Friday, October 31, 2008

MHLA Lee Levin Oct

This month just blew by. I truly enjoyed the holidays this year. Lots of friends and family. I hope it's just as great of a time next year. New great things are happening at MHLA. Stay tuned to find out. Go Obama we could use a better leader for this country the ultimate community.

Go Moishnicks '08

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rachael - MHSS - November

It's almost November, so let's just pretend it is and move right along :)

I have applied to staff a Birthright trip to Israel this winter and am hoping that comes through. I keep getting excited about the prospect just thinking about Israel again. :) I think this would be my best trip yet -- Lord knows how the other ones were -- yet the hardest part will be staying in each location less than a day. I'd love an extended Birthright trip: same itinerary, but I get a few extra days in each location I choose to show participants around my favorite places: to give them a chance to explore, as I did (to give myself this chance again, too!!!), to introduce them to the kind people I know, to visit friends and release participants (under my watchful wing -- as if I could see, and protect, but from afar, hidden, unseen.... which I can't -- that sounds more like the job of .. you know, Him -- -- not that such watchfulness or protection is needed, anyway: Israel seems just full of people looking out for you; lonely and sad moments are filled by a new, compassionate friend; strangers on the street grab you to celebrate their simchas with them ... -- or *is* all that the watchfulness of HaShem? -- speculation in philosophy and religion is so much fun...) anyway, to release participants to traipse about and find their way in Israel, if they so choose, yet always being available for encouragement and support.... I'd also want to visit a few places I never have, primarily Haifa.
One day.

Back to Moishe House.
October seems to be bringing with it what March supposedly comes in with but invariably goes out with as well: the weather of a sluggish, half-bored lion: not quite torrents of rain, but solid and steady most of the past few days (Sunday a GORGEOUS exception), whipped about by not-quite-bitter wind, all against the backdrop of beautiful color-changes and a solidly chilly air. The frigidness of my bedroom -- tacked on as an afterthought on this crazy structure of a house, complete WITHOUT insulation in the walls or any perceptible access to the central heating system -- is settling in. Spot (my hermit crab, a very cute critter!) may have to travel to the warmer North (my parents' house) for the winter. I write all this as the wind sings its own lovely chorus through the trees and the leaves dance to the rhythm, wrapped in enough blankets to be almost completely warm, because this past weekend, with the onset of chilly weather, revealed what may be a patterned repeat from last year's cold season: a touch, a HINT, a suspicion of "bad" weather, and people in this area get scared or lazy and don't do anything fun.

Translation: an unsuccessful MHSS weekend.

Hopefully, the super-powers of an MHSS house meeting tomorrow will seep into the minds and hearts of MHSSers everywhere, a surging, subtle community force that will draw the people together, urging folks physically TO our events for the duration of chilled-out weather. (Maybe it will even open car doors for them, start the engines, help them up bus aisles, serve as a general jet stream of mobility / mobile motivation.... I wonder if we could actually hire someone to round people up for us ......?)

I'm looking forward to our November events: lots of new ones, plus an old classic or two.
A sampling:
- composting
(It's about time!!)
- Ghost Tour (& ghosts / supernatural / paranormal in Judaism)
- Swing Dancing
- Shabbat (but of course!)
- Judaism & Astronomy / Astrology -- w/ David Holzel

and more.

And not a SINGLE Jewish holiday!!
Might residents of the MHSS actually be HOME most of the month?!?

Adventure awaits. We shall see!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Moishe House Beijing

Moishe House Beijing 欢迎你/welcomes you!

Beijing has a population of 18 million people, but only around 1500 Jews live here. The Jewish community here consists of a Chabad and Kehillat, an egalitarian minyan. I’ve met quite a few 20-something Jews here, but it seems like I’m always meeting more- many times I’ll meet them out and about, and not at services.

To me, that means that 20-something Jews need a place to get together. Some people are comfortable going to services, but others aren’t. I wanted to help create a space where Jewish people could get together, but without feeling like the purpose of getting together was to practice their religion. And eat free food. In a way, that is kind of similar to what the Hillel in my college was like, but we’re going to have a lot more Chinese food. I’m already excited for Christmas (who thought a Jew would ever say that?), because I know that we’re going to do Chinese food and a movie. Or maybe we could mix it up and do American food and a movie.

This first month was a whirlwind of events – break fast, sukkah building and decorating. If you haven’t seen our photos, you can check them out here. Making everything come together took a lot of work (and a lot of riding around on our bikes to pick stuff up), but it was worth it. I was so pleased with the sukkah on our roof, although I can’t really imagine what our neighbors thought of it. We’re on the 15th floor, and our sukkah had a great view of the city- I had never been in a rooftop sukkah before. Our break fast, featuring bagels and lox, made me feel right at home in a place that sometimes could not be any more foreign.

I’m excited about planning future events. We want to have a wide range of events, ranging from a Mel Brooks/Woody Allen night, to outings in Beijing to study/discussion events. We’re hoping that we can take advantage of being Jewish in Beijing, instead of trying to trying to separate ourselves from the culture here.

Plug: three of the people who came to our sukkah (including Ali), made a podcast. It’s like listening to a slice of Beijing. Check it out.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sam - Moishe House Cleveland

Now that we are post-Tishrei holidays, I want to share a few reflections. Rosh HaShanah for us started with a killer potluck dinner and culminated ten days later with our break fast. Building our Sukkah couldn't have happened on a nicer October day here in Cleveland as it was an unseasonably warm 82 Degrees outside. That continued on with an amazing Shabbat around the world on a chilly night. Our Sukkot celebration came to a close with a Hookah in the Sukkah party on Sunday night. I am excited for the rest of our events for the month.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Break-fast at the MHSS

I had a wonderful break-fast with lovely people and yummy food!  I was able to plan the food for break-fast and I chose all the foods I grew up breaking the Yom Kippur fast on that remind me of  break-fast growing up and my family.  The foods including bagels & spreads, kugels, chocolate candy, fruit, and more.  Everyone ate until they were full and chatted until it was time to leave and get ready for work.  It was really great sharing the meal with the Moishe House community; they don't replace my family, but it sure comes close.  I've noticed that our community space gives an energy of comfort and acceptance.   People can be themselves in a safe space and just enjoy the company of each other.  

MHSS Alan and the Sukkah of Champions

Okay, I can't take credit for the sukkah. (Though I'd love to.)
It was assembled out of 2x4's and nails by myself, a Texan woman, and a rocket scientist, about a year ago. We never took it down (that would have been quite a project), but we did take off most of the tarp walls and the schach roofing materials.

So this past Sunday we had a "Sukkah-decorating BBQ", at which:

1. We swept the yard of leaves
2. We re-attached the tarp walls
3. We tossed fresh leafy bamboo and willow branches up to form the schach roof
4. We barbecued franks, meatburgers, veggies, and veggieburgers
5. We ate franks, meatburgers, veggies, and veggieburgers
6. We helped about 15 friends and neighbors from across Silver Spring (from Chevy Chase to Long Branch!) meet each other
7. We made decorations out of origami paper, scrap paper, pipe cleaners, straws, duct tape, and puffs
8. We decorated the sukkah with our decorations and hung up Christmas lights!

It looks awesome, and it was truly a community project. I am quite proud. Check out our pictures at in the coming week to see some pictures of our magic hut. (Ignore the one where I look pregnant and spastic though)

The MHSS sukkah is beautiful and open to all who wish to eat in it throughout the course of the holiday.

(Tonight is our field trip to the Big Lebowski celebration at the new Montgomery Cinema 'n' Drafthouse! I can't wait!)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

moishe hobo

Hello and good evening. I'm Josh Brokkaw and this is your news.

Two things are racing up upon us - the 2008 Presidential election and Shabbat Across the World! The question is which one will have more of an effect on the world? A recent Qinipeck poll suggesting 9 out of 10 likely Americans view Moishe house Shabbat Across the World as more important. When asked why, 7 out of 11 likely Americans said they felt Moishe house has a global impact being that is it across the world and brings so many of the much desired youth vote to the community. Likely Americans expressed a worry that Moishe House Shabbat Across the World would be effected by the subprime mortgage crunch because many likely Americans have seen the old Moishe House Hoboken apartment and thought it was "definately definately below par" as one likely American put it. Presidential elections, they said, were old crusty and meaningless because everyone knows that the american "econominy is in shaberbambles and education isnt what it was once along time ago in galaxy far far away."

Likely Americans did have one problem with the upcoming Moishetravaganza though. Infact 3/5 of likely Americans believed as a rule that calling it Moishe House Shabbat Across the World was by far to globo-centric and could have lasting interplanetary ramifications.

In other news, also led by polling, a recent Rasputen Poll shows that 10 out of 5 american moishe house visitors love moishe house hoboken the best and know how to pronounce the world nuclear (n-u-c-u-l-e-r). Moishe House Hoboken has been keeping abreast of its community members feelings towards the political candidates running for chai-er office. As it goes now Baruch (WhoSane) O'Bama has the vast majority of Moishe Housenicks in hoboken. Josh Einstein a prominent Moishe House Member and McPalin supporter advises everyone to visit his new political blog to find out why Democrats should support McPalin.

Wait a moment, we have some breakings news. This just in, Joshua Einstein just changed his support to Obama because he needs health insurance!

And achshav we have to eeeeeeeeeeeeeeh go to eeeeeeeeeeh how do you say a comercial break. When we return the new Soap Box scandal - what are they putting in your soap box and who are they? And this special bulliten on products in American that China makes and if you eat will kill you, a shocking expose on Toshiba and the deadly toxins they use that are threatening American live. Last and ofcourse least Iraq the nation everyone complains that we are loosing is experiencing an economic boom because in Iraq they actually require you to have moeny to purchas things. Thats all for today.

I'm Josh Brokkaw, its your world. Erev Tov Moishe House and may the truthyness be with you.

Tania - mhba

I’ve been living in Moishe House Buenos Aires for 1 yr 4 mths, since we opened in July 2007. MH is an amazing deal and probably one of the best things I’ve ever done. In this time over a thousand people have visited our house, we have thrown 105 events. I’ve lived in 2 houses, shared with 4 roommates (latest add Nell from NYC). Made connections with all kinds of synagogues, clubs, associations and communities with whom we had fundraisers, shabbat dinners, outings and now we count on each other. MH by word of mouth has reached a large scope of the community, raising on and on again the same question, ‘so you kids are hosting community events the way you see fit? You don’t belong to any particular religious affiliation?’ and the answer is yes, and it’s amazing how it works out to be an amazing host to the community. MHBA is the place for Jewish expats in BA from all over the world. And my roommates? Unbeatable. Evan Rosenstock...!

This month as standout events we had an all American Iom Kipur Breakfast (with actual homemade bagels made by roommate Mauro, and practically all american attendance), this is our new roommate’s, Nell Hutchins, first month so of course there was a welcome party and everyone’s getting to know her; and we’re getting ready for MH’s Shabbat Around the World this Friday.

Hanging in the Hut

MHP has had a rockin' time so far this Jewish calendar year of 5769. Of course our regularly scheduled events are going well but we have had a specifically amazing time in the creation of our sukkah. Last Sunday we had a long day of events with Sukkah Building, Brew Club tasting, and Eagles game-watching. It was a pretty amazing time, believe me!

Our sukkah, a mish-mash of materials, is sturdy and sound. In fact, we had dinner in it last night! We really enjoyed putting it together, from the canopy opening to the schach creation out of trellis, a fallen tree branch from outside our house, and some corn stalks from Produce Junction. If you have a chance to swing by Philly in the next week, I highly recommend taking a look.

So, I hope all of your months are going by well. Enjoy the festival of huts and harvests!

Brian from MHP

Zvi Bellin MHSS

Yo Moishe Land!

Happy High Holiday Season!

THings in Silver Spring are going great. Moishe House life is going great! We had a great time apple picking and raspberry picking. It was truly delicious. We also did a 4 part session Moishe House Mussar group, which you can read more about in the upcoming newsletter. I felt that I used this MH platform to do something really important for this community. Give people a chance to sit down and talk about what this Jewish thing means for them. Give people a chance to discuss why spirituality is important in their lives, why is Judaism important for us. We had some great discussions. Personally it was great way to prepare for Yom Kippur.
This shabbat is Shabbat Around the World! Excitement is in the air.

Philadelphia is Kicking it in 5769

Not only are the Phillies looking good in their race towards the World Series (what?!) and the Eagles are making their way up the ranks, but MHP has been putting up some major events which are MUCH more exciting than CNN's up-to-the-split-second coverage of this excessively prolonged presidential election - INSERT OBAMA FOR PRESIDENT STATEMENT HERE!!!

Camping and kumbaya (sp?) with MHSS and MH Hoboken was awesome. I hadn't been camping since I was 13 at sleep away camp, and the outdoors living skills staff forced me to go on a 3 day hike with my bunk. So I was a little skeptical/anxious to say the least. But after I got over the fact that I forgot my flashlight and "mess-kit" I had an amazing time singing Kabbalat Shabbat and campfire-tunes, getting to know the other campers, and going on a beautiful 4 mile Shabbat hike around the lake at French creek. We were blessed with beautiful weather and great friends, and I am definitely looking forward to the next outdoors excursion.

We threw an unbelievably successful Apples and Hunnies round 2 this year, and attracted over 230 people to Kildares Irish Pub (yes, a little misfit, but the rap and hip hop alleviated some of the awkwardness of the setting). MHP knows how to throw a good party. And we know how to dance! Please check out Birthright: NEXT Philadelphia's facebook page for great shots of Becca, the Fish, Karp getting down on the dance floor :)

Unfortunately I was not around for the High Holidays because I went back to DC to celebrate with my family, but it is wondeful knowing that this new year will be spent with MHP and our community. The holidays are all about change, and I don't think 5769 could define that in a more meaningful way. With the upcoming election, my new job search and my new MHP friends and family - I am really excited about what's in store for this year.

Events and Fantasy football from MHDC

Hey there Moishe House Blog world.  This is Steven from DC blogging for the first time in my life. 

In fact, I'm so new to blogging that I might have to research blogs to figure out exactly what the format of things should be.

So lets start here.  Moishe House DC has been a very busy place recently.  Especially for me as I try to make a smooth transition into grad school / life at MHDC.  Last weekend I was in Ohio for a family wedding, and got home to a house full of delicious stuff from a picnic Rivka threw.  It was awesome, we had all this food that usually no one would ever buy (well we had soda and that's pretty special in my mind).  Also Rivka has been doing a great job of keeping us all fat and happy with her delicious baking events.  Then of course there was our "small" Shabbat dinner on the third.  By small I mean that our house was bursting at the seams, but atleast most of the people got chairs.  Rounding out our calender is that Debate Watching party that we held along with every other young Jewish organization in DC at the awesome Red Derby.  I guess it is in Columbia Heights.  I should really get to know the names of the neighborhoods better.  So after that was Break Fast which was awesome.  I had forgotten how hard it is to prepare food when you have been fasting for like 20 hours and have 4 more to go.  On a short tangent, I went to kol nidre at University of Maryland's Hillel and I have some comments.  First off, the rabbi is awesome.  But the rest of the service left so much to be desired that I might have to shell out the cash next year to go to an actual service at an actual synagog (not in a chapel).  

So anyways that's basically what is going on here.  I can't wait for Leo's Birthday celebration this weekend, we are going to tare this town up.  What else should I mention... well the most important bit to know is that I made some huge fantasy football errors but still won last week. For some reason I gave up on Schaub and signed Jamarcus Russel.  What a bonehead move.  Horrible.  Just absolutely horrible.  So hopefully I'll be able to rectify that move this week with some 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

MHSS October & the Big Red Moose. (Moosen.)

Excitement thus far:
MH-ly, our Sukkah-decorating BBQ is-was my favorite -- so excited for it, and happy memories lingering. Possibly because we had guests that didn't leave till past 11pm. Maybe also because of the, um, ambiance? for the couple hours after people came inside......
It combined so many things I love: being outside, cooking outside, color, being creative, being artsy, friends / cool people, and being OUTSIDE! (It deserves a repeat.) The photos don't do it justice: our sukkah is fabulous. :)

Life-ly, some of the following is in my brain:
- High holidays: not sure what, but something feels different. Felt different, feels different, and it's good. I like it.
- My friend Cheryl (with whom I spent Erev Yom Kippur due to being, through cosmic election, the one to drive her home from the hospital) is feeling lots better. Finally. Thank you Lord. (It's about time, I say!)
- I checked out Fairhaven School on Friday as one in a series of schools I've applied to as a substitute -- a Sudbury Valley educational philosphy -- REALLY interesting place.
(Video games, anyone? How about a recording studio?)
- Subbing at two more school / educational programs I checked out, and the third on that list (all Jewish) will be happening as soon as I can get in to get fingerprinted.......
- My two main Jewish educational endeavors (I teach K-4 Tues. afternoons and 6th grade Sunday mornings) are lots of fun. :) I'm loving it.
- I GOT MY STAR LAMP UP. This is very exciting. (Really.)
(You have to see it.......)
- I got my XM working! (Only took a year and a half......)
- Walked about Capitol Hill today after teaching -- did you know there's a marine barracks down there near Eastern Market??? Got some delicious candles for a good friend as a thank-you.
- Went with my mother last week (just last week?? sheesh!) to the Natural Living Expo. She's hilarious and made me laugh a lot. Interesting scene there. Looking fwd to the Green Festival.
- We apparently have an unofficial, not-necessarily-invited, non-rent-paying guest. Katzir discovered tonight that the rat apparently ENGAGED the safety latch PRIOR to eating all the peanut butter...... Which, really, is a good thing: not only am I not a fan of kill-rat traps; I extra would not have been excited to come home to a dead rat in our dining room....... So, more power to the rat, is all I gotta say.

MH Looking forward to:
- Gal time in Sukkah
- Compost, Cocoa, Cookies, Cards, and Camels
- Breakfast Club Breakfast
- East coast skiing?

Otherwise looking forward to:
- Seeing lots of fam. this weekend
- Cousin's bar mitzvah
- seeing if any squash grows after I attempted to pollinate it....
- Staffing a trip to Israel? (????)
- ........
Always fun

Jesse MoishePVD Oct

This past weekend I left MoishePVD to go home for Yom Kippur. Home, the dirty jerz, oy gevalt. My disdain for my homeland is balanced and matched only by my love and esteem for my family there.

Given that I was traveling home for the high holiday, my newest realization about my family is an ironic one. The only time I really connect with my parents and siblings is when we're in the car together. Does anyone else have this problem? In the house where I grew up, there are no rooms set up for friendly drop-in leisurely conversations, let alone specific arrangements for any family time.

So, the only time when we're forced to sit in the same place for any extended period is when we're driving somewhere. Since I haven't lived at home for years now, this is now only on special occasions like religious holidays. Now, my most satisfying conversations with my closest blood relatives occur when we're going to or from the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur... by car.

Sept'08 Lee Levin MHLA

Starting a new year looking forward to what this year will bring. MHLA has lots in store this year From Shabbots to poker nights and lots of fun times to be had. I encourage everyone to share ideas and come enjoy as we do.

Monday, October 13, 2008

10/13/08 MHLA Dave - A New Year

As we say farewell to the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, I began to think about the resolutions that I had promised myself one year ago. However, my mind was drawn blank as I had no idea what I had wished for improvement in my life; what I had said would be different by the time I was faced with next year's resolution.

A feeling of accomplishment is something that everybody desires. It's what keeps us satisfied, successful and well adjusted. However, after realizing my forgotten resolutions, it dawned on me that how would I measure my own accomplishments if I can't even remember what I had set out to do. What's the point of setting a goal if only to wander off track.

I've decided that this year will be different from the fully put my life and achievements into perspective, I've decided to keep track of my resolutions by recording their progress month by month. This way won't become distracted by the problems of the present and become more focused upon the solutions for the future.

Hope everyone has a fantastic year.....L'shanah tovah!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Building a Chinese Sukkah

How do you make a Chinese sukkah?

The answer- PVC pipes nested inside homemade cement bases, metal grating, shiny fabric, wire and a few wooden 2x4s to keep the whole thing together.

For our inaugural month, we at MH Beijing decided to join our city's construction craze by building a sukkah on our rooftop.

When we went to buy materials at the builders' market-- this was not Home Depot-- we brought a handmade sketch and a Chinese friend with construction experience to bargain for us. Another friend who works at the Beijing Film Studio provided us with our sukkah walls, blue and green screen cloth used for special effects in movies.

Our three main challenges in building this sukkah:

1. Fitting everything we bought in the elevator/up the stairs.
2. Making sure it DOESN'T look like we are building anything substantive on the roof. Apartments across the way can see our roof, and a sukkah looks just as comfortable as some temporary quarters around the city where migrant workers sleep. Housing people on our rooftop or building an addition would not only raise suspicion, but is probably illegal. Our plan is to hang the cloth walls only when we are using the sukkah, and otherwise keep it bare, like some kind of terrace. That way the only thing the neighbors will think is "don't those silly foreigners know it's too cold to sit outside now?"
3. Securing it down (with cement, wire, 2x4) so it doesn't blow away. "Jewish ritual object kills innocent neighbors and fluffy bug-eyed dog"...not how we want to be remembered.

All the young people we have talked to in our community, whether they came to our first event (Yom Kippur break fast with over 20 people!) or are planning to come in the future, are super excited about our sukkah. Moishe House's sukkah is probably one of at most three sukkot in the entire city. Chabad and maybe the Israeli embassy are the only other places that will observe the holiday in an adorable little hut.

But I know that ours will be the only one made out of PVC pipes and blue screen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Moishe House JHB - Living it Up

Yes, Thats right. Our house was on the brink of collapse, we had not shopped for food in several weeks. Then we had a kuppah meeting ( communal money) and a revolution took place. A new Gizbar (treasurer) was elected, myself, who ousted the old one, Doron Moshe. We decided to go shopping and filled our fridge with a range of foods. However we decided to do this the day before Yom Kippur - not always the best plan, especially when you are trying to resist temptation.

Ok - now to house. Things are pumping harder than biceps at a gay bar. Our house is becoming well known amongst the Jewish community, partly due to the ridiculous looks of Doron Moshe.
I other news South Africa has a new President, Kgalema Motlante, exciting stuff. He stepped in after Thabo Mbeki was forced to resign. The country's political life is in major flux. After Apartheid ended the ANC undertook to most people surprise a vyer much Neo-liberal line, courting the big business's. While this did go hand in hand with a large state - a sizable part of the budget is still devoted to grants of all kids, the inequality has only grown and it is reaching an unmanagable turning point now. This turning point is taking political manifestations as voter and inernal ANC dissatisfaction not only with certain personalities but also with there general outlook on South Africa as a country.

Keep glued: see for more info.


Ilan Strauss
Moishe House Johannesburg

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Big Fat Shabbat.

This past Friday night, 50 people, ranging from Wash U undergrads, graduate students in OT, PT, Med school, law school, young professionals, and a few bums gathered at a beautiful mansion in the Central West End to celebrate Shabbat.

What does this mean for the future of St. Louis' Jewish community?

Aside from showcasing my press release skills. . . nothing that dramatic perhaps, but all the same, getting together that many young, interesting, and interested people to simply connect with one another is pretty cool.

There is probably a lesson for the Federated community in here somewhere, but I can't quite put my finger on it (at least until I figure out how to monetize it).

Maybe it was the wine. Perhaps the copious amounts of free food. It might have something to do with not letting in socially awkward people.

Hyperbole is a passion of mine. But let me explain why. This is was the first event that I have been to in St. Louis since I graduated that brought together so many young Jews without preconditions or expectations (ok, so maybe we asked for a bottle of wine here, a salad there).

Its been a personal struggle to justify being in St. Louis as opposed to Chicago, New York, Boston, DC, or Tel Aviv.

But a little more than a year out of school, I think we've changed something.

Sure, it's small, but it's proof that it is possible to have a thriving young (and I don't mean sans-AARP membership) Jewish community in St. Louis.

Moishe House London - Joel - September

As some of my house mates have already written about, we've just waved goodbye to the old house, where we've been for our first year of existence, and said hello to a lovely yellow-fronted place around the corner. Boxes still fill one of our lounges and we've only had a couple modest events there so far, but it's got a gorgeous, warm feel to it, and I suspect it will be the scene of many fine times to come. We have had an amazing time in the old house - have impacted the Jewish community here in ways we hardly dared hope - so our big party on the 18th will be an opportunity to celebrate, look back and then forward with anticipation. I want to set up a projector in the living room, with all our house photos on loop.

Before then I'm leading services at New London Synagogue on Yom Kippur, supporting Sarah Bracha from MH Boston. Fast well all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One month and counting...

We have one month exactly until the electoral college decides who our next President is. Oh wait, or is it up to the country's citizens to independently vote on who we think should be our next President?

As recent as last week I began working for Grassroots Campaigns, an organization that does fundraising for liberal causes, such as Amnesty Intl., the ACLU, and most recently the Democratic National Committee. I was unemployed and there was too much going on around me concerning the Presidential campaign for me not to get involved. And although I don't really love or even like the work I do, which consists of standing on street corners trying to get people to make contributions to the DNC, I love talking to people and learning about how they feel about the two candidates, how they feel about the issues, how they feel about the direction our country is headed in, and most importantly, I like doing somehting that makes me feel like I'm making a difference.

Too often since I began going to high school and then attended and graduated college I've heard our generation is one that has so much potential to make changes, change the course of history, change the inferiorities and discrimination in this world, and way way way too often I'm told we are not doing enough, we are not making our mark the same way our parent's generation did in the 60s. Too often I hear about everything we are not doing, all the ways we could be doing more.

Well, as of last Monday, I have seen and experienced the ways young people, like myself are making a difference and are VERY very concerned and dedicated to helping reform the way things go down in this country, with a very strong commitment to see the injustices we have learned about in our high school US History and Government classes are less in your face issues for our kids than they continue to be for us.

If you are reading this posting and are not somehow involved in the upcoming election, even at the most simple and basic level such as making some phone calls, donating some money, putting an Obabm sticker on your car, or on your bike, or even challenging your Grandparents to vote for Obama rather than Mccain because its what our country needs, then it's time to step up and do your part!! Every single one of us has the power to influence dozens and dozens of people every single day, it is a shame to waste that influential gift of sharing knowledge and working toward a common goal.

Dig deep when you think about what you want the next month of your life to look like. If you wake up November 5th and John Mccain is our next President you can do a lot of things, like be really pissed, or say life's not fair, or freak out and move to Canada. But the one thing you can't do is turn back the clock and wish you somehow got more involved, made more of a difference, DID SOMETHING.

I will be praying this month that the American people, both the general public like you and me, and the people that really make things happen step up to the plate abd elect Obama because if we unfortunately reelect the same presidential bullshit we've had to put up with the last 8 years, I am afraid of what might happen.

Danny in the East Bay supports Barack Obama, as does the entire East Bay Moishe House!


So I remembered something really important today. It is a memory that I try not to think of often but now that I remember it in a knew light I really love it. Here we go...

The summer of 2005 I finally broke up with my girlfriend Miriam for good. We were working at a summer camp and things were awful between us. I try not to remember this night because it has us breaking up at dinner and her finding someone knew by bedtime. I didn't talk to her for 2 years after this night. But there was something amazing then too. After we had broken up I was raw. My heart was out and exposed and I felt terrible. At our local bar there was a blue grass band performing and although i had been looking forward to it for a while I took much convincing to go. When I got there the bar was packed and music was pouring out into the night. The light coming out of the bar seemed red with warmth and I felt I could see the pulse of the music through the light. I got myself a drink and was talking to a friend when I looked into the bar and saw Miriam flirting with the new guy. This was a relationship of passion and even seeing that led me into a fit. After a good cry (trust me this gets better) I walked back into the bar and into the music. I made my way to the front of the bar and just started to dance. Up until this point I was always uncomfortable dancing in front of people. I was always worried that I wasnt doing the right moves or that I looked like an idiot. But that night I was a different man. Nothing could get in my way of moving my body and I started dancing like I never had before! I was jumping and flayling and just going nuts. I danced harder than I had ever danced in my life and quickly found myself drenched in sweat with a huge smile on my face. I danced for hours and have never been the same. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and sometimes in the weirdest of ways. Now I love to dance and do it often. I don't consider it dancing unless I'm good and sweaty at the end. Sometimes I see people looking at me when I dance still inhibited themselves from letting go. They ask me how I can be so free and it all came down to one night when I had nothing to lose.

Today I went to Hardly Stricktly Blue Grass Festival. I was bored until I found a place with dancing. I danced hard and strong. There was beautiful girl dancing near me very well and I took that as a personal challenge. We danced till we were pouring with sweat and it was wonderful! Until today I never attributed this change in me to that one night and it's nice to find something so wonderful in what I used to think of as a night filled with sadness.

I wonder what else I can find the light in?

MH Chicago, Caren

Shanah Tovah to you all, I wish everyone a sweet, peaceful and fulfilling New Year. I would like to share some words from Rabbi David Rosenn who recently sent this the Avodah community, I found tremendous meaning and strength in his words and wanted to pass them along to you all...

"It's a strange time for apples and honey.

Not only is our country well into the back end of a decade of war, but in recent months we've seen a recession and a housing crisis turn into a full-scale meltdown of the American financial system.
I don't need to tell you that absolutely no one knows where this is all headed. It's already clear, of course, that the outcomes for many of the most vulnerable people in the US will be especially bad.

I'm very proud that AVODAH is at the center of a network of hundreds of young people whose professional and volunteer work on social issues is needed now more than ever, and that the front-line anti-poverty organizations with whom we partner are highly skilled at mobilizing resources where they are most needed. If their work was important in better economic times, it's critical now.
But as heartening as that is, and as much as I know that our network is part of a much, much larger network of people and institutions dedicated to ensuring that everyone has what they need to live a decent and dignified life, the scale of the challenges to come is daunting.

Which makes me think that in fact the apples and honey may be perfectly timed.

Because we need to be reminded that while markets gyrate and wars rage, presenting us with very real challenges and dangers, and as the days themselves grow shorter and darker, Judaism offers us reminders of rebirth and hope.

My teacher and colleague Rabbi David Ellenson, head of the Reform movement's Hebrew Union College, has written on this point forcefully and eloquently, and I quote him here:
In these pages of our Tradition, Rabbi Joshua and Rabbi Eliezer debate the question as to when the world was created. Rabbi Joshua holds that the world was fashioned during Nisan as Spring burst forth. He reasons that Spring is a time of birth - the season when the trees blossom and when the earth awakens from its winter slumber and begins to yield its produce. It is a time of confidence where one can effortlessly recite a blessing that praises God for supplying the world with all its needs. It is easy to believe in rebirth during the Spring.

Nevertheless, Rabbi Eliezer disagrees with his colleague and asserts that it is with the advent of Tishri in the Fall that the world was formed. Rabbi Eliezer maintains that we must believe in rebirth even during a period when the days shorten and when nature is preparing to be dormant. How difficult it is to believe in renewal when the harshness of winter is on the horizon.

Yet, this is precisely what Judaism prescribes. Jewish law follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, and Jewish tradition from time immemorial has celebrated yom harat ha-olam - the birth of the world - during the autumn festival of Rosh Hashanah. In taking this stance, Jewish tradition teaches that hope and confidence for the promise the future holds must never be abandoned. A realistic assessment of the present must never yield to desolation and hopelessness - a sober yet joyful optimism is always required.

The High Holy Days prayerbook reminds us that none of us knows for certain what the future will bring, and still it urges us on to life-changing acts of repentance, prayer and righteousness. In other words, we need to keep being the justice-seeking mentsches we have always been, and this year maybe even more so.

Best wishes for health, strength and hope in your heart this year. And gratitude for being among the people whose work in the world helps me find strength and hope every day."

Seattle, Joel - Anniversary

Between leading Rosh HaShanah services at my synagogue, blowing shofar for the first time, and hosting two metric craploads of lovely Jews for Potluck, Israeli Movie Night, Shabbat, Obama-McCain Debate Re-Run, and two (actually four) Rosh HaShanah dinners, all back-to-back, I kind of got so preoccupied with just getting through the week that I nearly missed a huge milestone: our Seattle house just passed our one year anniversary October 1st! Woo!

Last Friday night -- at a "small" dinner to which we hardly invited anyone, and still more people showed up than we would ever see here in the early days -- I toasted the remaining founders (Tamar, Masha, and me) for slogging through a year of hard work in high style (delicious high style; I bet there is no Moishe House with better food!), and now I'd like to repeat it for all the world (who reads this blog) to see: Congratulations on a job well done! Here's to another year of growth and good times. L'chayim!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

"fly" like a flock of birds

As we came full swing into our first moishe house, i realized that this is going to be alot more work then what i thought it was going to be. during the first month, my band recorded our cd and i feel like Dispute got put first, and Moishe House was put on back burner. I was finding that it was hard to balance, Moishe House, Dispute, work, Sarah, and my personal life. I am excited though for the future, i am excited that i am going to have the oppurtunity to combine Moishe house with elements of Dispute, such as a combination Moishe House event, with a dispute show.
There is a quote that i am reminded of during all of this, and its "Being grown up isnt half as fun as growing up, these are the best days of my life" which is by Kris Roe of the Ataris.

David - MHSF - Always Beginning

Much of what I find myself doing in life is going from one transitional stage to the next. This can happen in small ways every day, and in bigger ways throughout the course of a year and a lifetime. We acknowledge these transitions, or we don't, but without fail these segments of life always give us a push forward. Can looking at these bits of time and space more closely connect us to that which we are focussed on and that which we are switching our focus too?

My evening activities bring to mind a host of transitions and segues. When I get home from a day of work I one of the first things I might do is take off shoes or clothes that no longer feel appropriate. Do I need to take a step cognitively to recognize this? I may, without a word, sigh or take a few moments when moving on from my once-again overcooked vegetables to the next cocoa infused stage of my meal. Will I enjoy my dessert more if I separate my experiencing it's taste from the rest of my dining experience?

Rosh Hashanah provides us with a transition built into our calendar. It is up to me to make this more than an annual part of my life. Create the time to look back on the good now. Pause. Appreciate the present now. Pause. Then look forward to the future. I want to recognize and celebrate all beginnings and endings, rebirth, and new experiences. I want to do it everyday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

mercury is in retrograde

there are so many happening communications that seem stark, end-all-be-all, or totally missed, or wildly totally wonderful...
what is it with mercury in retrograde, especially this time around, during roshashana... and equinox and the new moon, which roshashana follows... soooo wild!!
le shana tova...

waiting for this too, to pass... already!

A great way to start a new year

So, our first event of October was supposed to be a gathering to watch the vice presidential debate, however a thief had different plans for the start of our new year. Jen came home and found my bicycle shorts on our front walkway, and called to tell me that I may have been careless with my shorts. In fact our front door was wide open, and upon entering the house (AFTER calling the police) she found a large stepping stone on our living room floor, our side window broken, and glass shattered through out our living room. Thank goodness only Jen's laptop and my bicycle were stolen, and as far as we know nothing else has gone missing. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning for the cops, but they never came....I know that this is the week to seek forgiveness for our sins, but I can't think of any major ones that we have committed that would deserve this. Anyway we have cleaned up and are moving on. We are very much looking forward to Yom Kippur, and the upcoming events this month including Shabbat around the world and a trip up to Apple Hill. I hear that maybe some MH bay area residents may make the trip up to visit, and that would be a welcome treat.

l'shanah tova to all,

Elishama MH-SAC

Jen, MH.SAC "it may be pediatrics

This month has been a great one. We have had some very successful events, and then some smaller ones that people did not seem to be too interested in. Breakfast at Fox & Goose was a hit. I think the recurring theme is that people like to come to events where there is going to be good, free food. Otherwise, I am most excited about our upcoming events this month. Apple Hill will be awesome. If you are in the Bay and you want to is a fun place to hang out and enjoy the fall season. Shabbat Around the World will be nice. Otherwise, just hanging in there, trying to not be too much of a hermit - trying to not get sucked up in the hospital. Pediatrics is awesome! I hear the kids. They are fun to examine and take care of. I am in newborn nursery this week. Lots of new babys popping out like crazy! Fun times!


Moishe House Laws

I just started a couple weeks ago as a lawyer out here in San Francisco, and I'm really enjoying myself. But I've got to say that last Friday's Shabbat dinner we hosted at our house was one of the highlights of the past couple weeks. When I took my first sip of wine, after setting out all the food on the table, it was a true moment of relaxing. I've had some incredibly relaxing moments in my life, including a recent 5 week trip to Thailand & Vietnam, but I feel like relaxation and enjoyment is never quite the same without some conrast. Sitting around all day is certainly relaxing, but sitting around after some tiring and rewarding work cannot be beat. And the Shabbat dinner was exactly that, and I hope that everyone is able to have such a relaxing moment of "ahhhh."

I'd also like to invite anyone, especially those of you living abroad, to send an email to your groups inviting anyone coming to San Francisco to contact if they would like a place to stay...

Shana Tova from Chicago!

It has definitely been an interesting beginning to a New Year! As September closed, we experienced heavy, record-breaking rainfall in our Windy City. On my way to the Moishe House retreat in D.C, I found myself stuck on the runway for four hours surrounded by a lake of rainwater. It was not a happy way to start my weekend, but I am thankful that was my only inconvenience! Needless to say, my plane never left the runway and I was forced to return home 8 hours later in the pouring rain, through flooded streets and subway tunnels.

It was nice to hear that the retreat was successful and a positive experience, unaffected by the drastic downpours that hurled Chicago into mini-panic mode. It makes me wonder what this new year has forecasted...

Shana Tovah to all,
Elana in Chicago

High Holiday Reflection - What matters most?

Echoing Ben's post, I too have been taking the high holidays as a time to reflect on my life, my commitments, what matters most. At Rommemu in NYC, where I attended amazing Rosh Hashanah services, Rabbi David Ingber encouraged us to understand the Malchuyot (Kingship) section of the service not only in the traditional sense of affirming that God is king. Instead (or in addition), he asked us to think what we hoped would be king in our lives. What is royally, ultimately important? What really matters?

As an activist, Moishe House community builder, and rabbinical student, I often feel caught between the twin goals of building local relationships and Jewish community on the one hand, and working for broad based social justice on the other. This Rosh Hashanah, when thinking about what matters most and how I want to be in the world, I tried to think if there were any way to understand the work I'm doing, and that we are doing collectively at Moishe House Boston, that could articulate it as one thing - one thing that matters most.

I'm still working on it, but so far, what I came up with is that I want to be a weaver of chesed, lovingkindness/caring. I want to build loving connections with people in my community, so that everyone who comes to Moishe House knows they are an important part of our web of relationships. But I hope to experience and help others experience a sense of loving connection with people beyond our community, in Boston's low income neighborhoods like Dorchester and Roxbury, across the globe with kids working in sweatshops making our stuff, with Israelis and with Palestinians, with people whose opinions or methods we can't stand, with the earth. In feeling that loving connection, I want us to remember our responsibility for everyone in our holy web, and then work for justice less out of anger, more out of chesed, of caring.

As Dr. Martin Luther King said so wisely, "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. I cannot be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you cannot be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Wonders of Unemployment (Ben Simrin)

A strange thing happened to me this fall. For the first time in my life I have no idea what my year is going to look like. In May 2007, I graduated from the University of Southern California. The past year I spent juggling multiple part-time jobs. However, this year my travel plans fell through and I was left with a large amount of free time. So what have done to fill this void of structured activities. Two words....October baseball.

As the weather starts to turn "worse," Major League Baseball playoffs start gearing up. Despite the fact that my beloved San Francisco Giants are not in this year's playoffs, I have watched every pitch of the 2008 MLB playoffs. Some say baseball is "boring." To those naysayers I say come watch a baseball game with me at the Lake Merritt/Oakland/East Bay Moishe House and by the end of the game you will come to appreciate America's Pastime.

MHSeattle, Tamar Libicki, 10/02/2008

We just got done hosting two very large (for us) Rosh hashana dinners. Both nights (four dinners) were all quite lovely. The first night I went over to our friend Olga's house, where I made some food related wishes for the new year. To give you an example of them: "may there be peas on earth" and "may all who are single get dates, all who are in a relationship set a date for their wedding, and all who are married find out the due date for their baby." While I was very serious about the first wish, the second was a bit of a joke, refering to our shared Jewish culture which puts Childbearing inside of wedlock as a very big priority. (For women in the days of yore it was in fact probably the biggest priority). Of course it is always nice to have a family. Which I am glad to have in my moishe house roommates Joel, Masha, and Neal. And extended in all the good folks that come by to hang out at our house. I am continue to be glad to have so many merry people gathering at my house to share experiences and edify each other.

I don't recomend Las Vegas

I just got back from spending FIVE, yes, FIVE days and FOUR nights in the bright lighted city of Las Vegas. My friend Jamie had a sweet gig where she could stay in a suite at the MGM Grand Signature for free and invited three other friends and myself.
The hotel was awesome! Beautiful! The room was on the 32nd floor with a view of the strip, free bottled water everywhere, 2 bathrooms, and a jacuzzi bathtub. Luxury at its best. And just a short, inside walk to the MGM which is fully equip with a HUGE casino, restaurants, live lions, a sports book, you name it.
All sounds nice. And parts of it were. Laying by the pool was nice. Although it was REALLY hot, 95 degrees, and I only made it through an hour each day. Going to see a comedy show, also fun. The Grand buffet, always fun, lots of options. But what is this city really doing there? What is the point? It's the most decadent wasteful place and it's in the middle of the dessert. I watched so many people dissolve hundreds of dollars at the blackjack and poker tables. And I guess that is fun for some, but not me. and I didn't even lose any money.
Las Vegas is weird because it's the only city in the world where the main attractions are the hotels. My housemate Ben, who also came on the trip, spent an entire day without going outside--and that's not that weird there. In fact, you could spend the entire vacation at the MGM and get the full Vegas experience. How weird is that? And if you don't want to spend a ton of money there isn't much to do. Which is why five days and 4 nights is FAR to long to spend there.
If you want to gamble I think Tahoe sounds better, at least there are alternate activities and better weather.

MHSeattle, Neal Schindler, 10/2/2008

Whew! The Rosh Hashanah rush was very fun and very wearying. I started a part-time temp job on Monday, and even though I'm sure most of you out there get up early every morning, rising at 7:30 a.m. to catch an 8:11 bus to start at 9 was a shock to the system for a few days there. (Now that I'm more used to it, I'm very grateful that my internal clock has been realigned to conform to, you know, employed people time.) Anyway, helping to host a Sunday night re-screening of the presidential debate and then co-hosting two RH dinners in a row (after last week's Wednesday potluck and Thursday movie night, yet!) left me needing some R&R.

Happily, I'm back to functional mode, and tonight I'm off to a VP debate-watching party being hosted by friends of friends of the Kibbutz. And Friday night's Shabbat dinner should be a smaller-than-usual, relatively quiet affair, which suits me fine. After all, October brings Sukkot -- days of gathering materials, multiple potlucks in the sukkah, and so on. I love the familial vibe of the house, but it's also reminding me that family means obligations. However fun those are, they have to be fit in around whatever else is going on in one's life. Mine is still pretty un-busy, which makes me wonder how things will be when I eventually land another full-time job. I'm also feeling a little guilty about not helping on RH prep as much as the other house members, but I guess the new job is a somewhat decent excuse. And I think communication in the house is open enough that if somebody thought I was slacking, they'd let me know. (I also worry all the time that I'm a big slacker, so often it's mostly my worries that are the problem, not the objective situation.)

P.S. Organizing the Nextbook salon about Jews and sex is continuing apace. Today I put together Elana's and my submission for the readings packet and deliver it to our co-coordinator, Jacob Fine, at Hillel.

High holiday reflecting

So I know that right now we're supposed to be in a time of personal reflection -- examining the things about ourselves and the relationships we hold dear that we want to change in the coming year. And at the moment I do find myself doing a great deal of that -- and I really value that this time of year is special for the Jewish people in this way.

But recently, I've also been spending a lot of time thinking about our Moishe/Kavod House, and how we have changed over the past several years, and must continue to change if we are going to thrive and be sustainable over the long-term.

We've built something wonderful and meaningful here in Boston, but without some organizational changes -- formal leadership structures, grassroots funding, better administrative systems -- we won't last. Maybe we will carry on until the current generation of leaders moves on, but what will remain at that point is unclear.

So while I know that we won't solve these problems overnight, nor will the housemates be able to do it on our own, I'm excited to work with our leadership team this year to figure these problems out. I believe that if we can maintain our organic feel while building formal structures to support our community, we will have achieved something special, and long-lasting.