Dogg for keeping the Los Angeles House alive while away. Anyways, our tour so far has taken us across the southern part of the country from Florida to Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. It really hasn't been so much fun and games....more like work, eat, travel, and sleep but we're still enjoying the experienes along the way.
One characteristic of this part of the country that I've noticed the most is how much Christianity is part of the landscape. In each town we traveled past it seemed there were more and more churches, many of which seemed to be the cleanest structures in the town especially in poorer neighborhoods. It really got me thinking about how important religion is to people in this part of the country and how immersed it is in the people's decisions. It appeared that many of the problems in life that everybody has were trying to be answered by the church. For example, "Marriage Problems? Ask Jesus for Help" or "Questioning Homosexuality? Change is Possible; Discover Jesus". As a reform Jew, I had never felt so out of place spiritually. I don't think I ever felt attacked on my own thoughts and beliefs but more shocked that another religion was influential unto the thought process of it's followers. It's odd looking at a billboard expecting to see an ad for the next McDonalds and seeing a religious ideology instead.
I'm starting to realize that feeling so religiously out of place is the true spirit of what the Moishe House is; a place where you can truly feel welcome with other Jews. Being from Los Angeles, a place with a high Jewish population, I never feel out of place or estranged from my heritage. However, being in such a highly religiously idealized part of the country has opened my eyes to how small a percentage of the world Jews really are.....which I believe is 1/3 of 1%. The Moishe Houses in Montevideo, Nigeria, and South Africa must be extremely important to Jews in the area as an outlet to recognizing other Jews in the area.
So thats my thought from the road........hope all are doing well in the MH!!!!!!!
~Dave MHLA

Boston Rocks the Labor Seder

Hi all.

Just wanted to report an awesome development in the house. Thanks to Ben and his leadership on our social justice team, we are helping to coordinate the city-wide labor seder. Usually the Jewish Labor Committee does it, but this year they are planning a big fundraiser and don’t have time. So our house, with our collection of young people, are putting on a major Jewish community event.

Last week, about 10 of us got together for our second planning meeting. We split up roles in terms of outreach, logistics, funding, and programming, and our crew is set up make it all happen in a period of three weeks. We are bringing together labor staff and workers, Jewish community members, rabbis and rabbinical students, Christian and Muslim religious leaders, youth groupers.

At the Seder itself, we plan to have Hebrew college students and Moishe House folks we’ve recruited pair up with JLC board members as table co-leaders, who will facilitate the Seder at each table. We’ll also have some group wide moments. For example, at each of the four cups of wine, a local worker will talk about his/her campaign, and we hope to get kids to do a creative version of the 4 questions, worker justice style.

Anyway, I am just really excited about the thought and effort being put in to this event. Five of our new leaders are really taking leadership, and several of our veterans are not only leading, but also helping to teach others how to lead. I feel like this is not only going to be a great event and develop new leaders, but also put us on the map as a real social justice force in the city.

Go team!

A Funny Life...

Its a funny life I lead. By day I work in an organization dedicated to kiruv or traditional jewish outreach where I am not preciesly the archetype and by night I'm a crazy moishe house wanna be moses attempting to lead the way in community building. I guess the difference is at work their is a certain amount of dogma involved and home with moishe house its what we want it to be. Anyhow, this was a good month, we had people over for a taste testing event, shabat, and many other events. We also planned next month, I got Xbox 360, and we had a terrefic house meeting where we really laid out our long term goals. I think I may have managed to scare some people when I told them I want to go hunting and that I own a rifle, so I guess I can scratch my dream of a moishe house hunting event but I think the moishe house vision is starting to gain traction and honestly they didnt seem scared just surprised. I wonder how they will feel when Perry, my friendly pet ferret moves in (he has been living at my parents do to a fight we had). Its a small world, especially if your Jewish - last sunday a girl who looks just like someone I knew from a few years ago came over for our event. I didnt want to be rude and interupt her while she was schmoozing, some siblings get annoiyed when they feel people only like them because of their brother/sisters, so I waited till she was leaving and I asked her if she had a sister. The answer was affirmative and it was my friend. Even funnier it turns out she has the same landlord as we do. Einstein out. (NJ)

Hard Work!

One thing I realized this month is that getting the house up and running is a lot of hard work; the good thing is, it can be very rewarding. Last week I found myself at a community potluck Shabat dinner, at someone else’s house. Normally I would eat as much of the best food as I can and maybe trade a few words with the people standing next to it. But being the official representative of the Moishe House, and also the guy who made The Big Salad put me in a whole new role, as well as in a spotlight, albeit a small one. As I found out, having a vision, a role, and being excited about it, can certainly turn a few heads. And also it’s a great excuse to approach random people who maybe older than me, or seem unapproachable, or may be there just for the food. For a while I felt a little like a politician running for office, shaking hands, smiling, and sharing my vision of tomorrow. But soon I realized that I was doing much more than that. I heard incredible, fascinating stories, learned a few things about San Juan architecture, the stock market, and the Medicaid deficit... Talking to a new person for a few minutes can be like discovering a new universe - everyone's life is really, really complicated and very interesting if you ask the right questions. So, bottom line, I had a great time and I met a ton of people that night; the only downfall, I still have to pick up the salad bowl.

Eugene Grudnikoff

MH Jersey