Sunday, August 31, 2008
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.
Friday, August 29, 2008
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
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!
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
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
"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.
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
Thursday, August 7, 2008
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
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.
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
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 :-]
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
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!
This one is for you, bud.
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!
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.
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
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.
Friday, August 1, 2008