Wednesday, September 30, 2009
One of the reasons Moishe House is so amazing, is that we have the power to envision and create the type of community we want. As we are writing this, we realize that we have not yet sat down as a house, to discuss our actual vision and mission together. In the meantime, before we can do this as a House (one resident is currently climbing Mt. Whitney until Friday), here is what we have:
Within a year, we want our old and new friends and networks to be actively involved in our community whether it is planning programs, participating in programs, and/or just coming to the House to hang out and have a great conversation. Moishe House Orange County will be a comfortable gathering center where old friends and new friends hang out, celebrate Shabbat together, surf, drink good wine, debate Torah, have a jam session, watch a great sports game, and all sorts of other types of activities we love doing together. Within our first year, a clear structure and vision will be in place for the direction we plan to grow our community in.
In 3 years, we want Moishe House Orange County to continue growing and expanding beyond the networks we have already established. We see it as a place where both old networks and new networks of community members gather and do the types of activities we all want to do, under one roof, together. There will be multiple leadership opportunities to empower Moishe House Orange County’s residents and community members. We will have secured at least short- term financial support from other organizations and local philanthropists interested in supporting our House.
Within 5 years, many of the original participants in Moishe House will have “graduated” from the target age group that Moishe House engages. We envision that these seasoned graduates will be so impacted by our House that they will continue to support and impact Moishe House by bringing their friends and networks of the 20-something age group to the Moishe House Orange County community. In 5 years, Moishe House Orange County’s residents and community will be empowered, innovative, active, entrepreneurial participants of Moishe House, planning unique programs that will engage the broad, diverse young Jewish adult community in Orange County. Moishe House Orange County will also have secured long- term funding from outside organizations, invested Moishe House Orange County participants, and local philanthropists. This diverse funding will allow Moishe House Orange County to be self- sustainable and continue growing.
Moishe House means something different to each person, which is a beautiful thing! The impact that Moishe House Orange County will have on the Jewish young adult community in Orange County will be multi-faceted. We see it as a place for our community to grow spirituality, hang out and watch a sports game, participate in social events, meet new friends and continue hanging out with old ones, network, participate and/or plan the types of programs we want to do together, volunteer at a local homeless shelter, and maybe even meet a future partner! Each Moishe House Orange County resident and community member has a different vision and reason for being involved in the Moishe House community. When Moishe House Orange County meets the pluralistic spiritual, social, leadership, financial goals of all involved, then we will have achieved our goal. It will not happen overnight, but this is the type of community we are striving for, and excited to be a part of and helping build!
Stay tuned for next month and check our “official” mission and goals!
Moishe House Orange County Roomies
This is Alan in Silver Spring Maryland, reporting to your from my hectic life. Besides for the fall holidays which currently surround and vex me, and preparing for my upcoming travels which will take me away from MHSS for a long time, I have...
+ moving within the house, putting much of my belongings in storage
+ helping old friends moving back to Maryland
+ getting to and from the places I will be celebrating Sukkot and Shemini Atseret
+ doctors appointments galore (she's worried about my blood pressure)
+ my 9-5 job
+ house event planning!
+ house cleaning!
+ accomodating and welcoming our newest Moishketeer, Benjamin
+ attending to social obligations
+ setting up the house Sukkah and harvesting fresh bamboo for the roofing Schach
+ and more and more and more.
Sometimes I like to reflect upon my life and realize I truly have only two speeds -- rushed, and sedentary. It's always either friday afternoon preparing for a big Shabbat dinner, or it's sunday morning and I can sleep forever. Maybe this is why my blood pressure is so high.
My favorite MHSS event of the past few weeks was when we sat down with pizza and fries (hectically-acquired, of course) and 15 friends and community members to watch 25th Hour, one of my favorite movies. Unlike my life, it's a slowly-unfolding, atmospheric film, almost a mediation. It's particularly good for the High Holiday season because it's about facing the consequences of your actions. It also takes place in my hometown of New York, a few months after the September 11th attacks, which hover about in the background of the story of Monty Brogan's (Ed Norton) last day before heading off to prison for seven years on drug charges.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Three months ago, I wrote my very first Moishe House blog. Now, looking back, the first thing that comes to mind is that time really does fly. Although I was very excited to be living in MHP three months ago, I was also quite overwhelmed at the time, struggling to juggle my Moishe House responsibilities with work, grad school applications, friends, family, etc. There just didn’t seem to be enough time in the day for everything, and I was beginning to feel like my Moishe House commitments were more like chores, rather than things I actually enjoyed doing.
It’s funny how quickly things have changed though. Even though I’m just as busy as I was three months ago (if not more so), my Moishe House tasks now feel fun and much less burdensome. I have tried to identify when exactly this shift in outlook ocurred, but I don’t think there was a particular moment when suddenly things fell into place. Instead, I think Moishe House life just took some time to get used to, and now that I’ve gotten the hang of things, I really love my life here at MHP. Whether it's mingling at Shabbat dinners, getting messy while making challah, or preparing for break fast-- I am having a blast and can't wait for the rest of the fall! It took a while, but I have finally settled in here at MHP.
As we nibbled on homemade pancakes, quiche and bagels, we got a glimpse into the experience that the students had while travelling; meeting the man who was with Martin Luther King, Jr the day he was shot, visiting Ellis Island and rural synagogues in the south, and learning about the civil rights movement from the soil it was born on in Alabama and Mississippi. There was no agenda that morning; I simply wanted to give the students a chance to speak about their experience and for our Moishe community to learn about this great organization.
The students, most of them rising high school juniors, were all extremely excited and willing to open up about their experience on the tour. They all had unique and meaningful answers to the questions posed to them. Some chose to join the program because their parents made them while others joined on their own in an effort to explore their own background. Some of them had many “wow” moments while others were still processing the experience as a whole. They were all energized to take the knowledge they had attained back to their communities and schools. Many of them said this wouldn’t be easy as social justice isn’t exactly trendy in high schools and many of them felt they couldn’t properly convey the experience they had just had to their peers. Regardless, they were all motivated to keep the energy from their trip going.
With these four compelling students leading the morning, I had a chance to sit back and look around the room. In the corner was Ilana, a union organizer and a leader in the progressive Jewish community here in DC. I noticed Dan, a Teach for America alumni who I had met while doing a board training through Avodah/ AJWS. There was a woman who works in international development and another who works in environmental affairs. There were teachers and non-profit professionals and students in the room. For us, social justice is trendy. It is a big part of our everyday lives and what keeps us going in the world. At least for me, I never think that my work could be perceived as uncool or that this is a barrier to creating awareness or mobilization. For these students however, they have the challenge of making their voices heard on issues like racism, anti-Semitism, prejudice and social justice with the knowledge that they may fall on idle or even bullying ears.
To me, the magic of that morning was seeing how organically this program really changes the perspective of these young people. They learn and grow together in a way that really fosters empowerment and they are able to take away from this experience a clear changing point in their lives. Above all, the morning was a reminder that the motivation to do good work, to continue to live a righteous life, can come from gathering a group of peers to hear the voices of some inspiring and well-spoken youth.
It's quite a coincidence that the start of my MH term and Jewish year overlap! I’m at the tail end of my first month of Moishe House Silver Spring which means sorting through the training binder, boxes of old toiletries and miscellaneous clothing packed in haste, and the early morning bus schedules to downtown.
You're right to expect me to say that it's been wonderful/amazing/a good fit because it has been all of those. The main adjustment is wrapping my head around the freedom and responsibility I have as part of the MH community. I'm honored to have this opportunity to pursue my passions through the supportive framework of housemates, local partnerships, and my connection to Judaism. I can't wait to see where this will take me!
But for now I'm left with tons of lofty goals and dusty knickknacks at Moishe House Silver Spring.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Three days ago, Nathaniel – my boyfriend and co-host of the Providence Moishe House – surprised me with an early birthday present: a 2-hour session with a fabulous astrologer. While discussing my chart, naturally we landed on the topic of Nathaniel and my relationship. Although our overlapping charts make 5 trines (three planets within the same element together forming an equilateral triangle), which indicates incredible romantic compatibility, we both have Mars in Scorpio, which makes us very competitive, manifesting itself as a difficulty engaging in intellectual discussions together. (Don't worry, this is gonna relate back to Moishe in a sec.) The astrologer suggested something Nathaniel and I had already been considering, namely reading a book, watching a movie series, taking a class, or doing some other intellectual activity together about a topic that is not too asymmetrically situated on either of our 'intellectual turf.' Meanwhile, as mentioned in my house post for this month, Nathaniel and I are recently looking to expand our programming into more Jewish learning. So when the astrologer gave his advice, of course I thought of Moishe, and of doing an intellectual activity oriented towards Judaism. As a Moishe House hosted by only two people in a romantic relationship, Nathaniel and I are well aware of our sensitive situation and the fact that it's the last of its kind. But in this case, our Moishe House goals and our relationship are beautifully aligned. So.....yo Moishe community, do you have any books, online classes, or other activities to recommend? We're thinking Kabbalah, but open to other possibilities.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
The J community in SA is very conservative, and tends towards being quite Orthodox, especially in Joburg. Here, if you're not following the orthodox lifestyle, you're doing something wrong.
This attitude has left many young Jews in our wonderful community 'stranded' with regards to their Judaism. They feel that Judiasm is an archaic, boring way to live your life. This is why Moishe House is so important. It offers them an alternative that they can't get anywhere else.
I believe that in a year, Moishe House in Joburg will become intrenched as a 'space of choice' for many Jews. it will be well known as a Jewish organization like any other, but it's impact will not yet be complete.
Once three years have past, I think that the number of young Jews that Moishe touches will begin to become involved in Jewish communal affairs, impacting on policy and decision-making.
Perhaps in five years, Moishe House will be larger, with events every week. By this stage, the community will be opened minded and tolerant, allowing for many different means of jewish expression and thought. although Moishe will not be the only organization advocating this approach, it will be one of the most influential and respected.
This vision will happen, and we are well on our way in making it a reality.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Last year, for Yom Kippur, I spent the day with my partner going over the past year, asking: what were the challenges of the past year? What was most exciting and meaningful about the year? What are my personal goals for the upcoming year? What would I like to change/improve? This exercise was challenging--it's often not easy to stare at my flaws and foibles in the face--but incredibly useful. And, in lieu of the tumult of the last few weeks, I think that a similar exercise is warranted for this year. So, here are a few of my personal/professional goals relating to my involvement in the Moishe House Boston that I'm currently mulling over.
1. Balance my work life (both at Moishe House and also, my other, full-time job) with ny need for alone time, time with friends, and self-care. It seems that the work can expand endlessly, and it is very easy, given that I am living in at the Moishe House, to lose any boundaries.
2. Keep up with my housecleaning chores.
3. Develop skills in organizing. I am excited about the prospect of cultivating Jewish leaders and empowering community members to claim ownership over their community. This is something that is still new for me, and somewhat daunting.
4. Being open to constructive feedback from fellow housemate and community members.
5. Retain the pleasure that I had originally experienced through being involved as a community member in the Moishe House community now as a housemate.
Shana Tovah to everyone! To another year of growth and joy....
Mission: Moishe House Boston: Kavod Jewish Social Justice House is an innovative grassroots organization, striving to create a welcoming and vibrant Jewish community for people in their 20s and 30s, and to connect them with social action and community-building opportunities in Boston and beyond.
Goals of Moishe/Kavod House
1. Create an inclusive community of young Jews and activists through Shabbat dinners, social action, Jewish learning, and the arts.
2. Connect the Jewish community with social action and ‘world repair’ tikkun olam work.
3. Train and develop young Jewish leaders to build community, organize social action work, and run Jewish programming.
These goals and mission are pretty high level, so how do we achieve them in the short- and mid-term? Well, we recently elected a community board, whose role is to create short- and long-term goals and to make sure that our programming serves our mission/goals. The housemates serve on the board, but we are in the minority, so that the community itself is empowered to set our direction.
Given this, I can’t exactly say what our 1, 3, and 5 year goals are, because that is a process that the board is about to begin. I can say that in general we are moving towards a model where housemates serve as weavers and organizers, and community members serve not only as participants but also as organizers and leaders themselves. We are also thinking about “building power” in the wider Boston Jewish community, so that when people at the federation think of either “young Jews” or “social justice,” they think of us, and think to include us in the conversation. In that way, even as we continue to engage Jews “on the fringe,” we hope both to become part of the mainstream Jewish conversation, and help shift it towards our values of youth empowerment, leadership development, and social justice orientation.
I can also give my personal opinion on our goals, though again, this is just my opinion, and it is the community board who will decide.
In my view, our goal in one year is to have a functioning board that sets goals and strategy for the community, and helps us raise the funds we need to cover our ever expanding community’s needs. I also hope that we will put in place stronger membership, communications, and finance structures that will make our community more transparent, easy to enter, and easy to manage.
In three years, I think our challenge will be to be sustainable without the leadership of our original members and founders, since at least I will be graduating from rabbinical school and possibly leaving Boston. Or, if the original leaders choose to stay involved, our challenge will be to find new roles for them and others that allow for new people to take leadership and ownership of the community while supporting our wider growth. On a social justice front, we hope to be able to run a major campaign that makes a difference on some issue, where we engage all the parts of our community – learning Jewishly about the issue, doing art related to the issue (e.g. posters and murals), connect the issue to Jewish practice, and work with other social justice groups to make an impact. We are trying that out this year, but I hope that in three years we can do it in an even bigger way. I also hope that in three years our membership, finance, development, and communications structures will not only be in place but will be growing in effectiveness and community-participation.
Our five year plan has some big question-marks. There is widespread debate in our community about whether we want to stay as a 20s-only organization or “age-up,” continuing to include our members now even if they are “too old” to be part of Moishe House. Many of our older members want to stay involved, even if it means finding non-Moishe funding to support our programs for people in their 30s. So, I think we will have to have some hard conversations about our direction, both on the board level, the community level, and the funding level. Whatever happens on that front, in five years I hope that we have a clear process of goal-setting and tracking, that we are engaging even more people in the wider Boston Jewish community, and that we are more successfully integrating the different aspects of our work. I also hope that we not only continue to engage and develop young leaders, but that we also create a replicable process to do so, so that our leaders can teach new people how to lead, and so that our model can help other Moishe Houses and other Jewish organizations to outreach and organizing in a more effective and empowering way.
May we all be blessed this year with clarity of vision and strength to carry it out. Shanah tovah!
The event was potluck, and we were each asked to bring a food reminiscent of our holidays. We were also asked to send in our recipes, and we are making a cookbook of Jewish and Muslim holiday recipes. The food was amazing, and so was the vibe. Towards the end, two different Muslim participants said something to the effect of, “I have always loved the holidays in part because I get to celebrate with my family.
Today I have a new appreciation, because I’m gaining a wider family of the Jewish community with whom to celebrate this holy time.”
As our new housemate Michelle said at the end of the night, the event was powerful not only because it was great to get to know another culture and create inter-religious relationships. It was also powerful because we felt we were making a public statement, that despite all the tensions between the Jewish and Muslim communities, we young Jews and Muslims believe that a different kind of relationship is possible. If we can start with what we have in common and cultivate real friendships, we are in a much better position to work for peace here and abroad.
That said, the point of our work is not only to be able to talk about the tensions between us. This celebration was not only the appetizer before the real meal of debate and dissent. For us, building relationships with this community is powerful work on its own, sending a message to the wider Jewish and Muslim communities, and the wider world in general, that meaningful and positive Jewish-Muslim relationships are possible when we work for them.
Monday, September 21, 2009
As you know, our house has a very multicultural flavor:
We have here Danny the Israeli/Austrian, Michael the Austrian/Russian and Eytan the French/British.
So you can imagine how interesting it is to live in such a environment. when a stable economy; but when new election arises you (who takes which responsability) or world issues break (responsibility not kept), Im sure you can imagine how tight things can go: The concerned countries would just take action for their own interest and world wars can happen g-d forbid.
Well in our Peaceful Moishe house Vienna, we try to prevent all this by looking at the source of most of the issues: misunderstanding, or to be even more precise Multiculturalmisunderstanding.
Over the time, we learnt how to take more time to listen to each other, and avoid jumping into any conclusion before making sure we understand each other.
When before shabbat (when the house is the most likely to turn into a battlefield) two of us would start to argue, we institued in the Moishe House Vienna Civil Law that the third one is obligated to stop what ever his doing in order to help them to resolve the argument. (mostly done by sending one in room and one in another.)
But thanks G-d, everything goes well and we are very good friend, even in quite stressful and challenging time.
Wishing you a sweet year, with good health, success and happyness!
Daniel, Michael, Eytan
Monday, September 14, 2009
The high holidays are knocking out our doors and I do believe I am ready. Moishe Life continues to be a treat and a trip. We has a reporter from HaAretz come to check out what we do for a Friday night. David Cygileman appeared. And well it became a strange kind of party where people randomly disappeared to talk to the reporter and then emerged with a little glow. The reported seemed very much to find some kind of conflict but there was really no dirt to dish. She mostly wanted to know if we smoked weed in the house and what happens when someone brings too much raucous. We love awkward situations in the MHSS and I have not smelled anything funny in the house in well .... ever, so maybe she was disappointed. Oh well. We aim to please , not to be home wreckers.
Life is very busy. We have some fun things coming up, We got invited to a Carelbach shabbat at a local shul and they will feed our community members dinner. We have new members upon us that will bring some young juice to the out cocktail . And Hoboken visited us. And we love them.
See you all soon!
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Hi Moishe Houseniks Int'l--
At Moishe House Portland, we need to work on our coordinating, among other things, so this is Becca here speaking and not the Moishe House collectively. The last couple times we pooled ideas, but this end of summer and approaching High Holiday time is a little crazy. Anyhow, if we switch off over time, you'll get all of our input, and I hope my input is still valuable!
Here are some of the obstacles we've run into:
* Coordinating: scheduling conflicting events, struggling to find times to meet
* Teamwork: overall is pretty positive, but we've had trouble supporting each others' events and working styles
* Recruiting: for a while we had a gender imbalance, and we've had lulls in our recruiting, although overall we do pretty well
* House management: cleaning, accountability for various chores and tasks, working things out with Landlord, etc
I'm proud to say that we are working on all of these issues. We know we have trouble syncronizing our schedules, so we try to get ahold of each other in advance. This also involves understanding each other as leaders. For example, I know Jodi needs advance notice for even a 15 minute discussion. Or we can talk about it while lounging on Shabbos. :) I know Jeremy's available in late evenings, and that Rachel usually gets home around 5pm at which point she is fine with talking about anything. My roommates probably understand that I'm good with email. Since there's only 4 of us, it helps to approach each individual according to what they respond to best.
Our teamwork has come quite a ways. Although I don't have the luxury of this perspective, the current state of Moishe House is bliss compared to even a year ago, but times have changed. Yay! Throughout our meetings, we've each been very honest with each other about our strengths and weaknesses. I'd say we all impress each other with our strengths, and yes, we may be a little disappointed with our weaknesses, but we promote a healthy sense of self-awareness, I believe. Like, if I said, "Rachel, I thought we talked about this over email," and she said, "Oh, I thought we talked about this at the meeting with the calendar," we'll both just realize our lackings and resolve it. From there I learn to be more aware of the calendar and be more concise in my emails and she learns to try to track the Moishe House emails better. I think we're able to talk about things in a constructive way without getting defensive.
This self-awareness has grown organically between us over time, and from our efforts at bonding. We had a bonding weekend and that was a lot of fun. We played games aimed at trusting and just had a great time. Although we've had conflicts, that's natural. I'm impressed that we're really able to resolve them in a healthy way.
I think I've addressed a couple of the most important ones. Gotta save something for the next blog. ;) I'm proud of us as a group and hope we keep moving forward!
L'shannah Tovah to you all!
We create a weekly matrix spreadsheet designating what everyone's responsibility is for the day. Responsibilities are divided in three categories - trash, dishes and wiping. So the person that takes out the trash also sweeps the floors. The person who wipes, dusts and disinfects the kitchen area. And finally the person who does the dishes makes sure there are no dirty dishes left overnight. These tasks only concern the common area, our personal areas are up to each one of us to take care of. We also decided to pitch in to have a cleaning lady to come twice a month to clean the bathrooms and do a more thorough cleaning of the entire apartment. Between the four of us that only comes out to $50 a person a month. Cleaning up after events is designated to the person who is responsible for that event (which is a whole another topic for another time maybe). The person is responsible for either cleaning himself or delegating cleaning tasks to others. To make things fair we agreed that at least two of us should be cleaning at any one event. Finally things such as cleaning supplies and common household items such as toilet paper are bought by taking turns. For example, if I buy supplies this month, someone else in our house buys it the next.
I hope this is helpful to some of you who are struggling with similar issues.
August was a great and packed month, so it's time to share... ;)
We had guest speakers, quiz, activities, ideological talks and lots of good time.
I think the best night we had was 'The amazing race'! We planted riddles all around Cape Town and the goal was to get all of them. was so fun and such a great turnout.
We had an issue,
Like I said this month was packed with events and lots of people came to the bayit, but as you guys know when everybody leaves the house look like a mess.
We didn't really like it and it's annoying to clean after people all the time.
So we decided that every time we having an event we get some people to stay for 5-10 min and help cleaning.
It's actually turned to be such a nice culture.
We put some music , chat with the moishehouse guests, bond with them and it's an opportunity to get feedback and to grow.
well, that's it for now.
MH Cape Town
Moishe House Los Angeles is in the process of entering our second blessed month of living together and providing a public hermitage for a large, dynamic, and progressive Los Angeles Jewish Community. Needless to say that we are still going through the growing pains of learning to live together, learning to learn together, and learning to work together. As much as we portray and evoke the imagery of a happy village, this definitely isn’t
What we have noticed is that there has been a natural/organic creation of roles in the house. For instance, whenever we have an event at our house that involves cooking for a good number of people, it’s safe to assume that Leo and Benjie are going to be cooking. Why, they love to cook, are much better at it than me, and always cook up something marvelous…I mean these guys actually use measuring cups to make sure the appropriate amount of ingredients are included in the recipe, whereas I just throw stuff in a pot until it smells good. Other roles that have just been naturally taken on include correspondence, like writing a blog, preparing a calendar, and reaching out within and outside of the community, house maintenance, and internet support.
A potential challenge that may arise from the delineation of natural roles is ensuring that the person undertaking a said role(s) does not become burned out with it. Sure Benjie and Leo love to cook, but maybe they might not want to for one Shabbat, and maybe someone else does. There are certainly other examples when a certain member may feel that they are taking on a role too frequently, or not frequently enough. To this I say, the only entity on the planet earth more necessary for human survival than water is communication. A simple question or inquiry goes a very long way, especially when living with four other dynamic, overt, and very “Jewish” personalities. A potential adverse effect resulting from the lack of communication is passive aggressive resentment, one of the worst poisons afflicting an otherwise healthy social cohesion. Having regular meetings to discuss house dynamics and to air out grievances in a controlled and honest setting yields open communication and the chance to ask each other questions about our roles and if we need help with them, or need them altered. That being said, it’s imperative to be conscious of the modus operandi of our communication, especially when communicating conflict, lest we potentially find ourselves dealing with the conflict of communication rather than the conflict itself. For instance, it may do well to avoid “bi-conditional” statements such as, “if this continues then this will happen,” rather than statements that leave a more favorable aftertaste, such as the aftertaste of resolution. Bi-conditional statements may have the effect of sounding enjoining, rather than offering variables for conflict resolution.
The natural, organic delineation of work roles in the house is a blessing. That said, even blessings need maintenance in order to remain positive elements of our daily lives as individuals as well as a collective with an individual mission. As we enter the Holy Chagim when we are charged with asking ourselves some rather epochal questions, perhaps a reoccurring question should be one of communication. How effective have we communicated with ourselves and our community, and how can we perpetually improve upon personal and social communication.
From all at MoHoLA, L’Shana Tova and Gemar Chatimah Tovah
Love and Light
Monday, September 7, 2009
At Moishe House Great Neck everybody we tended to split up the duties of the house. This was great because each one of us was able to contribute in our way; for example, whenever we had a Shabbat Dinner, one person would handle marketing the event, while another would handle programming, another would handle shopping, the last one would handle cooking. But, we then ran into issues of communication about some of the upcoming events. We therefore decided to make a point of having house meetings where we would be able to plan events together and allowing us to make sure that we were all on the same page. Since making this change we found that our events have been a lot stronger.
Wishing all of you a Happy New Year and a Gmar Chatima Tova,
Moishe House Great Neck
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Well it's certainly been a while since I last posted, what with going traveling, beginning a new job, and settling back into ye ole Moishe House routine. I thought I would come back into the world of blogging by just sharing some thoughts on one of the fun things about living in a Moishe House - the freeloading Jew syndrome.
As part of an international network of Jewish program houses there are a few things that come with the territory, I'm sure we are all aware. That one thing I'm talking about right now is how we help Jews around the world freeload and mooch in order to foster this strange feeling known as Jewish community spirit. Recently we here at MHPhiladelphia had two Argentinian girls stay with us as they were traveling through the Northeast corridor. They were very sweet, kind, and gentle ladies who were eager to please (they bought us nice wallets!). It was a pleasure to have them here and be able to show them around a little bit.
For those of you who this has not happened to yet, I'm sorry, because it is a great way of meeting people from around the world. We in Philly are lucky enough to have hosted 3 or 4 (I can't remember) sets of Argentines in our house! Even the illustrious Elana Rosenbaum of MH Buenos Aires fame herself came to stay with us for a while. It is truly a pleasure to meet people from other countries/cultures/etc and chat with them about my city, their city, and more.
I hope you all out there get to do this sometime soon if you haven't already. Heck, while you are gearing up, let me know if I can crash on your couch!
Moishe House Philly
Saturday, September 5, 2009
An issue we've struggled with since the beginning of the year is keeping the fourth room of our house filled. Rebecca, who moved in just before spring, and Nicole Guidry, who arrived at the start of summer, both ended up leaving the house, and we didn't want the turnover to happen a third time.
While both Rebecca and Nicole were and are bright, energetic people with great ideas and a lot to offer a project such as Moishe House Seattle, we may not have done enough to determine how good of a fit they'd be with our house. Rebecca was very busy with her job at a local nonprofit, about which she was passionate, and rightly so. She found herself having to balance the demands of her challenging work life with the not insignificant demands of a committed romantic relationship. A person only has so much energy, and at the end of the day, while Rebecca always contributed what she could to our programming, living here was beginning to burn her out. Nicole, also a busy person and also committed to a relationship, was similarly at a place in her life where she might be better as an event attendee than as a resident-organizer.
Zara, like the other residents of that fourth room, has a lot going on in her life, but she seems to be at a place, emotionally and otherwise, where living at Moishe House Seattle makes sense. Though Masha, Steven, and I don't have crystal balls, we think the third time will be the charm. Zara is excited to join MHS the way we were when we first applied and were accepted, and she seems very committed to finding the right balance in her life between non-Moishe personal activities and Moishe programming and community-building. Her recent return from Israel also makes her an excellent resource on matters Israeli, which our house had to some extent in Steven but obviously has even more of now.
All in all, the lesson learned was to take a little more time in choosing a new resident-organizer, and to really think about whether the person we choose is likely to be in it for at least the semi-long haul. And we think Zara is going to be an excellent fit.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Please describe an instance where your house has had an issue (e.g. trouble with events, house dynamics, logisitics etc.) and discuss how the house resolved the issue, and what was learned.
As one of the few outposts of Jewish community in Beijing, at Moishe House Beijing's inception we announced our presence to the two local minyanim, one lay-led egalitarian and the other being Chabad. It has always been our challenge how much we want to integrate ourselves with these more established community hubs. We had one learning event with a young Chabad rabbi in his 20s about kashrut, which went well, and he and his family even attended some of our other activities as participants.
The second time we invited him to lead a study session, though, we allowed him to pick the topic- love and sex. We quickly observed that his point of view was not reflective of our own, and his manner of engaging it was at times offensive to most of our participants. We then had to talk out the issue together- should we continue to invite him on the grounds of pluralism, or do we disagree enough with some of his points and his speaking style that we do not want him back?
We continue to dialogue with him about Moishe House events, and take each instance on its own merits. However, we decided not to invite him to lead any more events because, although we support pluralism, we also have a vision of the safe space we want to create in our home that befits the makeup of our Beijing Jewish community.
"Lesson Learned" - Please describe an instant where your house has had an issue (e.g. trouble with events, house dynamics, logistics etc.) and discuss how the house resolved the issue, and what was learned.
A few months back we had a spiritual salon planned with the rabbinical intern from synagogue in Hoboken. The rabbinical intern was going to lead the discussion and many community members were looking forward to this event. The day of the event the rabbinical intern was sick and we were not informed until a few hours before the event. The community members were not only excited for this event but had also rearranged their schedules to be able to come. We didn't feel that it was fair to cancel the event at the last minute, but it was too late for us to prepare a new discussion from scratch. With only a few hours to spare we decided to have an Israeli night. We bought hummus, pita, made falafel, and watched The Zohan. Everyone who came was very understanding of our changing the event and they all had a great time. Both my roommates and myself had to come together at the last minute to create a new event, when we could have just as easily canceled the event altogether (but we didn't want to let down our community members). We didn't let the stress get the best of us and we were able to come together as a house and create a successful event, even if it was at the last minute.
"Lesson Learned" - Please describe an instant where your house has had an issue (e.g. trouble with events, house dynamics, logistics etc.) and discuss how the house resolved the issue, and what was learned.
We seem to go through different themes with events, we either have way way way too much help or way way way too little help. We never hit the median. Shabbat Dinners are our stand in event so we end up having lots of clean up and preparation to make sure everyone gets fed, our attendance ranges from about 20 - 30, sometimes over. We have events where people will start to clear their own plates and even wipe down our tables and then we have events where people seem to leave anything and everything. In the past what we have tried to do is make distinct times where things occur. As in there is a distinct time in which we cook everything, then we eat, then there is a clean up time after that we encourage everyone to help with. We try and kind of guilt people into doing it saying that they are at Moishe House but it is also our house, and after everyone leaves we have to clean up whatever is left only to have to do it again next week. Its our version of the Never-ending Story except no flying dogs, rock monsters, and princesses. In the end, though we have some clean up work to do after every event, we just try to make sure to share it between all of us and sometimes if someone in particular made a mess last night, we ask them specifically to come over and clean it. On a higher level, we try and let everyone know that even though our house may feel like a college party some nights, it is still our house and should be kept clean. We are also trying to have more events outside of our house either at other venues, other houses, or just even outside our house where we can just hose everything down to clean it off. All these items together have definitely helped keep our place much cleaner and each of out of each other's hair about how dirty our house is sometimes.
Hello everyone from sunny Orange County!
We now have been a Moishe House for a little more than two months, and it has been a great experience so far with lots of programs, fun, challenges, and even a few mistakes!
An issue we have run into recently has been a decline in our house meetings, and just overall communication between us as residents in general. When we first began running Moishe House Orange County, we were meeting once a week to check- in, evaluate past programs, house operations, plan for successful future programs, and just talk with each other in general.
Over the past month though, these meetings just sort of stopped happening. We could blame it on a number of things, (vacations, travel schedules, work, and/or being too laid back), but the bottom line is that these meetings just stopped happening. This resulted in a few bumps for past and upcoming programs and just hurt our overall communication as a House. We were then forced to scramble quickly and creatively to make ensure that some programs that we wanted to make happen actually happen. The decline in house meetings and overall communication unfortunately hurt our house dynamics and our goal of building Jewish community in Orange County.
This issue is something we are very aware of now and working hard to correct and remedy it. We are meeting next week (after we get back from our Labor Day Weekend vacations) to get back on track and reestablish a strong system of communication in our House between us residents, and begin meeting once a week to ensure we continue building community and having fun as a House! Although inner- House communication was an issue during August, we are channeling it in a positive way. This issue has created a wonderful opportunity for us to strengthen our communication, work as a more cohesive House and team, manage our time better, set weekly meetings, and stay organized and on track!
Have a meaningful, reflective month during these Days of Awe and we cannot wait to update you on our House and community in October!
The Moishe House Orange County Team
We are a happy moishe house and it was hard to think of a problem or issue that was relevant to put in the blog.
The only time that we remember to have a confrontation or an issue was some months ago when we where doing a party on our house and a jewish young member called R (we keep his name for security reassons) drank too much and started to bother some girls.This girls complained with us because they were not having a good time because of R state of drunkness. We didn´t want him to go away at first,so politely we asked him to behave properly.Ten minutes later he started to bother again,and we decided to ask him to go (it was the first time we asked somebody to go from our Home).He didn´t want it,so we asked to a close friend of him to take him to his home.And when this friend wanted to take him out, R started to throw up,really disgusting (you can imagine).Finally we took him out and his friend left R in his home and came back to the party (because it was an awesome party!!).
One day After R called us asking for sorry,we talked by phone about what happened and nowadays he is one of the moishe members who almost always come to our events.
Beautiful life to
Aside from the day to day running of our house there is, however, an underlying issue behind everything that we are doing: we each have different answers to the question of why we are doing it.
The aims of MoHoLo can be either of the following options for each of the residents: to challenge British Jewish institutions and their definitions of who is a Jew or to supplement synagogue life; to forge a distinct approach to Judaism by bringing together ideas from different Jewish traditions or to provide a space for all Jews to feel comfortable in each of their own approaches to Jewish life; to create a stable, continuous institution in MoHoLo or to spend a few years inspiring other London Jews to run their own grass roots Jewish events like a ripple on effect; to provide a space for events for the local community or only for the Jewish community.
Often smaller disagreements can be seen to reflect on one of these underlying issues of our whole purpose. The tension between these different positions was not clear until February when we ran a “blue sky thinking” session, taking a step back from our logistical weekly and monthly meetings in a special and strictly non-tachles meeting. There each of us spelt out her/his idea of what the house is all about. We did this again a few months later after Brett and Lianna had joined the house. The more it was discussed the clearer any tensions became and the easier it has become to create a shared vision. Ultimately it is clear that the tensions are a healthy part of what we are doing, with each of us bringing something different to the MoHoLo project. Bringing these differences into the open by continuing to have these separate “visioning” meetings is really important, ensuring that we all understand where each other is coming from.
Recently, realising that only half the house residents are Moishe House London founders, we have begun thinking about how the vision of the founders can be preserved for future house members to take forward. This might involve bringing these underlying and creative tensions even further into the light.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The Moishe House housemates, and the housemate selection team, were at a loss! Who could replace this spot at such short notice? With such a vibrant community, the thought of having fewer than 4 housemates seemed daunting, but at the same time, the options seemed really limited. That's where I come in. I have been an active member of the Moishe House Boston community for the last 3-4 years, and had even, at one point, seriously considered moving into the house. I knew all the other housemates, as well as many members of the community, and had assumed some leadership roles in the past. And, it turns out, I was looking for a place to live and was about to sign a lease, when one of the housemates called me, after consulting with the other housemates and housemate selection team, and asked me about whether I would fill in the role. The decision had to made, and quickly.
From my perspective, it is a testament to the thoughtfulness and open communication of the other housemates that I was able to make a decision--and with enthusiasm-- decided to move into the house. They each reached out to me, and gave me a place to voice my concerns. Each asked me to talk through my considerations with them and explicitly articulated that, though I would be joining so last minute, that my thoughts, ideas, needs, etc would be honored with the same weight as theirs. Moreover, the three housemates have designed an impressive housemate retreat for this weekend that will be a time to talk explicitly about division of responsibilities, expectations, needs, boundaries between personal and public space, and any other lingering concerns. Carving out this time is so helpful in making me feel that I can be on the same page and fully integrating into the house.
So, the lesson learned from this mini-crisis: the power of communication cannot be underestimated. I am excited for us to continue to create an open environment where all of us can continue to voice our needs, delights, and dilemmas.....
I am so thrilled to be a part of this community,
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The same issue emerges when events occur -- if one person has a very busy, hectic, or otherwise overwhelming day/week/month, it is incumbent upon the sole remaining resident to make up for the loss of support. With this second dynamic, it is critical that each member of our house communicates upfront with gratitude and appreciation each time the other resident compensates with extra work. So far, we have been very aware of each instance of load-shifting and it has not resulted in the accumulation of house tension.
For me the biggest dilemma constantly is how to attract people. What I consider as our defeat is the fact that in the beginning we started to invite people personally and then we got a little bit lazy so we switch into facebook event mode. I don't think it works in Poland. Because here people like to be invited and informed about programs personally, otherwise they don't feel like come. I think that is the part of our very idiosyncratic jewish-polish psyche. So before all events we need to call and warmly ask them to attend our events.
Another thing is the number of people that we want to attend our events, sometimes we want only 8-10 people for discussion and then (because of our house great fame I suppose ) our small discussion is evolving into 30 guest party in the middle of working week.
So this is the question: Is everytime big amount of guest is good for our house? I think that we cannot find answer to that question now. What is the most important thing that our moishe house is developing himself everyday. That thing I called fame is something amazing because it works constantly beside of our work. It's something that we deserved after all those full of events moths.