Saturday, October 31, 2009
Local Mission Statement: MH STL strives to build Jewish community among recent college graduates, young professionals, newlyweds, and those looking to build relationships in the young Jewish world in and around the Gateway to the West through hosting a variety of programs including, but not limited to Shabbat dinners, concerts, Israeli-advocacy events, Jewish learning opportunities, and more.
International Mission Statement: To set up and establish grassroots community centers dedicated to the post-college Jewish community that provide these Jews with a social, inclusive, fun and enriching atmosphere conducive to building the Jewish community in the specific area by offering a rent subsidy along with a programming budget to execute events.
Throughout Sunday school, Judaica studies, Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons, trips to Israel and everything in between, the term "Jewish community" has always come with the Tikkun Olam principle in mind. It is inevitable that each Moishe House include multiple programs for "repairing the world" which in turn also contributes to Jewish learning through these programs and events.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
We are a community that draws from ideas and practices from across the Jewish spectrum. We appreciate the richness and knowledge of orthodoxy, and the openness and boldness of liberal Jewish movements. We see ourselves as standing for experimental, creative and dynamic Judaism in the diaspora and hope that our values will have a ripple effect on the Jewish and wider community.
Our values are:
Developing Jewish life in the UK
Observance through discussion and consensus
Many of our goals and values dovetail with those of the international Moishe House organisation. I know that both we and the MoHo Mothership are committed to tikkun olam and the flowering of grassroots, innovative Jewish life. But we like to think we also bring a very local flavour to our community.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
We have such a great power to be better Jews and better people when we come together. At the Chicago Moishe House, we strive to create a community of young Jews who want to have fun, make new friends, and work together on our community’s problems. So far, we have had events that ranged from happy hours to speaking with the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs about economic development in one of Chicago's most depressed and blighted neighborhoods. We love bonding with others to make a stronger, fairer Chicago.
This is what we hope to continue in the coming months and years. Chicago, like so many other cities around the world, has a lot of energy, Jewish faith, and potential for further unity. We see the Moishe House as a vehicle for furthering these aims. Our ideal Jewish Community is one where people’s passions and love of Judaism as a religion, culture, and history are combined to make a difference in the city. There is a great belief in togetherness in Judaism, and knowledge that, with the help of others, we can make our community a better place to live.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
This is the first blog from Moishe House Denver. We're quite excited to be a part of this great initiative. The house currently consists of three of us (Josh, Natalie, and Elliot), joined by a small, but growing young community here in Denver. Our house location is spectacular (right in front of Washington Park), and we have a very diverse, dynamic group of individuals here very much looking forward to being involved in the local Moishe House community.
Our first couple events in October have been a great success. We've had a shabbat dinner, sunday morning pancakes/hike, and tomorrow, we'll be hosting an evening event - watching the undefeated Denver Broncos take on the San Diego Chargers in Monday Night Football. The Sunday morning pancakes was initially going to be a hike in the rocky mountains, but it was snowing that day (early even for Colorado), so the group was more up for an indoor lazy sunday morning of pancakes and hot chocalate. However, a few of use made it out for tossing a frisbee around in Washington Park, a spot we plan to take advantage of all year round.
Next month, the group is very keen on taking part in a volunteer event and in a week's time, we'll be meeting the west coast Moishe houses - which we're very much looking forward to.
That's all for now.
All the best from Moishe House Denver,
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
ROI stands for return on investment, a business term that was re-appropriated for the world of Jewish non-profits. I think this title is very fitting, as the conference showcases the concept that if Jewish funders invest in the up-and-coming generation of leaders, those leaders will, in turn, continue to invest in the Jewish community.
I was one of the 120 selected to participate in this year’s conference and was amazed at the talent and potential of the other 119 participants. ROI is all about Jewish innovation – being able to tackle an old problem from a new angle with beneficial results and Jewish sensibility. Being a member of the Moishe House community, I felt very proud of our innovations since we started as a private foundation in 2005. Along with myself, there were other Moishe House representatives at ROI, and since, we have even recruited one of the 120 to open a new Moishe House!
For me, the idea behind Moishe House is exactly what ROI is striving for. Moishe House invests in us – by allowing us the financial means to get creative with our Jewish communities – and, in turn, we are fostering a new generation of enthused and engaged community members. Through our diverse programming, we provide the space to meet other Jews where they are and get them excited about who they are, whether it’s through intellectual discussion, sports, the arts or religious activities.
As we grow and change individually, so to does Moishe House evolve as an organization, and with so many of our house members (and our Executive Director) having been involved in the great exchange of ideas on innovation through ROI, I can only imagine what we will accomplish as we continue to work together within Moishe House and reach out to the larger Jewish community.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Like any family or team, it's not only the individual personalities that matter, but how they come together to create something cohesive and special. For me, the true beauty of this program are the interactions that have all parties feeling like they contributed in some way (tangibly or not) and benefited in another (tangibly or not). More often than not, I see this as the result of blind and uninhibited investment and faith. My experience in Moishe House has shown me that such opportunities for growth such as these within the context of our lives are ample.
But like the old expression goes, "It takes two to tango." The future of Moishe House lies within each of our efforts to take the time to passionately express ourselves. And of equal importance, to be vigilant in taking the time, and encouraging others to let us do the listening. Whether you've lived in a Moishe House for over three years or you're coming to an event for the first time, you're investing in the same idea. That community, when configured with that type of intention, can make our lives better. For the sake of this project's future, I hope we remember that every contribution we make, however small or however big, enriches us all. If we can do that, our future, in whatever shape it takes, will be bright.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Recently, I was interpreting for an old Russian woman who was a reiki practitioner, and I thought I've got nothing to lose if I try this. She waived her hands around me during our first session and explained to me that the human energy system is something that was left out of medical textbooks, but is just as important the cardiovascular, resporatory, nervous or any other system. I'm a believer in alternative medicine, so I kept coming. During out subsequent visits she kept working in redistributing my bioenergy and also did some manual chiropractic adjustments. I only saw her 3 times and I was feeling so much better! I could actually do dishes and work on the computer for periods of time. I even went bowling, and even though may arm was sore afterwards, I fully recovered by the next day. I was recently doing some temp office work, and by the 4th day, my wrists and arms were killing me. I went back to her, and I felt better immediately, and I'm still going to see her. She says I need to keep going a little longer to make a full recovery, and this is just fine with me.
This physical handicap has been preventing me from doing the kind of work I was trained to do, which is to work in a lab, or anything else other than medical interpreting, which is what I resorted to for scraping a living for the last 1.5years. Now that this is slowly being lifted and interpreting work is becoming more and more scarce, I'm faced with needing to look for real work. I'm still not used to not having to think about my limitations, and while I'm still not sure I should work in a lab again, but I need to figure what I want to do "when I grow up." I would love to be able to heal people the way she does, but this requires some abilities that one is born with, meaning being able to sense other people's energies, as well actual training in reiki. Acupuncture is something that has interested me since my first injury 4 years ago, as it helped me when nothing else did. It's amazing what reiki and acupuncture can do when Western medicine can't! I meet so many people that I think she could help if she had her own practice, the options for older people really suck these days, with harsh drugs that often make them worse.
This requires some prereqs on my part and 2-3 years for a Master's Degree in Acupuncture at an expensive private university in Seattle. And afterwards, the ability to pull off a private practice. And a whole lot of courage and belief in myself, which I'm still working up to.
Really all of us here at Moishe House Seattle are at a similar crossroads professionally and personally. The future is in our hands, and we'll see what we make of it...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The bottom line to all this is, is that as moishe house continues to grow and get bigger, we also continue to grow tighter. Because of all the exposure that comes with opening up a moishe house, that means that as more people get to experience it and the more you travel around, the more you are bound to meet people who have had the moishe house experience. And when you can travel 3,000 miles across the country and meet people who have had the same experiences as you, it helps to bring people together quicker as they both share a common bond. I did not expect it, but having some respond to you, "Oh, you're in a Moishe House? I've been to one!", it feels you with a sense of pride that you are part of something special. And if there's one word I have to use to describe the worldwide community that it Moishe House, it would be special.
In Oakland the Moishe House residents stay in a house that has been referred to as a castle covered with melted marshmellows, the spooky house on the block and the "Synagogue." We embrace the unique beauty which is our home and the community we are building inside. MH Oakland has a legacy, something that has ben put down by past residents of this specific house and and multiple others in our area. We were left with gifts like a basketball hoop, bumper pool and a collection of baseball trophies. Fun is fun and we can't help but embrace this, however the new MHO residents are bringing something completely new to the table. We are a really creative/artistic group and our programing thus far is a reflection of that. Some exciting events we have held so far include monthly Shabbat House Concerts, backyard barbecue movie nights (with videos projected on the wall) and even a Bat-Mitzvah re-enactment. Moishe House's foundation is strong in Oakland and we are working to have cohesive teamwork and general good energy in our home. We are still a hidden treat in our area and will be doing more outreach to bring in new people to our community. There is a serious need for positive social, cultural and spiritual outlets for our peers in Oakland. One, two, ten years down the road, Moishe House's foundation in Oakland will grow stronger and broader exponentially.
In 1 year…
MHBA has been very successful at drawing in young Jews for social, fun events like parties and dinners. Getting people to come to charitable and Jewish learning events has been more of a challenge. So in a year’s time we would like to see MHBA having experimented with a variety of tzedaka and Jewish learning activities to find out what works and what doesn’t and to fix the workable events / activities into a regular spot in our calendar.
Currently we celebrate / commemorate most of the Jewish festivals at MHBA, but to make MHBA more of a focal point in the Jewish life of our community, in a year’s time we would like the Moishe House to be a space where every Jewish festival is celebrated and commemorated at least once, ie a seder on Pesach, a meal in the succah on Succot, a party on Purim, Chanukiah lighting on Chanukah, etc.
Within the next year we would like to have a Shabbat / weekend away out of Buenos Aires in the beautiful Argentinian countryside. This would help to bring together our community, for regulars and new people to get to know each other better and for all to have a positive, enjoyable and inspiring Jewish experience. If it works well, we would like to make this an annual event.
In 3 years…
Currently most of our events are one-off events. This has allowed us to be creative, flexible and try out different types of activities, attracting different people to the different types of events. However, without repeated events of a particular type, those people may not come back. So we would like to have events that take place regularly so that we can develop and deepen a certain aspect of our lives. Whether the regular event is tzedaka / Shabbat / Tango or cookery lessons, it does not matter, but having the events regularly would serve to strengthen connections to each other, to the cause of that event and in developing a community. But as well as having a set of core fixed events that people come to regularly, we would also like to have some events every month that are new, interesting and innovative.
In three years’ time, we would like to have regular Friday night services in our House. Many Moishe House participants did not grow up in synagogues or Jewish youth groups and do not know traditional tunes or how to read Hebrew. In three years time hopefully many Moishe House participants will have experienced Shabbat songs enough to be able to be participate in Friday night services and Shabbat niggunim (tunes).
In 5 years…
In five year’s time we would like MHBA to be a focal point of the Buenos Aires young Jewish community, a place where young Jews can enjoy a party together, but where they also come to be Jewish in the way that they want to be.
We would hope that the MH residents in five year’s time would learn from the successes and failures of the previous five years and to provide successful events, which enrich the lives of our community, deepening their connection to Judaism and to other Jews of their age and the wider community.
In five year’s time we would like MHBA participants to feel so comfortable here that they use the space to put on their own events, a space where they can express their own Judaism, creativity and ideas. We want participants to be part of creating their own community here rather than passively receiving it.
We would also like to go on retreats on some of the Jewish festivals – having our version of holidays on the Jewish holidays!
We also predict that in 5 year’s time, Elana Rosenbaum will have opened a Moishe House in Sydney, Barcelona and Kazakhstan.
Since its inception in 2006 Moishe House Cape Town on the slopes of Table Mountain has been a thriving social hub for young Jewish adults in the Mothercity. Despite the Cape Town Jewish community’s smaller size compared to its Johannesburg compatriot, it remains a thriving one full of potential.
Moishe House has always been an open one for the Jewish twenty-something’s in Cape Town.
Socially the house is always buzzing. A Friday and Saturday night hardly go by without a pizza, and a couple of beers before going out or enjoying each others company in the house. The house is not just host to social events but educational ones too. With a strong focus on Jewish learning and Israeli current affairs.
I’m certain that Moiushe house will continue to be a social hub for the Jewish community.
It is hard to have a clear vision, as we have just started our Moishe house a month ago in Budapest, but it is clear from the reaction of people that it is something everyone has been waiting for, without knowing what it is they were lacking! A positive thing about the first month is to see that people understand the idea of COMMUNITY space and they do not expect everything to be done by us, but they actively contribute to the programs – with bringing food from home, preparing food in our kitchen, helping to clean up the apartment, giving lectures, leading prayers, giving ideas for new programs and so on. This may be not so peculiar in other countries and cultures – such as the US – but it is a genuine development in the attitude of people, prepared by several years of similar events at Sirály and Marom.
I don’t want to say that our parents’ generation did not care for each other and did not have the feeling of community. In some respect they had much more of an experience about it, there were less “differences” and more uniting ideologies and events for them. It is exactly after 1989 that this “community feeling” suddenly disappeared, became even looked down on, and the younger generations including myself fall in some kind of a vacuum, ruled by individualism and freedom of choice. Of course, we need to add that under the socialism the community ideal was more just to belong to the group and be similar, and it was not so much about what is more needed now in the Jewish and in the Hungarian (civic) society in general today: voluntarism and own contribution let it be material or immaterial, so that people understand that a community is a huge building built from stones, and each stone has its place. And if now we have started to build the basis of the “western wall” in one year I hope to have built the equivalent of the existing one in Jerusalem, and in five years being close to reconstruct the Temple. I know it is very ambitious, and its sounds pathetic, but we are young, crazy and committed! Hashana haba b’Yerushalaim - Next year in Jerusalem!
Budapest Moishe house impacts:
*the Budapest Jewish community becomes more international (having international guests, connection with other Moishe houses) that enables it to be inspired by other young Jewish communities, to learn from them and show them our world
*we contribute to the establishment of a responsible and conscious young Jewry in Hungary
*our programs raise factual knowledge about Judaism among young adults
*we provide community experiences for young adults, celebrating Jewish holidays on alternative ways being their second homes
*other young people would like to join our example and they establish similar houses on their own and / or the number of people living in the Moishe House Budapest will be raised to 5-7
*Budapest Moishe house’s life will be documented and included in literary, theatrical, academic and journalistic writings
* Budapest Moishe house will be the symbol and melting pot of young, creative, responsible Jews in Budapest
The social geography and human universe we work in keeps changing: friends and community members move away from town, some move into the house, some bring their friends, some drift away from the community. We try to keep up-to-date on what the needs in our area are and what programming MHSS community members and potential community members want. As MHSS residents come and go, and as we get more integrated into the Jewish institutional fabric of the Silver Spring region, we've got both the challenge of retaining our current base while appealing to new populations, and the opportunity to have many more people involved.
One year from now we want to be on everyone's minds around here. Even more synagogues and institutions will see us the way our neighborhood ones do now - as a medium for reaching out to the younger area Jews, and as a creative resource that can work on community-wide programming. We will have a unified and clear presence on the internet, as well as advertisements in local Jewish and alternative media.
Three years from now we want to have moved to a better location, even closer to downtown Silver Spring and its transit links. We see more interested community members taking a lead on programming, appealing to social groups and interest groups we didn't imagine. We know that already, many folks around town know that MHSS is a spot run by their peers which is welcoming and fun and open to their ideas and passions. In three years we'd like that knowledge to be universal, and develop an active community that can take things to even bigger heights.
In five years some of the original MHSS Moisheketeers will be almost 35 years old! We can't imagine who will be MHSS residents then or what other developments the Maryland, District, and Virginia communities might see. The Purple Line might even have started construction! But if we continue doing what we're doing, and make sure that those who succeed us stick to our vision of making homey, eclectic, comfortable, Jewish, and free-form community their priority, well, the possibilities are endless. And as long as MHSS is doing all the multifaceted programming what the people want, and bringing young Jews like us (and not like us) together, we'll know we did all right.
Something I think we all share is the desire for Moishe House London to be a force for change. We want to make the Jewish Community, as well as London and the UK, better, more open, more creative, with richer community and stronger connections. Our ambitions stretch far beyond the 'Jewish young adult community' in fact we do not see ourselves as being just for Jewish young adults, rather existing for people of all ages, whether Jewish or not. We don't want Moishe House London to be seen as something you do in between university and getting married.
In terms of the next five years, a desire of mine is for the house to have more local organization and so not be quite so reliant on the Moishe House Foundation and on the other sources of funding we have. We are at the first stage of this process, selecting a group of our most regular attendees to be on a kind of board ( I like to call it a Sanhedrin) to help us maintain our values and go forward. This is (possibly) a first step towards having a membership, like the model of Kavod House/Moishe House Boston which we admire.
For me, whilst the financial support of the Moishe House foundation has been absolutely invaluable, and we never could have done it without them, in the long term, Jewish life needs to be sustainable, and not reliant on wealthy donors. This is a process that will radically transform Jewish life, and arguably it has already begun, in the growth of independent minyanim that do not rely on paid professionals in order to function. So in the long term (and this may take rather more than 5 years)I would hope that we could be funded by our local membership, becuase the house provides a service that they valued. From Chabad to Hillel, the showering of free gifts on young adults in the vain hope that they will stay in the fold, is somewhat infantilising and certainly not the foundation for sustainable Jewish life. Moishe House, however, uses funding much more creatively, building strong communities across the world that can eventually become self sufficient.
MoisheNola's 2nd Annual Sukkot. This past Friday night we were joined for a potluck dinner in our backyard Sukkah. The group included a regular cast of characters and a visit from a few family members in from Boston and Philadelphia.
Next Year join us for the celebration, or better yet start looking ahead to Mardi Gras. This year it is conveniently held on a Tuesday, allowing for a weekend of buildup and celebration!!