Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Israeli Holidays

I have come to realize that in Israel, there is a holiday for everything. There's a holiday for planting trees, two valentines days, two new years (one which they call Sylvester), and way too many days in which you are supposed to fast. Tomorrow is holocaust remembrance day, in which a siren is rung that can be heard all around the country. Rumor has it that for that minute, the whole country freezes and stands in silence and thought. Even the cars stop on the freeways and the drivers step out onto the highway to stand in memory. On a brighter note, Israeli independence day is next week (preceded by memorial day), in which there are parties and festivals all around the country. What an emotional roller coaster...

Aliyah of Moishe House Minsk

On the evening of Sunday, April 27th, Jewish Minskers celebrated their very first Mimouna, organized by Moishe House Minsk! Originally a tradition observed by Jews from North Africa, a Mimouna is a party held on the evening when Pesach is finished and Jews get to trade in their bread of affliction for chametz-o-licious treats. Accordingly, the Mimouna is an evening filled with songs, dance, and most importantly, said treats. One especially traditional and tasty Mimouna delicacy is called moufletta. It is basically a folded crepe with honey and butter inside. Nothing says chametz-o-licious quite like moufletta.

In Israel today, the mimouna celebration is enjoyed by Jews fro
m all over the world, Sephardi and Ashkenazi alike. Inspired by this synergy of traditions, I decided to organize a Mimouna in Minsk. Basically every Jew in Minsk is Ashkenazi. At least one grandparent of nearly all my friends here speaks Yiddish. But Jews here are still hungry for knowledge (and moufletta!) about Jewish traditions from around the world. Thanks to Moishe House and the JDC, Natasha and I were able to organize this event in the big hall of the Minsk Jewish Campus. Preparations began weeks in advance, with our advertisement which we posted in many of the Minsk Jewish youth clubs and organization offices.

Then we decided the "program" for the evening. Here in Minsk, people rarely just throw a casual party. An unwritten social rule is that there must be a program for the evening.

Mimouna Minsk Program

We began the evening with Havdalah, which in this case sanctified the separation between the holiday at the end of Pesach and the rest of the week.
Mimouna is said to celebrate the luck of the people of Israel that God parted the Red Sea and allowed them to escape the Egyptians. While Pesach remembers the moment of the exodus from Egypt, Mimouna remembers the arrival at the Red Sea, which occurred seven days after leaving Egypt. Thus, we decorated the stage and curtain to look like the red sea, complete with waves and fish.
Our emcees, the charming Olga and Dima, also connected quite literally to the theme of the parting the sea. Olga dressed as Moses and held her staff high to part the sea curtain for the first act. And Dima dressed as Moses' sister Miriam who lead the women with their timbrels in a victory song and dance after the seas had parted. They introduced themselves in character and lead our audience through the Mimouna performances with grace, aplomb, and, well, gender fluidity.

Our first performers were from the Hillel dance group and they performed an Israeli folk dance in pairs.

Later in the evening, the ladies and one brave young man performed a middle eastern style dance for us as well.

Our next act was the wonderful singer, a true Belarusian Jewish diva, Anya Shalutina.

Each act was separated by the presentation of some slides with information and pictures of Mimouna celebrations throughout history. The presentation was translated into Russian and can be seen here, and for the English version,
click here. Use the arrows to control the slides.
And last but not least, a professional belly dancer named Karima performed two dances for us and then taught our guests some moves. One of her dances was choreographed especially for us to a song in Ladino sung by Yasmin Levy. The audience was surprised to hear that just as the Jews from this region once commonly spoke Yiddish, the Jews of pre- and post- Inquisition Spain spoke Ladino.

Then the evening continued with Israeli, Turkish, and Arabic disco dancing. And sure enough, by 11pm, there was not a trace of moufletta left. When the last song was over and everyone began to leave, I overheard one friend remark that she hopes they'll have a Mimouna again next year. I hope so too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Natasha of Moishe House Minsk

This post is about our first 100+ person event: a Moroccan style Mimouna!

Этот месяц для Moishe House Minsk был особым. Начался он с того, что нас приехал навестить Кевин и мы отлично встретили Шаббат в кругу самых близких друзей Мойше Хауса. Погодка, кстати, тоже нас порадовала, было очень тепло и солнечно. Даже в Ледовом Дворце, когда мы катались на коньках, нам было даже жарко. Да, да, мы катались на коньках, и я думала, что Кевин будет падать через каждые сто метров, но глубоко ошибалась, он катается еще лучше, чем я могла даже себе представить. Он был отличной моей поддержкой! Спасибо, Кевин, что не дал мне упасть!

А еще, самым долгожданным и, на мой взгляд, просто отличнейшим мероприятием была МИМУНА. Если кто-то еще не знает, что значат эти слова, то я кратенько объясню, это Пост-Песах вечеринка в восточном стиле. Пришла она к нам от Сефардских евреев, которые обычно в МИМУНУ поют песни Сарит Хадат, танцую восточные танцы, вкусно кушают и просто отдыхают душой. Так вот, мы делали тоже самое! Очень приятным был тот факт, что наши друзья из Гилеля и Сохнута и других еврейский организаций очень сильно помогли нам в организации этого чудесного мероприятия. Ребята из Гилеля показали себя в танце, Аня Шалютина просто сразила всех наповал своим голосом. И кульминационным моментом был танец живота от Каримы. Она не только поставила отличный танец под музыку «ладино», но и провела отличное активити с гостями нашего праздника. Это было незабываемо!

И еще, огромное спасибо Алиичке!!! За то, что наконец-то и в Беларуси люди узнали о МИМУНЕ, и надеюсь, будут праздновать ее каждый год!

Dima as Miriam, Natasha, Olga as Moses, and Nastia

Monday, April 28, 2008


Hello to all my Moishe House brothers and sisters. Just a quick check in for all of us over here at the Moishe House Tel Aviv. Our door remains open, and the lone soldiers keep coming through, to sleep over, or just drop some stuff off so they don't have to schlep it around town. Tamir and I are still working diligently, establishing ourselves as experts in the cinema verite' style of filmaking. If anyone is interested, feel free to check out this link:

it is a piece we made for Current TV about a microbrewery in Palestine, and I am rather proud of it. I hope everyone had a good Pesach, and is ready to face the new week with a renewed sense of purpose.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pesach: Tasting the Winds of Transformation – by Yaakov Lehman

Pesach: Tasting the Winds of Transformation – by Yaakov Lehman

A sudden gust of gratitude tussles elemental emotions… an inner world of substance wrapped around its proverbial axis… seeking to unwind an entangled mind…

The genesis of spring has arrived, thus gathering the glowing force of emergent potential, awakening sprouts of dedicated aspiration- these far from passing notions embedded within the deep recesses of stealthily encased dreams.

Axiomatic roots tingling beneath the soil; bright showers of revitalization beaming their redemptive grace through concentric pairs of prismatic windows, valiantly floating at an intrepid altitude atop crisp streams of convergent consciousness.

That elegant pattern, replicating itself in all the right places- all the right times; humming its perpetual melody up the highest of peaks- chanting its steady rhythm down into the most desolate depressions the earth can bear, where only the quaintest subtleties avow steadfast truth: the shrill cry of fearful doubt can never drown the buoyant tune of unswerving persistence.

Passover has arrived and with it, all of the spiritual, psychological, and ecological energies of renewal and release. This is the time to assert our freedom, to take a stance and assume the responsibilities inherent in our autonomous disposition. It is a poignant opportunity for us to overcome our direst difficulties, pursue of our most virtuous visions, and don that coat of confident compassion in our daily stride.

I wish all of you a fully reJewvenating Passover, and am sincerely grateful for your presence in my life, and the world at large.

Wishing you the Shalomest of Shaloms,
Yaakov Lehman

Insightful Passover mp3s can be found here

Monday, April 7, 2008

RRR London - March

Our alternative Megillah was maybe my best experience of Purim ever. It's a pretty controversial festival, what with all the death and revenge, but it was pretty well met by a bunch of amazing people with film, music and art aware of the contradictions between the festival and our somewhat more peaceful feelings. And then a couple of hundred came to our party... And then we still had space for a more conventional version the next morning.

It has been great to welcome temporary house member Rosella for this month and thanks to her for joining us. It's nice to shake things up and take new inspiration.

Looking forward to meeting Warsaw house members next week.
Anyone know how to turn pre-pesach cleaning into a house activity? :)

Friday, April 4, 2008

MHLA Lee Levin, April 08

Alright kiddos





It's spring time and I want to party and learn some Hebrew with dave. Check out our events this month they are gonna rock.


4/4/08 New House Experiences

So we are all moved into our new LA Moishe House complete with jacuzzi and back room for Poker Night!!! We kicked off our first month here with some poker nights and an awesome Purim costume party complete with a Superhero theme. I really wanted to do Aqua Teen Hunger Force with the other roommate but it just wasn't happening. So I eventually settled for Vemon, you know the evil version of Spiderman. Anyhow, I looked a little silly in my costume......kinda like an overgrown child going trick or treating but it was all in the name of fun. We even had a couple show up dressed as hamentashens!!! Check out our Phanfare section for great shots of the variety of costumes.
~Dave MHLA

Let the good times March on!

March seemed like a month-long celebration at Moishe House Montevideo. We hosted two big parties for visiting Alternative Spring Break groups brought down by Hillel Uruguay, three Purim events, a farewell party for Maia and her family, who just made Aliyah, and a congratulations party for Pato, who won the Kehila's Tanach knowledge competition and the grand prize of a free trip to Israel.

The ASB groups from the U.S. had a great time getting to know Montevideo and helping out by building emergency houses for impoverished families living in shanty towns on the outskirts. We were happy to reward their hard work with festivities at the Moishe House, and they had a ball hanging out and dancing all night on our awesome roof. For me, it was real fun to be able to sing along with someone to American songs again, seeing as how normally I only hear Cumbia and Reggaeton down here and I never know any of the words.

We did a good job extending Purim celebrations as long as possible, which was fine by everyone! We kicked off the festivities over a week early, hosting a party for the B'nei Akiva kids. Then we spent the night before Purim decorating the synagogue at Yavne, which made the atmosphere much more festive the next day at the Megilah reading. Then a week later we co-sponsored the biggest Purim party in Uruguay with Hillel. Almost 400 people came dressed in costume and danced the night away! You've gotta go check out the picks.

Maia was one of our regulars at Moishe House Montevideo. Had she moved anywhere besides Israel, it would have been much harder to say goodbye. It was still hard because we won't see her for awhile (for my roommates, until they move back to Israel, for me, until I visit!), but we're really happy for her and her family.

Pato is another regular, and he had spent months studying with Elkana for this Tanach competition. We were all proud of him for winning and had a fun time celebrating at Freddo, a delicious kosher ice cream parlor.

Now we're looking forward to Pesach and even more celebrations! I hope we're able to add just as much next month to local fesitivities. We're always trying to have fun down here! Until next time,

Jay Krefman

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Silver Spring Alan eats too much food

We ate a lot, we cooked a lot, we brewed a lot, and now it's time to rest. Over March we hosted a number of special meals at MHSS without even realizing that that's all we were doing! Everyone enjoyed Southern Food Night, the Sushi- & Bagel-making, and especially the Homebrewing, but we realized we're gonna have to diversify again for next month. Check out our pictures from the great Purim party we threw with the help of Rachael's friend, professional DJ Phill!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Puuuurim and a lot m@re !!

Purim is already over??? here comes Pesach!!
Thank you Moishe House! Well that's a phrase that you could hear a lot this month in our house...
We had dinners with young people from around here, something that tho it seems to be an ordinary thing, not an event of 100 people, it has an effect on the people.. it's great!

talking about bigger events, we had 2 parties of groups of Americans that came for a week to Uruguay, to volunteer and know the place a little bit. all the program is produced by the Hillel organization, and it was fun to have them here.
Purim actually was the greatest event this month. we had parties starts from the party in the shill that we work there here in the community "Yavne", a Purim party for the kids of "Bney Akiva" in our house that was a success.. we setup the shill of "Yavne" until very late, with the help of some pizzas thank g-d, and Israeli visitors that we had here;
A family from the community did "Aliyah"- they went to Israel to live there, so we did a farewell party for one of their girls, hopefully that we'll all go to Israel soon Amen!
Two Shabbat dinners in Hillel for the American groups, some experience.. a lot of energy that night, no doubt..
One of the kids won a contest of the bible so he is going to Israel for the world contest.. Good luck Pato!!
I wish y'all a Kosher and happy Pesach!

Yonatan Yussim, Moishe House Montevideo, Uruguay.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

David - MHSF - April 1st

This Sunday 13 brave young men will be venturing where many men have been before, though, none of us. San Quentin Prison. Under the guidance of our faithful leader, Mr. Ari Baruth, we will be taking our vast softball skills through the prtison gates, to one of the most well guarded fields anywhere in the world. I for one am extremely excited, and incredibly terified. Most of my life I do whatever I can to avoid putting myself in situations I consider to be dangerous or pants-wetting scarey. Now here I am 6 days away from walking into a scenario that is arguably both. When I think about it logically I know that these are just people like me, who for whatever reason have gotten caught up in a life that led them to this place. Under different circumstances these prisoners could be guys I grew up with, or me. They aren't "bad people". Secondcly, I also know that there will be a lot of people in charge of making sure that nothing happens to us during our 7 inning game. This has been done before, and they have no interest in having us walk into a situation where serious physical harm could be done to us.

More than anything I think that it is important for me to see at least a glimpse of what life is like for those serving long sentences in our penal system. With MILLIONS of Americans behind bars, and the numbers ever increasing, I think it is vital that what many men and woman go through on a daily basis in confinement be more than just a statistic. If anything I hope to gain a better appreciation for the life that I've been able to lead, and the freedoms I often take for granted. Wish me, and the rest of the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers, luck!

What the #$%& is Juice?

I'm going to Washington DC in a couple weeks for the National Leadership Conference for the Anti-Defamation League. I've become involved in the organization and I'm really enjoying learning more about it. The trip to DC will be an opportunity for everyone there to meet one another and to discuss different things that have happened in all the 30 cities where an ADL office exists. I'm going to be one of the younger, if not the youngest, person at the conference, and that always makes me feel weird. There's something about being young that resonates around a crowd, and it absolutely changes the dynamic. That does not really play out much in Moishe House events, at least in San Francisco, because at each event the age groups are consistently people in their 20's. It makes me wonder if a Moishe House would be successful if it were geared towards people in their 30's, or any sort of age group. There are Jewish youth groups for teens, but what about Moishe House alumni? Not just the people living in the homes, but the communities that were established. I think it could be a very successful venture, especially with providing an opportunity for young Jewish families with young kids to meet and socialize. Just an idea, and I thought I'd share...