Sunday, February 28, 2010


Dear all,

Monday's Bet Midrash will not be at Moishe House as previously advertised but at Sandy's row synagogue at 7pm, before E-prhyme's gig at the same venue starting at 8pm

Rabbi Shulamit Amabalu, who would have taught at the Moishe House, will be teaching about music and Judaism:

Our rabbis taught that something once happened. Something bad.
So bad that there was never any more rejoicing, and never any more music.
Or, never any songs. Or, not actually but songs with rowdy words.
Or, songs with rude words that people sang at parties.
Not just parties, but parties with dancing and wine. more songs? No more parties? No more wine?
What happened? What might have broken the world?
And how should we mourn?

Shulamit Ambalu's roots are in the Punk rock movement of the late 70's and early 80's.
A lot happened after that and she has been a rabbi for the last six and a half years.
At North London Progressive Jewish Community and in Milton Keynes.

Then the gig:

Experience the most cutting-edge contemporary Ashkenazi music in London's oldest Ashkenazi synagogue. Eprhyme is a Radical Jewish Renaissance Rapper who spits rhymes designed to refine the mind of the listener. Kabbalah, psychology, politics and party rocking are intertwined with elements of jazz, funk, klezmer, and Middle Eastern music to create a powerful and poetic plea for peace, justice, joy and unity.

Eprhyme will be visiting from New York and this is his only major public London date. It is a unique opportunity to hear him in an incredible historic venue, as he raps from the Sandys Row central bimah.



Concert 8pm
Tickets £7.50

Buy tickets here -

(the Bet Midrash talk is free should you just want to come to that)

4 Sandy's Row
London, E1 7HW
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

See you there!

The Moishe House crew

Moishe House London, in Willesden Green, is part of Moishe House, a worldwide network of houses that are centres for grassroots Jewish community. From our own home, we aim to bring exciting, creative, post-denominational Jewish community to London.

Monday's Bet Midrash CHANGE OF VENUE

Dear all,

Monday's Bet Midrash will not be at Moishe House as previously advertised but at Sandy's row synagogue at 7pm, before E-prhyme's gig at the same venue starting at 8pm

Rabbi Shulamit Amabalu, who would have taught at the Moishe House, will be teaching about music and Judaism:

Our rabbis taught that something once happened. Something bad.
So bad that there was never any more rejoicing, and never any more music.
Or, never any songs. Or, not actually but songs with rowdy words.
Or, songs with rude words that people sang at parties.
Not just parties, but parties with dancing and wine. more songs? No more parties? No more wine?
What happened? What might have broken the world?
And how should we mourn?

Shulamit Ambalu's roots are in the Punk rock movement of the late 70's and early 80's.
A lot happened after that and she has been a rabbi for the last six and a half years.
At North London Progressive Jewish Community and in Milton Keynes.

Then the gig:

Experience the most cutting-edge contemporary Ashkenazi music in London's oldest Ashkenazi synagogue. Eprhyme is a Radical Jewish Renaissance Rapper who spits rhymes designed to refine the mind of the listener. Kabbalah, psychology, politics and party rocking are intertwined with elements of jazz, funk, klezmer, and Middle Eastern music to create a powerful and poetic plea for peace, justice, joy and unity.

Eprhyme will be visiting from New York and this is his only major public London date. It is a unique opportunity to hear him in an incredible historic venue, as he raps from the Sandys Row central bimah.



Concert 8pm
Tickets £7.50

Buy tickets here -

(the Bet Midrash talk is free should you just want to come to that)

4 Sandy's Row
London, E1 7HW
Nearest Tube: Liverpool Street

See you there!

The Moishe House crew

Moishe House London, in Willesden Green, is part of Moishe House, a worldwide network of houses that are centres for grassroots Jewish community. From our own home, we aim to bring exciting, creative, post-denominational Jewish community to London.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Directions

With the start of the new year and the anticipations that lie in the Soccer World Cup being held in South Africa, the opportunities it holds has awoken our South African identity. This has recently been reinforced with the State of the Nation Address, by our President, which we all watched together, along with a few friends, at the house. With all this nationalism at hand, we have been forced to re-examine our roles as Jewish South African Zionist youth. As Jewish youth, we want to become more involved in South African projects, such as Equal Education and the Treatment Action Campaign initiative. We feel that, at Moishe House, the centre of the young Jewish community, we can help to influence our peers to become more involved in such programs. We plan to, every few months invite guest speakers from such organisations to come and talk at house events.

On a different note, we have also been thinking about inviting non-Jewish friends to the house in order to teach each other a little bit about our different religions. We would also like to teach them a little bit about Zionism, such as what it is and what it entails and the deep and fantastic history behind it. In the past, we have held events that entail lectures followed by

discussions but this year we would like to incorporate a more active approach to encourage people to educate themselves through us, rather than have us educating them. We would like to start a monthly event, where we invite children from the Jewish community over to the house, where we run fun and educational activities for them, followed by a short session in which we help them with their homework. In doing so, we will be giving back to our own community, as well as educating future Moishe House residents in the process!

Partnerships with MHSS - February Blog

Here at MHSS partnerships play various important roles in our monthly programming. Less than half of our monthly events include a partnership. Depending on the event or partner, the partnerships bring different types of resources to the events, such as outreach support, educational resources, facility resources, special skills, financial support, and a place for donations. I will use our monthly Capitol Boogies and the "Welcome the Stranger" programs as two different examples. Each month we have a different partner for the Capitol Boogie event. We ask this partner for both help to advertise the event and assist in the set up and clean up for the event. After the Boogie, we donate the money raised that night to the partner organization. Another example is when MHSS partnered with Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for the "Welcoming the Stranger" program. In this situation, HIAS provided the materials and information as well as helped with outreach needed for the educational program and MHSS provided the space, food and participants.

As a whole the MHSS looks for potential partners who can contribute to the event and made it more fulfilling for the participants. As mentioned earlier, partners can contribute through outreach and resources support. It is important to note that sometimes we seek our partners, and other time partners seek out us for different events. Furthermore, I think each MHSS member looks for different partners depending on their interests and ideas for events.
Many of the partners that MHSS works with are also in the jewish community, such as Tikkum Leil Shabbat, Jews United for Justice Minyan Segulah, and local synagogues. These organizations have influenced MHSS by bringing in more local young jews into our community. Also, each organization helps educate the residents and members and make us more aware of what is happening in our local and global community. For the future, MHSS would be interesting in partnering with groups of different faiths and organize interfaith gatherings. Other upcoming ideas for MHSS programs that would benefit with a partner from an arts organization or experience in holistic healing.

Ultimately, we hope our partners help build our MHSS community and also connect more people in the jewish community.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

January House Blog - MH Chisinau

Проанализировав все программы, мы пришли к выводу, что следует проводить больше программ неформального еврейского образования.Также мы хотим сотрудничать с другими организациями, которое делает возможным проводить крупные мероприятия(например знаменательные дни и праздники)
Как бы мы хотели видеть новый пост в нашем блоге:

1)Это может быть использование мультимедиа(видео и аудиозапись)

2)Коментарии. Участники события выражают своё мнение одной фразой. Таким образом мы получаем своеобразный feedback.

3)Один из участиков рассказывает о своих впечатлениях и пожеланиях.

January House Blog - MH Mexico City

One of our main topic of conversation this past week is that we are
now entering a new "phase" within Moishe House Mexico City. The main
idea behind this change of direction is this: we´re changing from
being a house in which three people introduce the events to outsiders
who don`t know about Moishe House to being a community in which
everyone who wants to has a space open for them. This we hope will
allow us to have new and fresh programs every month, as well as, to
attract more diversity to the house.

We are now reaching a moment in the history of Moishe House in which
our loyal crowd is starting to suggest different events to us. And
we´re starting to conceive our role not as the organizers of communal
events but as facilitators for a new community to express itself. By
allowing our members to actively engage in the programming we will be
able to up our man power and get a greater influx of ideas. This
approach will also grant us a greater loyalty among our community.

Taking this in mind,we´ve started to "give the power" to the people.
The result from this has been a wide array of events that range from
artistic expressions to night outings. Some people like to cook,
others to eat: someone might be interested in doing a poetry-slam, or
a musical event with a live band. These are all events that we hadn`t
considered doing before because we were not in the position to do it,
we were considering just bringing people over. Now that we have them,
it´s time to expand our frame of mind.

Some ideas for the events that we might want to have, that were
requested by our visitors and between us are the following:
- Conferences and debates about current themes. (Financial crisis,
world problematics, middle eastern politics, etc.)
-Tikkun ollam in a hospital or an orphanage. We could do an activity
with puppets for them. All of this in conjunction to "Espacio en
Blanco", a young jewish association dedicated to this.
-We might organize a workshop dealing with some sort of arts and crafts.
-Visits to the museum of the city.
-Visit to one of the bars around the neighborhood.
-Organizing a little concert in the house.
-Organizing a small interactive play in the house.
-Having differente "world" themed shabat (marrocai, argentinian, etc.)

These are plenty of ideas that have been suggested to us, but we
hope they will grow exponentially with the growth of our community.
Tomorrow will be the first time we will be hosting our first shared
event and are hoping it will be great. We believe this idea has great
potential and can help foster a more communal environment. We feel a
Moishe House is a shared experience and this will bring us closer to
shearing our experience with our following.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Growing Good Programming

Take some time to examine your house's programming. Is there any type of programming you want to be doing that you aren't? Get creative and imagine an exciting way to incorporate new programming into your house's monthly agenda, using the blog as your brainstorming arena.

One of the most useful activities we have done as Moishe House Nola thus far, was the December Moishe House Visioning Sessions.  A two-part discussion with regular guests and friends to propose bold, crazy and fun new ideas for Moishe House events.  Out of this evening we have been able to integrate many new ideas and interests that would have otherwise remained on the periphery.   One example, was hosting a night on Halakkah of Dumpster Diving.  Our brainstorming highlighted a growing interest in Jewish learning programs.  Jeff brought in a Rabbinical student affiliated through Jewish Funds for Justice to lead the odd but surprisingly relevant discussion the the Halakkah of Dumpster Diving.  

As we review our programming, it is clear that partnerships can provide significant value to our events.  One event idea that I believe would provide a great benefit to the house and great community is a series of Jewish New Orleans tours/speaking engagements.  Here's my ideal series:
  • Tour of the Jewish cemeteries led by the proprietors or expert on Jewish immigration into New Orleans.  These are OLLLDDDD cemeteries (e.g. Fanye Katz 1875 -  1942).  Perhaps this would be led by a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society.
  • Jewish Business Leaders and Philanthropists:  Did you know that New Orleans, Jewish businessman (Samuel Zemurray ) assisted a deposed Honduran dictator re-assume power in order to compete in the fruit import business?  Did you know that many of New Orleans greatest assets (Museum of Art, Delgado University, Touro Hospital, Pontchartrain Park) were supported by the philanthropy of Jewish businessmen?  I'd like to delve deeper into this history.
  • MO ESSHA  House - Black-Jewish relations have always had a close and rich history.  This is no different in New Orleans.  Central City served as the working class neighborhood for Orthodox Jews in the 20's-60's.  While black citizens could not frequent many of the shops on Canal Street, many of the Jewish merchants   I'd be interested in learning about the dynamic of New Orleans Black-Jewish history. 

Here's to more than wishing.  I hope we can make this happen before the Summer begins.

- Moishe NOLA

Moishe House Great Neck

Take some time to examine your house's programming. Is there any type of programming you want to be doing that you aren't? Get creative and imagine an exciting way to incorporate new programming into your house's monthly agenda, using the blog as your brainstorming arena.

At Moishe House Great Neck we decided that we would like to do a program that involves Tikkun Olam. We were trying to think of different ideas, and then one of our Moishe House regulars mentioned that he goes to visit people who are sick at hospitals on Sunday. Wow! What a great idea. We can organize an event where we can all go visit people at the hospital. Bikur Cholim (Visiting The Sick) is one of the most important Mitzvot in Judaism, and it truly will be an amazing event. We hope to organize one soon.

Wishing you all the best,

Moishe House Great Neck

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bringing in the Professionals

Oakland Moishe has been a fantastic venue for exploring creativity, preforming arts, good nutrition and music with influences from many different cultures and factions of jewish lifestyle. It is time to also recognize the changing face of the world we live in as well as the faces of members of our community, and generation. We are all getting older! Now is a good time to develop our dreams personally and professionally. Community describes many aspects of interacting with our peers and one very important factor of community is the support we receive to live, grow and become prosperous. Whether that means cashing in, breaking through, letting lose, or turning inward, welcome the support of your people, and offer what you can to improve the dynamic of the internal community as well as strengthening the outward connections to the greater human community.

In the near future Oakland Moishe is excited to explore ways in which to create personal and professional growth opportunities within our events. The venue will be structured in such a way that we can all learn about members of our community. Find out about dreams, aspirations, skills and frustrations in preparation for the future. I would love to have a number of speakers come to Oakland Moishe, perhaps from the University or any other school of thought we find appropriate. Another idea is to have workshops around skills for developing technical or business skills, such as, a web designing workshop, or a "get to know your computer" workshop.

As we grow older it becomes more exciting to consider what we contribute and how we receive from our community. For folks between the ages of 20-30 exploring our skills and developing a team of individuals who can support our goals will aide greatly our journey, and may benefit us down the road in ways we cannot see yet. I hope to see programming based on becoming more whole and prosperous young adults! L'chaim, and welcome the subtle aging and refining of us as individuals and community.

New Programming Ideas

A learning lesson I picked up quickly at the Portland Moishe House was, "Design your own programs." Simply put, but sometimes it can be easy to just tag onto another program or event in the community, or wait for collaborators to come to you.

I guess what might make me sound like a hypocrite in saying this is that two of our events this week were collaborations. They still serve an important role for Moishe House. On Wednesday we had a social justice org founder come to our house for a dinner and a Q and A. What made this special is that this guy was amazing! He's a founder of a totally cool organization that Portlanders totally care about. His org basically provides relief for victims of the war in Congo. And because Moishe House gets a lot of traffic (it definitely is known by now as a "social hub!") and people like to come here, we opened the event up to as many young Jewish people as we could think of who would be interested. I felt it was our duty to do so since he had limited time in Portland. So, while the subject of the event was another organization's mission, it allowed young Portland Jews to hear about an important topic that relates to Jewish struggle and Jewish values of Tikkun Olam from an expert. Then, tonight, we partnered with an event that fundraises for Jewish youth groups in Portland. This partnership was helpful because the event was fun (a trivia night), and because I know I am really starting to believe in this philosophy of interdependence in a Jewish community that is so small. Especially with fundraising locally for Moishe House on the horizon...we've got to make some good friends in the Jewish community here and be supportive to them!!

However, we've learned to sit down together and come up with events that would meet Jewish Portland young adults' needs. All-women's events like yoga or music to promote female bonding and include Orthodox women in our community who observe modesty mitzvot. Even things that people may already be doing, but gathering Moishe House participants for it, like Super Bowl parties, Happy Hour downtown (to catch all those folks who complain that SW area is just too far to drive to!). I think the best I've done at really *creating* something new, is creating an education class here and there, a series we call "Torah on Tap." We invite a rabbi, rebbetzin, or Jewish educator to lead a class on an interesting topic.

Another thing that is somewhat intuitive to do, that I am also proud of, is creating events around Jewish holidays and rituals. Last year we did a hike for Tu B'shvat and almost 20 people came! It was one of my first events.

With the learning curve so steep, I know I've struggled to come up with new exciting program ideas that would meet a lot of our demographics' needs, and draw a lot of people. Our Shabbat dinners are also very successful, take a lot of work, and have drawn as much as 35 people. But what about big numbers? Could I ever do historical event, with my team of residents, that would draw hundreds of people? This is always in the back of my mind when I plan.

But lately, I think I've got an idea. I really like film. I made some student documentaries in college and hope to make more during my summers as a teacher after grad school. Through brainstorming with Portland Chabad, we had this idea of screening the film called Match and Marry, a documentary by an independent filmmaker about Orthodox Jewish love and dating. It's made for a secular audience, it's interesting, short and to the point, and chock full of good discussion points! Plus it's cute and entertaining! We just screened it last week, and we hope to show it at a big venue in Portland, as a collaboration perhaps with Chabad and Portland's other budding young adult groups for Jews. This is an event that could easily draw 100 people, and it's an event of the kind of subject I am really passionate about, so I can imagine putting myself behind it and feeling very driven to gather attendees!!

So it's helpful that I've identified one area that could really be a great event, and a step towards my long-term event goals: film. I hope to hit the ground running with this idea!

Friday, February 5, 2010

MHSF Jan House Blog

Maybe it’s the residual lingering new-year-smell of January, but I still feel like it’s the season for making fresh plans and starting new projects. It’s in that spirit that MHSF has 8 events each month, which gives us the room to bring in one or two new events each month while still keeping the crowd favorites on the monthly rotation. I think it's awesome that there are certain events that we try to keep on the schedule every month: Shabbat dinners, poker nights and team games are a great way to maintain a community presence. They are always fun and always popular - people look forward to these events every month and always note them on their calendar. But the beauty of having 8 events every month (beyond having a jam-packed social schedule) is that there is still a lot of room to try new things every month and know that in doing so you aren’t going to be leaving anyone out, just gaining more.

One of MHSF’s greatest assets is its location; this city has provides a limitless venue of new places to go, people to meet and adventures to have. I think one of the things that we want to do more of in the future is take advantage of all the city has to offer, be it trips to local museums and concerts, or taking a more active / regular role in local philanthropy. We’ve already planned a few events to this effect, but really getting physically out in the city, participating in local events is not only a lot of fun, but a really awesome way to foster a unique local identity for any Moishe House.

Later this month we are going to be having a Torah Talk at the house which will be led by a local community member. More than just being interested in what our local scholar has to say, I love that MHSF can be a venue for someone in our community to share what he/she is passionate about in an open and (hopefully) receptive environment. We are already putting together an event next month that will use our house as a venue for other local musicians and performers to share their talents with the community. More than just bringing new people into our MHSF environment, we can also be a conduit through which members of our community can share their talent and passion with others.

Ultimately, what I think brings people to MHSF events for the first time, and keeps them coming later, is that every month we have something new to offer while making sure the oldies are still goodies.

January House Blog - MH Buenos Aires


It’s the summer holidays here in the southern hemisphere and when we all get back to the House from various parts of the world we’re going to have a big fat brainstorm of what events we are going to programme to better fulfil our aims. In anticipation of what we’re going to discuss in terms of what’s missing in our programming, it’s mainly going to be social action and maybe Jewish learning too. For a while we’ve been talking about wanting and needing to get ourselves more into social action. There is no shortage of opportunities to help others out in Buenos Aires, with giving money, resources and time. We have had successful fundraising parties and time-giving events, but they’ve been one-offs and we need something more regular which would be much more beneficial for both sides. Watch this space to see what we come up with!

In terms of Jewish learning, we think that more people would come if food was involved. So inviting a speaker over Friday night dinner or a mid-week / Sunday dinner and discussion would be a more appealing and appetizing way of learning. We tried this out with an Israel-focussed evening where we watched the Alan Dershowitz film ‘The Case for Israel’, discussed our thoughts and had dinner. The success of this event has spurred us into thinking of hosting a series of events of this sort – watching educational films, discussing and munching. It’s a light and enjoyable way of learning. Only problem is finding films that at least have Spanish subtitles… any ideas of how to get hold of such things?? Help would be much appreciated. Gracias!

Moishe House OC: Social Justice, Smores, and Sing-Alongs

Being the newest member to the Moishe House OC, I get to write the Monthly blog.

The other night our house had a wonderful evening with Rabbi Scott exploring the ways Moishe House can integrate tzedakah into our events. Helping the world, social action, giving back; I think the ideas are admirable, but at times the words can feel tiresome and well-worn. Oy Vay!

Does it have to be a chore to lend a hand? We need to ask ourselves what our responsibility is to give back to the members of the community: especially when many of us are so fortunate to have such a range of opportunities available to us.

Sometimes social justice and responsibility can take the form of a clothing swap, bring your old clothes to the house, trade, barter, bargain, find a pair of jeans you always wanted; take whatever is left over, donate it! Food for thought, small cover charges for big events: bring a non-perishable item of food get a price break. These are two simple ideas that we have tossed around that allow us to incorporate Jewish philosophy into our programming.

What brought most of my house mates to Moishe House is summer camp. I remember being a counselor at Temple Beth Sholom’s Day Camp, and a youth retreat leader for a synagogue in Palo Alto. The corner stone of camp was the fire-side sing along. I found comfort about huddling around a fire, the sky above ablaze with an unidentifiable mist of constellations, munching smores, playing songs, and singing along together. We realized that many of our events have already descended into 1am sing along jam sessions; so we came up with a summer camp night, with grilling, smores, guitars, drums, and of course singing.

Our house is lucky enough to be close to the beach. Havdalah on the sand is a great way to bring everyone together and say ‘adios’ to Shabbat, or an excuse to spend a day at the beach and run the party to the evening and have a cookout. In the same vein of the outdoors, our house loves to get physical. We are trying out tennis days, road rides, mountain bike rides, surfing classes/beach days; Rae the founding member of Moishe House OC, does triathlons, and I bet there are members of the community that would love do a MHOC Sprint Tri.

Getting creative is the best part of living here, anybody can organize a great party; but the challenge is taking it to the next level, bringing a level of self-awareness and world awareness along with the chips and dip. Since we aren’t going at this alone, tell me what ideas you have for cool, socially aware, programming.

January House Blog - MH Budapest

New directions in the life of MoHoBp

First of all, we need to move! As soon as the weather gets better, we finally have to start to do sporty programs. As the first step of the spring cleaning we will invite our friends to come and take the recyclable rubbish to the selective containers. Then we may make our kitchen kasher. Besides, we could make our living room/synagogue, in the frame of a creative workshop, warmer and friendlier.

And in that moment we could finally start to visit the European Moishe Houses, as well as we could invite them here to build the spirit of the international Moishenik-feeling. What the outdoor programming concerns, we plan to make excursions, either by bike or by foot. We already thought about buying a table-tennis table which would just fit in the living room. Moreover, one of our active members, who are a gypsy-dance dancer, may teach us the basic steps.

And last, but not least, spring will touch our soul and Purim will reform us from inside. Not only our body, but also our mind needs some training. Therefore we are planning to organize a Parasha study group where week by week everybody comments the actual Torah portion from his personal point of view, which will be followed by a discussion.

Moishe House London - new programming ideas

Every so often the housemates of MoHoLo get together for what we like to call 'blue skies thinking' sessions (to borrow a term from the world of management consultancy) in which we let our imaginations run freely and talk about nothing practical. We share our visions of where the house is going and what we'd like to see in it, and generally we find ourselves coming away from the evening inspired.

This month, when we had our first blue skies thinking session for some time, we found a theme emerging about programming. There's too much of it! Every month we easily meet our 7 event requirement and often far surpass it. Partly this is because of all our partnerships with local community groups and the regular programming that is in our calendar long before the month begins. For example, we have a Bet Midrash ('House of Learning') every two weeks, a monthly event for Jews and Darfuris (in partnership with the JCC) and a monthly silent meditation session (led by a friend of a friend, who approached us). This month we also have a four week creative writing course facilitated by a friend and regular visitor. So when you add it all up, that's 7 events already and we haven't even had a chance to add anything new or do any exciting 'one-offs'.

The challenge for us is to remain inspired and enjoy the full possibilities of MoHoLo, when our schedule is so laden with programming. At the blue skies thinking we entertained the idea of scrapping ALL existing programming and starting from scratch, with whatever wonderful ideas came to mind. We restated a principle we'd mentioned before: that unless at least one house mate is excited by and in love with a particular programme, it shouldn't be taking place.

Clearly we're not going to sever all our communal partnerships and cease all regular programmes, but we are going to try to make space. The programmes that have worked the best in the past have been those that fire the imagination, for which at least one resident put in a lot of thought and planning. Examples have been:

- Moishe Fest (200 people for a full day of bands, performances and art)
- Moishe Art House (an art exhibition of young local Jewish artists)
- The Open Talmud Project (a four day intensive learning retreat)
- Wassailing (reviving an ancient British folk ritual to revive togetherness and cohesion in our neighbourhood)
- Open Space Technology (a radically open way of holding multiple simultaneous discussions)

There are things I'd love to do in the house, given more time and space. For example, I'd love to do a series of Open Space Technology 'salons' that allow us and our community to look at different aspects of one area each session (the series might run 'body', 'spirit', 'mind'). I would love to create and direct a play which uses each room in the house, bringing the space to life through an intricately woven narrative. Or a night featuring different pieces of performance art in different spaces in the house. I've thought of a four day intensive davening retreat, improving the quality of service leadership in our wider Jewish community. And I've been inspired by other houses' programming ideas, like the 'Dancers in the Dark' pitch black dancing session run by MH Providence.

We keep a rolling list of event ideas on Google docs, and so far we've picked off a few. God willing we'll make the space in the house schedule and our own lives to create many more innovative events at Moishe House London.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hoboken January Blog

Take some time to examine your house's programming. Is there any type of programming you want to be doing that you aren't? Get creative and imagine an exciting way to incorporate new programming into your house's monthly agenda, using the blog as your brainstorming arena.

After the moishe house regional retreat we came back rejuvinated and energized and the juices flowing. Immediately following the retreat we sent out a survey, through survey monkey, to our community members asking what kinds of programming they would like to see happen and if any of them have certain skills or talents to share or to lead an event. It's important to get feedback from the community to ensure that when we plan new programs it interests them, and not only us the residents.
We wanted our community members to take a more active role in moishe house and for a few months we had been discussing having a planning committee that included both residents and active community members. After talking about it for quite some time we finally decided to implement a planning committee at the beginning of the new year. The planning committee consists of three people, one who has been coming to events since Hoboken opened up three years ago, one who has been coming for a year and half, and another who has been coming for the past 6 months. We have only met twice but each meeting has lasted for about two hours with lots of successful brainstorming. With their help we have our calendar planned through the middle of May. We have a wide array of programming planned, from social action to spiritual salons to shabbat dinners to Jewish learning. The planning committee has been a great addition and a wonderful time to brainstorm not only programming ideas but to share our vision for the future of Moishe House Hoboken and the direction we would like to see it go in.
We are hoping to increase our partnerships with other organizations and so far we are off to a good start. After being asked by Birthright NEXt over the summer to host shabbat dinners we have done so once a month, we are teaming up with Jersey Tribe, a local volunteer organization for young Jewish adults throughout New Jersey, The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and hopefully Reboot. Partnerships are a great way to spread the word about Moishe House and strengthening and growing the organization. We are also looking to increase the ways to bring intellectual conversations to the house. In the past we have held spiritual salons which have been led by either one of us, a local rabbi, or the rabbinic intern, about once every other month. An idea we picked up from the retreat was to have a discussion series and to have the series take place in a shortish amount of time (a new discussion every week or every other week) rather than having discussions that don't pertain to each other only once every couple of months. We have decided to start with a smaller discussion series (about 3 or 4 discussions in the series) to begin and the discussions will be held every other week. We are eager to see how this works out and are hoping to eventually hold a discussion series with ten meetings. I am excited about the future of Moishe House Hoboken and can't wait to see how the new programming and implementations work out.
MH Hoboken

Cleveland House (can i get a what, what?!)

So, we as a house have been taking time to examining our event and programming structure for the last month and a half.
First of all, three of our four residents are artists or at least creatively inclined (both performance art and visual) we have a number of community members who are also artists (they must be attracted to us for some strange reason). At first we thought that a good way to further engage these people in the Moishe House community was to go to arts events such as: artsy movies, gallery openings, art walks, performance art showings, plays, concerts, etc. Although we found the coolest events in-town and bought tickets to Matisyahu, got back stage passes to meet and talk with him a well as having Kosha Dillz come back and chill with some of us after the show, we still only had low to moderate turnout for these events. In December we as a house decided that we need to take a more hands on approach to reach these artists. In January we held a wine and painting social, which was a huge success. All the attendees are demanding to know when the next one will be and many of the people invited who couldn't make it are begging for similar event in the future (save the date: 2/19 at 8:30pm). The next one will be more collaborative working on big banners to both decorate the house and use for events that we are co-sponsoring at outside locations. We will also be hosting monthly capoeira event open to the Jewish Community. In the next few months I would also like to start hosting open mic nights, beat poetry performances and slams, concerts in the back yard (weather permitting), gallery showings of the works of our local 20 something Jewish artists, and a gallery showing of all the art made at the wine and painting social.

Second we are committing to having a social action event every month. This month we are volunteering with the Cleveland Food Bank. We think that it is important to continue doing this event if we have a low turnout. Often organizations have a prominent political stance and because of this, many people in our target demographic will not attend events when the co-sponsoring or hosting organization's political stance does not line up with their own political views. Beginning this month we will always have a place to drop off canned food and clothing donations in our basement which we will distribute to local charities. I feel that in this way MH can always keep contributing to the larger Cleveland community. We are also considering keeping a food pantry in our house that anyone attending an event can anonymously contribute to or take from.

Further, I would like to make a shout out to the Russian Moishe House Chicago. I've been checking out your events on Facebook and they look awesome!!! I'm stealing your beer/wine tasting event idea and what's the deal with the mock Bar Mitzvah event? How exactly does that work?

In addition, we are working on sneaking in Jewish programing into other events because we don't have great attendance for just Torah study alone.

Lastly, looking back on past events, I have come to realize that we have co-sponsored or have hosted events partially sponsored by another organization, such as Plant Kingdom Bakery (thanks for providing us with great vegan baked goods!!), with out tapping into that organization and try to get their members involved in Moishe House, or not advertising that the event was co-sponsored. This will not be something over looked in the future.
MH Cleveland
Here in Moishe House Vienna, we organise Shabbat about every 2 weeks, shiourim, day trips, cooking club, musical nights, movie night, pingpong tournaments, game nights, themed nights, artistic events. In the future, we hope to incorporate some interactive event using internet with other Moishe Houses and important speakers. We would also like to add more trips and create a Jewish business League.
We hope all is well for everyone.
Shabbat Shalom!
Daniel, Michael, Eytan

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

MohoDen - To infinity, and beyond...

New Directions

As we are still a relatively new house in the Moho community, we are often moving in new directions. The creative aspects of our programming has been informed by various ideas, new members, and fun conversations at each of our events -- leading to tikkun olam activities, an upcoming discussion that could range from Raj Patel's new book The Value of Nothing, Alan Derschowitz's new book The Case for Moral Clarity: Israel, Hamas, and Gaza, the State of our Union, as well as ways for supporting relief and rehabilitation activities in Haiti.

In examining our house programming, we will continue to have our shabbat dinners at least once a month, with different food themes...and we'll also be going ice skating the end of this month, which should be good fun. we look forward to continued input from our members and well, tapping the creativity that is core to our community. We're also looking forward to taking advantage of the new web-based programming tools being offered to us as Moho members for future event planning.

New Ideas for Moishe House Boston

Here at Moishe House Boston, we've been thinking about how we can grow in the areas of spirituality, music, and fun. In particular, we were interested in how to help people experience enjoy Shabbat as a whole, not just Friday night. We also have been trying to figure out how to get broad community feedback on the vision and direction of our community, to help our community board develop a vision statement, short and long term goals, and a strategic plan.

So, three new program ideas. First, the fabrangen (means "bring-along" in yiddish), a program on one or two Saturday afternoons a month where people bring food, mashke (whiskey), Torah teachings, and niggunim (melodies) to share, and we just jam together until Shabbat ends, at which point we will do havalah together. Fabrangens were a big thing back in the ghetto in Eastern Europe, especially among chassidim, and we are bringing them back. We are going to do it on weeks when we also have Shabbat dinner, so that people in our community can get the feel of a holistic Shabbat experience.

Second, on off weeks where we don't have Shabbat, once a month we are going to have a group sing/jam session, where people bring their instruments, voices, and song books and we just sing and jam together. We sit in a big circle, and go around so that each person gets to pick a song. Two of our community board members did this as the "Pajammy Jam" session where people jammed while wearing pajamas, so we may incorporate that too as we make this more regular. At least while the time works, we are going to open these sessions with Havdalah, to help with the holistic Shabbat goal.

Finally, we are holding a big membership meeting on March 7th, and we just brainstormed a program that is designed to get everyone thinking about the vision of our community, and give our community board direction to move forward. It is also designed to include everyone, not just people who like/feel comfortable talking at meetings.:)

Here's how it works: we write 10 key questions on the wall, in the form of spectra, and people will be asked to put a red sticker dot on where they think we are now, and a green sticker dot on where they want us to be. For example, we are trying to figure out whether our social justice work should be more focused on local or national or international issues. So we have a spectrum with "Boston" on one side and "The whole world" on the other, and "National politics" somewhere in the middle. We assume most people will agree that we are now focused on Boston, but we are curious whether people will say - with their green sticker dots - that they want us to stay Boston focused or be more in the middle.

We look forward to reading your brainstorms and getting ideas from you!

Margie, Moishe House Boston

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Envisioning the Future of MHDC...

In conjunction with the retreat (and probably largely as a result of the retreat) our house did some soul searching about the kind of programming we’d like to offer. At points in the past, programming has come about in a fairly haphazard manner. So we were interested in thinking more deliberately about our programming, offering more Jewish content and generally providing a meaningful forum for folks in our community to interact with the world and feel like they’re improving it and also deriving some personal satisfaction from their involvement. Slowly but surely I think we’ve been making this happen. We hosted a Tu Bishvat Seder last week, next week we’re hosting a guest speaker from the African Refugee Development Center in Israel and serving brunch, we’re devoting our next Shabbat to Haiti relief, we’ve decided to offer up our house as a place to say Shabbat blessings even on nights when we’re not hosting a dinner, and we’re exploring an exciting partnership with Challah for Hunger. So, in short, I feel like we actually are realizing our vision in a lot of ways.

And though we need to be realistic about how quickly and dramatically we can change our programming (and whether we even want to change it that dramatically) it is instructive to envision what could be. For a long time I’ve been trying to figure out meaningful ways to engage our community in the larger DC community. I love the idea of doing more volunteer projects and working with local non-profits who are already doing fabulous anti-poverty/community-uplift work. We do that to come extent, but our involvement could be much more extensive. I think it would be great to gather a team of folks from our community who build relationships with local groups so that our house and the MHDC community have a constant stream of community-based projects to engage in.

Other thoughts – For a while we’ve talked about the possibility of having a community art show – gathering art from members of our community and displaying it (possibly selling it too). Maybe featuring a local band, or a few local bands? And overall just taking advantage of the space that our house affords us and making it beautiful with other people’s art (if only temporarily)!


When Are You Coming Over?

Shabbaton Weekend
This is a perfect blog prompt because I just came up with the ideal Moishe House weekend for our guests. Since we live in an amazing house in a luxurious location the idea of an energy packed 36 hours feels amazing. I imagine the retreat taking place during the Spring Summer time, right before sunset. Our first ritual is to welcome Shabbat in a very powerful way; we would gather and decompress inwardly and together. The food that we serve is healthy and kosher. As we enjoy the cuisine and the company we ease into discussions about “what does it mean to be Jewish and how can we preserve our values for the next generation?” After dinner we sit back and relax enjoy some sweets and just hang out and set up our sleeping bags on our huge patio and get ready for an evening under the stars. I love sleeping outside in nice weather and our patio can accommodate a lot of people. The following morning we awake at sunrise with meditation and yoga. After practice we have a delicious healthy breakfast and then begin to have discussions about our lifestyles and what we can accomplish and how to deal with success. Torah is the best self improvement text out there, which would serve as the ideal resource. This will lead us into noon prayer and meditation. After our noon ritual we have lunch and then nap time, during this block of the day, our guests can walk by the lake or lounge at our place. After our lunch break, we reconvene for another session reflecting on nutrition and being well. Then we as a group we begin to prepare for Havdala and then dinner. After dinner we go out into the world as individuals and a group and then party till the Sun comes up. This and so much more will be created as our ideas come to fruition.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Directions from Philadelphia - sounds like GLEE!

Something we here at Moishe House Philadelphia have been struggling with for the better part of a year and a half now is how to best incorporate regular education into our events, Jewish or otherwise. We are fairly good at hosting speakers from out-of-town (especially Pardes) that draw a good crow, but those events are few and far between, so the crowd they draw does not have to commit that much. The problem arrises when we attempt to create a regularly scheduled event involving education for people to come to.

As brief background, in the last year and a half we have attempted regular secular learning events where participants lead presentations, regular Jewish education events where we bring in learned people to discuss topics that participants choose, and even sent out a survey to ask about this information. Unfortunately, no one showed up for the former two events and only 5 people filled in the survey. Basically, even though people have nebulous "interest," no one is putting their feet on the ground for it.

With that in mind, we are experimenting with a partnership with another few Jewish organizations in our area on a program called "Topics on Tap." It is a irregular regular event where a series of speakers present or facilitate conversations on Jewish topics weekly over the course of a month. It is an interesting compromise where participants do not have to commit to one event but might be more willing to come because it is 1) at a bar and 2) for a limited time only.

Another concept some of us (read: Brian) are pondering is called "pecha kucha." MHProvidence told us about this at the regional retreat, but the basic concept is that anyone can present on a subject using 20 powerpoint slides with 20 second for each slide. That limits the presentations to 6 minutes and 40 seconds each and creates a fast-paced educational environment. It might work and it might not, but it is something new we could try.

Now you've gotten a little peak into how we at MHP are thinking about our programming. If you have any suggestions, by all means send them over!

New Directions for Mh Warsaw

New Directions for Mh Warsaw

What we're lacking? I personally don't know, if think that we doing our best to provide all kinds of events: cultural like concerts or lectures, religious like shabbats, we always are organizing something during holidays, parties, cooking classes.

But we can always do something to improve our Mh offer. I think that we need to focus on regular events for smaller, regular gropus like 10-15. Of course a party for 60 people should take place in Mh Warsaw but we need to organize something like learing groups(maybe hebrew, yiddish) or disussion gropus.
The other thing is trips. We had amazing and very memorable trip to Auschwitz last week. And for sure when EUJS will invite us next tmie we won't hesitate.
The other thing is that we need to start to work on tikkun olam kind of events, because swaps are not enough, we already planned enviromental lecture for Tu Bishvat with our former MH resident Jakub.
So what I really think and I hope the rest from Mh Warsaw team will confirm that we do need a time to think for new driections for us, but without that time we'are also doing great!