Saturday, March 31, 2007
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.
Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Monday, March 5, 2007
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
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
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
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 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.
All hail Levi!
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
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.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
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.
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!
All the best,
Saturday, March 3, 2007
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
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!
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!!
Thursday, March 1, 2007
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.
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!
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!!!!!!!
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.