Thursday, January 31, 2008

Azura Seattle 01/31/08

I had a great time at the retreat. It was wonderful to meet everyone. I have come home to a busy week and things are not slowing down. Good thing I like being busy but I do miss the sleep. I have a few new ideas for next month so we shall see how things go.

An idea from MH Boston...

What if instead of a monthly programming budget, houses could budget on a quarterly or a semi-annual basis? Wouldn't that help us make our programming decisions a little more strategically, based on our goals, instead of haphazardly based on whatever events we feel like holding in a given week?

I know for MH Boston, this would be very cool. It would help us decide how much we wanted to dedicate to Shabbatot, how much to arts programming, how much to supporting social justice, etc. etc. over a longer period of time. It would let us make purchases that support ongoing programming (like Siddurim for Shabbat!) and be conscious of our spending in a much more serious way. For example, we wouldn't spend more on our final event of the month just because we had money left over -- instead we would make use of the highest and best use of those dollars for an event that would be awesome but might cost a little more down the line.

Anyway, that's just an idea that came out of the retreat for us, and I wanted to put it out there for consideration by the rest of the crew.

Plus, it was great meeting all you new folks last weekend, and seeing old friends from last year was a blast. Keep rocking, guys.

Rebecca from MHP

Oooh, I feel so good today! It's been one week since we at MHP left for the MH retreat in Santa Barbara and since we've come back we've had two events...both relatively small (game night and ice skating)...and it didn't much matter to me! One thing that Morris said that really resonated with me was that, as much as these houses are for the community, they are also for us, those running them, the leaders. And the houses work just as much to cultivate leadership as to bring community to our cities. So, if we're happy having an event, it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference how many people show up. Let me also take this opportunity to echo Rae's thoughts on visitation. We'd love to have you! Join us, and we'll definitely show you a good time. Happy February everyone!

Moishe House London - Joel - January

It's been a busy month both personally and for the House. I had two big papers for my Masters to hand in by January 24th, so while amazing gatherings for Rosh Chodesh and Tu Bishvat went on around me I had to duck out once in a while to gather thoughts and pen words. I've been writing about the effect of culturally specific (e.g. Jewish) theatre on community identity. Now I've handed it in I have a bit more time to be with our own blossoming community and to put some of those ideas into practice through my work. The House is going from strength to strength. I'm very pleased that in and among the demands of school work I have been part of our Beit Midrash launch, with different groups of people studying different kinds of texts in the same space, and tonight will be reveling in our second open mic performance night. New projects in the offing. Bring on the spring.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Margo from MHSS

Keeping it short and sweet, being in California for the retreat was a great experience. It was really cool to meet all of you guys. Not being the best at meeting tons of new people all at once, I wasn't really able to properly get to know most of you.
This past month was sort of a break for me from the house. I just graduated and took a well deserved break at home in NY. It was great spending time with family and friends, and really, just doing nothing at all, for once.
I'm re-energized and ready for this month's events.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Aliyah of Moishe House Minsk

Moishniks Dearest,

This month has been a really really full one! One highlight included our Belarusian style (read: 48 hours long) New Years Party!
It was my first New Years in Belarus and I think I may never be the same. New Years in Belarus is an experience everyone should have once. I'm still recovering!

Here's an excerpt from my blog, The Big LaBLOGski:

It all began with a little New Years party we decided to throw here at Moishe House Minsk. A little party that lasted over 48 hours...

(The party starts!)

(And many hours later... It seems the party has ended.)

In Minsk, January is not a quiet month. You see, the Belarusians love their New Years, and all the tinsel, Father Frosts, chatchkes, "New Year trees," and fireworks that go along with it. The Belarusians love their New Years so much that even today, January 25th, people are still setting off fireworks in the streets. So, in honor of what has undeniably been the longest celebration of my life, I raise my glass to you and acclaim, "C NOVOM GODOM!" "Happy New Year!"

Natasha of Moishe House Minsk

My favorite event this month was bowling! It was my first time bowling and it was a blast! I was happy to invite all the friends of Moishe House Minsk to this exciting event.

Retreat Recap from Rae at MHP

So the Moishe House retreat has come and gone. It was so nice to meet so many of you. I wish I hadn't been a little under the weather, and could have stayed up later on Friday night and been a bit more energetic throughout the weekend. I'd love to see you in Philadelphia though, where I promise to be super well and full of vive. If you come visit, we'll show you how we kick it at MHP and give you a glimps of our much under rated city. Josh from MHDC is coming to visit us this very weekend, so really, feel free to follow in his footsteps.
I'm feeling reinvigorated about Moishe House after our time together, and am very much looking forward to the events we have coming up to put some of your insights into action.
Hope everyone had a safe and not too difficult journey home.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Zvi Bellin MHSS

ALRIGHT! My house is leaving to the MH Retreat in an hour. We are making a mini-vacation out of it and spending the day with our old roommie in LA. I have never been to LA before. My big wish for the day is bump into Madonna. (ok, it's sad, but we would make good friends, i am sure of it)

I am one weekend short of finishing my Yoga training and am very psyched about that. Things are well and as usual, just about overwhelming, but I am remaining calm.

I was in Israel over my school break and got to see some old friends and some new babies. Babies are great. They just make life simple because they are fun to watch and then you don't have to think about what you have to do. They are kind of like Shabbat for me.

Very excited to meet other moishniks. I wish the international folks could come too. Maybe next year!



Monday, January 21, 2008

Rachael A. - MHSS

I absolutely love being part of the Moishe House!
This really is one of the most amazing, perfect things for me. I am so very grateful to be part of this....

Checking in real quick so I don't have to cram in a blog on the day between when I return from Cali & when Feb. starts. (I know we have a few-day grace period, but I like [in theory] to err on the side of being ahead of the game. :D )

I am so very excited for our U.S. Moishe House retreat! I wish I was going to meet our worldly counterparts there, too. Perhaps I can visit them at their own MHs some day.

Our New Year's party was quite fun! I got to see a friend I haven't seen in almost 2 years and another I haven't seen in even longer -- both back in the area from their respective states of residence. I met new folks whose cinematic sense of good taste matches my own: we watched My Cousin Vinny, Rocky & Bullwinkle (TV episodes), Robin Hood, & Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (when not sleeping, that is). (Episodes of Fawlty Towers, Rockford Files, & Law & Order are next on the list, along with The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, The Frisco Kid, & Amadeus, amongst others -- but that's a solid enough list to get through for now, I think).

Karaoke went rather well, this time with people actually coming. :) We went to a place I learned of recently where you rent your own private room: leather couches, nightclub lighting, large TV, microphones, karaoke books, and a huge remote control you use to enter your song selections with buttons labeled in Korean. The last (& only other) time I was there, the images that served as the background to the song lyrics reminded me of an imitation National Geographic / Travel Channel film loop: underwater sea life scenes, children playing on beaches, birds soaring overhead, random city skylines. This time, however, we got the "All Korean Music Stars Are Depressed" TV. Not nearly as hilarious. Each person kicked in $6 for an hour and a half of glorified, amplified, glamorized singing-in-the-shower* fun! (*Shower not included)

Paint-your-own-pottery was one of the most fun events for me yet. It turned out that the first 8 people to tell me they were coming were related to me; so, it became a mostly-people-related-to-Rachael Moishe House event! It was so much fun: we all came together as family, and I got to officially incorporate some people I love with a community I am so very happy to be involved with. (Pictures makes it official!...right? :) ) I'd love to have a family-oriented event when the weather gets warmer, maybe a BBQ, for which all us house members invite our family members over: they can see what we're up to, & we can share these two separate spheres of our lives with one another.
(I love my family. :) )

Had some other interesting adventures lately, but I'll leave those for now.

Life continues to be amazing. I love Silver Spring, I love our neighborhood, & I love the MHSS!
~ Rach =D

- Over & Out -

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mazal HaRa: Wierd Energies at Moishe Vienna

Issues Galore! And when they come, they all come at once!

"I will view all trying situations as opportunities for resilience of mind and self improvement"

1. Plumming problems
2. Gas problems
3. Electric problems
4. Internet Problems
5. All 3 members lose their cell phones
6. 5 days of guests from England leave the Moishe House in a state of hazard...

Considering quarentine

What does this all of this Mazel HaRa (negative energy flows) mean?

Eytan recently discovered that we were missing 2 mezuzahs in the house, and we are positive that this was the source of all our tzaras.

Our Mezuzahs are now up, and we are set on the path for recovery!

Shalom to the Beit Shel Moshe, Kol Haolam!

Yaakovovich Lehmanikov

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MH London crosses generations

Our first event at MH London in January, was perhaps our most unusual but also most rewarding event so far. We invited our parents to tea so that they could meet all of us and each other and expeience MH London close up.

I for one was a little anxious in the lead up the event, as I wasnt sure how a group of people that only had in common that their children were in the MH, would get on. I also wanted to put on a good show for my parents so they could see what the MH is really about.

In the end it went really well:
  • Carmeli's bakery, MH London catering and Joel's mum did a great job with the food.
  • There was Jewish geography galore (it turns out that my step-mum knew Joel's uncle many years ago and was in FZY with Rachel's mum)
  • The parents reminicised about their radical and ecletic pasts, and talked about getting the spirit of MH into their lives.
  • We all sang birchat hamazon heartily together.
  • And then 5 hours (yes 5 hours) later the parents decided enough was enough and went home.

Everyone really enjoyed it and for me it felt like I was giving something back to my parents, i had never hosted them properly in my home before.

It was definately one of my favourite events so far and showed how MH London has something for everyone. Maybe we will see the parents turning up at our Open Mike Night later in the month, I just hope my dad doesnt decide to tell some of his corny jokes or stories about his childhood.

Until next month


Saturday, January 12, 2008

First month of Moishe House Montevideo! & as they say: "vamos arriba!!"


Well, it was a great month we had 9 events with a lot of people, it's amazing how many Jewish people came to our house, from all the city, Montevideo. from students of the university to pupils of the jewish high schools here in Montevideo!
we had a lot of parties for Chanukah, it was really great, we had one to Bnei Akiva people here in Montevideo, one for the high school pupils and one for students and such -ages 19+, there were a lot of new faces in the crowd, which was awesome because this is one of our purposes here in Montevideo, to get to know a lot of jews here and to get them to enter to a jewish community, so it was really great, thank you Moishe House !!
We also had movie night that we saw the Matrix ( yeah, again...) a movie that you can never see too many times..
another thing that goes really great here is the Shabat dinners and meals that we invite a lot of young jewish from the community and new people also that we make a conection with them so they will come again, it's a different type of event because it's Shabat and everyone is calm, you don't have to hurry up and there is no pressure. almost every Shabat also one or more of our guests stays to sleep over, we do our best here in inviting people over and making them to feel at home..
last thing i wish Zev Levy, a great man that was here in Uruguay for the last 1.5 years attributing to the jewish community with all his heart and soul, thank you Zev!! so now it's just the four of us, it will be great, I'm sure of that!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

MH-SAC Jen goes it alone

Moishe House Sac without Shama. He is gone in Israel...and I am here in Sac. As I sit here and write this blog while not listening to my interesting lecture on liver transplants...I think about how much more fun it would be to be in Israel than here in my lecture hall. Oh well...Shama is missing out on some fun MHSac events while he is gone. We recently had a fondue and game night, inspired by the fact that I bought a fondue pot for my friends as a wedding present. I couldn't decide on cheese or chocolate, so we had both. And to make the night even better, there was some board game action, too. I hosted sans-Shama...but it all worked out. It was the perfect combo for a MH event: food, wine, and an activity. Half of the people at the event were MHSac first-timers, and having people sitting around a table w/ stuff to do [and with wine to drink] was a nice tension-breaker. I think we will have to do another fondue and game night. Next time with Shama, though.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A story from my Mom's friend

Hey Moishe gang, check out this crazy story:

"A very close friend of one of my dearest friends, who I know very well, recently went to a wedding in New Jersey. A Jewish wedding. Before the ceremony both families were on the stage or bima. The parents of both children had met before, although I'm not sure how many times , but the grandparents who were all alive and in their 80's had never met before. The grandfather of one of the children getting married who had been looking and looking at the grandmother of the other child, finally says to her, "you were my wife". There was silence and he says again, "you were my wife". After talking to each other they confirmed that they indeed were married. They were married very young, had no children and were taken to the concentration camps where they were separated. Both looked for each other after the war ended, but both thought each other was dead. Since most or all of their relatives had been wiped out, they had no one to check with and records were terrible. Sixty plus years later after they had moved to this country and had families of their own, there they were, sitting on a stage watching the grandchildren of their new families getting married to each other and once again becoming family."

A whole new year...

Wow!! I can't believe an entire year has passed! it seems like just yesterday when we were moving in to our very own moishe house cape town. And i've got to say, the house definitely looks a lot more lived in than it did at the beginning :)

So december was a fun month. varsity holidays, summer in full blast, tons of friends who decided to come to cape town to chill, some of whom ended up crashing at our house for a couple of days which was awesome! We even met a whole lot of Israelis who were here on holiday, which was pretty cool.

Also, I was a councilor for 17 year olds at a summer camp, which was quite challenging, but also sooo much fun! And I even made some friends who are currently staying here in cape town on holiday, so no doubt you will see them in upcoming events!

Oooh!!! And i almost forgot possibly the most exciting part of my december!! My little brother got back from his gap year in israel!! it's so great to have him back home! we're still busy catching up on our years apart, and i think he's probably also gonna stay with us for a few days, so photos will definitely follow shortly. It's so cool having him back!! He still seems pretty much the same, although his hair is quite a bit longer :)

And now, I guess it's time to look forward to 2008. I still can't believe that it's the new year already. I think i'm still busy recovering from 2007, but hopefully i'll get over that pretty soon.

Right now, though, i think i'm gonna spend some quality time with my swimming pool, as well as the book i'm currently reading, so to all my fellow moishe houseniks out there, i hope you have an absolutely amazing 2008, with much good fortune, good friends and good times!!

Here's to an awesome new year!!!
Much love
Em :)

moishe house cape town

Monday, January 7, 2008

MHLA, Dave Eagle, 1/07/08

This last month was so busy full of things to do for the can get fustrating!!!!
But we did throw a great Hanukkah party that involved a latke cook-off. Thanks God for Mara.....
she was the only one who actually participated besides the Moishe House!! So she kinda automatically won
1st place but people said that her's were just a bit better than ours. So she earned 1st place after all :)
We also had a group of people bring in gifts for Toys for Tots so a big thanks thanks to all who did.

Hope everyone has a great month and we'll see you at the retreat!!!!


it was one amazing month in moishe house montevideo, i realy cant remember when we did somehthing so incredable like this month, all the partys of chanuka, to Bney, the students and at the end just to the high school. it was really amazing.
exept of that like usualy we made the dinners of shabbat, and we met couple times at the middle of the weeks to make asado with all the guyes.
lifes continue and here u can really feel it....
so, see u next month with more activities, we here alaways for you
Nos vemos, in the next activity of moishe house monevideo.

Elkana Shtul

Lior's December

I want to speak about a few of our December Moishe House events...

We started the month with a movie night with food, with the high school kids at Yavne. It was a celebration we made for them for finishing the school year. The movie was great, the food was even better. At the end of the night a few kids even stayed for the night. That’s that.

The second activity. Our Chanukah party. Chanukah came, and Zev was performing in our house special Chanukah songs on the saxophone. After the amazing saxophone performance by Zev we played beer pong and a dreidle game where depending on the letter it falls on you receive a different dare. Jay and Pancho raced to see who could eat a sufgania the fastest. We sang throughout the night, and it was a real good party.

Another night we played soccer with some of the guys. And after twenty minutes of playing I kicked Yonatan real hard on his foot, not on purpose. And still two weeks later he had problems walking and was taking medicine for his foot. Woops. 5-on-5 and every time Elkana switched teams, the other team won. He lost every time. Ha!

The month was real fun, with company all the time. Being a Moishe House is fun.

Lior Sztrigler
Moishe House Montevideo

Moishe Blog – Zev December 07

One word to describe the past month: AMAZING. Beginning with the shabat dinners (BTW this month we tried something new – shabat lunch – it was a great success!!), all the chanuka (or in Spanish: Januca) activities/parties, the soccer outing and let’s of course not forget Elkana’s swingin’ B-day party… and I can’t even remember the rest of the stuff that happened here… Anyway, I close this month with a feeling of satisfaction and an even stronger taste for more. More than the activities themselves I would like to point out that I’m deeply impressed by my co-moishers. YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME!!! We should only have more strength to do more for ourselves and for the community! So as they say ‘round here: VAMOS ARRIVA!!!

Zev Levy
Moishe House Montevideo

MHSeattle, Masha Shtern, 1-6-08

December was definetely a tough month. First, my hands finally went out of comission due to repetitive stress from all the manic cooking I was subjecting them to in order to relieve stress from my dreadful job. Then, the injury spread upwards and made my neck, shoulders and back oh-so tight and just wouldn't let go, making it uncomfortable to sit, drive and sleep. Doing something as "light" as washing dishes and cooking would make my symptoms worse, and still does. This is incredibly disorienting for me, as the kitchen is not only my creative outlet but cooking also gives me a sense of normalcy and being grounded. I've had to quit my job, and I still don't know what I'm going to do next month. Tamar being gone most of the month definitely took a certain warmth out of the house, and it didn't help that the coldest, darkest and wettest month of the year was upon us.

It was a tough time for all of us, but it really made us come together as we were all miserable together. It was great to come home and remember that we could light Hanukkah candles, which really did bring much wanted light into our lives. I was also glad to have people come over to visit us, especially a few regulars who taught me to laugh at my problems. It was a time I am greatful to have housemates, and I really felt like the three of us bonded through this time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Noam Reisner Silver Spring

Hello All,

    December was a great month. I graduated from UMD and now am working part time for NASA while I look for a full time job. The holidays were a lot of fun as well, with family, friends, and a wedding, I was definitely kept busy in the best sort of way. There was so much going on last month that we unfortunately didn't even have time for movie night, but there were plenty of other great events that we did manage to do. As always, shabbat dinner was my favorite event, with a good turnout and fun people. New Year's was also a lot of fun with a huge number of people showing up. I'm really excited for this coming month, especially with the retreat, I can't wait to get to California and meet all the other Moishe House members. So until next time, have a good month.

December - fast paced and Action packed (Moishe House Cape Town)

Hello Moishe housniks,

Wow , December was hectic! Camp time came around and we worke day and night in preperation for the largest Jewish Zionist summer camp in the Southern Hemisphere. Over 1000 people were on site on our hollowed campsite in Hermanus. I had my b-day there (17th of December) which was fun...always and it is generally quite sad because I am moving to JHB at the end of this Month...allas.

However, I would love to start a Moishe house there so we will see what happens! :)

Otherwise we ran some awesome evens in between camp (dont know how we did it)
A few of my friends needed somewhere to stay so they popped onto our carpet and we had some fun with them for a few days. Some reform Jews (sis) stayed with us and they ran a seminar in preperation for there camp and then some Israelies needed a place to stay so we obliged and chilled with them. (Photo's to follow soon I hope!)

Otherwise, Ct in the summer is awesome. Beaches are overcrowded. Many of my friends are leaving for Israel and I have a sup (supplementary exam) to study for! (Arggg.) Otherwise life is good...
O yeh, and my car got stolen, that sucks...! I love South Africa

Moishe House Cape Town

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Birthdays/Coming to a Moishe House Near You

First, fyi to Moishe House LA, DC, Silver Spring, and SF, I just came out with an anthology called Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice (Jewish Lights, Inc), and I'm going on a book tour over the next few weeks to promote the book and a related campaign that i will tell you about at the retreat. We are having events in nyc on the 9th, SF on the 13th, LA on the 15th, and DC on the 16th. If you would like to cosponsor these events (and count part of it as an MH event), let me know and I will get you the details.

And now, for my reflection:
We had lots of great programs this month, but one thing that I especially wanted to appreciate this December from Moishe House Boston is our birthday celebrations. Not one, not two, but three of our leaders chose to celebrate their birthdays at our house. When we asked them at their various parties to reflect on their year and what they remembered, all three of them had Moishe House at the center of their memories. One talked about color war, another about shabbat dinners, and a third about our advocacy work. But for all three, Moishe House was significant in their lives.

Now this month is Sarah's birthday, for which a bunch of folks are throwing a mad hatter tea party/open mike night theme party. Fun!

Anyway, with all these birthday parties, I appreciate that we are a community that is able to celebrate the lives of our members and share our joys (and sometimes sorrows) together.

MHLA Lee Levin, December 07

Happy new year to all. I hope you had a great 07 and look forward to seeing what happens in 08. This month was filled with surprises. Three new girls moved in upstairs and Levy Felix has Joined the LA Moishe house. All is well here and look out for our great adventures coming soon.



Margo from MHSS

I'd like to keep this short and sweet.
December was sort of a whirlwind of events and work. I didn't get to participate as much as I would have liked in some of our events due to the final rush of classes ending, finals, and much artwork. I especially would have liked to catch Wiccan night; I was only able to sit in on the last half hour of the chat.
But now it's all over and I am graduated. It's still weird to say it. Time to join the real world now. Absolutely not ready for it though.
With the end of homework, I will now get to enjoy our events more and can't wait for the next one.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe new year!! See you soon.
happy new year!
the desert has been cold, and my heart and mind settled by the chill and warmth of good times and close friends...

this is a gift i bring back for you, a desert poem:
crisp chill of the rolling granite and open desert sandscape
a time to decifer and read the signs
make new decisions about who it is i/we are revolving around
singing the songs
loving the contact
connecting to the inner song
listening to the creosote speak its wisdom deep into the heart
and feeling the yucca and cholla in our legs
simple wisdom, simple life
a warm welcome into the present moment
a warm welcome into friendships
a warm welcome into intention
a warm welcome into tradition...

MHSS Alan prays

Of all the things we did at Moishe House Silver Spring in the past month, the event that made me the most excited was the unexpected, spectacular success of our first Living Room Kabbalat Shabbat service. We invited anyone who so desired to show up about an hour before a normal (i.e. hot, chill, and tasty) MHSS Open Shabbat Dinner. We'd borrowed some siddurim/prayerbooks and booklets from our friends at Tikkun Leil Shabbat, so when a minyan-and-a-half people showed up we were ready!

Well, sort of.

We'd never actually determined who was going to lead services and exactly what style they were going to be using.

So we decided those things on the fly and had a smooth sing-y spiritual time. Different people led different parts and others taught new tunes. And then afterwards we moved on to the meal (which, if I remember right, was delicious).

I think we're gonna do davenning at MHSS again.. we got a nice crowd for it that hadn't come out yet for the Open Shabbat Dinner when it was just food.

Other events this month that I liked especially...

-- the interfaith learning discussion with Wiccans
-- watching "West Bank Story" with Brit Tsedek V'shalom

Happy New Year, and seeyouzall in Santa Barbara at the Moishe House retreat!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

לשנה הבאה

Well, another year has come and gone, and seven of those months were spent in the warm embrace of Moishe House Boston.  For personal and professional reasons, those months were hard, but it was wonderful having a warm supportive community around to challenge and inspire me.

As I look forward I'm excited about our plans for the house.  Mad Hatter's Tea Parties, Radical Jewish Thought, and a book launch.  

I'm also excited that we have passed the equinox, and while the Boston winters will still be cold, at least the nights will be shorter.

Oh, yea, and and the moishevention 2008, see ya'll there!

Happy 2nd New Year-Rae-MHP-December Blog

Isn't it great to have two New Years a year? After spending the high holidays thinking over everything we could have done better and the things we did flat out wrong the year before, we try to start the new year off right. We vow to be kinder to our friends and family, more productive at work, give back more to society, what have you. With our second secular new year, we get a chance to reevaluate how we're doing at all those things we were hoping to improve upon in September. So good luck continuing your resolutions and keeping with any new ones you've made.
I have plenty of personal resolutions, but on the MHP front, I resolve to reach out and draw in a more diverse group of Moisheniks. We've got some events planned with that goal in mind, some collaborations with other local communities. Hopefully we'll pick up at least a couple of newbies at each of these events. If not we'll try some new new things. So wish us luck. And good luck to you in the new New Year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

David Persyko, MHSF

Moishe Birthday Poetry

Going out to celebrate
I can't believe my luck
Wouldn't have thought to shake and bake
Another year to run amuck

All my friends from Moishe House
Came to laugh and bowl
With fun and praise we will douse
And dance to rock and roll

Who needs to wait to come join hands
Never was a better time
Happiness on this day lands
With chips and beer with lime

We'll see you all again real soon
It never takes too long
Singing then a different tune
To another Jewy song

A piece I wrote for the Jewish Advocate here in Boston...

...and one I thought you guys might like:

Many of us spent Christmas Day volunteering – at a local soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or at some other organization working to help those less fortunate than ourselves. I am proud that so many Jews see Christmas Day as an opportunity to reach outside of our community and give both emotional support and real elbow grease to make the holidays a time of joy for those who are currently down and out. It’s the right thing to do, and the fact that it’s a community norm, across denominations and political ideology, reminds me how special the Jewish community really is. It demonstrates to me the potential power our community has when we come together to make change.

And that’s why Christmas Day volunteering simply whets my appetite for more collective action. Because, fundamentally, I take this lesson from such one-time activities – being “just for a day” is not enough. The challenges our society faces are too big, are too entrenched, are too systemic. They require that we go deeper. And while they can seem overwhelming, the organic way in which our people come together on Christmas to help others shows me that we have only scratched the tip of the iceberg in terms of our community’s potential.

In my little piece of the Jewish Community (the Moishe/Kavod Jewish Social Justice House in Brookline), we have attempted to move beyond the day of service model, but I am the first to admit that we are still figuring out how to do it. Nonetheless, let me tell the story of one of our most successful initiatives – a partnership with a tenants’ rights organization in Boston called City Life/Vida Urbana. About six months ago, City Life recognized that due to the current foreclosure crisis, tenants – who usually have nothing to do with the fact that their buildings are in foreclosure – are very vulnerable, often forced out of their homes in the middle of their leases due to unscrupulous, speculative landlords and uncaring, corporate banks.

So now, twice a month, about 15-20 young Jews go out and canvass tenants living in foreclosed buildings in partnership with City Life. Each time we go out we let tenants know that they still have rights, despite the circumstances of the foreclosure. But just as importantly, we let them know that tenants throughout Boston are organizing to try and get these huge banks to put people before profit, to agree not to evict tenants immediately, and to instead sell the foreclosed units back to community-based nonprofits that can help keep tenants in their homes.

It’s an ambitious agenda, but it doesn’t feel like window-dressing. It feels like we are trying to prevent homelessness before it starts. And so when I think about how much more we could do if the entire Jewish community took our Christmas Day mentality and made it year-round, I get excited.

I know there are lots of folks who feel the same way, and have been doing this work for much longer than us at the Moishe/Kavod House. So all I’m saying is this: in 2008, let’s keep thinking big, because there’s no doubt in my mind that together we can, in fact, change the world.

What'd you do for New Years?

New Years eve party plans always seem to matter much more in the 2 weeks preceding December 31st. "What are you doing for New Years?" Everyone seems to ask this question, and it's seemingly almost as important to have an answer to the question "so, you just graduated from college, now what?" What's interesting is that by January 4th you can't remember what you did, although there's a good chance a lot of money was spent, or there was some serious transportation inconveniences. I know I've seen some chilled people waiting around angrily for a taxi, and it's hard to look back at a night and say "that was fun" when at some point in the night there was extensive frustration in waiting for a taxi. So this year for New Years Eve I made no plans, and on December 31st a few friends said they were going up to a cabin in Guernville, so I decided to go with them, and it ended up being awesome. While I was in this cabin in the middle of the woods with about 15 people I was thinking about how nice and valuable it is to have a space to entertain others. This upcoming month I'm excited not just about the activities and events we'll be hosting, but I'm excited to enjoy the space that is our beautiful home in San Francisco.

MH Chicago, Elana, 01/01/08

Oh, Moishe House.

There sits a brick house on Greenview,
Where all the young Chicago Jews happen to come to,
On Shabbas we light candles and break bread,
By the time everyone leaves, we all feel well fed.

This past month we went ice skating in the park,
And one time we just sat and talked politics in the dark,
We spent an evening chillin' with some arts n' crafts,
And even put plastic on the windows to keep out the drafts...

On Hannukah we ate latkes and dreydeled it up,
Everyone left with some golden gelt in their cup,
We created cards to raise money for kids with cancer,
And even had a big party to end the year with some laughter...

Our little Moishe House is doing swell in the Windy City,
2 KCarens, 2 EIlanas, and 1 Joe - but still no little kitty,
Hope ya'll had a fun and crazy happy new year,
Can't wait to meet ya'll so soon, I'm being sincere!


Maia 1/1/08 San Francisco

Another year. Last year I blogged for Moishe House with a poem by Richard Brautigan to ring in the new year. Today I'm sorta out of poems though on the other side of the wall is a room full of poetry books (I'm at work writing this) and through the next door is the office of one of the most important contemporary American poets, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. In any case, I find myself poem-less in this moment and instead I'll tell a joke that a 5-year-old friend of mine told me recently.

What did the ocean say to the shore?

Nothing. It just waved.

Happy new year. May we all be blessed with love and laughter and work and peace.

Joel, MHSeattle, 1/1/08

I grew up here, so you'd think it wouldn't surprise me, every single year, how December in Seattle is so mercilessly dark (not to mention soggy). Seventeen daily hours of darkness intensifies the joy of the Chanukah lights, for sure, but then it also emphasizes how quickly those little bastards burn.

It was a kickass Chanukah: tons of guests, a different fried food each night (set to culminate with three whole deep-fried chickens), Golem and Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players playing the Crocodile for The Eight, and we even extended the party a couple of days with our first Coffeehouse event, which brought a writer/actor, three singer/songwriters, a couple jazzmen, a juggler, and a bunch of other cool kids into our living room. But high highs set you up for low lows when the sun isn't around to catch you.

A week after Chanukah it sank in that my housemates, house, and I were all kind of wrecked. Keeping up with hoards of guests is tough when your best dishwasher is in India, when your best cook has a repetitive-stress injury from so much cooking, and when everyone has the blues. The Crocodile -- one of my favorite Seattle clubs since, gosh, the '90s, and where it had been so sweet seeing the mob of Jews in their urban-hipster-wear all hugging each other hello just a week earlier -- suddenly closed forever. It wasn't even the darkest day yet, and there I was, tired, a little sad, suffering from party withdrawal, and feeling unmistakably like I had just eaten an awful lot of fried food.

Right around Solstice I think I hit bottom. Our director at work wanted to know why my output had lightened up in recent weeks despite major deadlines with major clients. Knowing that it was because I'd been putting so much energy into the house, and knowing at the same time that going back to that house at the end of the day was not going to make me feel better, put me in a dark mood on my way home. Maybe, I thought, it's time to move into a yurt in the woods, or at least a nice, tame studio apartment.

When I did get home that night, however, my housemates showed me the trophy and a very sweet letter we had received as an award for being "Moishe House of the Month" for November. It could not have been better timed.

Now Tamar has returned from India, my best friend is moving back to Seattle from Lahore, Pakistan, we're planning my birthday party, and the days are just beginning to lengthen. And we're freaking Moishe House of the Month, baby!

Happy New Year

tamar, Seattle Moishe House, 01/01/2008

Learning about India:

This month I went to India. It was both a good and bad experience, but one thing I enjoyed was learning about the way of life. I didn't only do this by going there, observing, and interacting with the people and places, but also by reading newspapers and books and watching TV. For instance: Me and my father visited the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Everywhere we would drive there would be posters (political advertisements) for the red and black party (Since we don't read or understand Tamil, that's what we called them). Most of these posters would feature two people prominently: a bald guy with sun glasses, and a guy with a small afro and a mustache. When We asked oi tour guide about these posters he said the bald guy was the head minister of the state and the guy with the mustache was his son, that was set to replace him. "why does he always wear sunglasses?" I asked. "Because one eye is smaller than the other one". Later at the hotel restaurant the manager came over to our table. He told us that all the police men where hanging out in the lobby because the chief minister's son might be visiting the hotel. "Will we see him?" I excitedly asked. Probably not, he said, "politicians always change their minds at the last minute." By the time we read two articles in The Hindu about him, discussing a dam with the Kerala chief minister and meeting with Sonya Gandhi, we felt like we already knew him (and his son).

Guest Appearence blog

Boom! This is Steve Rubin signing on for the Moishe House Tel Aviv. Right now, we are in the process of tidying the house after a long week where so many soldiers - new faces and old - stopped by to say hello and grace the house with their presence. Being a lone soldier, it is always good to know that there is a bed or couch for me and my crew in town. Those sentiments are widely felt amongst all the chayalim bodedim who have been lucky enough to pass through in their journey as a citizen soldier. The Moishe House Tel Aviv usually has its regulars that come by but this week - we were all introduced to some few soldiers that will hopefully stop by more often. Adam from Scotland was the featured soldier of the week. The best part about his visit was that we learned how to speak Scottish and acclimate ourselves to his thick Scottish accent. When he first entered, we couldn’t understand a word he was saying; but after a few beers and some pool, we were speaking the language of the Scottish man and fully fluent in our comprehension of the language. Always a regular, like myself, Putters spent all of his 9-days vacation at the house, picking up where he left off with his witty humor and loveable teddy-bear like qualities. He even put on his finest red suit that made him the appearance of Super Mario Putters. And what would a Moishe House Tel Aviv week be without a couple smashing lone soldierettes hanging out and checking out their sleeping options. To that, we give a shout out to Jomie, Chen, Elior and Ofri. As I am about to sign off on this blog - I can’t help but think about my next visit to the spot. No matter how tough it gets in the field - how much the eyelids swell due to a lack of sleep; I know that the Moishe House is awaiting my arrival with open arms, open beds and open fridge. Yalla!

RRR, the House - London, December

Last NYE my friend called to tell me that maybe the death threats from drunk people meant that his party wasn't such a great option. So I went out with my then housemate to his friend's house party. From the roof we could just about see the fireworks from Westminster, and all was very nice and normal.

People in London share houses all the time. People who barely know each other live door to door with each other under the same roof. House prices mean that professionals who would have bought their own place in their 20s and 30s are still house sharing in their 40s and 50s. The structure is changing whether we welcome it or not. So why not use it to our advantage?

I'd like to find out more about Ivan Illich's work in examining where social conventions come from and questioning whether they are still useful or productive. What's to stop this happening more often in social structure?
It seems as though one can get used to using buildings in a particular way and then not question their potential.

According to what people say when they show up here, the House really seems to be filling a gap not previously filled, yet it doesn't seem to be taking much between five of us and our growing community to make it so much more for people than a regular shared house. I wonder how much of that comes from the unlimited expectations of the space.
I am still 'just' sharing a house, as I was last year, but this year I feel the potential of that expanding all the time.

Thanks to Elliott Tucker for the artwork that covers our hallway as part of our new Jewish Art Exhibition.
Here's one he did earlier.