Sunday, August 31, 2008

MHSeattle, Tamar Libicki, 09-31-08

Moishe House Seattle events have been very fun lately. We've been having a lot of singers, and dancers, and musicians. We've had good games of charades, and of course great conversations. Last week we had a blackberry themed dinner, and Joel, Neal, and I picked blackberries in an adventurous fashion first and then Masha and I, and a guest Dan turned them into blackberry muffins, blackberry icecream, and blackberry pie. Of 24 blackberry muffins none were left the next day. Sorry Masha!

Oh, Moishe House!

August has been an interesting month. With one of our roommates moving out, we decided to spend some time together rebuilding as a new house, to invest in our space and vision for the coming year - our second year as Moishe House Chicago!

Just one example, after spending time picking out colors, we spent a lovely Saturday morning repainting our kitchen a warm "nacho cheese" yellow and rearranged our furniture to create a more homey space for the coming year.

The year is starting off well, with each of us finding comfort in full-time jobs and busy with our lives in Chicago, it's great to come home to our "family" and plan events for our larger community. I can tell that this year will be a good one for Moishe House Chicago.

-Elana

Friday, August 29, 2008

MHSeattle, Neal Schindler, 8/29/2008

I'm all moved in, and even in the few days I've been here I've been struck by how nice it is to come home to a place where people are likely to be watching The Daily Show on someone's laptop, listening to an NPR analysis of the Democratic National Convention, or cooking something lusciously aromatic in the kitchen. Or building an IKEA table. Or playing Brazilian music for no reason other than that the house has a record player and it's a fine day for Brazilian music (and isn't every day?). In other words, this is a real home, and I haven't lived in one for more than 4 years -- and even then, there was less intention behind the homemaking.

What's also struck me is how easy it feels for me to dedicate my Friday nights to Shabbat dinner. Maybe it's because I'm just coming out of a two-and-a-half-year relationship and my weekend evenings are mysteriously free; maybe it's really because I'm at a stage of life where I don't feel like I need to rush out to the bars or some nightlife-ish event on a Friday night. Maybe it's actually more nourishing to spend one night of the weekend with my housemates and members of the lovely and growing community they've established in, impressively, less than a year's time. The feeling that led me to become a resident of Seattle's Moishe House in the first place was one of familial comfort -- a sense of belonging that hit me immediately, even though I didn't really know anyone yet. Perhaps it's largely because I'm finally trying to embrace, rather than run away from, Jewish identity and connection. Perhaps it's because intentional community is something I've sought since 2001, when I graduated from college, and am only now rediscovering -- coming home to, if you will. Whatever the reason(s), I'm glad I live here. Tuesday night potlucks and Friday night dinners never fail to raise my spirits, which these days is no small thing.

One last note: Today I was at PCC, shopping for Shabbat-dinner salad ingredients, when a middle-aged woman pulled over in her car and asked me about my Obama bumper sticker (it says "Barack Obama" in Hebrew). Specifically, she asked where I got it, and I told her it came from the Ravenna Kibbutz. She said: "I didn't know Ravenna had a kibbutz!" (Common response.) So I explained the Moishe House organization to her very briefly and gave her the Kibbutz's Web address. I've never been much of a proselytizer for anything -- certain movies, maybe, and my college co-op system -- but it's nice to be able to promote a place I believe in and actually call home, too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Moishe House JHB - ADAM DAVID SACK

Howzit folks,

This is the first blog of one Moishe house representative from the city of Johannesburg in South Africa. For those who don’t know me, my name is Sack – that’s what people call me around here, I guess maybe, its because I am Irish. I have been a Moishe house representative for just under 2 months now and seeing as this is my first blog, I guess I will allow you to delve into my world.

So you will travel down the rabbit hole of my life.

I wake up every morning and shout up the stairs to my house-mates Ilan and Doron to throw down the red key, the red key is particularly important to my morning because it allows me to access the shower, without it I would smell like garlic – Ilan loves garlic, but that is a whole other blog entirely.

After bracing the stairs and waiting in the line to shower I eventually fight the cold winds and enjoy my morning shower, it is the highlight of my day, the rest is all downhill.

Breakfast happens next, it is a fight for the toaster and the last ounce of cheese to go with some stale toast, but of course the toaster still is not working properly and my toast is ruined. Ahh there is light at the end of tunnel, I reach in the back of the cupboard and take out the last remains of the muesli, fetch a bowl from the draw and fill it as much as I can with the wholesome goodness that is bran. As the milk mixes in I know this is going to be a good day.

The milk is off.

You see, you can never be sure if you have milk, this is always my problem when I am at the store, because you don’t want to run of milk, it is the worst. You have the bowl set up, spoon next to it, you have the glass of OJ, you have the morning paper, everything is ready to go and you lift the milk up and OHHH NO! Too light. So I always buy too much milk, and then it is a race against time, yeah, that expiration date – that freaky thing… how do they always know.

Anyway, this day I lost. The milk was off and breakfast was over.

Enough banter

But everyday is a good day for Moishe house Johannesburg. People come over, we chill, hang out, talk about the world, run cool events, such as dinners and book clubs and games nights and quiz shows with prizes and screen movies and slowly but surely we watch our popularity grow.

That’s all for me.

Thanking for exploring my Moishe house morning. Next Blog will include lunch, and if you are well behaved, you might get a sneak preview at tea! I love tea with scons it is my favorite food!

Adios Amigos

Sack

Moishe House JHB - ILAN STRAUSS

Hello Everyone,

INTRO
Well Moishe House JHB is going from strength to strength. And what a mesibah. Our house is pumping, the food is flowing, people are chilling and the house arrangement is going really well. People are even bringing over items to help us out. Someone brought a couch and even some random Jews from France.

POLITICS 101
Johannesburg life is the window of the "New Africa." It is the tash mahal of Africa in fact and immigrants from around the world choose to come here. This is also part of the problem. South Africa at present has 40% unemployment. During the great depression by most estimates unemplyment was around 35% max. To compound this our good old friendly neighbour Robert Mugabe (or "Bob the builder - can he destroy it") has continued since 1999 to cleanse the country of political opposition and so in the proccess around 6 million Zimbabwians have been pushed into South Africa. The SA government has felt no need to pass any legislation over the last half a decade to deal with this influx of immigrants, creating a loose loose situation for immigrants (no jobs or labours las can apply to illegal immgirants who have not been granted asylum seeker status) and for SA (we loose out on bringing into the labour market many individuals with skills such as teachers and doctors). Instead we stead them off to towns for immigrants where they live in inhumane and barbaric conditions. Instead we let locals watch as foreigners sometimes receive RDP (post 1994 - Economics policy dedicated to Growth through redistribution of resources) houses ahead of locals thus creating a teapot, with the steam coming out and a hissing noise letting people know that the situation is about to explode.

This lead to mass violence against foreigners in South Africa. Our gardner who is from ZImbabwe, was beaten and so him and his wife and his brother and there wife and his child, were sleeping in our house for a period of time. Most peoples origonal housing (which was in informal shanty towns - in tins shacks) was burned down and still dangerous, thus making it hard for these locals to return safely to there houses even after the violence had subsidided.
Layer sof political manipulation and interest can and should be read into this situation however this blog must have a word limit on it.

So with that in mind, come to JHB and see Moishe here. Where we try and help others and not just ourselves. And we say that Moishe House money should not just be spend on junk but on helping those around us. A strong Jewish community can only radiate it message outwards, Moishe House can create that core.

Best,

Ilan

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rae, MHP August 2008

Is August seriously almost over? Just say no, because if it is then so is the summer, and I'm having none of that. We've been having a great time over at MHP, and it's really amazing how quickly the summer has been flying by. Plus summer can't be over, because we still haven't gotten any tomatoes off of our tomato plants (they look beautiful though, so there can't just be something wrong with our plants). And I'm not ready to stop spending so much time in our beautiful little back yard (although, I hear heat lamps aren't nearly as expensive as you would think, so who knows, maybe the backyard will become a year-round destination). Even if summer does eventually come to an end though, as I guess it must, I'm amped for all the great things coming up this autumn, from the East Coast Regional Retreat, to Inter-MHP Camping at French Creek with MH Hob and MHSS, to Apples N' Hunnies.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

St. Louis is on the Map

Shalom, Salaam, Salut, MH world.

I figured it was about time to wade in and give a little detail about what a Moishe House in the Mid-West is all about.

There are a couple unique issues that my coreligionists in larger metropolitan areas tend not to contend with, simply put, there aren't that many Jewish young adults in St. Louis.

Second, the vast majority of the JYAs here in STL are students at Washington University (guilty). They are transient, and often come from those larger metropolitan areas. Meaning, they see St. Louis as backwards, conservative, and boring. This is St. Louis' fault for not doing better PR. To that effect we created (separate from MHSTL) The St Lou Jew in order to create the content to reach out to the JYA demographic.

On the MHSTL proper front, we have been throwing together as many Shabbat dinners as possible, combining the ancient Israelite tactic of networking with the evolutionary strategy of eating to create some pretty fantastic nights.

Add a few nights at the Missouri Botanical Gardens to catch some jazz (with no open container law), a free show or three at the outdoor theater known as the MUNY, and we have had a pretty solid month!

More as it develops, Yalla!

Shabbat at the Western Wall

I recently returned from a long overdue trip to Israel. Along with Ashley Warner (MH East Bay) and two other staff members, we traveled with 17 teens throughout the country doing a combination of community service, education, and discussions with Arab Israelis, Palestinians, Bedouins, Jews on the left, on the right, secular Israelis, and what seemed like people everywhere in between. Summarizing a 3 1/2 week journey that started at Kibbutz Lotan in the southeast near Jordan, worked its way up to Camp Kimama in the north near the Lebanese border, and crossed back and forth between Kinneret, the Old City in Jerusalem and the beaches of Tel Avivn and Jafo would take more time and space than anyone has the energy to read.

One experience I do want to share was the communal feeling of being a Jew at the Western Wall on Shabbat. For those of you that ever see yourself returning to Israel, this is a must do, and truly magical experience. Physcially being around and seeing thousands upon thousands of men and women exploring their deepest spiritual senses, completely in tune with a higher spirit, praying harder and more intensely than I have seen or felt anyone do in my entire life is my lasting memory of this recent trip.

I entered the men's side of the wall with 9 teenage boys and my co staff member; it was clear by how we were dressed and the boyish enthusiasm we all shared that we were American Jews on a quick trip to Israel. However, we were treated with such respect and reverence by everyone we met that evening. Older men in their 70s and 80s greeted us with "Shabbat Shalom" hugs and huge wide smiles as we brushed by them and approached the front of the wall. Some of our teens joined a group of 50 IDF soldiers who were dancing and singing like there was no tomorrow. Another group of us found a huge group of Hassidic men who were dancing their own version of the Hora, they saw us on the sidelines, and soon brought us into their circle, and encouraged us to form our own inner circle, something the teens expressed they felt so honored and respected to be able to do. Young teenage yeshiva boys allowed us to enter their prayer circle, and although we had no idea what they were saying, we all shared the same energy that evening, the same passion and kavanah of having a tremendous amount of pride in our heritage, in where our families have come from, and the common bond we all shared that evening.

My Grandfather has always told me there is something different about being in Israel. Maybe it's the land, maybe its the history, maybe its all the vegetables, maybe its the dehydration, maybe its the people. Whatever it is, there is something undeniably beautiful and comfortable about a place where the majority of the people you are around are Jewish, something that is very foreign to most Jews throught the world. If you can't make it this year, go next year, and if not then, try and go the year after...there is no where else in the world like it!

Danny Blum, MH East Bay

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

An Inspiring Month, Ashley Warner EBMH

I have a lot of faith in the next generation. I just got back from spending a month in Israel, leading a trip of 17 15-18-year-olds on Camp Tawonga’s TSL (teen service learning) Israel trip. Unlike the Israel trip I went on when I was 16 through the Jewish Federation, this trip is focused on community service, traveling and learning. We would spend our mornings volunteering our afternoons touring significant sights or meeting with Israelis, Israeli Arabs, Drews, or Bedwins. At night we would come back to the hotel and lead the teens in an educational programs about poverty, values, social justice, sustainability, etc. It was an intense schedule and we did an amazing amount in 3+ weeks.

I can’t really express in words how amazing this group of teenagers was. They got along better than any group of kids I’ve ever had have gotten along, I’m talking absolutely no drama, and these are teenagers were talking about! They were so kind to each other, no one was excluded and they were really all friends. They had such good attitudes, although they got tired and grumpy at moments, we set the bar really high for them and they exceeded our expectations! They were motivated and driven, they want to change the world and incorporate all that we learned into their lives. This is a small sample size, but I really believe in these teens and I think we have a lot to look forward to in this world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Aliyah, Moishe House Minsk

On Sunday July 29th, Moishe House Minsk joined a local non-profit organization, "A Special World," for a day of horseback riding and a picnic. What made this activity extra special were the children who joined us from "A Special World." Each child is disabled and uses a wheelchair. We decided to go horseback riding with them in order to provide them with an activity that is both fun and therapeutic.

"A Special World," directed by Elena Serkulskaya, helps the children in a variety of ways. First, Serkulskaya has trained this group of children and their mothers in adaptive wheelchair dance and their dance troupe, "Mandarin," has traveled all over Belarus and abroad to perform. Adaptive dance for those in wheelchairs is an excellent means of rehabilitation and has improved the self-esteem of the children tremendously. Additionally, since the mothers participate, they feel proud to dance with their children, instead of ashamed due to social stigmas regarding disability. Lastly, the group of children and mother pairs is cohesive and supportive, which is one of its most important assets. On Sunday during our group event, Moishe House Minsk was privileged to take part in that supportive group.

"Mandarin" Performs at the Minsk Jewish Campus

Directors of "A Special World," Dmitry Shaplyko and Elena Serkulskaya, are themselves world champions of adaptive ballroom dance. As partners, they won the Paralympic World Championship in adaptive dance in Tokyo in 2004. Dmitry was trained in traditional ballroom dance and partnered with Elena, who dances in a wheelchair, in 2003. Many years ago when performing a complicated freestyle ski-jump routine, Elena endured a serious accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. After spending many years without leaving her home, Elena felt that as an athlete, her life was over. Nevertheless, she not only found the strength to rejoin society, but to improve the lives of children in wheelchairs as well. She manages the "Mandarin" dance troupe of disabled children and mother pairs, instructs rehabilitative excercise, and provides governement agencies with educational seminars on disabilities and effective rehabilitation. Additionally, Elena is a PhD candidate, one of the first to have writen her disertation on disability and rehabilitaion in Belarus. On Sunday, she was our instructor of rehabilitative horseback riding and each of us took part in the process of helping the children, and Elena herlsef, ride.


Helping Elena onto the horse


And she's on!

The most marvelous thing about our day of horseback riding with "A Special World" was that after each of the children had parked their wheelchairs many meters away and gotten up on the horses it became difficult to remember which of us had arrived in wheelchairs and which hadn't. Moishe House guests began to see the children as Geniya, Anton, and Natasha, instead of seeing them as their disability, so blatant when one sits in a wheelchair. And more importantly, the children themselves began to feel liberated from their wheelchairs, moving much higher and faster than usual. Elena herself remarked that being on the horse reminded her of walking.









After everyone had had a turn on the horses, mothers included, we sat down for a picnic lunch.



We shared stories from Moishe House events and listened to stories from the children and mothers of "A Special World." When it was time to go home, everyone left smiling, having enjoyed a very special day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

July/aug for lee levin mhla

Sorry for being mia. All is good in LA LA land looking fed for the olympics and having fun with the end of summer. Stay Moishe people go the org for leaving the nest.

Lee Levin

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Bangkok needs a Moishe House

Hello from bangkok, thailand. i just got in yesterday and there is a jewish community here. not a sizeable one, but still there is one. it's always crazy to see jews in foreign countries, especially when the physical appearance of the locals is not one typically associated with jews. speaking of things you don't always see, last night while cruising around on sukhumvit rd i saw an elephant in the street. it caused a traffic jam, and the elephant didn't care that there were 38 taxis honking at it. it was if the elephant was thinking, "do you see my trunk. it's huge."

on another note, the prostitution in this country is rampant and extremely sad. so many girls are being offered for sex at every turn. i'm with my buddy dave, and two 25 year old white guys must be among their top clients typically. some poeple around here, and at the hostel where i'm staying, joke around about it. but it's really sad, and truly something i'll take back with me to america in my mind. catch you all later. and a special hello to mauro from buenos aires and tad from warsaw, it was awesome having you guys stay over the last few weeks in sf.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

MH-Sacramento Elishama 8/6/06

Wow, So for those of you who don't know I am an elementary school teacher. This usually means that I get summers off. However this summer I was taking classes rather than relaxing, and oh dear, it seems as if my summer is fast approaching its end. I technically have three days left of freedom, but seeing as those days are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it is more of a weekend of freedom. And I have a mandatory meeting from 9-3 tomorrow. Did I mention that I still need to paint my new classroom and find four bookshelves before the kids arrive? Oy! All this work is very much worth it though. I have met with a few of the families of my new students and it is very exciting. I am thrilled about starting a new year.
Moishe house has been an absolute pleasure during these summer months. It seems that our base participants like to eat, and so we have been hosting one schmorgisborge after another. Next one is a Shabbat dinner and I am loosening my belt buckle for the occasion.

-Elishama

MH Sacramento-Jen Finding Balance 8/6/08

Hi all. It has been a crazy few months for me. I started my rotations in the hospital, and so I have been working my butt off. I have to say that for some strange reason, I find pleasure in not sleeping, being in the hospital for over 30 hours at a time, and taking care of patients that you know will not likely survive for more than a few weeks. As painful as some of the moments have been, and for all the times I have cried (even at the hospital), I feel like I am doing what is right for me. Each day, I face many new challenges. I am constantly pushing myself to learn and figure out things I never thought I would be able to understand. The relationships I have built with some patients and their family members have been absolutely fufilling. Even as a med student on the bottom of the chain of command, I have been able to do things that I honestly feel are making a difference in people's lives.
So, where does MHS fit into all this? With all the intense times in the hospital, I need a space to go to to calm down. I need to be around people that do other things besides medicine. With MHS, I have a place to do that. I am still meeting new people - lawyers, engineers, social workers, students, etc - at each MHS event. The events remind me to take time to relax, put down my book, change out of scrubs and nasty hospital clothes, talk about something other than a patient's blood gas levels and cultures...MHS helps me to find balance in my crazy week. I am therefore thankful to have MHS.

-Jen

MHLA Dave 8/4 The Joy of Shabbat

Hello to the fellow Moishniks. I hope last month was fantastic for everyone :) Mine was a little overwhelming with work. I've been working on a title sequence to a documentary that will hopefully be picked up by HBO. Its about an early internet mogul that most people have never heard of named Josh Harris. Anyways, after such tiring weeks it nice to relax with some friends. I had this pleasure during Shabbat Potluck that we had this month. There's something special about getting together at least once a month with a group of friends after a day's work and contributing together to a delicious meal. The sensation of a community really becomes apparent and comforting. It's exciting to watch everyone crowd into the kitchen in attempt to put the final touches on their dishes before presenting them to the hungary masses. This month Theresa's sister, Gloria, claimed the honor of best dish with a carrot soufflé.

I really look forward to the next Shabbat, however, I think we may have to pull off an Iron Chef event soon as Mara has been bugging me to put one on! Will report on the result of that hopefully by next blog. Have a great month everyone!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

In with the new



I sit writing my first blog entry for the Moishe House I've moved into. Sooo allow me introduce myself, Marcus, to all of you out there. We've got some catching up to do I guess.

Quickly some vital stats; aged 21, originally from Austin, TX from whence I left for two very unproductive years at Arizona State University. Left school, took a year off, lived in California and Ohio also went on Birthright. Now reside in Portland, OR and attending Portland State University studying Middle Eastern Studies.

So far the house has been great and I've been having a great time and learning a ton. When we were on our house retreat about 3 weeks ago we were driving to Eastern Oregon We had an amazing retreat in Eastern Oregon which is essentially a desert. We drove six hours east with nothing but wheat colored rolling brown hills. After about 4 hours everyone pretty much lost cell phone reception. Then all of a sudden, the skys part, the hills rise and out of no where incredible mountains emerge with a massive lake beneath them. We had reached our destination and had a great shabbat dinner that night. The pictures I attatched are from that weekend and feature all of our roommates and house advisor.

We have something like 16 events in this month of August which should make for some intense mintraneting. We've been doing these Shabbat dinner lately that have been payed for by Birthright and they've been awesome. We get 25-35 people in our house and cook them a completely kosher meal. They've been really popular and it seems like it's attracted some new people who haven't really been to our events before.

Anyway sorry if this was a little dry, I'll get the hang of this blogging thing :-]

stay up
marcus dorsen
marcusdorsen@gmail.com

Natasha, Moishe House Minsk

Horseback riding with disabled children

Сеанс ипотерапии - это получасовая прогулка на лошади и выполнение нескольких упражнений на растяжку мышц. Во всем мире врачи используют целебные качества лошадей. Верховая езда и выполнение специальных упражнений буквально творят чудеса. После сеанса ипотерапии больные дети начинают уверенно держать спину и самостоятельно делают первые шаги.
Я никогда даже и представить себе не могла, что с первого раза у больного ребенка получится сидеть в седле как у профессионала. Мне казалось, что им это будет очень тяжело сделать, но+ как показала практика, все было совсем иначе.
Было немного непросто посадить детей на лошадь, можно было наблюдать чувства страха и радости в глазах ребят. Сначала мамы и друзья Moishe House помогали придерживать детей на лошади, но потом дети отказались от их помощи и могли сами уверенно сидеть в седле. Это просто чудесно.
Особенно меня поразил рассказ одной мамы. Накануне вечером она рассказала сыну, что завтра они поедут кататься на лошадке и они легли спать. В четыре утра мама услышала шум. Ее сын, которому передвигаться без помощи кого-либо сложно, пришел сам к ней и поинтересовался, не опоздают ли они. Мама успокоила его и опять легли спать. Но для мальчика ночь уже закончилась, он ждал тот момент, когда сядет на лошадку и покатается на ней. С четырех часов он уже не спал. Он понял, что будить маму через каждые полчаса бесполезно, поэтому тихонечко оделся и стал ждать утра.
И действительно, встреча с лошадками не разочаровала его. Она не разочаровала никого. Все - мамы, дети и мы - были просто в восторге.
Ипотерапия творит чудеса!

Monday, August 4, 2008

CSA Top Chef

I was going to write about our awesome interfaith voter registration drive, but last night, we had one of my most favorite Moishe House events ever, so I feel the need to reflect on that. Thanks to the genius of Moishe House leader Aliza Wasserman, we held an Iron Chef/Top Chef competition where the secret ingredient was our community supported agriculture farm shares. We had 5 teams of 4-6 each, plus judges, plus some other audience members, and each team had 3 hours to cook up a storm using their farm shares and a limited few other ingredients.

The results were, as Mary Poppins would say, supercalifragilisticexpialidotius. Ben's team made a killer quiche and homegrown potato salad, the winning team made this incredible beet and feta chifonade (I didn't even know what I chifonade was), sweet tomato ices, and fried zuchinni towers with fresh pesto and baba ganouj, my team made cucumber/watermelon/mint/basil/yogurt soup and zuchini stuffed with homemade pesto'ed rice + roasted nuts and tomatoes. Another team made summer rolls with peanut sauce, corn waffles, and a gay pride root veggie bake. Still another team made homemade pasta with homemade pesto, among other things. I'm getting hungry just thinking how amazing it was.

And the great thing was, it was all locally grown, mostly organic food. It made me really excited to support local agriculture and local farmers, and I know others felt the same. We recently got a $3000 grant from the CJP - our Jewish Federation to do more programs about food justice, sustainable agriculture, and Judaism (especially around Tubishvat), and with this event under our belt, there is lots of momentum for more work around healthy food and sustainability. Yay!

Leo from DC

The end of an era. Oh Chris, how we will miss thee. No Moishe House weekly email Haiku can describe it. With Chris gone we will miss his humorous emails, his content driven programming and his ability to keep us in line. We wont miss his love of fake meat. For nearly two years MHDC has worked hard to build our little community, we have struggled together and succeeded together. He will be missed, but we will continue on. We are all looking forward to our newest Moishe member and the exciting things that he and his poetry will bring to our home and the community at large. I just hope he doesn't love fake meat.


This one is for you, bud.

Newbie Shelby <3s MHP

Hi. I'm Shelby. I'm new. I'm moving into MHP in a few weeks .

I hail from DC-metro area originally (what's up DC and Silver Spring?!) and have been in Phila for the past year since I graduated from Penn in 2007. Let's go Quakers!

The last few weeks of planning and organizing have made me extremely excited to make my move. The house dynamic with the MHP members is fantastic, and I have met tons of awesome 20-something Philadelphian Jews.

A quick synopsis on July's events:
yoga continues to kick our oms
eating club at the Jamaican Jerk Hut was delightfully jerky
Salsa and Sangria Party was, well, the name encompasses it all
and our Israeli-style Birthright Shabbat definitely rivaled Ben Yehuda St.

I've been working hard to get the good name of MHP around to friends and family, and have met a few interesting organizations/corporations that could provide some interesting co-sponsorships going forward.

I am looking forward to meeting the other regional Houses at the retreat in September. But until then, enjoy the rest of August and stay cool Moishe!

MHSS Alan is ready for the beach

It's a busy summer. I've gotten dehydrated a few times. We've done a lot of events. Maybe too many? Aaron & Lindsay are moving in, which is exciting. Our most recent house meetings have been so over the top with ideas and enthusiasm.

Last month my favorite events were Shabbat, as usual, and going to Screen on the Green to see "Arsenic & Old Lace". The interfaith environmental film showing we attended (and provided refreshments for) was great, too.

Moishe House London - Joel - July

It's been a while since I blogged and so much has been going on in my life. I've been away from the house quite a lot, starting with the ROI120 Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators that I went to in June. What an inspiring experience! Not only did I get to hang out with my Moishe House siblings from Poland and Portland, and meet some of the people from the Center for Leadership Initiatives who support this grand old Jewish community house project we're a part of; I also chatted, dreamed and planned with an array of the brightest young Jewish innovators in the world.

Since then I've been to Boston to finish my training with Storahtelling (had an overnight at MHBoston) and run a week-long drama camp for Jewish 8-12 year olds in the countryside near London. I got to direct a Tarantinoesque play on Jewish gangsters, with a real stage-combat scene and everything. Very satisfying.

This weekend I went up to BBYO camp, in Derbyshire, and did a full-scale Storahtelling Maven performance for them, bringing the Torah service to life using drama and ritual theatre. So I'm up and running as a Storahtelling artist and looking forward to more.

Just one more thing: really looking forward to perhaps the weirdest event at MHLondon so far. We're holding a Be Kind Rewind day, where our guests get to watch a (slightly Jewish) movie and then re-make it using whatever they can get their hands on. I'm just interested to see how people will do the "I'll have what she's having" scene from When Harry Met Sally in the cafes of West Hampstead.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What a great couple of weeks at MHL

Dear Moishe Housers,

The last couple of weeks at MHL have seen a great variety of events take place, illustrative of the great variety of skills in our community, and the types of activities that a modern, open and engaging Jewish young people demand. These events have included a comedy night, a talk on global warming, a talk from an up and coming ecentric author, our open non-denominational House of Study and an Open Mike night. It is a privelage to be part of such a vibrant and diverse community, that uses all the skills of its members that responds to the interests of its members, that is open to challenging issues, just wants to have fun. What is stopping the conventional, traditional community from functioning in such a way? I am not totally sure, but my gut reaction is that they have become stagnant because their core function is to provide security not challenge, to protect identity not shape it in new and diverse ways, to put continuity first without a vision for why that is important. Critical I know, but also understandable when you consider the challenges our people have faced / continue to face. But these communities need to be bolder, braver and open to the potential benefits of promoting innovation, free expression and using all the diverse skills they have within them. It is an ambitious goal, but maybe MHL can provide a model for others to follow, whilst being cognizant that we constantly need to make efforts to keep our community as vibrant, open and creative as possible.

Here's to MH and all it stands for, have a good month all.

Gideon

Friday, August 1, 2008

From Moishe to Morocco

After nearly two years in Moishe House, I am leaving. On Tuesday I leave for Morocco for 4 months. I will be working on improving my Arabic, researching the Jewish community still there, and chronicling what infrastructure (synagogues, cemeteries, Talmudei Torah, Yeshivot, communal ovens, etc.) remains. This will be second trip to Morocco. This time my study and travel will be far more intense. I will go deep into the Sahara in search of some real Jewish treasure. Although I am ready for my journey, I am sad to say goodbye to the community I have made here in DC and with all of you other Moisheniks out there. I look forward to hearing from you and speaking to you along my journey and upon my return.

Warmest regards,

Chris