Thursday, April 30, 2009

Labor Seder

For the last several years, we've helped to put on a Labor Seder together with the New England Jewish Labor Committee. This year I had the honor of co-chairing the event on April 2nd. It was a wonderful, inter-generational evening of learning and celebration with new friends and old. And more than anything, it was an example of how strong our community partnerships are after more than three years of working to strengthen a young Jewish social justice presence throughout Greater Boston. As I get ready to transition out of the Moishe/Kavod House, this is one event I'll certainly look back on with pride, as our community continues to move forward and to build!

A Chocolate Covered Pesach

Dear Moishe Blogosphere,

This month has been pure CRAZINESS. Between work trips (New Orleans, Chicago and Palm Springs), Pesach and spring having sprung, there was much to be done. We had a lovely K for P picnic, and clearly I wasn’t the only one aching for outdoor time, because despite the fact that it was actually kind of cold out, almost 20 people showed up. We came, we lounged, we ate matza w/various delicious toppings – it was delightful. Which brings me to another wonderful event – our SEDER! We held a seder at the house with about 20 of our closest buddies. Adam cooked up a delicious storm, I slathered matza in butter, sugar and chocolate (what would be better?) and we feasted, sang and celebrated the night away. It’s always interesting when people with a variety of Jewish backgrounds come together for an event like a seder. Both this year and last I’ve thoroughly enjoyed melding the various traditions and creating a sort of hybrid – everyone experiences something completely new and also something totally comfortable and familiar – the best of both worlds, me thinks. Anyhow, summer is on the horizon and I can’t wait…



Farm Day

The grey sky didn't stop our contingent of 13 people head out to Jug Bay farm to work on the farm in the morning and then picnic and perhaps even a canoe ride in Jug Bay. Everyone was prepared with clothes for dirt work and a bag lunch. We headed out of Metropolitan DC into the peaceful and colorful country.
We arrived at Jug Bay farm and farmer Scott Hertzberg. He walked us around his organic farm and showed us his chicken pen and led us to the strawberry patch. He apologized giving us the boring work of weeding he strawberry patch, but promised us we could return in a month to pick the strawberries. No one was saddened to the thought of weeding and everyone got down in the dirt. After a few hours, we went to the bay for lunch. Several people brought some food to share and we all enjoyed each others company and food. Due to the chilly weather and grey skys, we decided to post pone our canoe trip for next time.
As I organized this trip I was excited to see many people were interested in spending some time at the farm. We're all so focused with our city/ suburban lives that it's really good sometimes to escape and put yourself in the land and learn about healthy and organic farming. It was a great opportunity for me to forget about my daily stresses and just focused on pulling the weeds.
We ended the trip with a dessert of freshly cut (i'm talking not 30 seconds before entering our mouths) greens that farmer Scott had in his car. Apparently, the greens were too long for restaurant, to me they were absolutely delicious and I could think of no better way to end my lunch.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spontaneous shiourim!

It was last Sunday morning, while I was praying in synagogue. As the Jewish community here in Vienna is quite small, even if I don't know everyone, I can recognize easily new faces. This morning there was a new face, an american rabbi type of face. I approach him and bingo, it was a american rabbi, visiting Europe. I asked him when he arrived and when he will leave Vienna. He answered me that he arrived before shabbat and he will leave in the evening. I briefly about Moishe house and told him that we don't get often english speakers in Vienna so that when one is in town we like to take hold of this opportunity and invite him to the Moishe house to have lessons in English. So I asked him if he would come at the moishe house to give a shiour before his train leaves to his next destination, Hungary. At 6pm, This Rabbi was in our house giving a very nice shiour about shavuot; 10 people attented and was a very nice atmosphere. The week before we also had a special guest from Jerusalem visiting Vienna and gave us a beautiful lecture... Who will be our next special guest this coming sunday?? We all look forward to see!

Shalom from Vienna!


May in Moishe - Jewish Motifs Film Festiwal

The Jewish Motifs Film Festival is among the many international festivals focused on the Jewish nation, its tradition, identity and history, both past and present.

During Jewish Motifs you can see films from Israel,Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Hungary and other post-soviet countries as well as films from Western Europe.

This is an opportunity to present non-profit productions, pioneer or seeking new ways of expression, which do not clash with the universal requirement of truth in artistic work

This time guest of honour on this film festiwal is Adam Holender and we are going togehter to see his film "Smoke" on friday.

In Poland now is something that we called "majówka" And we have 3 days off,with beautifull weather .

Steven kleinman MHDC April 2009

The other night we had our third Writing Group.  It was very small as most of the regulars had to cancel for differing reasons.  Bummer.  Hopefully with more work we'll get a larger crowd next month as this is one of my favorite events.  Anyway, Allan Scott came out from MHSS and while the two of us were left to our own devices, we had this wonderful conversation about being a Jewish writer, Jewish writing, and writing around the Holocaust.  There were lots of great things talked about, but I don't want to misrepresent Allan or our time together so I will just send out some highlights just in case anyone is interested in reading some wonderful poems surrounding being Jewish post Holocaust. 

The best of the poems as far as I'm concerned is "In the Midst of life" by Tadeusz Rozewicz. Others include just about everything from Paul Celan, "After Auschwitz" by C.K. Williams, lots of poems by Czeslaw Milosz but in particular there is a poem where he stares into a gheto as a small child.  It's a wonderful poem.  Google that.  And I guess that was mostly what we talked about as far as poems surrounding issues of moving past the Holocaust, but now that I'm thinking about it Steve Olsen has a great book about being a Jewish American, and Ilya Kaminsky wrote a wonderfull book on being a Ukranian Jew during the fall of the Soviet Union.  Hope you have a chance to check out any of these poems.

Boston Bound

Well, after a glorious run in St. Louis that included helping to open MH STL, a condmened notice appearing on our house and some fun times along the way, this will be my last post as a member of Moishe House St. Louis. I am moving to Boston next week to start Harvard Law School in the fall. Why moving so early? A guy's gotta get his travel on! Since I waited a couple years to go back to school, my younger brother is also starting law school in the fall, so we are taking 6 weeks to backpack across Europe before we have to hit the books. Over the course of 6 weeks I will be in Paris, Santorini, Athens, Bucharest, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Bucharest, Budapest, Berlin, Warsaw, Dublin, Barcelona, Geneva, Nice and Rome. Not so bad.

Really though, Moishe House has been an awesome opportunity and I really think we have left our mark on the St. Louis jewish community in 8 short months. The House will continue without me as Jordan Mandel, he plays cello in a rock band!, is taking my place, pretty literally, as he's already bought my bed. Now we just gotta work on his skills as a dispute negotiator (critical for anyone living between Ross and Yoni) and he will be good to go!

Oh, and before I go, Go Sox!

Posted by Dave, MH STL

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meeting with Palestinians

This weekend I had an occasion to co-organize a post-taglit seminar in Cracow. I thought it might be nice to invite some people from local Palestinian diaspora to talk with taglit alumni and widen their view and knowledge about Israel. I think it is important to show that Jews and Palestinians can normally talk with one another. But on the other hand I was afraid that it might hard to 'control' and moderate the discussion. I also asked one Israeli to come, so it would be more pluralistic as there will be a chance to compare both points of view.
Meeting went quite well, there weren't any scandalous situations. But I have some impressions after it. First of all, 'our' Palestinians were saying different things in a public meeting (such as this one) in comparision to what they say in personal, informal talk after the meeting (then, they are more realistic). Secondly, both sides had a problem with being tolerant to others' side history, especially with traumatic parts of it. Also, there is a problem that both sides just couldn't come to an agreement on a common version of their history. That's why we were trying to talk more about the future and what we should do to make our peace-making efforts more effective. We came to the conclusion that such meetings definetely helps, but still there is a long way ahead us.
Anyway, I think it was a good idea, and I got some feedback from participants that it was also important and meaningful for them.

Monday, April 27, 2009

A lucid example of hubris

There is a Quizno's near my office.  Quizno's currently has a promotion where if you buy one sandwhich, you can get another of equal or lesser value for free.  

I went there with a colleague a few days ago.  She was first in line and ordered one of the more expensive sandhwiches on the menu.  It cost $6.49.  I had planned on ordering a medium tuna sandwhich for $4.69.  However, her $6.49 expenditure allowed me to purchase a large tuna sandwhich, value $5.79, without it costing any more.  So I did.

I learned alot that dayy.

Adam in DC

A nice April, leading into an awesome May

Over here at the East Bay Moishe House I am finally getting into the swing of things. A full month of events a success. From clothing swaps to shabbat dinner, a roommate moving out and finding a new one... it's all been a good experience. We're also looking to market ourselves and reaching out to other organizations in the Jewish community has been productive, I'll now be interested to see if it changes our numbers, or not just our numbers, but who comes to our events. I'm really looking forward to May, I like the spread of the events we're hosting over the month and the different events we're actually posting! Weather's getting better= more outdoor activities!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New themes for glorious parties

At MHP we do our best to be innovative in our creation and implementation of parties to include as many people from as many different backgrounds as possible. For our most recent party we attempted something many might scoff at as "silly" or "childish." In fact, it was both!

I recently turned 24 (on April 15 - tax day!) and to commemorate this occasion we hosted a little kid themed party with some adult aspects to it. We had a some chocolate fondue (a crowd favorite), a milkshake bar (with some recipe twists incorporating the liquor cabinet), and a Dance Dance Revolution set up at the TV. An amazing time was had by all and I felt tremendous pleasure in all my friends enjoying themselves.

Here's looking at future creative parties that draw in strange crowds from across the city!

brunch outdoors = fun

The weather here has been great lately- in the mid 60s, with clear air. I can see all the way out to the mountains today, which is pretty unusual. We here at Moishe House Beijing like to capitalize on good weather, so we had an outdoor Bagel Brunch (well, it was at noon, so more like lunch...) that was pretty successful. Orange juice definitely tastes better when served from a carafe.

On Tuesday, the Israeli embassy had a Holocaust memorial ceremony. The main speaker was the daughter of He FengShan, one of the two Chinese righteous among the nations. He served as a diplomat in Vienna before WW2 and helped many Jews get exit visas to Shanghai. Some of them just used the visas to leave the war, and then chose their own destination, but many actually settled in Shanghai. Learn more about him at Yad Vashem website.-

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring is here! I'm really happy about this. Sun, green, everything is more beautiful now.
In April we have something called spring holidays (it is a free week because of Easter), so i spent this time with my mom and dad . I haven't seen them for two months so it was very nice to talk with them and tell them about what is going on in our MH. They live 100 km from Warsaw in a small town - Brok, so it was also an occasion to observe how the nature is awaking.
On Thursday we will be making a picnic together with the polish jewish youth organisation. We are all very excited and it looks like many people will spend this time with us. I hope that the weather will be as great as it is today!
And it is also a new chapter for MH Warsaw because of our new moishemate Kuba. I think that he is really a suitable person for this. He has a lots of ideas and determination. And what is most important - he enjoys this! I believe that working and living with him will be a pleasure.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Zvi from MHSS

Yo yo out in Moishe Land!

Things are rolling nicely here in suburbia. Our community is booming and I felt real pride in my roommies who put together the Birkat Hachama event. I think that really represented our house and the people that we serve. I am getting ready to do some traveling, spending shabbats in different cities and may be knocking at your door pretty soon ...

The mussar group is going well and there is interest from the larger community to reproduce the model. We are learning about ourselves and for me it is a really therapeutic activity.

Shabbat is coming. Can you smell that challah!

Blessings all around!

Moishe Moishe Everywhere

I wanted to give a public shout out to MH Argentia and MH London, each of which have recently sent their community members to grace our presence here in Boston. MH Argentina has literally sent us over 20 people who have come to stay at our house after they are done with a week long program in NYC that Chabad sponsors. At one point, when I was in Israel, we had TEN people staying in our house. It has been a great opportunity to practice my Spanish! Then right before Passover, Daniel from Moishe House London came to visit, and I got to practice my British accent, and get inspired by his amazing work bringing Jews and Muslims together in London through his program "PsychoSemetic." But on a serious note, I really appreciate the feeling that I get through all these visitors that we are building a global Jewish community of passionate and dynamic young Jews, and can't wait to meet people from more houses around the country and the world.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Last night, I celebrated my first Mimouna. Mimouna is a Moroccan-Jewish festival which is said to commemorate the yarzheit of Maimon, the father of the 12th century rabbi and philosopher Rambam (Maimonides). As it falls on the day after Pesach, it also provides a wonderful opportunity to appreciate eating chametz again!

We marked the end of Pesach with havdalah, and then, to the rhythm of Sephardi music, a little production line formed around the kitchen - people chopping vegetables, spicing couscous, mixing dough and frying mufleta which are yeasted pancakes, traditional at Mimouna. A Middle-East flavoured evening to usher out Pesach for another year.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Passover ponderings

Spring has fully sprung at MoHoLo.
It's wonderful to have our house filled with new people and ideas. Got to say, it's hard to know when to relax, there are so many events we could run, but only so many days in a month!
I'm looking forward to Mimounah already (bring on the Chametz!) and am signing us up to to see how our garden can grow...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pesach Quiet

Its quiet here in Moishe House London.

After our frantic Pesach cleaning, and our fabulous Bircat Hachammah service, which my other housemates have blogged about, the house is very peaceful. This is compounded by today being Easter Sunday (Christians sometimes think they always coincide, they don't), which, despite Britain really not being much of a Christian country any more, means that everything is closed. Its a strange phenomenon-all the Jews emerge from a 3 day food and sleep fest (2 days yom tov + shabbat) all ready to reengage the world, and suddenly the world is sleepy and bloated from over eating, and, well, shabbat like. Still the sight of the closed supermarket is ameliorated by the fact the door is covered with 2 signs, one wishing customers a happy easter and the other a happy passover (with hebrew texts-noch!). Now one shouldn't get too excited about this; religion ought to be a subversive, anti materialist force, and we certainly don't want to be co-opted by multinational corporations. But the public recognition of Judaism, especially outside the major Jewish areas, which is so common in America, is still quite new to us Brits. As a Jew who think Judaism ought to be loud, proud, brash and above all out of the closet, this is a minor cause for celebration.

Chag Sameach!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Feelin' Great, Just Feelin' Real

Chag Sameach!!

We're super stoked for Pesach here at Moishe House in Portland, OR!

The sun is coming out, and we did our spring cleaning! We even steam-cleaned the carpet (or tried to lol...apparently I miss big red buttons).

This is the first time Rachel and I have kept Pesach to this standard of observance and we both were talking about how great and curious we feel about it. The ritual of kashering pots with boiling water is really a nice one. Something about it just seems cleansing, much like the mikveh I imagine...

Sometimes I get really indulgent with things like...buying groceries, or organizational supplies for my room, or hygenic products...I just get really into taking care of myself and making things organized haha. Hopefully I'm not too insane about it, actually quite messy...but ANYWAY I got really into Pesach shopping today.

It's so cool that we can pick out so many Kosher for Passover products and have so many options. We are a part of the bustling observant Jewish populous of SW Portland, eating imported Israeli spreadable cheese, provided by the Beaverton Hillsdale Albertson's in order to meet the demands of the local market...

It feels great, to not just be participating in, but to be a contributor to the economic and representational Jewish figure in Portland.

"I am making this a better place for Jews," I say to myself.

"I am learning an immense amount."

I would like to blog about other things house-related, but will save that for a later post as we have a retreat sort of event later this month. I look fwd to addressing all kinds of issues and coming up with some larger picture plans.

This last phrase sums it up. I am learning an immense amount.

Judaism and Yoga: Bibliyoga

I saw on a fellow Moishe Housenik’s blog that like us other houses have also been having yoga groups meeting in their house. What is special about our recently ended four week yogic course is that we have been learning a form of Yoga as inspired by Jewish teaching and tradition.

The class’s teacher, MoHoLo community member Marcus Freed, has pioneered a Jewish approach to yoga that he calls biblioyoga. Our four week course looked at Biblical and Rabbinic Jewish texts on the elements – fire, water, air and earth – over each of the weeks, whilst expressing them physically through yoga moves and meditation.

We were full to capacity in the class for two of ours weeks, with as many people in the room as possible without knocking each other over when you change position.

The final one in the series was particularly challenging. Happening yesterday, the day before Birchat HaChamah, when you mark the sun’s return to its original position every 28 years, we did 28 sun salutations to prepare ourselves. Unfortunately, at 6am in the morning, in misty, wet and cold London, people were not so keen to do quite that many.

Chag sameach to all from London’s pesach-clean house!

The Sun Rising (in Willesden Green)

Pesach greetings from Moishe House London!

I was up, with the rest of the house, at 5:30am today, as we led a merry troop of about 12 Moisheniks to the local park to say the once-every-28-years Birkat HaChamah, a blessing over the sun which marks (apparently) the coincidence of the sun's original position at the time of creation with the time of the week (Wednesday, in the first hour) of its creation.

We had to break into the park because it wasn't open yet - this was guerilla Judaism, on a mission to do something utterly bizarre on what was in fact a very damp and windy early morning. Cloud covered the sky and we shivered through some yoga and renewal-style chants hoping that by the time we got to the end of our personal meditations the sun would shine through and we could say the blessing.

You see, you're only supposed to say the blessing if you can actually see the sun.

As we approached the end of the ceremony a tiny hole of blue had opened up in the grey firmament.

"Put on your tefillin," one of the other devotees urged me, "that'll do it."

So I unwrapped my jacket and wrapped on my tefillin and... could it be... well, we could see the reflection of the sun's light on the cloud. It would do. We said the blessing.

But no. Now the we could just about see the outline of the sun through the clouds. Quick! Cancel the last blessing ("Baruch shem kavod malchuto l'olam va'ed" is the traditional formula to annul a blessing said in vain) and say the blessing again!

OK done. But... wait. Suddenly the sun emerged and shone through in all its glory.

A second annulment quickly followed and we proceeded to recite the blessing for the third time.

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha'olam, oseh ma'asei b'reishit.

Blessed are you Lord our God, ruling principle of the universe, who fashions the original creation.

Meet you back there in another 28 years (and happy Pesach everybody)!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What a Month!!

The Month of March was an unbelievable month for Moishe House Joburg. We had an event nearly every two days - it was amazing.

The few highlights for me were the following:

Moishe Yoga
We had a several Yoga events at the house. We managed to arrange for a professional instructor to come to the house 4 times during the month. About 5-8 people experienced something new and we all left the events with a sense of balance and sore muscles.

Israeli Events
We ran two Israeli Events this month. One was a look at how the elections in Israel will shape Israel for the next while and the other was an Israeli Movie and pizza. About 25 people came to both events. We feel its really important that we run Israeli themed events every month.

Moishe Lunches
We held many Moishe lunches this month. It fits in really well with people's college schedule for them to come for lunch, and it is also great to do it on Sundays as a relaxing way to end the weekend. The lunches are pretty well attended and it also gives me an opportunity to test my cooking skills.

Thats it for me for this month.

Chag Sameach


pound cake

So, the other night for, Sam's birthday/ an April fools party, I baked a pound cake, or tired too. I swear, I've totally done this before, successfully A pound of eggs, bound of butter, pound of sugar, pound of flour. I wanted to marble it so I ran over to the closest grocery store Marc's, amazingly they were all out of baking chocolate, so against my better judgement I purchased hot coco mix as a replacement. Once I got home I realized that somehow, between the four of us, we do not own a sift, and I had bought regular flower instead of cake/baking flour. But who cares, you know? As I was beating the egg whites stiff (which takes forever), trying my best to follow an old family recipe from the 50s the Shiah's  electric beater started to feel hot to the touch, smoke and smell like burning rubber. (sorry about the egg beater dude, I'll get you a new one after you get me a new toaster oven, lol) Unable to finish beating the eggs i mixed the scary foamy substance in to the batter and mixed the batter. That's when I realized that we don't have any cake pans. People kept coming over early, way before the cake was done, but I wasn't about to give up on this sweet sugary goodness. I put the cake in our oven from the 50s, which has to be lit and sometimes heats dishes unevenly, and started to work on the frosting. So many people opened the oven to look at the cake and slammed the oven door shut (cough, Sam) that the pound cake practically collapsed. When it was finally finished, under peer pressure, the frosting was put under the cake before it was cool, causing the butter in the frosting to melt. Everyone said they liked the cake, but I'm not sure if anything else could have gone wrong.
p.s. what's the deal with all this snow?

Yet more snow...

we're looking at a white pesach...
Weather in Cleveland has always been unreliable, often severe, and fairly cold. Yesterday is started snowing again, with a blizzard and a few inches of accumulation. Oh that's alright, I didn't really like riding my bicycle o the park and hiking through the forests that much anyway. Inside the house, we've had another great month of relaxed gatherings and study. Finals are coming up and I know this month is going to be insane because of everyone's courses, aside from the holidays and the constant threat of tolerable weather. I think my favorite evening this last month was spontaneously deciding after getting off of work, that since it was so nice out we should invite a few friends over to smoke hookah... 2 hours later 18 really awesome people were here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Rachael - MHSS - April / Nissan

April is shaping up nicely:
- The painting pottery joint event with GesherCity Crafts & 25-30 Clusters was excellent! Everyone had a great time painting and chatting. (More cross-pollination of segmented Jewish communities in the area - how fabulous!)
- I participated in the Afikomen scavenger hunt. That's a first for me!
- Cherry Blossoms! (I am loving the flowering trees in general...and it turned out that I spent my day at the Japanese Street Festival with a handful of Jews. We're everywhere....)
- MHSS Cleaning-for-Passover "party" & picnic was nice! I enjoyed spending time together on a common project. (I was also happy for that project to be cleaning.) I like our new standard of "clean" & hope we maintain it post-Pesach.
- Looking forward to Birkat HaChama and the matza-pizza movie night
- A bit apprehensive at the amount of people that will be staying in my house for 3 days / nights straight (first two days of Passover and then Shabbat) and eating meals in my house. That's a lot of people to share close quarters with for so long.
- Curious and anticipating what the coming month will bring
- [Some] seeds are sprouting (yipee!!), & weather-wise, it feels sometimes like autumn, which I find very weird

And that wraps it up for now. As this is my April post, I may not post again until May (unless something really enlightening happens) -- so, TTFN till then!

Familiar Tastes - Masha, Moishe House Seattle, March 2009

I don't know when how this started, but in the last couple of years I've developed an obsession with pudding and custard. It's not anything I grew up with, because in Russia there was no such thing as pudding. The closes thing is custard cream, but nothing one would eat in a cup with a spoon. But I just can't get enough of this stuff lately! My favorite is vanilla, which you can't really buy anymore (Kozy Shack stopped making it), so I make it myself. And of course, without undue modesty, my home-made vanilla pudding kicks ass. :) My housemates know this, and some of them even share my love of pudding, although they don't take it to the level of obsession. Recently, Neal even had a dream where he made me pudding! "And it made you so happy!" he said. :)
This week I tried something I've wanted to make for a while: a savory custard. I've been experimenting with buttermilk before, but this time it actually worked. I also put some cubed Russian rye bread in it, and my goodness! I think this is the peak of my culinary genius.

2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 whole egg
4 egg yolks
salt to taste
2-3 slices of rye bread, cubed

Put the cornstarch in a bowl first, then add buttermilk (very important to do it in that order, otherwise it will clump). Add the egg, yolks, and salt. If you've got rye bread, cube it and add it to the batter. If you don't have rye bread, just bake as is, or put in sauteed vegetables, like zucchini, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. Bake in a pie or cake pan at 325 F for 30 minutes. Enjoy warm or cold.
This can be made for Passover if you sub potato starch for cornstarch and omit the bread.

It's a wonderful summer recipe. The custard comes out so delicate and creamy, and it tastes almost cheesy. The tang of the buttermilk is the perfect compliment to the intense rye bread, a true delight to anyone who grew up eating Russian.
And that, of course, is the caveat. I offered the dish to my housemates, and even Neal, who actually likes rye bread (and grew up in Germany, which is pretty close!) said those particular flavors were not to his taste at all. Oh well, it wouldn't be the first time... :) If anything, my time here with my housemates made me realize just how much tastes are acquired regionally. I'm not even going to tell you about the Russian herring with beets dish. :)

Passover and Spring

Last Month at Moishe House Great Neck was a wonderful month.  We had a special event which was a farewell to our beloved 4520 office on the 45th floor of the Empire State Building.  The owner was so nice to let us make use of his office and help jewish kids have a great time while learning. We will miss 4520, and a search is under way for a new spot. Poker was great as usual; however, it would have been better had i won. 

Now we have warmer weather to look forward too! Passover cleaning at Moishe House Great Neck has begun, and we are strongly looking forward to the holiday. Happy Passover to all at Moishe House, and we hope that the coming year brings us all more success. 

March in Moishe Philly

Whoa I cannot believe March has come and gone this quickly. It was a great month at MHP. From an amazing Purim concert featuring the West Philly Orchestra to my birthday (24!!) we were constantly filled with energy as the city (thankfully) transitioned into Spring.

Book Club was definitely a highlight for me this month. We read When A Crocodile Eats The Sun, a memoir about Peter Godwin's experiences growing up as a White man in Zimbabwe and his nation's struggles under Mugabe's dictatorship. It was especially meaningful for me because this is an issue that I am particularly involved with. And it was inspiring that the discussion evoked action-oriented questions about what we, as fortunate, White, American Jews can do about the situation.

Although it is an extremely overwhelming issue to attack, I was comforted by how strongly Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) resonates amongst the Jewish people. "Al shlosha d'varim" kept repeating itself as the group of 6 women, from very different Jewish backgrounds, all expressed their desire to make change happen. Unfortunately I am not sure how much we can do, but at least we can start taking baby steps, such as book clubs, to address issues like this...

...And I made a delicious, vegetarian, Zimbabwean lunch, from recipes from my friend Nesta Mlambo. She was raised in Zimbabwe, but regretfully her family is captive there. If you, MH Bloggers, would like more information about the current situation in Zimbabwe I would be happy to share as much with you as I can. Let me know.

Signing off,

The Censunator - Inside the Federal Census

From the blackberry of gill benedek:

I am currently sitting in the Shrewberry neighborhood center, a stop and go 10 min car ride from the moishe house. Around me are 20 New Orleans residents armed with their very own hhc - handheld computer for you non-federal employees. Everyday for this week I will be training as an address enumerator for the 2010 US census. As a second job, my primary incentive was the position's generous hourly wage. Additionally, it is also providing me with inside look at federal programming.

One example of federal bureaucracy: with every person I talk to I have to give them the D-31 slip of paper ensuring that all the information is confidential. If anyone has questions about the D-31 piece of paper they can send an email to the "Paperwork Reduction Project 0607-0809".

New Orleans is eagerly anticipating for the completion of the official census, the key measure of population demographics. The entire New Orleans community is holding its breath to see exactly what type of change it is. Has the population grown? Where is it distributed? What are the income and education demographics?

City hall and businesses point to the census as key driver to spur investment. It also has a very immediate impact - federal dollars are allocated to districts based on their population size. New Orleans has had a tough time getting its population numbers with any clear certainty.

Alright, I need to go. But keep your eyes open for your friendly neighborhood census taker. Hopefully I won't get canned for taking a few days off over Passover.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

springtime is coming in boston

springtime in boston means that the frigid, up and down winter is leaving for several months and will allow the other extreme of hot mid-summer temperatures in a few months. its true four-season territory up here.

there've been shifts of passover clean-ups galore around moishe house boston over the past few days. teams of 2-3 people have come every day to clean, straighten, purchase food, and tomorrow to cook second seder meal for the house. its certainly the cleanest ive ever seen the house. its been an incredibly show of organization, teamwork, and a desire to be a part of a community ritual (we couldnt allow everyone that wanted to come to the seder to come). its also a sign of warmer weather.

we're also running a series of bike mechanics workshops to get people up and on working bicycles. there's been a tremendous amount of interest to get back on the road (for commuting and recreation) but also to learn the tools to sustain one's own bike so as not to need to rely on a bike shop for maintenance. itll be a fun and team-building activity for the community.

and our winter csa's shares have been running for a few weeks now (partly a result of the local foods tu bshevat seder in february). the produce is a mix of local conventional and not local/organic. but its been an amazing way to reconnect to food in the off-season. given that, we're all excited for warmer weather and farmer's markets.

last summer the community was fairly quiet. to some extent i imagine the same will be the case this summer, with a focus on the outdoors and working on some ongoing projects that the house has established.

which all leads me to the question: is colder weather a harbinger of community building? if so, what does this mean? and given that summer is also a time of being out of town for students and young professionals, how can communities find ways to engage community members during the summer?

Worst April Fools Ever

Thankfully it did not happen to me, but it did happen to 489 people. On April 1st there were 489 false acceptance letters sent out to applicants to the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. They found out an hour later via email that they were not accepted and in fact they were rejected. Sucks. The funniest part is that NYU has stated that it was just a "clerical error."

To whoever those hackers are who are the cause of the "clerical error": That was really not cool, but I do give you props on an excellent hack-job.,1,3852054.story

Santa Barbarans ransack New Orleans

The month of March capped off with a special visit from Moishe House Commander in Chief David Cygielman. As one might expect, when a man of David’s profile travels he roles deep – bringing with him a posse of 20 hard hittin’ well-mannered thugs from the Santa Barbara B'nai B'rith Congregation youth group.

The mark this crew left on NOLA won’t soon be forgotten…

Got to give props to these kids. They gave three days of hard-time and volunteer service to the Broadmoor community, sweating in the sun, and breaking their backs to build back houses still in shambles from the hurricane.

To show our thanks we had the gang over for a good ol’ MH Shabbat chicken fest, and gosh-darn was it a blast. We ate ourselves silly, the kids hustled us in pool, cooked up some smores on the fire pit, and one little dude would have Dj’d an all night dance party if it weren’t for their curfew.

And when it was all said in done, David got all his little soldiers to fall in line and clean up the whole house.

Santa Barbara B'nai B'rith Youth Group, we salute you!

Vienna Blog: a Viennese Pessah recipe!

Shalom everyone,

we suppose that if you are reading this post right now, is that you are finish with your pessah cleaning! well done! and enjoy the hametz burning! You now have free time to write on your blog (or read other blogs), or maybe even cook something very special for your seder night! how about a good Viennese Carp Gefilte Fish???

So for those of you who just finich pessah cleaning the recipe is below;

For those who didn't finich cleaning (like us) just go to the kosher shop and buy everything already made. It won't be as good as a traditional Gefilte fish but at least you will have something to serve on your table!! :) :) :)

We wish you all a happy, beautiful, meaningful, and kosherful Pessah Sameah!!!

Love from Vienna!

Eytan, Daniel and Michael

Carp Gefilte Fish

4 pounds carp, ground
2 carrots, or 1 medium raw beet, peeled and grated
1 onion, ground
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons horseradish, white or red
1 cooked egg, mashed
1 teaspoon salt
Basic Fish Sauce.

In blender whip up onion, eggs, and vegetables. Combine with ground fish and all seasonings. Mix well and set aside.

Prepare Basic Fish Sauce, (water, onions, carrots, celery, and seasonings to taste) and heat to boiling. Form fish mixture into balls (wet hands with cold water), and drop carefully into 8 quart pot one at a time. When broth returns to a boil, lower flame, cover and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, depending on size of balls.

Remove balls from liquid, arrange on a large serving platter with a slice of carrot on each, and pour on a bit of the sauce if you want an aspic. Chill. Yields 12-18 portions.

Bonne Appetit!

Put a little Matzoh in your life.

Matzoh time has arrived. Gather round with family, friends, friends of family, friends of friends. Seder plates a many, extra horseradish here please! Chicken liver, not in this lifetime Mom. People don't really get drunk on Manischewitz anymore, didn't we all try it once at a Bar Mitzvah when we were 13? When I was a little kid, during Passover I would eat ham and cheese sandwiches at my Grandma's house for lunch. What if we ate Matzoh for a whole month? Who is up to the challenge, I just bought a 5 back of Matzoh at Costco. Remember when you were in 3rd grade and your brought matzoh to school and your friend made a funny face at what you were eating. You let him try it, and before he could even open his lips, you saw a look of bewilderment on his face. Why are you eating a sandwich made out of crackers, he said to you.

Once a year, for 8 or 9 days, it's not so bad. I like the tradition!

March - In like a lion, out like a...raincloud?? Reb, MHP

I know it's the first week in April, and trees are starting to flower and blooms are starting to sprout, but really? Rain? Cloudy weather? What's UP with that?! March was a great month for MHP - with the Purimpalooza collaboration at the beginning of the month, to everyone in our house getting some sort of weird, debilitating flu, to Brew Club and Book Club with some traditional Zimbabwean fare - I loved it. And hopefully it will get warmer and drier during Pesach. Enjoy that Chametz while you can!!!

Spring is here!

Ah, Spring is here! The flowers are blooming, Baseball is underway, and in only a few weeks, I’ll be free for the summer. Speaking of being free, I hope everyone has a pleasant Passover holiday coming up in a few days. Passover is one of those holidays that really brings it home how lucky we are, both as Jews and people, to live in the world we do today. With everything going on these days from our national problems with the economy, to global issues concerning terrorism, to all the little headaches that come along with everyday life, Passover is the time of year where we can lean back and remember that with everything going on, at least we have our freedom. We sometimes get bogged down with all the big things going on, we forget to appreciate the things we take for granted. We can only imagine what it must have been like to be slaves in Egypt, working long days in the hot sun making bricks, building pyramids, wondering why God would subject his people to this kind of unappealing life. Luckily today, all we can do is imagine because we live as free people, in a free country, without the burden of carrying out a Pharoah’s personal wishes. So even though Passover usually leaves us with the desire to stuff our faces with bread, a few extra boxes of matzah we probably wont use till next year, and an immediate need to insert fiber back into our diets, remember the lesson’s we learn from it; that even though it seems like times are rough, things could always be worse.

Rae- MHP March Blog

March was a great month. We had some great events at MHP, particularly a fabulous Purim Party that we co-sponsored with the Jewish Grad Network that featured the West Philadelphia Orchestra, the Rag Tag Belly Dancers, and some awesome drink specials courtesy of Marathon Grill; and a packed house for the Heymish/Birthright NEXT/MHP Shabbat- we even had Allen from MHSS drop in! In addition I went to Spain and Portugal, which was sunny and beautiful and I GOT A NEW JOB that I love. No complaints.

Ari - MHSF

I think nicknames are under appreciated. A nickname gives some insight about who you think you are, and perhaps more importantly, what other people have as an impression of you. I've gota few buddies that call me "the barista" for some reason. I've probably had 2 cups of coffee in my life, yet the name is starting to stick. maybe it's because the nickname shares the first three letters with my last name. who knows? the founder of all this is morris, yet he wanted to go by moishe. that leads to two questions: first, did he come up with "moishe" or did someone else start calling him that? second, why moishe? it's my understanding that he wanted to be called "moishe," and coming up with your own nickname is a risky proposition. i also think it's a little presumptious, but, oh well, it's all water under the bridge now.

so what's your nickname?

It Has Been a Great Ride...

April marks the last month I will be living in the East Bay Moishe House. During my 7.5 months living in a gorgeous house near Lake Merritt, I have learned a lot about myself, others and the Jewish community of the Bay Area. I have really enjoyed working and living together with some of my best friends. I have learned so much from the experience and I think the tools and skills I have acquired during my time living in the Moishe House will transfer into my next stage of life (whatever that may be).

I want to thank all of my roommates (Danny Blum, Ashley Warner, Brady Gill, Amelia Cunningham and Julia Pivnick) for all of their hard work and dedication to Moishe House. I would like to thank Summer Shapiro and Jeremy Moskowitz for all their support and leadership. Finally, I would like to thank each and every person who stepped through the door at the East Bay Moishe House. Without you, our vision wouldn't be possible.

MHSS Alan says "Passover has eaten me!"

I'm not Matza!

Yet I've been eaten by Passover.... we had a great month of events at mhss but now we're in the midst of the craziness that is Pesach prep.

I can't wait for the Birkat HaChama ritual we're doing this wednesday at sunrise. It's a blessing only said once every 28 years, when the sun was believed in Talmudic times to be completing a cycle started on the first day of creation.

Shabbat at MHSS 2 weeks ago was the biggest yet...40 people!

And we had the greatest time at the party we put on with MHDC. So many people showed up, and we raised over 750 $$ for Moishe Foundation and for Jews United For Justice through a date auction!
i have a new job, in oakland finally. its fun, i'm getting into it, and its helping me become settled here in oakland. lets hope this trend continues...
its a beautiful time of year here and our house is great for enjoying the weather. spring is here and that means passover! one of my favorite holidays! our seder is always loud, rowdy, unorganized, and exciting. it reminds me of some of the best childhood memories i have. its also my birthday month but 23 is not such an exciting birthday, mostly it feels like the pressure is really on to figure it all out, since i've been graduated for a while now. maybe i can hold off that reality a little longer.
overall, i'm hoping for april to bring promising opportunities and new ideas, both things that i could use a little more of right now.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

MHSeattle, Joel: Freedom

Here's one for Passover: I think liberation must always hurt, like when you've sat on your leg for a while and finally get up to move around. The muscles and nerves refill with life, and it hurts.

So next week we'll tell all of the stories about our ancestors' action-packed liberation from Pharaoh, and if we're being sophisticated we'll also talk about the internal resistance, all that kvetching and near-mutiny in the wilderness -- because liberation is tough and the Israelites knew it.

But I never get away with just the metaphors. Every year life gives me a real first-hand Passover lesson, and this year it is that I am being laid off by my floundering tech company, another statistic in the economic collapse. I just found out. My last day at work will be the day before first-night seder.

It's tough news. I've never been laid off before. It beats being fired, I guess, and it's even arguably better than sticking around a place that's falling apart, but it's scary to not have that security of knowing where the next paycheck comes from. I'm trying to take it all in the spirit of the season. Springtime: everything pushing through the dirt to come back to the fullness of life. And Passover: sweet freedom through a harrowing process. I'm excited, scared. Excited. Here we go!

March Madness indeed!

Much like the middle child, March is the forgotten month (at least for me) here in Silver Spring. Nestled between the dreariness of February's winter and the comforts of April's spring, March has no season to truly call its own, and brings us nothing but confusion. Is it still winter? Shorts weather? Do I still need gloves? Maybe just on one hand? Who knows???
But sometimes I value that uncertainty, because it keeps me on my toes!! I never bother checking in the winter, because I know it's gonna be cold as hell. But in March, well, it could go either way. How exciting! I was contemplating comparing this to Moishe House, and saying that my favorite part about MH is the diversity - of our housemates, events, community members... Every event and group of attendees is exciting and unique (like the snowflakes that may or may not be falling in March), and you never know what exactly you're going to get. But then I realized that was really cheesey, and besides, I'd be comparing MH to the middle child. We are definitely the oldest child. Actually, I'm an only child, so I don't know any of this stuff.
But I digress. Rather than compare March to MH, I'll compare it to the delicious Hamentaschen we baked for Purim, which was my favorite event of the month. G-d were they delish!!! And just like a day in March, you never knew what you were going to get. Poppyseed? Chocolate chips? Walnuts? Apricot? Chocolate chips AND walnuts (pretty sneaky, huh)? There's no way to know! I mean, unless you look at them before you eat...
So on second thought, maybe March should not be compared to Moishe House OR Hamentaschen. And I should probably never try to get creative again, or someone is bound to get hurt. Thank goodess I'm in law school, not writing school, and only have to write once a month...

Many Moishe House Hugs!


David P. - MHSF

Back by little, to no, demand...My Moishe Monthly Haikus!

Jews be eatin' food
Kibbutzin' and feelin' good
Kippah keepin' on

Ari is a noodle
Workin' in a nice office
Saucy and complex

Danny is classy
Is hummin' to his baby
Bridge away his bay

Sarah's joy today
The lost and found of Frisco
A bastion of hope

Ethics and Auctions at MHDC: "I made a G today." "But you made it in a sleazy way."

Due to a recent neck injury that sidelined me from kickball today, this month’s posting will be devoid of wit and humor.

March was one for the books at MHDC. Our Ethical Kashrut event, led by NYC-based activist and rabbinical student Ari Hart of the Orthodox social justice movement Uri L’tzedek, provided a compelling examination of the Jewish textual basis for worker’s rights, the importance of ethics in food preparation, and his organization’s campaign to introduce ethical certification at up-to-snuff kosher restaurants. We discussed the state of affairs of the kosher meat industry, including the shameful case of Agriproccesors, the gargantuan Postville, IA - based plant that supplies most of the kosher beef and poultry in the US, which, following a federal raid that exposed atrocious labor and human rights abuses, has left many Jews questioning how kosher their meat really is when it’s produced at the expense of the workers (most of whom are undocumented immigrants at Agriprocessors.)

Our date auction was (by most male accounts) a resounding success, and has led some to postulate that it may have done more to up the Tribe's birthrate than a Birthright. Our most recent Shabbat dinner was attended by a photographer from the Washington Post, so look out for an article on MHDC, most likely in the April 19 edition. Pesach begins this week, and as the last-born of the MHDC clan, I'd bet that our doorpost won't be slathered in any paschal juice.

חג שמח

The Importance of Charity

The following is a parable and lesson from the great Ben Ish Chai, I recently read this in a book called "Parables of the Ben Ish Chai", by Yaakov Kahn:

"Ten birds roosted upon our roof," the father said to his clever son. Along came four hunters and each shot one. How many birds were left on the roof?"
"Four!" replied the boy.
"Why do you you say that?" asked the father. "Don't you know your arithmettic? If four were killed, six were left."
The Boy calmly explained, "When the hunters fired their rifles," he said, "they must have made a  loud noise, frightening away the other birds. Thus, only the four dead birds who will no longer be frightened by any noise in the world remained. We can sell the birds and use the money!"
How right you are my son," beamed the father. "You are a clever lad!"

A person, with his limited vision, tends to think that the money he gives away to charity is gone, lost forever - 'dead', while the money he still owns is all his. It is 'live' money, to do with as he pleases. The father hinted to his son that the six birds on the roof were alive and his to enjoy, while the clever boy pointed out that the live birds could fly away and were not necessarily theirs to keep. The only ones they could be sure of were the four dead birds which would never 
fly away!

This is exactly how it is with money. The money a person thinks he possesses can easily leave him and go to another person while the money a person gives to charity is his eternally; for the reward of that good deed is set aside for him in the World to Come.

"If you lend money to My people, to the poor man in your midst..." (Shemot 22:24) - If you lend the money and give charity to the poor, that money will remain in your midst', that is, in your possession, forever! Such money cannot fly away to any other person for it is yours eternally and will accompany you to the World to Come.

Rabbi Asher Vaknin, our Rabbi who gives lectures for our Moishe House Monthly program in New York, also discusses the importance of giving money to the needy. He stresses that individually, the next time we come across someone asking you for some money, if they are asking for a small amount, we should not hesitate, and we should just give the money; rather than trying to convince ourselves that maybe the person is trying to scam us. The fact remains, that the person is asking for money.

As a Moishe House, after reading the parable and these lessons, I hope that we can all be inspired to run a Moishe House event that would focus on raising money for a specific charity or even as a fundraiser for Moishe House.  

I wish you all a Happy Passover,

Joey Yadgar
Moishe House Great Neck