Monday, December 31, 2007

the kitchen theory - Karen - Chicago Moishe house

so there is this thing that happens at almost every large event. We have this great apartment - nice living room space with couches and chairs and an upstairs with more couches and room talk, and then we have this kitchen - great kitchen - not all that small but shaped the long way - a part of the hallway really. What i find remarkable is the way people congregate in the kitchen - whether we are cooking or not- they lean against the counters, wedge themselves next to the fridge, block the dishes, hide the knives - they love it in there - and for a while i figured it was the food, but then i noticed it occuring even when the food was in the other room - so here are my theories that i will testing in the coming months - maybe it is closeness - it forces people to stand close to eachother and they are craving this human contact- tiny spaces feel more safe like my dog and the way she crams herself under the shed in our backyard instead of sitting out in the open? Maybe in during the times we are cooking and cleaning while they are standing there it makes them feel more helpful? or maybe they just like the bright lights. Anyway - don't worry, i'm on it - i will seek the answers - i will unveil the secrets of the kitchen.

Joe and MHChi December

So December was a slow month here at the Chicago house. We had a rockin' hanukkah party, but i was sick then so didn't have too much to do with it. For other events, i'm sure you can look at what my roommates write; I'm going to take this opportunity to talk instead about biking in a winter city.

So i bike to work most days, and for the past month or so it has been dark out by the time i leave. Also, for the past month or so the roads have been a good combination of icy, sludgy, wet, etc. I have two lights and wear a helmet, so don't go pointing fingers. I'm a pretty safe biker, I go fast and run red-lights, but I'm terrified of every car, moving and parked, so that keeps me in check.
So now that that's established, here are some of my thoughts (ranks?). First of all, talking on cell phones while driving should not just be illegal (it is in Illinois) but also be enforced (it is not, ever). People who are on their cell phones are by far the scariest, the ones who turn right from the left lane all of a sudden w/o a signal and don't even notice you almost flying off your screeching bike trying to stop in time. also, the ones most likely to open their door right after they park right into the bike lane. taxi are pretty bad too, but i'm pretty sure they notice and just don't care. also, honking is so annoying, and on a bike there is no way to reciprocate (maybe i should bike with an airhorn). cities plow the streets, but not the pot-hole strewn shoulder, so i have to bike at the edge of the lane which pisses every car behind me off. ok, and here is a weird one. when cars get near the entrance ramp to the highway, it is like when you open the dog food bag and the dog gets all excited, so much so that it is hard to push the dog out of the way to get the scoop into the bowl. i cross an expressway entrance on the way to and from work everyday and it is by far the worst part of my ride. 50% of cars making left turns onto the highway will go if i'm the only one coming, as if to say, "i see you, but i also know you have to break, so suck it up".
enough ranking. biking is great because a) i get to work faster b)i don't have to worry about parking, c) rush hour/traffic d) one way streets E) gas prices f) insurance or breaking down, etc. g) it it exercise and i'm wide awake when i get there and h) no emissions, sucka. also i) freedom!

for those who don't bike, but live in an environment where it is a viable method of transportation, you should think about it/try it. it is very liberating. no buses/trains/parking. just think about it.

checking out.
happy new year l'kulam!

Ilana Schuman-Stoler; MHCHI; 12/31; so long oh sleven!


It's time to say goodbye to two thousand and seven and what better place to do it than on a public blog! This year has been fun! Delicious! Delightful! I still feel like there is so much left to figure out as I move through the beginnings of figuring out my existence. Becoming a part of Moishe House these past few months has pushed me to do things and go out to find things that I would otherwise have skipped or overlooked and for that I am so grateful! I also started a new job during these past few months that has been extremely tiresome and frustrating but I have definitely learned from it and I continue to go forth and work hard and to be honest, Moishe House has kept me focused and has forced me to go out and have fun even on the hardest nights after the longest day of work. I hope that next year I will find more ways to live my life happy and satisfied and I will continue to work hard and push myself towards a life that I am proud of.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our first Moishe month

I felt we had a very successful first month as a Moishe House here in Montevideo. We hosted 9 events, some big, some small, an average of about 17 guests at each one. For me though, the real measure of success is how much fun people are having at our events, and those levels seemed pretty high.

Coming into the month I had no doubts that our events would be fun, since we have fun just living together, but I was worried about planning so many events and getting people to come. It averages out to one event every three or four days, and to have any variety that requires a lot of ideas.

The task of bringing the community together seemed daunting, and it does take some time and effort. Fortunately our house works well together, and everyone's willing to help out to make sure the place is always presentable and welcoming, and to spread the word about our events. For this it helps that we're already so active in the community and know a lot of Jewish people our age. (Lior, Elkana, Yonatan, and Zev are Shlichim at Yavne, one of the Jewish day schools here. I work at Hillel Uruguay.) All of our event promotion has been through word of mouth, which seemed to work just fine. Between the five of us inviting people, and the guests who wound up bringing more of their friends, getting a lot of people to come over turned out not to be as hard as I thought.

My other main concern, hosting a sizeable amount of events, also somehow seemed to resolve itself. Some of the events, like the Israeli sleepover and Sunday Night Futbol, were pretty spur-of-the-moment. I actually believe that more and more of our events will be that way as we develop as a Moishe House. People will wind up coming more and more often just to hang out, and as a group we'll do what we feel like doing when we feel like doing. It think we will have accomplished a lot once our community starts gathering itself together automatically like this.

Aside from our Moishe House helping bring the community together, our events have also helped me personally to meet more people, which is great, something that I really enjoy. And I feel that the five of us residents have grown closer through working on a shared project together too. My Moishe experiences have all been very positive so far, and I'm looking forward to having many more.

Jay Krefman
Moishe House Montevideo

MH Chicago, Caren M.

I was recently forwarded an article published on Nextbook about the Moishe House program. In the newest Foundation Flash there were also comments and a link to the article. I personally believe that all Moishe House participants should read the article and believe it would be a valuable discussion topic at the retreat in January. I found the article to be a negative portrayal of the program, it's participants and it's funders. It made me question my connection to the program and this network of community we are building. What I admire about the program is the flexibility and freedom that is encouraged but in reading this article it comes across as being the major weakness. I believe that the staff at the Forest Foundation have a lot of trust and commitment to our work and it was truly discouraging to read something with such a negative tone. We were selected because of our experience and interest in social justice, Judaism and community- this hardly seems the case in the article. I strongly believe in critique and was interested in reading an outsiders view of the program, but was saddened by the tone and overall theme of the article. I am curious for other reactions...

Moishe House London - Joel - December

Here in London it makes sense that December should be a time for hibernation. The shortness of the days - light at 8, dark by 4 at times - is more pronounced here than many other places. Back at the start of the month I felt I was doing quite well with the season, but by two and a half weeks in, the solstice still to come, the darkest time of the year, I felt ready for a change.

It's at times like these you look for extra stores of will and resource. I feel now, looking back, like I got through that pre-solstice dip on pure energy, resilience, faith and creativity. As the long term at college finally reached its end I turned my attention more firmly towards 'Yeshivah of the Absurd', the theatre project I've been working on, first for performance in the house to an audience small enough for the space and then taking it up to Limmud Conference in Warwick for a Christmas Day show to who knows how many. In the end it was a tremendous success. We created a kind of interactive fantasy Jewish learning playground (if you thought such a thing were possible), with a healthy dose of misanthropy and darkness. I think from the photos below (taken from you'll get an idea of the kind of spectacle and stir we caused. 150 people turned up and to us performers it felt like a shot of adrenaline.

One more picture for you - at the end of last month I said I was to be featured in a Time Out article on fashion and faith. Well, link to the article is here and this is the photo they featured:

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lone Soldier Galore

This week has probably been the busiest week in Moishe House Tel Aviv’s history. We have seen about 20 different lone soldiers, representing France, Canada, Scotland, England, and the U.S. Many times soldiers leave directly from the Moishe House where they have been relaxing as civilians, and go directly to their bases on the borders or even inside of ‘enemy territory’. While they are probably used to the stark contrast that may come from morning to afternoon on any given day, it has been strange knowing that a guy sitting on my couch in the morning may be facing or letting off shots that very afternoon. It is nice to give them a real break from the stresses of being a soldier in such a tense situation.

On another note, we went to Bethlehem for Christmas day and saw the beautiful city and all the tourists from all over the world. We made a video that you can check out here...

- Tamir, Tel Aviv

Friday, December 28, 2007

Rebecca from MHPhilly

Greetings from Philly...well, Milwaukee actually. I've spent the past week visiting my family in my home state of Wisconsin, and it's been wonderful. I used to long for the family that I leave behind every time I return to Philadelphia, but with the great community that has developed in MHP, I'm now eager to get back.

December was a light month for us, what with finals, work ending early in the month and people traveling here and there, but we had a great time just the same. There were lots of Hannukah celebrations in the community, and we did our part with a great Latke dinner (thanks for the recipe, dad!). We had an intimate crowd for a lovely, catered Shabbat dinner in the middle of the month that was a great break from the rush that is December. And, of course, the day before I left for Milwaukee, we had an awesome Wet Hot party...the movie was hilarious and the people were lots of fun!!

Even though I'm leaving my family tomorrow, I'm looking forward to the new year and some great times with my MH family. Happy New Year everyone! Can't wait to see you next month!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Aliyah of Moishe House Minsk

This month, Moishe House Minsk took a little field trip...
After everyone handed in their signed permissions slips and participated in a loud count-off, we made our way over to one of the most popular places in Minsk, ICE PALACE. Natasha and I were happy to have Moishe House sponsor this post-shabbat, chill-out activity. It proved to be an interesting experiment in trust building and group cohesion!
When planning the event, we feared that bringing a large group of first-time-ice-skating Jews to the rink might prove catastrophic (or hilarious depending on which way you look at it...) but we learned that most of our Belarusian friends have innate ice skating powers. And most of us non-native Minskers were just as impressive as the famous Jamaican Bobsled team of the distinguished film, "Cool Runnings."

After a frenzy of fastening rental skates and making sure we still had each member of our group, we hit the ice. Literally, for a some of us. But when our Talmudic sages of blessed memory first uttered the famous quotation "All Jews are responsible for one another," or
"כל ישראל ערבין זה לזה," I'd like to believe they had us ice skating Jews in mind.
The most important lesson of the evening was that when ice skating with Moishe House Minsk, you can always count on someone to hold your hand and scrape you up off the ice when you're sure you've bruised your tuchis.

"A" for effort!

Natasha of Moishe House Minsk

Aliyah and Natasha Light the Candles at Moishe House Minsk Chanukah Celebration

Самым моим любимым событием этого месяца было веселое празднование Хануки (Musical Chanukah Celebration).
Ханука - праздник свечей, которые зажигают в честь чуда, происшедшего при освящении Храма после победы войска Иегуды Маккавея над войсками царя Антиоха в 164 году до нашей эры. А чудо, согласно преданию, когда Иегуда Маккавей и его воины очистили Храм, они не смогли найти чистое масло, которое годилось бы для того, чтобы зажечь менору и освятить Храм. После продолжительных поисков все же был найден один небольшой кувшинчик с чистым маслом, но он был так мал, что его могло хватить только на один день горения меноры. НО, произошло чудо: масла хватило ровно на восемь дней. В память об этом чуде праздник Хануки с тех пор отмечается в течение восьми дней.
И до сих пор многие из нас ждут с нетерпением этот праздник. Потому что именно в Хануку без зазрения совести можно наесться вдоволь драников (латкес), которые мы в Мoishe House готовили самостоятельно; а также покушать пончики, приготовленные Эрикой - волонтером JDC; получить Ханука-гелт; зажечь свечи в ханукие и конечно же спеть гимн Хануки - Маоз Цур.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Time 2Time

I remain in a semi delusional state
dreaming above the winds of convention
neither subjugated nor in control

Born of a music dance
an instrument never known

Heading the impulse of rushing tides
drifting on a rock of infinite silence
Surveying diamond caverns just beyond my eye

Moonlight expeditions to rescue that golden word,
infinitely cast through refracted mirrors of glassy fire.

Jesse Stout, Moishe PVD, December 07

This month I'd like to reflect on the interaction of physical space and abstract community. Everyone posting on this blog probably already has some complex conscious or subconscious thoughts about this interaction because of our involvement in the Moishe House Program. Through Moishe, we give "place" to the otherwise intangible community of young Jewish adults living in our respective areas. Well, I'm currently engaged in doing this or something like this for work, too. I run a non-profit called the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition ( RIPAC has been headquartered in my bedroom for the past year and a half. Finally this fall running the organization was too much for me to handle by myself so I hired another staff member, and thus needed an office. This month, I rented an office here on the East Side of Providence and we moved all of RIPAC's corporate belongings from my place to the office. Through cleaning, moving, and decorating, the office has become more than the physical home of the organization -- it has become the tangible center for the patient community for whom we advocate.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

MH-SAC (Jen) Hanukkah and Weddings

Hannukah! It was fun. We had a Hannukah party at our house, and there
were lots of new faces. We have had people join our email list-serve,
because they heard about us from friends or the local synagogue…but a
lot of those people who have been added to the list had not been
coming to the events. But then…they came to the Hannukah party. So, it
was great seeing so many new faces. We met lots of fun people who live
just around the corner from us. While Shama spent most of the party
frying up latkes (thanks Shama!), I talked with people and tried to
get a feel for what types of events they wanted us to do. There seemed
to be a split - half the people wanted us to organize big trips like
ski trips, backpacking trips, etc…and the other half just want more
low-key events like dinner and drinks. So, we will try to have more
"dinner & drink events", and also plan some trips to Tahoe or

On another note, this month is wedding month. 3 weddings within 3
weeks! Our friends Phil & Sonya got married last night. It was a lot
of fun! I will be going to the next 2 solo, because Shama is off to
Israel. Anyone want to be my date?

-MH SAC (Jen)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Diversity in the Holy land

Israel is way more diverse than one might imagine. Before I visited this country, I imagined a country full of white American Jews, basically like New York with an army. Now that I have been living in the Moishe House for Lone Soldiers here in Tel Aviv, I’ve been sharing my home with people from all around the world. We’ve had Brazilians, French people, Englishmen, African-American-Israelis, and even Israeli’s who have Lone Soldier classification in the army because for some reason or another their family could not support them. One guy specifically has an interesting story that I would like to share. His name is Claude, but we call him Putters for some reason. He is from London, and opted to come here on his own and enlist in the IDF. Originally his family is from Iraq, and sometime around 1948 his father traveled from Baghdad to Israel without the help of airplanes or cars. I’m not sure how he managed to make it here (I’m guessing camels were involved) but I imagine it wasn’t easy. Its stories like this that continue to amaze me, and challenge my preconceived notion of the Jewish State.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

MH seattle Azura Newman 12-14-07

Finals are done and I'm trying to catch up with Moishe house stuff. I'm waiting to see if anyone shows up to today's craft circle.

It's a nice slow time so I'm relaxing more than usual.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

MH seattle Azura Newman 12-09-07

Sorry I'm late. I was trying to get my own gmail account set up so I could blog under it but it's not ready yet.

This past month has been very busy and stressfull because it is the end of the quater at school. Plus I've started a torah study group as a Moise house event.

I've also been running the craft circle by myself since Tamar is out of town.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Noam Reisner from Silver Spring

Hello all,

   Amazingly it is that time of the month to check in again. It doesn't seem like that much time has passed. The month of November has on the whole been a pretty good one. Our Shabbloween at the beginning of the month was a huge success and was a lot of fun. We also had our first joint events with Jews United For Justice,  and a Havdala event with a local synogague. These joint events went well and hopefully 
will lead to future joint ventures. Personally, November was a busy month and it's a little bit of a 
relief to have finished. Now we just have to look forward to finishing up 2007 in style. With our list 
of upcoming events, that shouldn't pose too big of a problem. So until next time, have a happy 


Zvi Bellin Silver Spring, MD

DECEMBER! And it's snowing outside.

This past month has yet again been busy!! I think our little Moishe-nik team is getting along better. Love is in the air and we are still a few months away from St. Valentine's day. Moishe month highlight for me was finally meeting Brady in person, and then seeing my roommate dress up for the Rocky Horror picture show. Yes, Alan in fish nets and tight pants ... who would have thought!

Personally -- ONE MORE WEEK OF CLASS then I have semester break to RELAX!

Happy Hanuka to Moishe-niks everywhere!

Love and light!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Moishe house la, Lee Levin. Dec. 4th

It's that time again. This month we had a nice shabbot and and even nicer shabbot at the end of the month. Summer has not stopped contacting us with good useful news which seems to be a new part of being in the moishe house. Who's looking forward to the retreat coming up????? we even had a guest come stay with us That's right Levi Felix came into town to hang. Anywho all is good in sunny cali Laters all

Becoming a hummus expert, MHLA David 12/04/07

This month at the MHLA we had some great Shabbat dinners with a great turnout of people. Usually in the past we end up cooking most of the dinner. However, this month our guest got into cooking dishes to make it a full fledged pot-luck. Jaime brought salads, Mara brought cupcakes, Andrea brought kugel, and I made roasted veggie pasta and everyone's favorite middle eastern dip Hummus!!! I must say, you have to go through many different versions before you get the correct recipe for hummus . The good thing about making hummus constantly to perfect a recipe is that is doesn't cost very much to produce and, hey, at least its pretty healthy, right?! So if anyone out there wants to have a stab at it, here's my recipe.....

2 cans of garbanzo beans
1 bulb of roasted garlic (must be roasted to mellow out the flavor!!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 tablespoons tahini (a good tahini can be hard to around)
1/6-1/8 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup water reserved from the garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon plain yogurt (to get the right texture)
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Blend all of these ingredients in a food processor until creamy and you're done!!! But constantly taste the hummus to make sure it tastes right. The main key to making a good hummus is to keep tasting it to adjust the amount of ingredients until it's perfect.

I also have been strenuously planning Hebrew lessons for the house this month. How come the good tutors cost so much sometimes? Grrrrrrr..........anyways, I think I found someone to teach for us and book for us to follow so I'll write about the lessons in my next blog. Have a happy Hanukah everyone!!!!!


Monday, December 3, 2007

London goes ker-razy

I don't wanna brag, but this week's been pretty frikking special at MHLON.

Thursday night we held our 1st open mike event, it was a winner, I was up til 3 cos folk didn't wanna sleep.

Then we had the sweetest shabbat this side of Sfat in London - our mates round the corner hosted a lurvely service n meal for about 50 peeps on friday night, then we followd up with an uber-chilled lunch on saturday.

Food was nice, mattreses/bean bags in abundance, singing was from the heart.

I like this house.

If I didn't already live here, I'd be pretty keen to.

Rachael in Silver Spring checking in for December

I seem to have magically gone from insistently & consistently writing my blogs at the end of the month (in order to write about that month), to rather abruptly & surprisingly slamming out my blog in the very beginning of the month -- just when the rest of my house may finally start following my initial logic of waiting until the end of the month....

Ah, well. =D

1. November was awesome! I really like our interfaith understanding initiative. Although not of the same magnitude of Boston's Muslim-Jewish project, I am really excited for it & hope to see it continue to grow.

Our first interfaith learning event went really well, and I can't wait for our next one (in a couple weeks).

(For all who may possibly be alarmed or concerned: our disclaimer is always something along the lines of,
"No one is trying to convert, lecture to, pressure, coerce, make feel guilty, or etc. anyone else in attendance. SUCH BEHAVIOR IS ABSOLUTELY NOT ACCEPTABLE."
"Have no fear!: AT NO POINT will anyone from any particular faith attempt to force their viewpoints on anyone else in the room!! There will be no converting, coercing, cajoling, bullying, or otherwise encouraging anyone present to abandon their particular faith and / or absorb the other faith into their belief structure."

I am absolutely adamant about this!
These are all personal friends of ours who come from or celebrate different faiths or cultures that we want to learn more about; and these people want to gain a greater understanding of what it means to be Jewish.)

2. Our Havdala party (& after-party ;) -- we need to have more of those!) at Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue was fantastic (though, honestly, the Mikva wall clock in one of their study rooms kinda creeped me out), and our movie night with Jews United for Justice officially kicked off what I hope is a growing & deepening collaborative relationship between a concentration of social action-oriented folks & the Silver Spring Moishe House. AND, Brady was here(!) for the movie night. A few of us went to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore Sunday afternoon before the movie extravaganza. It's a crazy place. -- check out the website, and you'll begin to understand.

Good times, good times.

3. December! December events, Hanukkah, a party for the secular New Year: December should be amazing. Football + crafting for charity, Sacred Evening for Rosh Chodesh Tevet (can it top October-Cheshvan natural healing with Julie or November-Kislev with the erins band [who is / are AMAZING & my new favorite musical experience!]?!?!), movie & chat with Brit Tzedek, Shabbat services & dinner with Taglit Birthright Alumni, informal learning & shmoozing with Rav T (as I like to refer to him) of Mesorah DC, our next interfaith event, and perhaps a couple unofficial trips to the Piratz bar nearby or to the Palace of Wonders to see some fire & other circus sideshow-esque performances (getting there in time to actually SEE the show) -- yes, yes: December should be amazing.

And then there's planning for January!: maybe a joint event with the Montgomery County Gesher City cluster, our January interfaith event, & thinking ahead to March for our proposed outdoor fire performance at the house, just for fun & in honor of my birthday. . . . And of COURSE in January is our conference weekend in California, to which I am really looking forward! (Proper grammar sounds so odd.) If only the worldly, non-U.S.A. MHs would be there as well....

More good times, and laughs, and hopefully not too much cold (but some snow would be great):
I miss Nature's Classroom, & I love the Moishe House. =D

As for the football + crafting for charity: great people, fairly good turnout (DESPITE the first sleetfall of the season! -- all you Californians don't know what you're missin'!) -- but, funny thing, the group came & went -- some leaving early, others arriving late -- over the course of a few hours... & our photos reflect that. :) Still, a great event. Now if only we can get everyone to be here simultaneously!

No-pressure, no-skill-needed Hope Buddies gave the non-craft-oriented attendees a low-key first venture into the world of arts & crafts (possibly for the first time since elementary school art class or arts & crafts at summer camp way back in the day): simple, fun, & out of it comes something for a child for whom a hope-giving friend might be just what they need.

I don't want to end this, but my writing has got to conclude at some point. :) So: Till next time!

Moishe House London - Joel - November

Yesterday I lost my voice. I've had a sore throat for a few days and I guess all the singing I did at our open mic night on Thursday and our big Shabbes gatherings on the weekend wasn't the best way to nurse it back to health. Only being able to whisper has been an interesting experience. I was at Act for Darfur, 11 hours of programming on the atrocities (still) taking place in that part of Sudan, and so there were a lot of people around who I knew. When you can't speak normally, eye contact, facial expressions and body language become more important. I actually found I was making good connections with people in the attempt to make myself understood and also spend more time listening to them. Some people notice the connection but others are less comfortable with the communication - they think it's too much effort for me and that we should speak some other time. Which is a shame.

I'm pleased to say my voice is returning today - back to the huskiness of the weekend, but I'll take greater care not to overdo it this time. This morning I went to the Time Out offices in central London for a photo-shoot. They want me to feature in an article about fashionable people of faith i.e. religious types with an interesting look! The photographer told me he had a rockabilly Christian coming in after me, followed by a young Sikh couple. All quite fun really.

All said and done, this last week has really topped off November for me. 40 people for our performance evening, including my dad coming by to read his poetry. Lovely gatherings in The House on Shabbat with a lot of people staying over. These rooms filled with light and warmth and joy. It's our Chanukah party on Wednesday and we're expecting a big one...

MHSS Alan wants it to snow

Here we go...
I think I'm officially the "pseudo-cultural outing" dude here at MHSS. In November I led two field trips.. one up to Laurel for "redneck karaoke", and one to College Park for the ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.

Unfortunately we didn't get as big a crowd as we expected for karaoke, because apparently people are busy on Tuesday evenings. See now, I would never let a little thing like paralegal classes or visitting a sick relative keep me and my off-key warbling away from a microphone, but it takes all kinds, you know? :) Rest assured, our friends and fans, we will pick a better day next time to trek up Whiskey Bottom Rd. for a night of beer, Beastie Boys, and Clint Black. Or Cher, Shania, shooters, and Tool! Or Kingsmen Trio, jack & coke, New Found Glory, and Kanye! The possibilities are endless.

The Rocky was amazing, as usual. Have I mentioned I worked tech for the College Park cast for four years? There's nothing better than walking onto campus dressed like a goth pirate tramp, with a woman wearing nothing but a slip on one arm and a cross between a French Maid and an electrocution victim on the other, and settling in to watch one of the worst B-movies be shown while shouting raunchy heckles and jokes at the proud freaks who lip-sync and act out the entire thing in front of the movie screen.

When Brady (Hi Brady!) came to visit us, we took him up to the Visionary Arts Museum in Baltimore - an amazing place to go if you ever get the opportunity. Plus, Baltimore has delicious kosher chinese food. And that night we were joined at home by Jews United For Justice, a local activist network, for pizza (felafel as a topping???), a movie about domestic workers in southern California, and a discussion on local issues in the District & Montgomery County that effect the same (mostly-immigrant) labor group. It was our first explicitly socially-conscious event and I definitely felt proud to begin a hopefully-long-and-fruitful journey of hosting groups like JUFJ at MHSS.

We also had a havdala party at a local synagogue and our first interfaith learning meeting (this time, with Mormons! Next time, Wiccans!), but I'll let my fellow Moisheketeers tell y'all about those. HAPPY CHANUKA!!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

MH Chicago, Elana, 12/1/07

And once again another month has passed in the Chicago Moishe House...

Time is flying fast... and so are the flurries! November was a packed month for us here... we had many events going on that were all quite diverse in nature. Our Shabbat services with the Ethiopian congregation on the south side of Chicago was so different and interesting for us. It's amazing how music can truly transform worship and lift it into greater heights, as well as bring everyone together in one voice, one rhythm. Maybe it's the music lover in me, maybe it's the human part of me, whatever it is I found the service to be quite uplifting. Perhaps if we all sing a little more, clap our hands, and listen more to the music around us we will all experience a little more spiritual exhuberance, or perhaps something just as simple as a better day.

As the winter solstice approaches, and night creeps up on us earlier and earlier, I'm happy to find myself in my little Moishe House cocoon in Chicago...


MHSF! Maia 12/2/07

Moishe Moishe Moishe.

At at time when lists are being compiled around the country of top 10 gifts books, top 10 best films of the year, etc, I want to make a top list for my Moishe House SF teammates.

1. Dave Persyko, my comrade of 1.5 years, drinks milk by the gallon and God bless his growing boy's heart, it charms me.
2. Joie Mazor, my friend from youth, dances in our kitchen and is educating us all about the joys of body work.
3. Ari Baruth, boy wonder, is just about the most normal-seeming but actually strangely funny person I know.

This is my holiday top 3 list! Go out and buy yerself a MHSF teammate for the Xmas stocking of your loved one today!

Minsk, Muslims, Shabbos in Boston

Shalom, Moisheniks around the globe!

First I just want to say how moved I am that there is a Moishe House in Minsk. My grandpa MOISHE (not kidding, that was his name) was from there, and as the legend goes, at age eight he and his sisters escaped in wheel barrows covered in hay. Somehow Grandpa Moishe and my great aunts made their way to a boat to America, where they met their dad and big bro who had come 6 years before. A bunch of the family stayed in Minsk, and though a few made aliya to Israel, most of them didn't make it, and died in various pogroms and anti-semetic persecution.

So to read that there is now Jews are building a vibrant community in Minsk - what a blessing! Though my biological family may not have survived there, it is awesome to know that the larger Moishe House family extends to the land of my roots. I hope to get to visit someday.

As Moishe House Minsk represents some sort of tikkun, or healing, for my family's Jewish experience of Minsk, here in New England, Moishe House Boston is creating a tikkun between the Jewish and Muslim communities. For a variety of complicated reasons I won't go into, Jewish Muslim relations in Boston have gone way downhill in the past few years. It has gotten to a point where many institutional Jewish leaders seem to equate the ethnically, racially, and ideologically diverse community of Muslims of Boston with Alcaida terrorists and suicide bombers.

Not surprisingly, this atmosphere makes it hard to create any kind of positive relationship, or live by the Biblical commandment - "Love the stranger, for you yourselves were stangers." For members of the Moishe House Boston community, who remember our own families' experience of intolerance and anti-semitism a few generations back, we felt we couldn't stand by while the Muslim community was treated with disrespect and even contempt.

So we started holding dialogues and joint community service projects, and even joined together to show interfaith support for a workers' rights campaign. On Friday night, we welcomed young leaders of the Muslim community into our home for Shabbat. We weren't sure how it would go over, but 75 or 80 people showed up, either to build relationships and share Shabbat with our Muslim friends. During dinner, we had a discussion where people asked each other questions about our respective Sabbath and religious practices. It was inspiring to see people just talking to each other, building relationships, becoming friends, and to see how excited our planning team was that the event was a success.

Having the Muslims to dinner is just one small step towards repairing Jewish Muslim relations in Boston, but hopefully we are serving as a model for our parents' generation and the institutional Jewish community to do the same. If vibrant Jewish life can return to Minsk, surely Jewish Muslim good will can return to Boston. I just hope it won't take as long!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

MHSeattle, Joel Rothschild, 12-01-2007

When Summer Shapiro visited us at Moishe House Seattle this past month, she told me one thing we should take special care to avoid is burn-out. It's possible to have too much of even such a good thing as Moishe House! This concern was well-placed. Setting up this house and all of the programs we're doing here together was a rush and a joy, but it coincided with a crazy time at my work and left me exhausted. So for the last month or so, whenever someone me asks how I am, I've been saying, "I'm ready for my vacation."

Finally last week someone asked me back, "so are you actually going to take a vacation?" The sad punchline is that, no, I was going to chill out for a week in Boulder this month but it fell through, and now I'm actually not going on any kind of vacation. I'm just ready for one should it happen to take me by surprise.

Tamar, on the other hand, has hit the jackpot. She starts nursing school in January and just wrapped up her job last week -- which leaves the entire month of December to (what else?) hang out in Israel and India! I'm not jealous, exactly. In fact, just to show how not jealous I am, I offered to take her passport and visa application to Kinko's to FedEx them to the Indian consulate in San Francisco. And so I did. So I thought.

Tamar was nervous that several days after the application had been received in San Francisco there was still no sign of it being in process. It turns out the office that processes these things is badly understaffed, so it took me an hour of dialing and redialing and being put on hold for 30 minutes and dialing and dialing and redialing again, just to get through to someone there who could finally tell me the reason why Tamar's visa application wasn't in process: no passport!

The panic wasn't too bad. The bag I had taken the application to Kinko's in was right there with me, and it didn't take long to find Tamar's passport, hiding under some papers, having fallen out of the application envelope while I took it to be sent. I signed out of work immediately and ran to the nearest FedEx. This was the day before Thanksgiving.

Every business day since then, I have struggled my way though the consulate phone system in order to harass a very nice woman named Teresa, who took it upon herself to get Tamar's visa application rammed through the consulate's process in time for her to leave the country on the date of her ticket, December 2. That's tomorrow. Every day the situation had incrementally evolved somehow, with the possibility that the passport could be FedExed back that evening. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday afternoon, I'm baking challah for our Shabbat guests soon to come, and I call Teresa one last time, hanging on to faint hopes for a miracle. It's the same story as before: there is a batch of passports coming from the consulate today, Tamar's passport should be in it, if it is Teresa will make sure it is in FedEx's hands in time for next-day delivery. And that's it. Shabbat comes, we have a lovely time, our Russian friends sing us Russian songs into the night, we sleep and try not to think about how expensive it will be to change Tamar's ticket come Saturday night.

Normally on a Saturday morning I like to go with Tamar to this tiny synagogue full of the sweetest people my grandparents' age. But with the Russians last night and a crowd of folks from the "Floating Minyan" coming by in the afternoon, I just needed to sleep in and relax with a book and be alone, so I stayed home. (Remember how I'm ready for that vacation?) But there was one visitor to the house I truly hadn't expected. Eliyahu, dressed as a FedEx deliveryman, came to our door this morning, exactly 24 hours before Tamar needs to leave. And he had her passport.

To emphasize the magic of this Shabbat miracle, when I picked up the envelope, and shook it to be sure that her passport really as in there, it began to snow. I felt enchanted sitting in my comfy chair, reading my book, waiting for my guests, watching the snow fall. Perhaps I can say I even felt calm and at peace. I'm still ready for my vacation, though.

MHSeattle, Tamar Libicki, 12-01-2007

The snow has come to Seattle!

Today I went to a minyan gathering at a local shul for mincha. While we were having a pre-davening lunch, the first snow of the season started to fall! Several adults went out to marvel at it and kids ran around in it sticking out their tongues to catch flakes. The snow continued to fall during the service, and it was a truly beautiful and inspiring experience. The group walked to our house through the falling snow. When we got back home, we sat talking in the living room and got to stare out at it, from our warm indoors. Sheets of white covering everything.

After the first event...

I find myself, tired, lethargic... spent, and feeling sweet that 34+ folks showed up to honor the resting time of the week...
a sweet closing to a long week.  Lots of joy in meeting new people and sharing food, conversation and new company... and our home.

MHSeattle, Masha Shtern, 12-01-07

We've had a crazy amount of events this week, every day Wednesday through Sunday. I'd be feeling a little crazy with the preparations before people came, but every time they did, it worked out really well. They turned out to be such cool groups of people and it all just made sense after the effort. I think part of the reason is that we're starting to build up a base of people who come over (vs. wondering if anyone was going to show up last month), and it's starting to feel comfortable. The guests are more comfortable with each other and our house, so I don't feel like I need to keep an eye on the new people. That, and it helps a lot when people just hang out in the kitchen, because things are rarely ready when guests come. And speaking of the kitchen, I'm very happy with the amount of experimentation I can now do. I've got a couple of new recipes that worked out really well, and I'm always looking for new ones to try. And next week is sushi-making, whee-ha!

The Stanford Tree

I'd like to make a few comments about the Stanford Tree. For those of you that don't know, the Stanford Tree is the mascot for Stanford University. The tree has nothing to do with the school's mascot, the Cardinal, yet all the students and fans seem to love it. I have no idea why, particularly cause I think the Stanford mascot is pretty stupid.

Just as I'm confused with what the Stansford Tree has to do with anything, some people come to Moishe House wondering what our activities have to do with Judaism. Last night we had a Shabbat dinner with about 35 guests, many of whom have never attended a Moishe House event before. A couple guests asked me if we were going to do anything more "Jewish" besides the 5 minutes of traditional Shabbat prayers. The thought to do more Jewish "stuff" didn't occur to me because I thought the idea of 35 people hanging out and sharing a Shabbat dinner was about as Jewish as it gets. There were many people meeting others for the first time, sharing some amazing food, and plenty of wine. But hearing questions about whether we were going to do anything more "Jewish" made me wonder if what Moishe House's goals were set in the right direction. After 3 weeks of living in Moishe House SF, and after this first major event, I have absolutely decided that Moishe House's goals are perfect and in line with my view of the most efficient use of the Forest Foundation's resources. Jewish people represent one of America's smallest minorities, and Jewish culture often falls into the America's social melting pot. Moishe House allows for Jewish culture to sustain itself in every community where a Moishe House community exists, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Insanity of the Mustache - Moishe Chicago, Karen

As the weather outside slowly started to edge through the fall, we at the moishe house chicago found ourselves in a flurry of events through the month november. In addition to our numerous events, I personally had a hectic month, as I found myself in the thick of some sedulous studying for my GREs. I enjoyed no part of studying or taking the test, but I mention it because it really set the stage for what i feel was one of my favorite moishe house moments I have had thus far. As it happened, my test date coincided with Summer's visit to our house, and when I returned home after four hours of taking a test(that I wholeheartedly do not believe in), I was feeling pretty wiped out and drained. It was 9:30 at night when I finally got home and found our apartment filled with food, a very pink cake, and a table surrounded by slightly drunk people - each wearing a painted mustache on their upper lip. As the night went on, the stress of the test slowly dissolved into, what some may call the insanity of the mustaches - they just took over. I am sure the wine helped - but what ensued was pure enjoyment - To be fair - i should mention that I didn't get a mustache - i got a butterfly - which was just as well - as i am already fairly insane as is.

MH Chicago, Caren M.

November seems to have flown by and I'm in denial that it's now winter in Chicago. Today is a beautiful day in the low temps and our first real snow fall. The first snow fall of the season is always exciting and the most beautiful of the year. November was another full month as a Moishe House. It was a month that has felt more spiritual for me, I was given the opportunity to accompany my father to Israel and I spent a little over a week in Israel with my Dad. It was a very special trip and it was a nice escape away. We came home in time for a big Thanksgiving celebration with extended family. In the beginning of the month we spent a Shabbat morning at Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken an Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation. The shul is located on the south side of Chicago, in a neighborhood of Chicago that I have yet to explore. B'nai Zaken is an incredibly vibrant and warm community, it was a very moving experience. The songs, the colors and the spirit of the shul was like none other that I have ever experienced. I'm looking forward to our next visit. It is programs like this that I am grateful to experience and share with others. November was a good month. Till next time...

MHSF, David Persyko, 12/1/07

MHSF Shabbat: The Next Generation

Last night we welcomed into our home almost three dozen Moishe House community members for a "November to Remeber" Shabbat. Although we have held numerous Shabbat events here in San Francisco over the past couple of years, many of which I have enjoyed thoroughly, this is the first time that we have done a community wide event since we invited Ari Baruth and Joie Mazor to join the Moishe House fold a month ago.

Besides having Joie and Ari take part in hosting the activities, many of their close friends, past and present, came out to enjoy pleasant conversation, laughter, and the wonderful food brought by our very generous guests. Despite the fact that we have a community of hundreds, it was so nice to welcome in an infusion of new personalities. In addition to the new perspectives and energy that Ari and Joie have carried into Moishe House, it was such a pleasure to step outside of the comfort of the community we have built and incorporate the newbie guests. Learning names, histories, developing relationships, blending seemingly polarized gorups, expanding our universe. It's what makes transitional periods like this one so much fun.

Watching Ari and Joie go from the new Moishe House residents, planning, assisting and learning, to leading with confidence at one of our signature events was an amazing experience. Being able to assist our new roommates in making our Moishe House feel like their HOME was not only an incredible pleasure but a distinct honor.

Rebecca MHPhilly!

Wow, I cannot believe it's December. Maybe it's because of the unseasonably warm fall we've had, my new job that I've now been in for 3 months, or, quite possibly, all of the amazing events we've done at MHP that have made the time just fly by. Regardless, it's finally cold out, the leaves are falling and I'm kind of happy about it. We had another great month here, with new people, some regular faces that we haven't seen in a while and kickass events. I was quite pleased to win our "Win(o) Swap" early in November, but everyone had a fab time in general. One highlight was definitely Brady's visit and our Lebowski Shabbat (we were still eating cabbage salad up until last week) in the middle of the month. Hi Brady! It was great to put a face with the person on the end of our conference calls and emails and especially wonderful to receive the Moishe House of the Month for September trophy (shameless self promotion, I know). Thank you Moishe house for the fantastic opportunity! Can't wait to get together with y'all in January!!!! Have a great December!