Monday, June 30, 2008

Mo Moishe (Leo MHDC)

What's up Moishe BLOG!!! DC is back in the house. I would like to take a minute to thank a very very special day. That day would be Shabbat. While we in the Moishe House actually do more work on this day of rest than other days, it is well worth it. Not to mention, feeding tons of hungry people and creating a prime Shabbat atmosphere helps me sleep so well at night. I guess it all works out in the end. Sunday, on the other hand, is cleaning the floors day. That is not as fun. Shabbat, I love you.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boston's retreat

Last weekend, we took 30 of our community's leaders on a retreat up in New Hampshire thanks to a grant from our local Federation's Young Adult Task Force.

It was wonderful. We made Shabbos together, relaxed by the lake, did Torah study, had a couple of skill-share sessions, ate well, and spent a morning visioning for our community.

It was a beautiful time, and really demonstrated the strength of what we've built so far, and the potential we've got to create something even more substantial and far-reaching. I know that I'm excited to work with our existing and emerging leadership to make Moishe House Boston a model of progressive Jewish community-building, a center where young people find meaning together and leverage our collective power for positive change.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Voice Your Values in '08!

This pasThis past May, Moishe House Boston helped organize the Righteous Indignation conference. At the conference, 150 young activists from 13 states around the US joined together to explore how Jewish activists can collaborate with faith organizations and grassroots groups to voice social justice and environmental issues as religious community priorities in the ’08 election.

Building on the momentum of an anthology I co-edited, Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice, the Righteous Indignation conference emerged out of a growing sense that I and others shared that the national debate on religion and politics had skewed too far to the right in the past two elections. Responding to this trend, our anthology attempted to articulate a compelling and text-based Jewish language to talk about the pressing social justice and environmental issues of our day. Though our book was Jewish, our project is part of a larger effort of activists, scholars and clergy from several faiths to find religious guidance and inspiration for our social justice work.

We knew our book was an important step, but words can be empty when they do not lead to action. We asked ourselves how we could use the anthology to empower Jewish activists with the Jewish and activist tools they needed to help reframe the religious debate around this election, and strengthen Jewish social justice efforts in the future. To this end, thanks to the help of several Moisheniks, we decided to organize our conference around issue tracks and skills workshops that integrated Jewish learning, practical campaign information, skills training, and campaign planning in order to prepare participants to carry out meaningful follow up work after the conference.

While I knew that I cared about the election, what was most inspiring to me at the conference was the energy of young people to build a wider Jewish social justice movement. As one participant put it, “I can't describe how inspiring and energizing it was to meet so many amazing progressive Jews and feel a part of that community.” Another participant said, “I am so excited to see what we can do together around this election, but also what we can do together for years to come.”

Moving forward, alumni are planning voter registration days over the summer and early fall, organizing creative media events around the Interfaith Week of Action on Poverty and Politics, working with the AVODAH/AJWS alumni partnership to plan large debate watch parties in October, and working to create opportunities for voter turnout work in early November. If you are interested in helping folks in your Moishe House community to voice your values this election season, please don’t hesitate to contact me at or check out for more information. We will have our conference workshop materials up soon, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


We started the month with the celebration of Yom Hashoa the Memorial Day for the Holocaust. The whole community went together to the building of the Uruguayan community building for a ceremony in memory of our 6,000,000 brothers and sisters that perished during the war.

The following week we celebrated the Memorial Day for the Israeli soldiers that died during the whole time of the State of Israel. We organized monologues to the whole Yavne School.

Right after we arrived at Yom Ha’atzmaut, the Independence day of Israel. We attended a party of the whole community and then came back to school where we were up the whole night decorating the school.

On the afternoon we organized a “happening” for the Yavne community, children and teenagers.

Right after that we started with closed by activities by different families, to wish “despedidas” to Elkana. We had Pizza parties, azados and etc in his honor.

Now we arrived to Lag Ba’omer we had the great Pleasure of hosting here in Montevideo the Sfaradi chief Rabbi from Israel Rabbi Shlomo Amar the Rishon Lezion. In the evening we organized a fire, an azado and a Lag Ba’omer party for the Teenagers.

Right after Lag Ba’omer we started thinking how we can help the High School kids raise money for a trip to Israel.

For Yom Yerushalayim we decided to make a new “happening” like on Yom Ha’atzmaut. Just this time the entrance required payment and we made a raffle of different prizes. This is what actually happened and the youngsters were able to raise some money. This is also an occasion in which we as well as the Uruguayan boys and girls want to thank Moishe House very much for your help.

Right after Yom Yerushalayim my parents arrived, a day before our extensive work to be ready for the Inauguration of the new Yeshiva (after 40 years of not having one), Bet Ezra in Uruguay.

The inauguration was a great success with standing room only and hundreds of people attending. We had the pleasure of hosting Rabbi Mordechai Elon from Israel.

Rabbi Elon took part in Tikun Shavuot in which he gave a number of Shiurim with hundreds of people participating.

At the same time we organized classes with children and youngsters through the whole night.

In the morning we were close to 150 in the synagogue after being awake the whole night.

One more thing… I want to wish Happy Birthday to my Moishe House roommate Yonatan! 10th of Kislev, this Friday!

Wishing you a great month,

Lior Sztrigler

2.0- Rae at MHP

Moishe House Philly is about to embark on its second year. It's hard to believe that around this time last year we had just had the house we thought we were going to move into fall through, and were not even sure if the project would happen. With a strong and growing community, that anxiety all seems very distant now. We're hoping to make this next year at Moishe House even better than our first, with more events and new Moisheniks having a blast and enriching our community.
Welcome MHP 2.0! Thank you to Becky for all you have contributed to the house this year, and so much luck.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Revolution of Revelation

To the casual obsrever, this blog might appear a tad late, but in fact it's all part of a carefully designed plan to coincide with the rather lovely festival of Shavuot commencing tonight - the feast of weeks, the party of revelation.

I like Shavuot.

I'm gonna stay up all night with lovely people, and soak up some beautiful Torah.

Here's something I prepared earlier on the subject...

Tonight (Sunday night) we start the festival of Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and for me, these questions largely define this month…

What does it mean to receive a revelation?

Why does our tradition compare the giving of the Torah to a wedding?

No answers here but a few possible thoughts towards some…

On this festival we read the story of Ruth, one of the shortest, and most beautiful books of the Bible.

It's essentially a love story, and it teaches us that to receive something worth receiving, and to really grow, we must be prepared to go beyond what appears to be in our own narrow self-interest.

The whole story is about this, on so many levels - here's just a few examples…

Ruth is a Moabite woman who insists on staying with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and on taking on her customs, and joining her people, even without knowing the details of what she is accepting on herself. She acts simply out of love and duty, even to the point of discarding her own prospects.

Boaz, the man who finds and weds Ruth, is prepared to risk his own reputation to protect hers – in the touching central scene of the book, he tells her to stay the night in his place, for her sake, even though they have not yet received a legal sanction for their relationship.

This suggests Boaz's chutzpah – one of the meanings of his name - that most Semitic quality of going beyond what is considered respectable to do what we simply must!

Boaz also uses the name of G!d unconventionally to teach people to respect each other's divinity, by the simple but revolutionary step of initiating a custom of saying "G!d is with you" as a greeting –

This was an emergency measure, which he realised was necessary because the same people who were failing to respect or care for the stranger (Ruth!) were in danger of succumbing to hatred and conflict amongst themselves, which is very much the context of this story (see the Judges 19 & 20! And cf the story of Sodom in Genesis 19 – where Ruth's ancestors fled!! All these stories are woven together by key words and images…)

When Ruth gives birth to her and Boaz's son, he is promptly given to Naomi, as if he actually is hers. Ruth herself is notably ego-less throughout the story – there never appears the pronoun meaning "to-her". She only acts for the sake of what is right, not for her own sake.

Through Ruth's loving and noble actions, (and Boaz's) the entire city she was initially ignored by becomes a place of community, of shared growth and learning, that ultimately produces King David, our model not only of leadership but of Malchut – synergy – who's very name means Beloved…

Happy Revelations!

Chag Sameach


PS this is based largely on the teachings of Rav Matis Weinberg, available to listen to and read at

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Summer arrives; we have a garden!

Dear MHers,

Hope all is good at your various Houses.

I for sure know that the MH team in sunny Santa Barbara dont appreciate what it is for a London summer to arrive, and probably neither do most of you.

In England we sit through rain, sleet, drizzle, showers (when a culture has a lot of something they create lots of names for it, apparently eskimos have many names for snow), sleet, snow, darkness at 4pm, grey clouds, freezing cold, for at least 6 months a year. Then for a couple of months the sun plays games, appears for half an hour here, half an hour there, pokes its head between the clouds momentarily, promising to deliver its marvellous rays, before reminding us that summer is not yet upon us.

Then sometime in early June (last year it was April somehow, but that month was the entire summer), the sun decides to hang around a bit more, a couple of hours and people (especially overweight, tatooed men) start taking their clothes off and acting as though we are in the South of France. Then just as we are getting to enjoy it we are reminded how fragile life can be, as the rain turns up for a few days (Mon and Tue this week).

Finally in late June the sun decides to pay us a permenant visit for a month or two and that is our entire summer that we have been waiting for.

Anyway, it looks as though summer is almost with us again and Moishe House London have rediscovered they have a garden, most of us literally didnt step foot in it for 6 months. We are making the most of it. We had a bonfire last week, lunch in the garden last weekend and the socer ball has emerged. Dan even slept out there for a few hours recently.

But who knows when it might end, the gloominess returns and the garden once again becomes a barren wasteland. Until then we will make the most of it, and hold our heads up high that wee have sun justl ike all the other Moishe Houses.



RRR London

I am quite liking Joel's numerical style, so, here we go.

1) Visited my wonderful friend who is staying in Jamaica , where her family comes from (we used to live together here in London). I was missing her a lot and the value of seeing her again far outweighed the cost of the ticket.
The illiteracy in Jamaica is chronic and it's only when I was there that I realised the true repercussions of that. Moving into her district are a large number wealthy foreigners who know not just how to read and write but also how to publicise their businesses to other foreigners, and have the money to get going.
Meanwhile, the regular young people in the village are not being given opportunities to work their way upwards anywhere. Fishing no longer provides the income it did, the huge hurricane that was here a couple of years ago completely decimated the coastline, and the NGO which declares that it puts all its money into the community earned millions of dollars that many locals say no one saw more than a reel of fishing line from.
So after chatting for a while, we thought a letter-writing service was needed. How held back are you if you cannot read or write? I take this skill so much for granted. You have barely any avenues for official complaint, and if you try to use them, your language will be a barrier that makes people judge you as 'less than' themselves.

2) Whilst ploughing jet fuel across the skies, I am also aware of the whole possibility of peak oil. In the countryside it is easier to sense changes in the weather, but in the city we are sheltered from changes. But, as it is, we are the ones who will be massively affected - lacking the skills to deal with the possible oil-less existence. So, MHLon is proudly growing a handful of carrots, spinach, onion, beetroot, lettuce, radish and rocket. I am hoping that at some point I'll become a green goddess and feed us entirely from the garden - it's a big enough space, but that maybe a long way off, especially as a large area has been reserved for playing football!

3) Had an amazing shabbat in the countryside, with Joel, Daniel and a bunch of other people... and a climb to the top of Leith Hill.
Oh. My. Days. as we used to say in Camden.
This image barely does it justice.

4) I have a tricycle. Oh yes. Queen of the Roads. The MiniMoisheMobile is here. Next stop, a Harley Trike. That runs on water of course.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Farewell Elkana!

Sad news for Moishe House Montevideo this month... Elkana is gone :(

May 25th arrived, and it was back to Israel for our beloved, hearty-laughing, fun-loving, wide-grinning, tall read-headed companion. As Yonatan said in his blog, we wish him all the best. We already miss his presence.

May was a lot of fun though, with an awesome Yom Ha'Atzmaut after-school party that we organized for the kids at Yavne Jewish day school, a couple asados (Uruguayan barbeques), a Sushi Night, and of course, Shabbat dinner.

It's getting pretty cold down here, but we're trying to stay super active and take advantage of our last few months in Uruguay. I'm heading back to the States in late August and will definitely miss this place. It's been great fun living in the Moishe House, and hopefully that part of my adventure won't have to end when I head back up north!

Well wishes to all my fellow Moishe-Housers across the world. Take care,

Jay Krefman

Vienna Farewell

Vienna farewell

Yet again I prepare to take flight
Departure rhapsodies to an audience afar
Vienna, I must bid you adieu
Never to forget the light of your shining star

Your avenues encouraged my intrepid growth
Your alleys propagated a dampened pain
But those special few who dwell within your midst
Have quenched my soul like a desert rain

Vienna farewell

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Moishe House London - Joel - May

Summertime... or is it? It seems, after a blissful week and a half of a sunshine earlier in May, that the British summer has got shy again and decided to hide.

Meanwhile, in my life, many things:

1. I'm currently doing a Master Cleanse. That means just lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for 10 days. And I'm on day 8! Feeling fine. Good energy levels, pretty light and able to concentrate, hunger mostly gone away. I won't pretend I'm not looking forward to eating again though...

2. I just handed in my 5,000 word essay on Storahtelling, who I worked with in NYC in March and April. 'Conversations with the soul through story'. Much less last minute than previous essays and I actually enjoyed writing it in the end.

3. May 17th I did my own Storahtelling-style dramatic translation of the Torah reading at West London Synagogue in the main sanctuary. I played an environmental protester, an overworked academic and, my old friend, Rabbi Zalman Meintz. All commented, through their line by line meturgeman translations, on the relevance and meaning of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. Feedback has been very positive.

4. I have started a new job, alongside my freelance drama projects. I am working three days a week for Tzedek, researching and preparing kids' and students' education materials
on development issues and relating them to Jewish themes and concepts.

5. Rachel, Daniel and I spent a gorgeous weekend in the countryside with 13 other friends. Davening, eating, walking, yoga, talking, bonfire, learning, eating...

6. May highlight in The House: we collaborated with the London JCC to hold a bonfire for Lag B'Omer, making use of our massive garden. 100 people came, including two 90 year olds.

7. We have been featured in the Guardian's Jewish podcast this month. Listen out for us on 8 mins. A real insight into life in The House.

8. I am going to Burning Man this year! Hooray. Took the plunge and sent off for my ticket. It will be my 5th burn. Burning Man will undoubtedly haunt my dreams from here on in.

9. Earlier in the month the 5 of us houseniks went out for karaoke at one of London's private karaoke rooms. Rocked. My personal favourite: Mac the Knife, as usual. And a close second: Thank You, by Alanis Morissette. Most fun? Meatloaf, I would do anything for love (but I won't do that).

10. Thursday after Shavuot I'm off to Israel for the ROI120 summit. Jewish innovation a-go-go. A week away and then back here. Hopefully summer will have re-arrived by then.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Aliyah of Moishe House Minsk

The best thing that happened to Moishe House Minsk since Mimouna was our visit from Kevin Sherman! It was sovietastic! :)

We took him to the forest for shashliki, to a discotheque, to the Minsk Jewish Campus Business Club, and to many other interesting activities!

Kevin had this much fun!

MHSS Alan thinks about May

A Yom Ha-atzma'ut party with our favorite DJ...An extremely successful "Art Shabbat" dinner & services we got to show off for Jeremy...Memorial day BBQ...Watching "Titan AE", one of my favorite movies...
and I was still able to drive back and forth to NY twice this month!

Rachael - MHSS - 1 year anniversary!

Wow - so much good stuff to read from my fellow Moisheniks!

Been a good month here at MHSS. Several points to note:
- First: as of yesterday, we are officially 1 year old!
H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y , M H S S !

- Margo is off in NYC living the city life, & Noam is on his way to good ol' Bmore. Our two new housemates can't move in till Aug. due to current obligations, but have been involved already. . . . This should be a good year. :)

- MHSS has, thanks to Alan, joined a CSA -- Community Share Agriculture (I think). Zvi, Lindsay (new housemate -- new Moishenik), Yael (current housemate of L), and I went to the farm to pick strawberries last week. AMAZING! I ate well for the following day or two. :)

- Of course, there was Jeremy's visit (just over a week ago? seems ancient news already), which included a visit to the Piratz Tavern & subsequent reunion between two good ol' boys from a small town in Cali. :) Oh, the magic of being Jewish!

- Short story:
Yesterday (June 1) was a huge event on the National Mall in D.C. to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the modern state of Israel. I had wanted to do something to help identify MHSS amongst the crowd; so, at Zvi's suggestion (which I seconded -- I couldn't think of anything better), I bought orange cloth which I cut into strips for armbands.

At one point in the afternoon, I stopped my wanderings from exhibit to exhibit to find one of the longer strips I knew I had so that I could keep my hair out of my eyes. Next thing I know, a young Orthodox family is asking me for strips of cloth. I don't understand -- I don't look like a promoter or a staff member handing out free stuff -- but I oblige, handing the three small children each a strip of orange cloth. You know kids: they like anything they can get at festivals...right?

Only it's not the kids that want the cloth, with Mom serving as spokesperson; I soon realize it's Mom who is excited, dressing each of her three children in the strips of cloth as only a mother to her oblivious & clueless children can.

child (lost, to mother): "What's this for?"
mother (thrilled, smiling): "It's to show we want Gaza back."


Who knew MHSS was representing a political statement.
(A moment later, an older man who must have witnessed what just transpired approached me asking what the orange strips of cloth were for. Wishing to avoid being the Gaza Girl of Orange Cloth, I explained I was just looking for something of mine that I knew I had brought with me so that I could tie my hair back -- which, of course, is what I had really been doing. He acquiesced and left, having no need for people who weren't giving away free stuff.)

Needless to say, the strips of cloth remained out of sight for the remainder of the day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Natasha of Moishe House Minsk

A reflection on the film "Human Trafficking."

Торговля живым товаром… Эта тема всегда волнует человеческое воображение. Вот и мы с Мойше-хаусниками Минска в очередной раз прочувствовали эту трагедию человечества, просмотрев одноименный фильм на эту тему. На протяжении трех часов на лицах ребят можно было видеть страх в глазах из-за всего происходящего в этом фильме. Я смотрела «Торговлю живым товаром» третий раз и каждый раз, когда его смотрю, у меня наворачиваются слезы. И не смотря на то, что финал фильма был счастливым, виновники расплатились по заслугам, все равно остается чувство страха за то, что это не единственный случай, и таких «торговцев» просто огромное количество во всем мире. А эти наивные девочки, которые мечтают о красивой жизни в далекой Америке, проходят через такой ужас, что никому такого не пожелаешь. И больше всего жалко ни в чем неповинных детей, которые даже и представить в своем возрасте не могли, что могут оказаться в такой ситуации.
После просмотра такого рода фильмом хочется пожелать всем, и особенно «слабому полу», быть аккуратными при знакомстве с незнакомыми людьми и не верить в заоблочную жизнь, которую тебе предлагают в другой, совершенно неизвестной тебе стране, потому что та сказка в другой стране, которую ты видишь по телевизору может превратиться в такой ужас, о котором тебе будет трудно когда-нибудь забыть в своей жизни!