Wednesday, December 31, 2008
But you know what is a big deal here? Christmas! There are Christmas decorations everywhere. Shopping malls have those giant, animatronic santas, Christmas trees and so on. I even saw a manger in a complex near the office building I work in. And everyone wants to wish me a merry Christmas. I guess there is no escaping Christmas, even in a country where most people are officially Atheists.
We had a great latke making party here. My mom had sent me a care package, and was thoughtful enough to include matzoh meal, an essential ingredient in my grandmother's latke recipe. I think it was a big success.
I have today and tomorrow off from work, as per the government's official holiday calendar. However, the government wants to make sure that I don't get lazy, so I only have three days off. Let's see, Thursday, Friday, Saturday- that's three. What about Sunday? Oh, I have to go into work on Sunday. Thanks for looking out for my work ethic, government. If I had four consecutive days off, I might lose The People's Work Ethic.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Reconnecting with old friends has actually also enabled me to branch out and meet new ones. Its as if my old friends remind me of my true self, help me to feel comfortable in my own skin, and give me the courage to reach out to new faces and make a connection. Something magical seems to have happened this month; due mainly to my living and participating in Moishe House, I've had this merging of new and old friends and all of a sudden ''wham!" a full-on community of peers, almost all of whom are Jewish. (I guess that figures...) It's been great to see how my old friends have embraced my new friends, and vice versa. It's also been great to meet so many Jews in San Francisco. There is something easier about starting a new friendship when people at least share a somewhat similiar cultural and religious background. After the initial transition and adjustment to a new city, I can say that I now feel like I have found my place.
I was at a Channukah party this last weekend hosted by Birthright Israel NEXT and Bay Area Tribe with my new 'community' and danced and sang the night away to an amazing 80s cover band. Smiling and screaming the lyrics alongside me were my best friend from the first day I walked into the dorms of college 7 years ago, one of my Moishe House roommates, and a ton of other awesome new friends I've made through Moishe House in the past 2 months. It's amazing how quickly I've been made to feel at home. I couldn't be happier.
I'm so excited for the new year ahead and all the connections, fun, and adventures it will bring with friends both new and old. May 2009 be a great one!
Sunday, December 28, 2008
As we go about a cheerful Seattle Sunday making preparations for Moishe House Seattle's Last Night of Chanukah potluck and party, I can't help this sinking feeling over the news from Gaza. The death toll is sickening -- and what the Times doesn't mention is that most of the "Hamas personnel" killed were probably low-ranking policemen who signed up for jobs in an embargo-strangled Gaza economy, not Islamist idealogues (like many of their brothers and sons will now become) -- but besides that travesty, one less-noticed headlne really depresses me: In protest of Gaza attacks, Syria halts indirect talks with Israel. Not that this is any kind of surprise. Really, it must have been expected as a result of this Gaza campaign.
Say what you will about the negotiations with Syria. At least they had a long-term strategic purpose. They represented hope, however tenuous, for a transformed future. What is the long-term strategic purpose of bombing the hell out of Gaza? What are we to hope for? Regime change? Has regime change by force ever not backfired in the Middle East?
Obviously unending rocket fire in Sderot and Netivot is unacceptable. I spent much of this month on the phone with my girlfriend at her parents' house in Ashqelon, where sirens call them into bomb shelters in the dead of night and the hospital is now moving its operations underground. I am not sanguine about the rockets.
But there are adult and there are adolescent ways of responding to assault -- which is another way of saying maturity means knowing when and how to Be Patient.
When I was fourteen, I awoke to find a particularly juicy zit on my nose, front and center. I hated it, of course. Being in middle school is hard enough without an ugly red bullseye on your face. So I took the bastard between my thumbnails and squished and scraped it into a pussy, bloody little ruin. It looked worse that day, but I felt avenged and figured at least the infection was gone -- until the wound developed a new infection, Staphylococcus no less. No amount of repeat popping could kill that zit once it had staph in it, so I had to go to the doctor and take pills. Still I took aggresive revenge against it every morning, making the antibiotics' job more difficult and ultimately leaving a scar that I carry on my nose to this day.
Two morals, for two different situations: The first situation is one where natural forces, given time, stand a good chance of working things out. The average zit is no match for a healthy immune system, so leave it alone! The second situation is more serious, where it's so bad you can't just do nothing. The moral here is to pick your remedy carefully, and then let it run its course fully before throwing others after it. If I had just taken the antibiotics and ignored my nose in the meantime, I probably wouldn't have this scar. But giving a remedy time requires patience, and I was not patient. I was fourteen.
The chosen remedy in Gaza was, rightly or wrongly, isolation. It was having some effect. The Gazan economy was frozen, people were desperate, and Egypt was motivated to be somewhat cooperative, fearing a flood of refugees. The rockets hadn't stopped, but they had slowed. Would they have eventually stopped? Would mounting domestic frustration and bankruptcy have eventually toppled the Hamas government? We'll never know. Now Israeli bombers drop blood and chaos on the streets so every Gazan can see exactly who is to blame, and will rally behind Hamas without a second thought. All the volatile peace talks will evaporate completely and a new generation of anti-Israel ideologues and militants will be fortified by the 300 dead. Scars will be long-lasting.
I am not a rabbi any more than I am a foreign policy expert. I can only grasp military strategy in broad strokes, and likewise I think I'll leave analysis of the conflict through manifold Scriptural references to rabbis like Arthur Waskow (not to mention countless sermonizers politically opposite him). My Chanukah-Gaza drash is very simple: being Jewish is all about playing the long game.
After a rousing Chanukah singalong at our Shabbat table, a friend told me I was wrong, "Maoz Tzur" is not the Jewish holiday carol, it's the Jewish "Star-Spangled Banner": all about military might, plus it has that high middle section nobody can sing. But I still think if you just start low enough that high part is fine, and in context the Chanukah story is not mainly about fighting power, it's about staying power. Why else are we still singing about escaping Pharaoh, or Assyria or Rome for that matter? Is the "Maoz Tzur" takeaway that G-d made us really badass then so he'll make us really badass now? Or is it that history is kinder to those who genuinely believe in what they're doing, than to those who opt for political, or military, expedience?
I asked an Israeli friend who supports the Gaza bombardment, how will this stop attacks against Israeli civilians? She replied that bombing Gaza must stop the rockets, because diplomacy didn't. It's illogical, but the frustration could not have been better stated. Pursuing diplomacy in the Middle East is like watching paint dry -- with a legion of fire ants in your underwear. Who wouldn't want to drop bombs if he had them?
But the Jewish trump card never was, and never will be brute strength. It's persistence. So let's get back to playing the long game. I think we're better at it.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
So the question in mid-November was: with our founder away, would MH Boston slow down? Would we have problems keeping our programming running or engaging new leadership?
The answer has been an emphatic "no." Our December programming was as strong and lively as ever, highlighted by a huge exotic latke party bottom-lined by a number of our emerging membership corps. Our January looks to be just as exciting, with Shabbatot planned, our food justice campaign taking off, and the long-delayed painting of our prayer space taking place as a community event.
The key to all of this has been our leadership development efforts. By asking people to step up, they take ownership of our community. And when leaders step up, we can afford to say farewell to someone important -- even a Margie -- knowing that others are there to make sure things keep running smoothly.
It's an important lesson, and one I hope we build on in 2009.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Yesterday a few MHSS community members joined up with other local Jews to serve Christmas lunch at the Third Baptist Church in DC. The atmosphere was full of love and kinship. There was an awesome piano player/soloist that sang some beautiful jazzed up version of carols and there was a young brother - sister duo that sange like to angels. It was very inspiring to see their freedom to sing in front of people that they do not know. Anyway, there was a lot to learn from organizing this experience. I waited waaaaaaaaaaay to late to get the plans grounded down of where we would all be volunteering. And you can never plan fully as I wanted to get us a gig going to the Hebrew Home senior village to put on a Channukah party (crazy idea right, volunteer with Jews on Christmas!! -- Why don't we do that !!) Well, the seniors had an oral virus and werre quarentined. That was sad to learn aobut, BUT I am planning something with the seniors in February. An intergenerational discussion about Jewish community.
Shabbat with witches! Yes, there are Jewitches in the world and they offer a pagan/Jewish blend. You might say they take Judaism back to its roots. I beleive that all religion has grown from the Earth, or grown from the relationship between the divine and the tangible world, so why not pay homage to mama earth. We had a creative Kabbalat Shabbat that was not pagan inspired. It was from the Jewish Renewal style of prayer: Chanting, interactive experiences, and acknowledging that we are (At least) holders of the divine spark. We followed up with a great meal! And then a ritual involving tarot cards and telling stories. 'Twas sweet.
Alright ! Peaceful bright light night and day.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
as context, mh boston has recently embarked on our food justice campaign, a project aimed to educate/organize/build excitement about the importance of supporting local, sustainable agriculture given the negative consequences of conventional ag on the environment, but more pressingly on people (see info on agriprocessors and discussion about kashruth and jewish ethics). in particular, we'll be running a local farm/jewish community tu b'shevat seder as well as educational seminars at congregations around the greater boston area (and beyond?). we've joined together to watch king corn, and have built amazing community and connections on the way folks connect to and around food, justice work and jewish values/culture. weve started conversations with mh providence regarding sukkoth activities and would love buy-in/brainstorming with other houses about local food/food justice-related work youve been a part of.
a marvelous handful of folks from our community will be off to monterey this thursday for this 4-day, intensive and community-building conference in monterey. we plan to build excitement around our campaign, learn what other communities have done, build relationships, and have a great time. aliza wasserman, an organizer and community leader at mh boston, will be doing a seminar around the farm bill and work done around the country to organize for more equitable distribution of funds away from conventional subsidies. and we'll come back pumped for our campaign and to the scores of amazing people that want to work on building our jewish community via this project.
while ive only officially resided in mh boston for a bit over three months, its been incredible to see how a community group like ourselves can really do exciting and engaging work in a way that a c3 non-profit tends not to--and i find the root of that in the relationship being built, the deeper motivations around wanting to build a community together and the respect we all share with each other. a much different experience than my day job, where community building, relationship building and a sense of belonging is much more sparse. here here to community.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I dont know what christmas time in all the MH countries is like, but wanted to share a little bit about what it is like here in old blighty.
Well it is actually pretty lovely. People have been in wind down mode for a week or two now, mixing work and pleasure a little bit more and generally enjoying life more. Random people wish you merry christmas (like the women I chatted to at the bus stop this morning) and the high street is all sparkly and and colourful.
Being a jew, means that we get a double helping. The festiveness of Christmas and the jollyness of chanukah. At Moishe House London we will be taking advantage by throwing a big chanukah bash and really letting our hair down.
All this festivity and fun makes me wonder whether we have the right balance between work and play here in the UK. We need more to celebrate and more excuses to have fun and be open to people. Maybe MHL can play this role for people by providing our community with as much opportunity to have fun as possible.
Here's to a happy, healthy and FUN year ahead for at MH.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
I would also like to point out that it was approximately 30 degrees warmer today than yesterday. Craziness!!! I'm really uncomfortable with the fact that I can wear just a t-shirt in the winter and still feel hot...
Guess what? MHSS is making soil!! We had an awesome composting event led by a couple expert Jewish nature lovers, and we had yummy pumpkin cookies to boot, courtesy of our very own Lindsay. I've been eating leftover batter for the past few weeks - delish!!! I think taking out the composting is my new favorite chore!! Apparently all the decomposing going on can make the center of the compost pile is big enough to bake a potato. So watch out for MHSS latkes this year - who knows where they'll be coming from, mwahahaha...
Novemeber also saw MHSS hit the swing dancing floor, courtesy of our very own community member Jonathan Hunger. He even came in costume, fully equipped with suspenders. For everyone who missed out the first time, we're going out for round two this Saturday night. After that, it's winter break for me - Ecuador here I come!!! I'll be sure to have pictures for you all, if my family ever figures out this whole "technology" thing and learns how to upload pictures onto a computer. If not, you'll have to come visit to see them.
Tis frosty here at MoHoLo Towers, but the peace and good will to all men keeps spreading outwards and upwards.
We proudly held our first 'Amazing Procrastination-Busting Volunteer Recruitment Night', allowing folks to come down and fill in all those fiddly forms that you send off for but never quite get around to sending back.
I'm hoping that over Christmas we might arrange some volunteering at homeless shelters with the JVN.
In the meantime I am looking forward to our new housemate joining us for two months if not two years. Hurrah, as we say here in Ol' Blighty.
I'm not so keen to latch on to channukah either, it's always seemed like a very minor festival, with some pretty dark zealotry at its core. However the Moishe House Channukah party will be utterly lovely, emphasising the camp, the cheesy and the downright ridiculous!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Wake up. Go back to sleep. Wake up. Go to the bathroom. For the love of g-d Advil. Thank you.
Go downstairs. Water. TV.
Hungry, leftovers. Actually waking up. Whew.
That food was delicious, but it wont last me all day. Thankfully we are going to Latkapalooza today. Which should be great. Some of the best chef's in town (FYI - Philly is an excellent restaurant town) are going t be at the JCC doing their take on a Latke. Sounds delicious. After, people are coming over to our house for our own arts and crafts project; Gifts on the Cheap. I am tired of seeing these cute gifts sold for $30 that only cost about $4 to make. So we are taking back the holiday gift giving by making our own.
That is the day. Should be great. I am off for Latkas now.
PS - I wrote this entire post with a shoddy "O" button. How annoying.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Completely switching gears for now, I'd also like to mention the recent PLP SkillsSummit day I attended in NYC along with some other Moisheniks. This was a jam-packed day of networking, learning and meeting with other Jewish Young Professionals from around the East Coast. Although it was totally exhausting, it was also exhilarating to hear from people who've been involved with Jewish community for years and learn from their struggles and successes. Thank you to Moishe Foundation for making that experience a possibility for me!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
-Jen, MH SAC
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
When the weather gets cooler I like to take a looooooooong bike adventure, preferably somewhere I haven't biked before. So this year I gathered some Moishe House friends and made a 20 mile trek along paved trails that follow the tributaries of the Anacostia River in MoCo & PG Counties here in suburban Maryland. It was quite a rush, a great and easy workout, and we barely even noticed the early freeze in the air because we were having so much fun. The bike journey ended at a great Israeli eatery in College Park where we rewarded ourselves.
I'm very appreciative that Moishe House gives me the opportunity to do what I love in a Jewish communal context that's open and welcoming and meet all sorts of new people doing so.
Happy Late Thanksgiving, and Happy Early Chanukah everyone!
See some pictures here: http://albums.phanfare.com/4808285/2128192_3285103
Monday, December 8, 2008
5 times a year, dozens of private and public organizations offer their services, free of charge, to whoever walks through the doors. Social services such as DMV registration, job networking analysis, legal services, HIV testing, seamstresses repairing old clothes, and drop in center information is all readily available to all those who walk through the door. In addition there were hundreds of medical professionals, ranging from dentists to M.D.s, nurses, hospice workers, and even eye doctors were on site taking measurements of people's eyes and producing brand new glasses on the spot, all of this was free of charge. This was a great day for the homeless of San Francisco, a day they can relax, be taken care of, even get pampered with a free massage or a walk through the temporary library, choosing to take home some books with them.
All of this was great, and the tikkun olam and kavanah was exploding out of the building. However, what about the other 360 days of the year? I had so many questions about the system, and our continued lax treatment about the homeless situation here in San Francisco, curious to know if a day like this is going to do much in the long run. How sustainable is it do something on such a grand scale 5 times a year, without really getting at the root of the problem: a lack of education, high rates of drug addiction, apathetic attitude about holding down a job, and a homeless reality that has gotten no better in the past 10 years.
It always feel great to volunteer and help out those in need, but it left me feeling incomplete, wishing others, as well as myself did more to help people who are in tough times.
Danny in SF
My apologies for a late November post. There's been so much going on in Philly I just haven't found the time to capture it!
Anyhoo, November was awesome at MHP. We enjoyed our weekly yoga practice yoga per usual (with a week's break for our Election Night Party - GOBAMA!!!) and our monthly Heymish potluck. But we also had the opportunity to lead services for the second time at an old age home, Sterling Glen, which was an unbelievably rewarding experience. The residents were deeply grateful for our time, and are now some of our strongest advocates for the Moishe House mission. Hopefully they'll steer some (great)grand kids our way.
Although it was this past week, and technically beyond the scope of the "November" post, I wanted to give a shout out to Elana from MH Buenos Aires who stayed with us during her evaluation of a potential MBA from Wharton. We had an awesome time together and it reinforced what makes Moishe House so special - that we are able to develop an international network of colleagues and friends, and have the comfort of a welcoming Jewish community no matter where we go.
Thanksgiving is over, so I'm finding it harder and harder to be thankful for this cold weather that has moved our way. Moishe House Chicago is moving indoors! It's amazing how our events must change according to season, now we get to look forward to more intimate gatherings in our heated home and outdoor outings that must factor in ice and snow.
But all is well. We are thriving as a community, with new people still showing up to many of our events and a great core group that I have really enjoyed spending time with on a regular basis. It is quite a wonderful feeling to break bread with new and old friends around a table, with the candle light around us and blistering cold wind outdoors... Hot soup and good conversation.
Ah, I guess there is still much to be thankful for.
I am hopeful that our last few weeks of 2008 will bring much joy and simcha to all the Moishe House communities.
After nearly 36 hours in New York City, Zucker and I returned to St. Louis, drained from seeing so many friends, and trying to absorb as much of the energy and creativity as we could.
Waking up at 4 am on Saturday, we caught a 6 am flight to Chicago, then a direct to Laguardia. We were already exhausted from Shabbat dinner the night before, but running on adrenaline.
We got into the city and went our separate ways. After a whole day (and night) of seeing friends and family, Zucker and I found our way to Hebrew Union College, late, and nearly comatose with exhaustion.
And then it happened. I walked down stairs into a social hall filled with young Jews, and mentors. Was the immediate rush of energy I felt a result being surrounded by so much potential, or was it the sudden influx of attractive Jewish women now in the periphery of my bleary vision?
Either way, I knew that I had to muster what little attention span I had for those few hours I was able to spend at the Skills Summit.
As a bit of background, PLP, the Professional Leadership Project, hosts the SkillsSummit to develop young Jewish leadership along one of three tracks, fund raising, volunteering/membership, and community organizing.
Zucker and I joined the community organizing track along side Ira Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, as well as Scott Sherman, founder of the Transformative Action Institute.
Through novel exercises, case studies, and mentorship, we were able to connect with these amazing visionaries, as well with our peers, many of whom are just as incredible.
We had an incredibly quick and intense speed mentorship program, in which I had the opportunity to sit down with Rhoda Weiss and ask questions about the sustainability of much of what we are doing.
"Give away power as quickly as you can," she said. "It is the only way to continuously bring people into the fold and to ensure that you are able to step out of the spotlight."
Zuz and I were both deeply impressed by hew intellect and deliberate, point-by-point articulateness.
We were able to connect with Rebecca from Moishe House Philly, which brought several really interesting ideas to the surface, and which we hope to act on soon.
Perhaps even better, as soon as people heard that we were reppin STL, Jewish Geography kicked into overdrive, with people giving us the names of friends who were lonely in the Louie. That means we have our work cut out for us!
At the SkillSummit on Sunday, I got ot meet Rebecca from MH Philly and learn a lot from her about what their house has been doing and the challenges they have faced over the last 2 years. One important idea that came out of the conversation is to increase communication between houses. As a house that is just getting started, it would be great to know events that have worked for others, ways people have dealt with problems, etc. etc. We are going to work on a way to make this idea-sharing happen ASAP.
Also, I am looking forward to an exciting rest of the month here in STL. We have a Channukah celebration coming up on Friday, and we are hosting a Jewish band called Zeda's Beat Box at Cicero's (a great bar with over 50 beers on tap) the Friday after. Other than that, I am off on an East Coast roadtrip through North Carolina, DC and New York the week between Christmas and New Years. Man it will be good to get away. An early happy hanukkah to one and all!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
This month, I have a little rant/musings thing for you.
The lovers and the haters of the Jews have one thing in common: we believe passionately in conspiracy theories. Last night I went on a field trip to watch Milk with a lovely crowd from the Ravenna Kibbutz. Before going, I happened to learn two things through the Internet. The first is that Sean Penn is an agent of the Jewish Marxist-homosexulist conspiracy. The second is that the photojournalism world is in a froth over a woman named, Jewily enough, Jill Greenberg. By night's end, I had a conspiracy theory of my own.
First, Jill Greenberg. She was hired by The Atlantic to photograph John McCain for the magazine's October cover. She delivered and it went to press. The flap is over unflattering photos from the shoot that Greenberg posted independently to her web site, and an interview in which she described using lighting to make the Republican's eyes and skin look bad because -- well, because Jill Greenberg thinks John McCain is bad.
Right-wing pundits were predictably angry, but so was The Atlantic -- accusing Greenberg of no less than betrayal and derangement -- backed by a chorus of photojournalists all in fits over the shame this brings upon their profession.
This sounded nutty to me. I can see calling Greenberg's stunt sophomoric, or deceptive. (I would call it both.) But deranged?
It seems her "betrayal" -- as with Jewish photographers Arnold Newman and Annie Leibovitz before her -- is that Greenberg injected her personal life into her photography. She has been loudly anti-Republican for long enough that The Atlantic could have found out in five seconds on Google (or just by asking), before hiring her to photograph the Republican candidate for President. But evidently the expectation is that personal politics shouldn't matter to a photographer. Why, that would make photography subjective!
I think it's goofy that this is a big, shocking deal. So, it seems, does Jill Greenberg. We don't get it, I realized at the theater, because we are part of the same conspiracy. A conspiracy of identity politics, and of pride. The Jewish Coming-Out Conspiracy.
Which brings me to the movie. What impressed me most about Milk was how Gus Van Sant, no Jew, could direct a Mormon-written screenplay with a Catholic star and still hit all of the Jewish themes pretty much on the head. As the film tells it, Harvey Milk's story begins the moment he comes out -- of the closet, to California -- to embrace rather than conceal his difference (read: chosenness). It is campaign manager Anne Kronenberg who gives Milk's inner circle the model of coming out to loved ones. And it is with investment banker-publisher David B. Goodstein that Milk pursues a visibility-versus-assimilation debate as old as the Hellenists and the Maccabees.
Harvey Milk's message is that politics must be made personal. His killer, Irish-Catholic Dan White, is enraged that politics cannot be kept pure. White probably wouldn't have cared for Jill Greenberg's photography either.
One skeptical of conspiracy theories might ask, what does LGBT identity politics (Milk) or Leftist identity politics (Greenberg) really have to do with the Jews? I would ask why, from Moses to Marx to Milk, do the Jews pop out so many of the rabble-rousing iconoclasts who keep shoving identity into politics to start with?
My friend, and former MHSeattle resident Tamar's sister, Vancouver-based artist Miriam Libicki, who spoke at UW Hillel on Thursday, explores a related question in her comix-essay "Jewish Memoir Goes Pow! Zap! Oy!" published this month in The Jewish Graphic Novel from Rutgers University Press (with cover design featuring a Libicki watercolor). The essay seeks to explain why the genre of autobiographical comix is so dominated by Jewish stories and language, not to mention authors. Why, Libicki asks, have Jewish writers and artists been quicker than most to air publicly all the disturbing, titillating, inspiring stuff in their closets? (Think Philip Roth, Art Spiegelman.)
She posits an explanation, that Jewish culture is highly tolerant of imperfect heroes. Moses was aloof, Jacob was scheming, Abraham was deceptive, and Noah was a drunk. We (and G-d) love them anyway, so maybe a Harvey Pekar, or Milk, can put himself into public view, warts and all, and gain acceptance too.
I think we can take it even one step further: In Jewish culture, as in Jewish mythology, the only heroes we believe in are warty, imperfect ones. Christian culture idealizes a world with no more rough edges, and seeks transcendent heroes to match. Jewish culture idealizes a world where the rough edges just don't kill anyone, and maybe even are kind of awesome if you're in on the joke.
Any leader, then, who makes it safe to come out, strange rough edges and all, is the prototypical Jewish hero, and you can bet that his (or her) movement will be full of Jews in on the conspiracy. Why? Because it is the lot of every Jew to feel acutely strange. And it is the dream of everyone strange to one day come out, be strange, and thrive.
Happy Kislev. :)
Friday, December 5, 2008
Moishe House Great Neck
Between our crazy schedules, Sima and I have tried to move in to our fab pad, work like crazy, keep up with old friends, and meet as many new ones as we can. We have already had a couple new people come to our events, so that is definitely a good sign. As Sima mentioned, we have rescheduled our housewarming party/opening of the Moishe House to combine with a Hanukkah party at the end of December. We have sent out our evite early in hopes that even more poeple can mark their calendars and get excited for it.
So far, I couldn't be more excited about my new adventure living in a Moishe House. I think it is such a wonderful and much needed idea. It is also quite impressive that when I mentioned it to my friends in other states, they tell me that they have heard of it before and have even gone to some events in cities such as Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.
In other exciting news, The Texas Jewish Post decided to write an article about the Moishe House in Dallas. We have already interviewed with them, so we are looking forward to the article. I am sure it will get passed around to all of you, and hopefully it will bring even more attention to our house in hopes that even more people can become a part of this amazing organization.
I guess that's all for now. Until next month....see ya'll later :)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
take care Mates,
So far, the news of the Moishe House "idea" has slowly been getting around town, and we are getting more and more responses/feedback to it every day! All of our events went well overall, with the exception of an uncontrollable/unfortunate mishap occuring with our pipes bursting and having to cancel/reschedule our house warming/ MH grand opening party at the end of the month... But! we ended up "fixing" the situation by planning to have a double celebration-chanukah/house warming party in the end of December, so we are looking forward to that! I know once this month is over and my schedule eases up a bit, we will be able to focus a lot more on MH and event planning!
Well..I guess thats really about it for November! Hopefully this month will go over well and we will finally be fully settled in and ready to roll!! ill keep y'all (<~~~ YAAA Texas Baby!) posted ;-)
Best wishes to everyone !!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Life in Silver Spring is booming! I am just about to finish my last coursework semester before going on my dissertation journey!! My topic is meaning in life and I will be interviewing people about personal meaning and flushing out the more spiritual dimensions of meaning. I will probably be hitting some of you up for participant referrals.
Anyway ... sad that we will not be getting together in January, but such is life. GO OBAMA! Sorry Einstein from Hoboken. Don't move to Canada. Who will save us from the zombies.
We had a great shabbat, Sfardi style in November! We each made a great delicious sfardi dish. I made Mechshi, which is a Moroccan take on stuffed veggies. I made stuffed zucchini ... We also had other homemade traditional food, made veggie (!) like cubana (yeminite bread) lachmajin (sweet lentil pizza), and LOTS of Lindsay stew.
My job just changed. Now I work mostly in a day program with chronic mentally ill people. I love doing group work with them. I also will have more opportunity to work with staff as a wellness contact. When Moishe House gets back on $$ track, I will gladly love to work on burnout consultations for housemembers, helping MHnicks create a Holistic wellness plan for themselves ...
Take care for now.
First wanted to say hello to all the people out there in my new Moishe House community. I moved into the SF house in November and so... this is my first blog post. Anyway, here goes nothing:
As the leaves changed and the last memories of summer faded away, much more happened for me than just the usual shifting from tank tops to sweatshirts. After living in NYC for 3+ years, I had made the big decision to 'come home' and move back to CA. I spent October in preparation -- quitting my job, saying goodbye to friends, packing up. Lots of insecurities popped up as I stared into the face of a big, new, unknown. Would I like my job, would I be able to find a room near my friends, would I jump right back into friendships I had lazily let simmer over my years away?
While ruminating over all these questions, and others, things started to fall into place. Somehow, miraculously, I got connected to MHSF and ... they picked me! to be their newest (well, now actually technically not newest since Danny moved in a few days ago) roommate.
Of course I'll miss my tiny yet adorable railroad apartment in Brooklyn, and the 24 hour bodegas on every corner, but after just over a month here, I can truly say I'm sure I made the right decision. My new housemates are wonderful, have welcomed me with open arms, and have been patient with my millions of questions. I've met tons of new people through MHSF events this last month, and was even able to bring some friends to events and contribute a few new faces to the scene. I've unpacked and am acclimating to a house about 8x the size of my previous living space!! I'm loving San Francisco, and am so happy to be a part of such a wonderful group of people both in SF and in the larger international MH community.
Hope to meet many of you soon!
Of course, Thanksgiving isn't a particularly Jewish holiday (Pilgrims, anyone?) but Jews celebrate it, and it's hard to find a place to celebrate Thanksgiving with your friends in Beijing. This was my first time hosting a Thanksgiving, and it was very rewarding to receive so many "thank you"s from people the next day.
Do you know what else is rewarding? A fridge full of leftovers. Yes.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Dave C- The man behind it all. Making things happen at the source. Schmoozer, doer, facilitator, planner, serious all-business(most of the time)-man. Thank you!
Summer- Supporting our every move, listening to all the complaints, on our side. Once our bridge to the Fo-Fo, now our bridge to the foundation version 2.0. Thank you!
The behind the scenes folks- I have never met most of you, but it's your dedication that helps put a roof over my head and a smile on my face. Thank you.
My roommates- The 7 of them over the past 2 1/2 years have put up with me more than they've had to, and made this experience great. Countless house meetings. Need I say more. Thank you!
The SF community- They show up, open, optimistic, and ready to roll strong each and every month. Makes me proud to be a Friscan. Thank you all!
This event has now added something new to not only the members of the Moishe House Silver Spring, but also to our community. Now we put our compostable scraps into the compost, scraps from our every day dinner & also from our larger MH events. It is also an opportunity to introduce more people to composting and how it works. Who knows, maybe they will leave and set one up in their house. And this 'new' technique of reducing waste will spread to more people.
When I said that this afternoon I was definitely excited to have completed all the hurdles required to practice law in California, but it also made me wonder about other kinds of oaths that we make in our lives. Of course not all of them follow the formality of the one above, and most are not orally expressed in such a concise manner, but I think we all make oaths throughout our lives. Many of us have made somewhat of an oath to Moishe House by accepting discounted rent and a programming budget to create events and communities for others. I wonder what that oath would sound like if we had to put it in a couple sentences. When people ask what Moishe House is all about, or the goals of the organization, I find it hard to put them into words accurately expressing what I'm thinking. For me the understanding of Moishe House just comes with time, just like most things. I hope all of you have found your understanding of Moishe House, and if you haven't, that you stick with this until you have.
And come to San Francisco, and stay at our place. I'll show you a great time, I promise. - Ari
November was pretty awesome, especially focusing on our election night party. What will be awesome-er is our lineup for December. My personal favorite is our upcoming Fondue evening. In keeping with our cheery yet social justice-y theme for this month, we are going to be festively dipping food in warmed chocolate and writing letters to those who won't hear from many over the holidays. I'm super excited for this yummy event.
Moreover, we are doing a canned food drive during the entire month so anyone coming to our events can bring nonperishables that we will donate before Christmas (let's face it - a majority of the country is Christian and will want it then). So, without further adoooooo - > HERE'S DECEMBER!
Though I haven't managed to nail down a day job yet, I've had some encouraging advances in the process, like applying for a writing position at PCC that I'd actually want to do, and gearing up for an informational interview on Friday at the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Where the various job sites left me in a state of mild despair before, now I'm thinking that persistent effort, and a decent bit of networking, could actually pay off eventually -- and a job would bring a sense of balance to my life that I could really use.
As you can see on the site, we've also instituted a local membership program, and we're going to have our first membership meeting in early 2009, where contributing community members will have the opportunity to elect a local board and help determine the campaigns we'll work on and the programming we'll take on over the course of the year.
If any other Moishe Houses are interested either in emulating our website or in learning about our membership model, please don't hesitate to reach out!
Monday, December 1, 2008
All joking aside this time of year makes me reflect on my life and where we have come as a nation. Its been a while since I really believed we were welcomed by the Native Americans but the fact that we took the land does not affect the current meaning of the secular chag. Soon it will be Hanukkah and we will celebrated the miracle of lights but honestly I do not see the point of it. My problem isn't with candles or with oil but rather with the message of revanchism. The Maccabees seem to me to be extremists who killed their fellows Jews in their fight against Hellenistic assimilation. While they were rightfully protesting the corruption of the temple and desired a return to what they believed were more moral, pure, and Jewish times they themselves were corrupt. The very first thing they when taking power was taking the kingship and the office of the high priest, the chief political and religion authorities, which is specifically prohibited in the Torah. More over with in two generations of Maccabeen rule was just as corrupt and Hellenised as those they had overthrown. So what is the message of Hanukkah - fight modernity? Do not support change? Keep things the same at all cost? Even if it means violating those same values?
I celebrate it but I just don't get it.
One event we've started up recently, which is an example of the way this has materialised for us, is the 'Hang Out at the House' series we've been doing with the JCC. The JCC is itself a relatively new thing in London and they still don't have a full-time venue, preferring for the moment to hold events in different places around the city. Well the JCC approached us and asked if we'd like to host a monthly space for Darfuri refugees and asylum seekers, alongside our more frequent Moishe Houseniks.
We jumped at the chance. I won't go into great detail about the situation in Darfur. Many of you will have read stuff already, and if you haven't, I couldn't do it justice... best to see somewhere like http://www.savedarfur.org/pages/background/ instead.
Suffice to say these young people, who end up in the UK having fled their genocide-ravaged home, also face a very hard time in London, which can be challenging even for someone who's lived here their whole life and is comparitively priveleged. The idea of the event is to spread a little of the kind of atmosphere and community we create at this house, to put it to good use beyond the borders of the Jewish community.
So far we've had three great evenings. We've done a different thing each time - first time just relaxing and getting to know each other, and sharing stories and experiences; second time cooking (and of course eating) traditional Darfuri food; and just last week combining the event with one of our gorgeous, tried and trusted open mic nights.
There have generally been more Jews than Darfuris at these events - the Darfuris live in all corners of London, placed there by immigration, so it's sometimes difficult to travel - but we're very pleased with how they're going. To be honest, the events feel in some ways like many of others: warm, welcoming, creative and happy.
So we plan to continue shape-shifting London community, Jewish and beyond.
Just wanted to shout out everyone in every house that makes things happen.
While the federated world is doing backflips trying to figure out how to engage us, we are out here doing the engaging, building the network, connecting with good people.
I'm very grateful for the opportunity that MH has provided me to build, from the ground up, a young Jewish community.
It isn't every day that you can help yourself out financially by doing the things you really want to be doing. For that, I'm thankful.
It also isn't every day that you are able to build solid connections, relationships, and learn a thing or two. PLP is helping to push me in that directions, so props to them.
I hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward to a bit of Latke palooze here in STL.