Wednesday, April 30, 2008
In Israel today, the mimouna celebration is enjoyed by Jews from 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 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.
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
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
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
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,
Insightful Passover mp3s can be found here http://www.simpletoremember.com/audio/Rabbi_Akiva_Tatz.html
Monday, April 7, 2008
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
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. http://moishehouse.phanfare.com/album/541556/832903#imageID=38778855
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,
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
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
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!