Friday, April 30, 2010

MohoDen

In September we asked you to discuss short and long term goals for your Moishe House.

Short term: have lots of fun with great weather and our growing community
Long term: ensure moishe house keeps thriving in Denver community

Please revisit this post and evaluate your progress since it was written. Have you achieved goals that you initially set for your house? If not, please discuss why. Did your goals change? Did more pressing needs arise?

We only became a house in October

Taking all this into account, please evaluate your goals for the next three months for your Moishe House. Please give concrete examples of both qualitative and quantitative goals.

Having lots of fun -- ensuring at least 80% satisfaction rate from event attendees
Keeping moishe house thriving -- increasing number of individuals who want to be a future member of Moho Denver


If your house was not active in September, please use this blog as an opportunity to discuss your goals for your Moishe House for the next year. three years and five years.

Increasing awareness among Denver jewish community about Moishe House through long-term partnerships with ramah, hillels, hebrew alliance center, rose community foundation, homeless shelters, etc

Goals and the future for MH STL

The goals/obstacles discussed in the Sept post have been worked out. Since I work Saturdays and Heather and Ross are busy planning their wedding/closing on a house, our guests have been considerate to continute their evenings elsewhere come 11:00ish, when the events start to wind down. I am pleased to report on the positive progress of project MH STL Boundary Expansion. We brought in Girls In Trouble from NY and they crowd for this event and concert far exceeded our expectations. We're teaming up with other Jewish organizations in the area to put on dinners, birthday parties, Israeli holiday events, and this will continue when Ross and Heather pass the torch onto the new roommates entering the MH universe. At this point, it is difficult to evaluate goals for the next 3 months with this transition taking place. I imagine with the new blood coming in we will continue with some events, but our calender will have new and different events posted in the months after July. But until then, I want to acclimate the new Moisheniks, which I don't think will take long. They are already regulars and are eagerly ready to jump in!

It's an exciting time in STL!
Jordan

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Looking Back, looking forward: Moishe House Boston Goals

In September, we wrote about our newly elected community board, whose role is to create short- and long-term goals and to make sure that our programming serves our mission/goals. As we noted, the housemates serve on the board, but we are in the minority, so that the community itself is empowered to set our direction.

Our general goal at that time was to start to set up a functioning board, meet several times throughout the year, and switch our role as housemates from "programmers" to "organizers". We also were thinking about 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. We had a vision of becoming part of the mainstream Jewish conversation, and help shift it towards our values of youth empowerment, leadership development, and social justice orientation.

Looking back, we have, I believe humbly, achieved our goals:

We met several times with our board, who really came into their own. In these meetings, we talked about the vision/goals/strategy for our community, and we also set up a development team that successful procured grants. We also began to put in place stronger membership, communications, and finance structures (check out our website at www.kavodhouse.com). A major highlight was our second annual membership meeting, where we had a community conversation around our collective vision of the Moishe House.

Finally, we have certainly begun to build power in the Boston area. We recently joined the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) and played an active role in an interfaith action with Treasurer Tim Cahill. We have also visited state senators a number of times to voice our concerns as a constituency and voting block--- talk about building power!

These goals will continue over the next three months, but in addition to working on them, we also have a few more concrete goals:

1. Successful community retreat: We are planning a retreat for the Moishe House Boston community in June. At the last retreat, we really hashed out the transition to a board structure, so we are excited about the prospect of really getting input from the community on what excites them. We are going to be leading some "community conversations" following up from the membership meeting to talk about issues like development, scope and size of our community, as well as have a community-wide art project. We are super excited about this! A quantitative goal for this is to get at least 50 people, but perhaps more important, will be to get time to have fun and continue to gel as a community.

2. More housemate bonding/meetings: We had originally intended a weekly meeting for the housemates, but in the last few weeks, these had been very difficult to schedule. We are recommitting ourselves to setting aside time each week to discuss business and to bond. Specifically, we want to have weekly meetings.

3. Successful transition of new housemate: I, Michelle, will be leaving to move to DC in mid-August, so the other three housemates, plus the board and, if it happens, a housemate selection team, will be in the process of identifying a new housemate. This process is always challenging, because we want it to be as transparent and equitable as possible, while still recognizing that the housemates need to "gel."

These are just a few of the goals that we have for the next 3 months. Stay tuned to see how they turn out!
--Michelle

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Moishe House London long term aims - April Blog

Well, Comrade Joe had written a great blog about our long term aims as Moishe House London.

He mainly focused on two aspects that both consider long term sustainability. One was the development of a 'council of Moishe' some kind of committee that would help transition happen smoothly if one or more housemates choose to move on.

The other was looking at ways that we could become much more autonomous in terms of funding. Even looking at a future where the house's members are the main funders.

Let's look at what we have done with regards the first suggested action; We developed a list of all the people in the community that are heavily involved with the various aspects of the house. Those that are closest to what we do and those who have a real deep understanding of the ethos.

The next step is that we will be calling those people together as soon as we can (things have been set back a little as the dust settles from our huge move from house to house). It was decided recently that the way we should conduct that night will be to explain why those people have been invited, explaining that we want to look after the community and that any transition must be handled as a community. We can then have an open discussion where we invite those people to help us set out some steps that can be taken to manage any change in personnel in the house.

We are lucky that we have a strong community and feel that this will work well and that we are bound to come out of that evening with a set of guidlines for any changes that may occur. We can then hold subsequent meetings to develop any initial ideas from this briefing.

The second suggestion of our goals for the future was more independent funding, to create a stable community that is not so reliant on just one organisation and that creates some more sustainable stability.

Well, after having a long chat with Kevin and David and knowing that London costs sooooo much to run, we have been looking at various other organisations to help.

We had a veru good meeting with the people at J-Hub who have offered their support based on a proposal.

We are lucky that we have 2 years more to come on other funding that was secured last year. That buys us some time.

What seems to be bubbling is the idea that we look to many more foundations and organisations for funding, so that we spread the risk and that we are not so reliant on jut one avenue. We are doing this on a very small scale at the moment, and from conversations that have been held recently, it seems obvious that we need to expand this way of thinking. We have definitely moved forward from September, spring boarding from our meeting with Moishe HQ followed by J-Hub, it is our intention to continue the momentum and find more organisations to meet with to discuss this.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

MHBJ April blog

This blog prompt comes at a good time for us, since we have now had almost 4 months since our January meeting with our MHBJ regulars where we devised a plan to serve their needs and push our activities to a new level. Our weekly yoga classes have provided us with a way to care for our bodies (necessary in such a dirty city) and ensure that every week people will come by the house, sometimes to stay for dinner too. We did not rely on these yoga classes as our "events", however, and continued to do around 3-4 more activities each month. Our monthly brunch and community-led text study has happened 3 times already, with the fourth one coming up this weekend. Although I wish these were better attended (usually we have around 5-7 people) I think it is important to have this space to bring in regular intellectual discussion on religion and tangential topics. Another regular activity, Shabbat dinner (usually once a month) is always very highly appreciated. This one I wish could accomodate more people when we do it. Right now we keep it invite-only for about 15 people, because of space limitations at our table. We have kept it a sit-down affair, although I suppose in the future we could try for more potluck/couch/floor seating, like our seder.

Speaking of our seder, that was a surprise. Led by efforts from community members we had over 30 people in our house, in a big circle on the floor. We were getting requests to come up to the last minute--- many saying they specifically were hoping to come and not attend the Chabad seder, where they do not feel as comfortable.. That just proved to me that the young Jews are out there, and our presence here in Beijing is a big plus for them.

For the next three months, I hope to make our brunches better-attended or else revitalize their formatting in some way. Also, when the weather finally gets nice, we would like to have more larger meals with our rooftop BBQ and get back that open feeling with lots of people in the house that we had last summer. At the end of the summer Tyler and I are not sure what is in store for us next: more expat life in Beijing, or a change of scenery. But we are both committed to the continuity of MHBJ and realize from our experiences how valuable it is to the city's young Jews. Part of our goal over the next few months is to find a stable way for MHBJ to continue if/when we leave.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hannah G.'s Reflection on the Retreat

Back at home in the MH Chicago, I am exhausted and yet more excited than ever about being a part of Moishe House. We've just returned from our first MH National Retreat, this year near Austin, TX. It was a great weekend, full of meaningful programming, reflection, ritual, schmoozing, and of course, lots of eating.

It was incredible to meet all the other residents of MHs across the country. It often feels like here in Chicago we operate in a vacuum, but this weekend afforded us all the opportunity to get to know one another. I realized that I am part of something much bigger than just the community we've built here in Chicago. It was exciting to hear models from other cities (a special shout out to MH Boston!!), talk about programs that work and those that don't, and also to commiserate together on striking the balance between work, personal life, family, other commitments, and Moishe House, not to mention other struggles many of us share.

I feel inspired to develop new lines of programming around Jewish learning and to bring more ritual to some of our events. I also would like to be more intentional about reaching out to other Jews in the Chicago area and building our community. I think a first goal for our house will be to develop a strong sense of mission and purpose.

Before I close, I want to reiterate what we acknowledged at the retreat. First a big thanks to Jeremy and Aviva for putting together a great schedule. The sessions were all meaningful, I felt our input was valued, and it created lots of great prompts and opportunities for us to share with each other. I also want to give a huge thanks to David Cygielman for all of his sessions with us, but especially the session going through the MH budget, and of course his incredible dedication to the organization and his vision. It is rare and incredible to be a part of such an open and honest organization. I feel that, we, the residents, are truly valued and respected as major stakeholders and partners in the organization, in a way that I've never felt with any other organization.

To close, I feel grateful and humbled to be part of such an incredible organization. It really is a privilege to live in a Moishe House. We have the responsibility and the opportunity to make Judaism meaningful and pertinent for other Jews our age. And we are given incredible resources to build a strong community. Here we go!

Entering the Moishe-verse: my very first personal Moishe Blog post!!!

This is my first blog, so I apologize for its length - I don't expect future blogs to be this long...


So I've just moved into the most-excellent Moishe House Silver Spring at the beginning of April. I am thrilled to be a member of this community and cannot wait to get started on my contributions, but for now I've been mostly busy with moving in. My roommates, Rachael, Ben, Shelly, and Jordy have been AMAZING in helping me get in, and making me feel at home and welcome. I can already feel the bonds forming and think that we're creating a dynamic energy that is truly unique and beneficial for us and our community.


I am new here, and I am not yet feeling like a real presence in our community yet, since I've yet to meet a lot of people, but I have participated in a few events already, including:


1. Our acupuncture trial session. Imagine feeling all the endorphins you get after a long run, but minus the running part. Sounds too good to be true? Welcome to acupuncture.


2. The Clothes-Swap. Zvi (the resident whom I'm replacing) and I pretty much swapped everything, and our wardrobes still look remarkably similar post-swap. Is it a coincidence that Zvi is also a victim of PhD-dom, and that we're both into yoga as well (and no, we did not swap yoga clothing)? I'll let you decide :-)


3. Coffee-House. I used to play solo acoustic shows professionally at a couple dive bars in St. Louis, but this was before my life was abducted by my PhD thesis work. Hence, I am terribly out of practice. Long story short: If you're insecure about your performance ability, don't drink coffee before going onstage, out of practice, in front of a bunch of people. Fortunately, everyone there had a good sense of humor :-) Also fortunately, there were some AMAZING musicians there!!! I am really excited about getting some jam sessions going in our house, and I'm also toying with some ideas about songwriting and recording sessions - I've already got the equipment, I just need to figure out how to get the people together.


Some of my other ideas for events:


1. Israeli/Jewish film festival: I've acquired a projector, surround sound system, and 100 inch screen, and I already have a few Israeli and Jewish films (i.e. Walk on Water, Waltz with Bashir, Life is Beautiful, When Do We Eat?, Shoah, and probably a couple others I'm forgetting). I'm hoping that once I get the ball rolling we'll be hosting one movie per week. I was also thinking some educational documentaries would be good since we could have some discussion groups integrated along with that, which brings me to my next idea...


2. Judaism and Science discussion group: I have a B.S. in Physics, and now I'm getting ready to finish my Ph.D. in Biology, so science is obviously a huge part of my life, and it has given me a lot of perspective on things that I feel are of utility to everyone. I've been dismayed at times with some of the ~apparent~ conflicts between our Jewish traditions/beliefs and scientific perspectives. I say ~apparent~ because I cannot accept that my Judaism is incompatible with any of the basic facts of reality, so it is a lifelong goal of mine to create more dialogue between religious thinkers and scientists. I see Moishe House as the perfect outlet for beginning this endeavor. I'd love to get interested parties involved - we could even make it a partially virtual group by making an online blog site for other Moishe Houses to participate in??? Either way, I plan to get a discussion group consisting of at least one Rabbi, one scientist, and one philosopher, in which we can debate books of our choice (my first suggestions would be "Finding Darwin's God", and "Permission to Believe"), watch documentaries ("The Power of Myth" could be a cool one to explore), and anything else that could help inform and stimulate constructive communication about this sometimes heated, but always relevant and interesting topic.


3. Hebrew Lessons: I don't know how to live with the fact that my knowledge of Hebrew is so lacking. I am hearing impaired, so although my parents are both Israeli and speak Hebrew, I know very little. I cannot learn by just listening, and my parents were specifically instructed to not teach me Hebrew when I was younger because I had a lot of catching up to do on English due to my disability (I wear hearing aids now, but until I was 2 1/2 I didn't because they didn't actually know I was hearing impaired before then). Long story short, I plan to transform my personal goal for learning Hebrew into a Moishe community event. I would like to either get a Hebrew teacher to come to our house once a week for small group lessons, or I'm also thinking about investing in Rosetta Stone software, in the hopes that I could project it on a screen (see event #1), such that small groups could all use it together.


So that's where I'm at for now. I'd LOVE any suggestions/ideas/comments from any of you all. I'm incredibly sad that I can't be at the retreat now, but since I'd just joined, I'd not had enough time to plan for such a trip.


On a final note, I'm going to Israel from May-June to collaborate with a biophysicist (Nir Gov: http://www.weizmann.ac.il/chemphys/gov/research.html) at the Weizmann Institute. I am really proud of the fact that I've developed collaborations between US labs at the NIH (my lab is here: http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/research/scientists/kacharb.asp) and Israeli labs. Another one of my lifetime goals/dreams is to develop and maintain collaborations between US and Israeli scientific communities, and I even hope to get an adjunct professor position at an Israeli university someday, but to do research there using US dollars...seems like I'm off to a good start!!!


Hope you've all had a great weekend at the retreat, and I can't wait to meet any/all of you!!!


Peace/Shalom.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April and beyond at MoHoLo

Hello all,
 
Much news and many events!
 
It has been a massive month so far, what with leaving Egypt AKA (the old Moishe House) and moving to our fabulous new abode just around the corner. Some of you have already had a chance to join us there and I think will agree it's a fantastic space. If we can bring half as much joy, learning, warmth and creative Jewish community as we experienced in Staverton Road, we will be very very pleased. If you need the new address please drop one of us an email or Facebook message.
 
Not only is it the end of the Staverton Road MoHoLo era but also of the Joseph Finlay MoHoLo era. Joseph was one of Moishe House London's original founders, and has been resident for the two and half years we've been in existence. Now he's moving to a flat in Crouch End, we will miss all his musical, creative and communal genius.
 
But we are delighted to welcome back Daniel Lichman, who is stepping in while Aviad takes a month off in Honduras!
 
As for the rest of us...
Joel is readying himself and his actors for 'The Engineer of Chelm' at the Jewish Museum.
Natalia is rockin the 7am yoga and porridge!
Brett is looking forward to Gabby Young's next headline show at The Jazz Cafe on the night of Sat 8th May!
Daniel is loving being back in the house enjoying a wonderful new place but the same special feel, as well as his new job at the Three Faiths Forum
Rachel is storytelling in Belgium, brainstorming in Soho and is in the process of setting up Moishe House veg boxes (contact Rachel for more on that one)

-

Before we get on with the events, we have a special call out for artists:

In June we'll be turning Moishe House London into an art gallery, with a special launch evening to kick off the exhibition. We are currently looking for artists who would like their work to be featured or might want to create new work for the exhibition. Please drop Joel an email or FB message, or contact our curator Daniel Heyman, if you're interested.

-

Read on for events in April and some in May... especially our grand unveiling, a ticket-only house party on 1st May. You need to buy your ticket from TicketWeb to attend - see details below.
 
Date:
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Time:
19:30 - 21:30
Location:
The NEW Moishe House London
 
 
Join Keith Kahn-Harris and Kevin Sefton at MoHoLo for the first gathering of an exciting new initiative! The aim of this project is to help make the UK Jewish community self-sufficient in honey for Rosh Hashanah within 5 years. We need 200 hives to do this. Bee-keeping is surprisingly easy, immensely fulfilling and has a sweet reward. You don't need much space to do it – you can even put hives on a roof. Could you or someone you know be interested? Do you know of a Jewish organisation that might be willing to host a hive? As well as being fun, this project has a serious purpose: join us in working towards a more sustainable Jewish community and to help promote biodiversity. If you want to get involved then please contact us at kkahnharris@yahoo.co.uk
 
Date:
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Time:
19:00 - 21:00
Location:
The NEW Moishe House
 
 
A fantastic talk and discussion hosted by Moishe House London and HaMakom: A Centre for Jewish Spirituality. Venerable Amaranatho was born and brought up in the Jewish faith, and in his late teens had severe doubts about Judaism and left all religion behind him. He went on to work within the computer industry and took a degree in computing and artificial intelligence. He then traveled around the world for four years, where he learnt about meditation and the thought began, to become a monk. He has been a Buddhist monk for ten years and lives at Amaravati Monastery near Hemel Hempstead.
Date:
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Time:
19:45 - 22:00
Location:
The NEW Moishe House
 
Moishe House London, together with the JCC, hosts a monthly evening of socialising with you, your friends and our local Darfuri community. See more at http://www.jcclondon.org.uk/Social_Hang_Out.html
 
Start Time:
Saturday, 01 May 2010 at 20:00
End Time:
Sunday, 02 May 2010 at 02:00
Location:
Moishe House Version 3.1: The Brondesbury Park Era!
 
 
On Saturday 1st May we'll be unveiling the new Mo-ishe palace in style, with a ticket only house warming party for our friends. It's Lag B'Omer and May Day, so the perfect time for it! Line up is TBC but we'll have DJs and bands for sure.

We have a (set) number of tickets, ADVANCE SALE ONLY FROM HERE: http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_london&query=detail&event=380874&interface=

We do not often charge for events at Moishe House London, but the last one and a half years of opening our house for all kinds of events have taken their toll on the space, and we need to reach out to our community to help cover refurbishment costs. The ticket price is £10 and the address will be sent out to ticket-holders. We love you and can't wait to celebrate with you in our new home!
 
All our best wishes,
Joel, Rachel, Natalia, Brett, Aviad and Daniel


--
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.

www.moishehouse.org

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pesach and spring in Warsaw

This year I had this great oportunity to help my mom with some pesah cooking because we where making knedlah together. It was really nice aspecialy that my mothers knedlah are the best one can get (At list in my opinion;). And she has a frezer full of knedleh now and I will eat them all soon :) Its not a problem that Pesah is over.

Evry year i descover that i like Pesach more than last year. for egzample Im a fan of maca with horseraddish and i aricatre it more and more even dough maybe Im not sopose to because maror shuld me something unplesant.

The winter this year was really long and cold so Im really happy about the fact that is war enough to walk around not wearing a coat or seat in a park with friends. I just came back from Italy but the wether in Warsaw is even better then in Bologna or Florence.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

springtime in philly

I'm glad springtime was ushered in accompanied by Passover-- and it really did feel like springtime here in Philly, as the weather finally began to get beautiful, the days longer, and the buds began appearing on all the trees. I was glad the two came together because it gave me the opportunity to share the change in season with family and friends. Through the traditions and ritual of preparing and participating in the passover seder I also felt connected to those family and friends who I wasn't able to be with this year or who have passed on and are dearly missed.

Springtime brings the promise not only of a little more sunshine (literally), but also, especially for those of us whose energy or get-up-and-dance tends to dwindle during cold winter months, the figurative sunshine of reuniting with friends and a social life that did some winter hibernating! The seder we had on the second night was the first I've hosted without my parents (in a house i was living in that is... I held an amazing seder for friends from my grad school program outside our bus in colorado...) and was a wonderful experience. I was happy to see some new faces at our seder and old (including a friend from high school, I've only connected with once since we both moved to Philly over the summer!), but all happy to be sharing a delicious meal, important conversation (thanks to the theme of child nutrition), and lots of laughs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lessons from this time of year

After just finishing a great Pesach, I would like to share a couple lessons I learned during the holiday. Pesach just finished, and now we are counting the days to Shavuot. Both of these holidays teach us very important lessons in helping to build our character.

In Pesach we refrain from eating chametz, and instead we eat Matzah. When looking at the the two different types of bread, we see that the difference between the two is that chametz rises and is filled with air, whereas matzah does not rise. The dough rising can be compared to a person's ego, when we are "filled up with air" we can become cock and arrogant. Matzah teaches us the importance of being modest. And on the night before pesach we search our house for chametz just like we must search for and remove all of the arrogant qualities that we have.

We see it time and time again in our history; whenever, someone is arrogant they will ultimately meet there demise. Also, the greatest people in our history are the people who have great humility. The best example is Moses, who is considered to be the most humble person to ever live, and obviously one of the greatest.

We are now in a period of time called the Omer. Every evening we count the days until Shavuot. It is thought that every day that we count, we improve a specific characteristic. Ultimately making us a better person.

Wishing you all the best,

Joey Yadgar
Moishe House Great Neck

Moishe House Great Neck

In the past we have worked with our neighbor Moishe House Hoboken. We've shared event ideas and events. We had some great Winter and Summer retreats with them and other east coast Moishe Houses. These events not only enlarged our community by meeting members and guest of other houses, it also helped bring our Moishe House Great Neck community closer, as these were great events.

It would be exciting to collaborate with one of the international Moishe Houses. One idea is to film a short video of one of our events and send it to an international house, and they can do the same and send one to us.

We hope you all had a great Pesach,

Moishe House Great Neck

Alan - MHMC Personal Blog

Moishe House as a contemporary lifestyle

Personal Blog.


It has been approximately half a year since Moishe House was set up in Mexico City.

My oh my, how time flies.

In many ways, the experience of living in one of these grassroots community centers is now such an ordinary and common part of my everyday life that it seems to me that there was no other way of living before this.

Nonetheless,when I sit back to think about it, it dawns on me that t there´s a huge chunk of people that don´t live in a Moishe House and wouldn´t want to. This is not only because these people are not jewish (duuh!), but because the plurality of lifestyles found in our modern world makes it impossible for the Moishe House proposal to be a common denominator, and it shouldn´t.

However, for mexican jews like me, it is a pretty attractive deal.

When exploring the multiple lifestyles one becomes aware of the peculiarities of his own habits and rituals. So, there should be something particular about living in a Moishe House that would make it stand out as a lifestlyle worth living.

So, as important as Moishe House is to many of us, let´s, for one minute, suppose that outside of the Moishe House microcosm there are people that don´t live in one and wouldn´t even want to. What on earth is THAT like? Is it advisable for anyone to live in one? What are the pros and cons of living your life based on a day to day schedule in which your house is a focal point for community?

Ok,when living in a Moishe House, there´s all the cleaning up to do, and this is definitely something that is not so common in other lifestyles (unless you´re up for the rock and roll lifestyle full of debauchery).

Also, there are moments in the Moishe House experience in which you wished you had no friends at all, just so that you could enjoy a moment of solitude: piece and quiet are rarely attributes of the Moishe House lifestlye (unless, of course, you´re organizing a meditation event).

There are, however some things that few other contemporary lifestyles have that are strictly and purely part of the Moishe House way of living. These are, for me: peoplehood, solidarity, network and international feel. In other words, the mere fact that your house is a seeding ground for an international movement makes living in one of these little babies a hell of a ride. This is something that few other lifestyles offer and that constitutes, for me, the most forward-thinking part of the whole Moishe House inniative.

It´s a Monday night here in a cafe in Mexico City, and, unlike the people seated next to me, I´m writing a blog that´s dedicated to a whole group of people with whom I share a common lifestlyle towards a common goal. I´m lucky to be a part of it.

Alan Grabinsky

Paul Feldman - MHMC - Personal Blog

Its been nearly six months since Moishe House Mexico City got started
and it seems all the handwork is finally paying off. Although we have
not exploited conventional media, word of mouth is catching on and the
word is spreading. However, there are several strategies and
directions that need to be considered. I think that this strategies
will determine the type of community we form at MHMC.

I believe that the Moishe House project is mainly about community
building. In this sense, what events we decide to do or not do will
have an effect on the type of crowd we attract. Parties and mixers,
for example, are an excellent way of spreading the word around,
meeting new people and getting large numbers; however, they are not
very effective in creating a sense of community and getting loyal
followers. This implies that we have to start weighting the type of
community we want to build.

Living in a large city makes things even more complicated. There are
zillions of things going on all the time and the range of options, and
their diversity, span a pretty heterogenous mix. In our context, this
means that different events are very likely to attract very different
crowds. So it becomes a pretty complex task to offer a variety of
different events, often with new additions to our programming, while
at the same time maintaining and building a community. I have found
that repeating events, e.g. shabbez dinner, is the best way of
getting back familiar faces and building a stable community.

For the reasons stated above, I believe that there is still a big
challenge ahead for Moishe House Mexico City. We have to decide what
sort of community we want to create and the best of achieving that
goal. I believe that although repetitive events are great for loyalty,
they are still a big challenge. This is the case because they have to
remain fresh and varied in order to not lose their appeal. Also a very
tight community might be a difficult obstacle for new comers. So I
believe getting the right mix, between the new and the old, the huge
and the intimate, etc., will be our next critical step.

In conclusion, the past six months have been a very rewarding
experience and we are beginning to sow the fruits of our labor but I
still believe there is a great challenge ahead of us. Our community is
starting to take shape but it would seem it is still quite malleable.
There is still a lot of room for change but I think that we need to
start thinking a lot more about direction. Our name is starting to be
recognized, a lot of people are coming to our house and out community
is getting stronger and bigger. As with life, the toughest decision we
will have to face in the next couple of months is not what we decide
to offer but what we decide to exclude.

Paul Feldman

MH Mexico City - March Blog - Inter House Collaboration

Moishe House Mexico City is geographically located in a country that
is very big and has no other Moishe Houses, this makes it is hard to
be in tune, at least physically, with the global network. However, we
have had opportunities to get in touch with this network: very often,
someone who has visited another Moishe House drops by, just because
they have experienced something positive from another place. This is
as close as we have been with the rest of the international gang. This
does not mean, however, that virtual collaboration isn´t possible.
There are several ideas about how to make this happen. ‬

‪ We could have a global charity month, in which we would have to
raise some money together, as a network. This will not only reinforce
the feeling of working together but will help us have, among all the
Moishe Houses, a common goal. Something fun we haven´t tried out yet
is having some event together online, like a seder among to Moishe
house using some projector, web cams and skype to communicate. ‬
‪ ‬
‪ Of course, the most obvious international collaboration would be
having actual Moishehouseniks over to our house. In this sense, we
could consider the Moishe house network as a more meaningful copy of
the couch surfing network. In MHMC we are really excited to receive
all kind of different people as our guests. Also if we are not too
busy, we could organize some tour through Mexico City. If this is not
possible, however, we could start a blog or a publication in which
each of the Moishe Houses gives an "insider´s guide" of the place
where they are located at. This is a great way to have international
collaboration and will reinforce the international feel of the whole
project, while keeping a local perspective to the whole thing. It
might be a stretch but an exchange program, among residents, might be
an interesting way of transferring knowledge, know-how and providing a
greater sense of community among us.‬

‪ Because we are one of the younger Moishe houses,we could get some
benefit by making use of a more personal feedback program from other
houses, something like a grass roots kind of mentorship: having an
online meeting with a similar Moishe house every two months and
checking in on them through skype. There could be, also, some sort of
Facebook-type community or Twitter account for all the Moishe Houses.
This is way in which we can start to develop the feeling of being an
international community and spread the love around. In the future,
we could reach people who have been in other Moishe Houses before they
reach us. They will feel a membership to the whole project even if
they are not residents, and thus we could assure them a community
before they even come.‬

‪ In conclusion, although geographical and physical obstacles are hard
to overcome, there are several virtual ways in which can stay more
connected with the Moishe House community. This methods might not be
ideal but they could help bring the Moishe House network closer. We
also believe that the fact that Mexico has been included as part of
the national retreat will provide a unique opportunity to form real
bonds with the U.S. network. Virtually there are several ideas to be
developed and tried, and most of them will probably be poor
substitutes for real human contact; however, slowly the world is
shrinking and having more links and ties between this community will
surely provide a stronger and better organization.

All the best,
MHMC
For whatever reason, I have been rather uninspired to write this blog. They always seem to sound to revolve around the same themes: a successful event at the House, an unsuccessful event at the house, being overwhelmed, wanting to do more to create community and so on. Life at the Moishe House seems to ebb and flow with the seasons. The build up to an event is filled excitement, nervousness and anticipation and when it is over, I give a sigh of relief and then focus on the next most pressing issue in my life. Whether it be something at work, studying for the MCAT and so on.
For the first time, I read through fifteen or more blogs on here for some inspiration. What I found was even better than that, I read fifteen or more blogs that could have been written by myself. We Moishe Houses' make up a strange conglomoration of unfamiliar yet almost identical lives. Whether it be in London, New Orleans or Portland we are living parallel lives. We all stuggle with the same things like trying to throw a successful and meaningful Passover Seder for thirty plus people, while finding a delicate balance in building our personal lives. We all chose this somewhat hectic yet rewarding lifestyle for a reason: Jewish community is critically important to us in our personal lives and we know that we must help it grow if we want it to be successful. I am enormously comforted by the fact that there are almost thirty other Moishe Houses around the world that are struggling and succeeding just like we are.

Moving to the Palace

Well, it has been an eventful time this last month. Pesach signifies a year since I have been in the house. Yes, a year! And what a great time to move to a veritable Palace. As I type this, I find that there is no draft washing across the back of my neck. Yes, our old house was cold ALL THE TIME.

We have underfloor heating in the bathrooms now, although I haven't worked out how to use it! There is a whole lounge area downstairs that is perfect for events.

But, to move an entrie house of 6 people's belonging's was a big task. Luckily we had reggae music, smiley people, some amazing friends and parents and a great team spirit that got us through. Before we knew it, we were sitting in our new place in the candlelight eating beautiful food and dreaming of pastures new....

Taking Pesach Literally

Well, okay, we didn't move out of Egypt, so not that literally, but for sure, we have moved out of 'Mitzrayim', a 'narrow place' and into a new and wonderful space. Finally MoHoLo has space to breathe. Last night the house was full of our first round of guests for Mimounah, making bread and forming friendships.
In the next month we will be welcoming more innovations from the local community, including a gathering of future beekeepers and the first 2010 meet-up of Grassroots Jews, never mind the first MoHoLo baby! So it's great to feel that this is a living, breathing communal space. Last month saw the launch of NuMa, and I do hope that more people are feeling that community creation and nurturing is a natural thing to do, not a consumer commodity to pay membership for. It doesn't take much to make it happen, just a small effort of skill from each person. There's no place I'd rather be.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Limmud New Orleans


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a few workshops at the LimmudFest New Orleans .  Spearheaded by Gail Chalew, Rabbi Uri and an army of volunteers, New Orleans LimmudFest New Orleans is a conference/festival of Jewish learning.  Over 50 workshops were taught by local and national luminaries on perhaps the broadest array of topics ever conceived in a two day conference.   If you don't believe me check out Sunday's schedule: http://us.conf.masteragenda.com/h/nola2010/conf_browser/index.html .  I would say the top three most creative topics were

  1. Creole/Cajun/Jewish Foodways and Cultures
  2. Constructing a (Jewish) Poker Face: Femininity, Masculinity, and the Jewish Self
  3. Blood, Guts, and Gore: Three Approaches to Leviticus
The LimmudFest is  partof the international Limmud  movement which originated in London.  The pictures below are from the workshop I attended, led by Jack Wertheimer, was an interesting discussion about the current Jewish community.  Here is the synopsis:

In their own separate ways, each of the Jewish religious denominations in the United States—Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox Judaism—are facing serious internal challenges—and also the external one of post-denominationalism. What are these challenges, and what is on the horizon for Jewish religious life in the U.S.?

What Jack and many other participants identified on that figurative horizon where the loosely based community learning initiatives such as Limmud, Moishe House, Avodah and Birthright Next that are inter-denominational and detached from Judaism's larger institutions (read: federation and synagogue).  

Rabbi Uri in his Passover dvar made an interesting observation about the uniqueness of LimmudFest.  It is about choice.  The students have the choice to attend whatever class they please at whatever time.   This changes the power dynamic between the presenter and the audience by allowing participants to vote with their feet.  The presenter is not interesting, well then find a topic that is.  This enhances the learning experience, applying just a bit of pressure on the presenters - who are not paid - to truly deliver. 

Pictures from LimmudFest

Yom Hashoah

This upcoming month marks the annual anniversary of Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. Throughout the years I have tried to make an effort to do something out of the ordinary for this special day. Last year, as well as this year, I plan on attending a dinner and conversation event which is sponsored by one of the local synagogues, here in San Francisco.

There is something incredibly powerful and humbling about the evening experience of being able to deeply delve into the personal experiences and life stories of a person who lived a lifestyle during a time period none of us can imagine. Trying to understand, make sense of and even find ways to appreciate the events that took place in people's lives 60 or 70 years ago during WWII is a fascinating and incredibly interesting experience, something all Jews, and all humans, young and old, should make a priority of doing.

There are not a lot of Holocaust survivors left, as many of these people are either getting too old to remember and be able to relive and retell their stories due to a variety of health effects, or they simply are no longer living with us. My grandfather is a survivor and often times I ask myself why I did not ask him to tell me and my sister his stories more regularly, or even at all; even though it was hard, scary, emotional, incredibly difficult, and very sad to see him revisit those upsetting and horrific experiences. Unfortunately, due to Alzheimer's he is not in the position to retell these stories, even if for some whirlwind reason he felt more comfortable doing so now than he had in the previous 70 years...

This population of people are some of our richest historical heirlooms and we should continue to take advantage of the resource and privilege we have by still having them in our lives, even if we only have the opportunity to really hear and experience their stories one time a year.

Danny in SF

Vernal Equinox

SPRINGTIME!

Already I've sat in the hammok,
Hiked in the woods,
danced outside,
rode my bike for no reason,
and more than anything fantasized about the greatness that will be this summer. Many of my social circle are finishing undergrad this year, some are going away for grad school... so there's a perceptible imperative to make as much of this summer as we all can.

But first, I'll have to survive finishing my semester, while keeping up with work, teaching, performing in a full-length modern dance production, and of course keeping the house pumping with life and energy as the center of our little community.
Two more community members moved in up the street this season... a sure sign that we're doing something positive towards a real neighborhood.

On the other hand, I'm super-duper broke and about twice as tired. At least I can fall asleep in a hammok finally!

MoHollaboration

Collaboration is essential to communal success.  If not for collaboration we wouldn't have It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Fugees, Superbad, the Traveling Wilburys and a whole bunch of scientific discoveries.  It is thanks to collaboration that P. Diddy, Ja Rule, and Timbaland even have careers. Collaboration can save something from going wrong ala Run DMC saving an otherwise forgettable Aerosmith song or Jay Z making Linkin Park bearable for one brief track, or can enhance an already good endeavor (see: Alicia Keyes on "Empire State of Mind").

At MoHo Dallas we understand the importance of collaboration.  We are the newest Ho in the neighborhood, having only been around for a month but already we see the importance of teamwork.  As we continue to grow MoHo Dallas in our own backyard we have come to realize the utility of relying on our friends and neighbors to make our events stronger and our community tighter.  We have much to learn and are excited to take in the lessons from the milestones and missteps of the MO' fathers who came before us.  We see the upcoming retreat as an excellent collaborative opportunity.  Meeting everyone face to face will make future inter-house collaborations a more organic and comfortable endeavor.
-MoHoD

MoHollaboration

Collaboration is essential to communal success. If not for collaboration we wouldn't have It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Fugees, Superbad, the Traveling Wilburys and a whole bunch of scientific discoveries. It is thanks to collaboration that P. Diddy, Ja Rule, and Timbaland even have careers. Collaboration can save something from going wrong ala Run DMC saving an otherwise forgettable Aerosmith song or Jay Z making Linkin Park bearable for one brief track, or can enhance an already good endeavor (see: Alicia Keyes on "Empire State of Mind").

At MoHo Dallas we understand the importance of collaboration. We are the newest Ho in the neighborhood, having only been around for a month but already we see the importance of teamwork. As we continue to grow MoHo Dallas in our own backyard we have come to realize the utility of relying on our friends and neighbors to make our events stronger and our community tighter. We have much to learn and are excited to take in the lessons from the milestones and missteps of the MO' fathers who came before us. We see the upcoming retreat as an excellent collaborative opportunity. Meeting everyone face to face will make future inter-house collaborations a more organic and comfortable endeavor.

-MoHoD

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The Hunt for Ready Rommates-MH Oakland-Joshua Walters

I was explaining recently to someone about my very interesting living situation. I told them I was looking for roommates, but that statement had to come with a lot of added information. "The situation is financially attractive but requires a time commitment and very special individual," I said. It's like a job with many finely tuned and ridiculously exclusive requirements. Once you narrow the population down to just Jews (probably at best 4% of the Bay Area), they have to be in their 20s (probably 15% of that 4%), out of college no less (maybe half of that 15% of 4%), but most of all a community organizer (...just plain rare...). "Wow," the person exclaimed, "that is exclusive...j.exclusive."

I recently found myself this month in need of not one but 2 two roommates, which had me out of the house on a sort of play date/audition/hang out evening extravaganza. The big room in our house is big enough for a couple so I headed to the other side of the neighborhood for a dinner date of burritos with a cozy couple I knew through spoken word. These folks were dream roommates, social, adult, intelligent, funny, they were already involved in their community and they even had "shabbatlucks" at there house once a month....if only. But before I could even ask, the guy said, "we both lived in co-ops for 5 years, were done with roommates." At least the burrito was good: a supper chicken burrito is the size of small child, bless that Oakland taco truck...more salsa please.

DP gets personal

Ok, Ok, so they split another particle and got another photograph of the Big Bang! Creation at its paramount entropy. Funny thing is they have missed the point entirely. How many Millions can we spend on discovering how life came about. There is always a smaller model (particle) within a larger model (universe). Every tradition has their own epic story of god and man. Here is mine, we are one and the same! Powerful and unique. He who seeks is never found... and what not. Recognize your potential to create, we are all the creators, and when you become turned on to that all the stories and folk lore begin to make more sense. And when you've made sense of that, stop fighting and begin creating. Because it doesn't matter what book you subscribe to, it's all the same conclusion. We are the creators!

New Orleans Passover Seder


The New Orleans Moishe House hosted a second night Passover seder last week. This was a very special evening for us because it was the first seder MHnola has hosted since opening its doors two years ago. For Passovers past, many of us traveled home to spend the holiday with family, but in lieu of family members MHnola set out to combine our various familial Passover traditions, and in process prompt a few new traditions of our own.


In preparation for the seder I certainly gained an increased appreciation for the labor of love my mother and grandmother poured into our family seders. The tasks are many: shopping, cooking, cleaning, hunting down 11th hour horseradish when every supermarket in town has sold out. I made my first attempt at making matzo-ball soup, and despite burning half the stock and raising balls the size of grapefruits, it all worked out.


The seder itself fielded a wide range of players from veteran halachic scholars to rookie gafilte fish eaters. With an impromptu haggadah assembled by several attendees we navigated the Passover story leaving no question unanswered. All and all this was a great experience for the residents of MHnola. I think we were all pleasantly surprised at our ability to lead discussion and do the heavy lifting associated with Passover questions and practice – not to mention we made an awesome brisket. Photos by: Federica Valabrega
http://www.federicavalabrega.com/
STATE OF LOUISIANA

Inter-house collaboration: MoHoLo

Inter-Moishe House collaboration is a little different for the international houses, I imagine. We're separated from most of the other houses by that Atlantic ocean and there's just a handful of houses in Europe.

But we've had a little contact with one or two of them. Last month, we at Moishe House London hosted the Marom (Conservative Young Adults) European conference delegation for an evening, to tell them about what we do and other exciting Jewish things going on in London. The leader of the delegation was Eszter from MH Budapest and we hatched an outlandish plan, only half-serious but enamoured with the idea nonetheless:

So one weekend MH London residents travel to Hungary and stay at MH Budapest, and at the same time MH Budapest residents come and stay at MH London. We each run a Shabbat in the other's community, a kind of Moishe House house swap!

OK, so there are drawbacks, like not spending time with the residents of the other house, and not being able to find where anything is in the kitchen. But we think it's a crazy enough idea to work and would probably lead to further collaboration.

In the meantime, MH Chisinau have written to us and asked if we want to be pen pals. You've got to start somewhere, right?

Moishe House OC - Rae Gross

I have a worm compost in the backyard of the MoHoOC that I brought with me from my previous apartment. With the help of a friend we built the box, I bought the worms, and the project was off. I still feed my worms weekly (although they can't keep up with all the waste we produce at the house) and I think it is nice to make small gestures like these to environmentalism.

I am always surprised when I get called a Hippie for my efforts with my worm compost (which is small), but I think that is the attitude toward people that make small steps to being more environmentally friendly.

At the Moishe House I have also looked for ways decrease our carbon footprint, including installing more efficient light bulbs, using biodegradable products (i.e. utensils made from corn, recycled cups, etc.)

And this month we are taking it one step further by starting the process of installing an organic garden in our back yard. While not every Moishe House has the luxury to have a garden, I feel it is important that we be good stewards of not only the local Jewish community, but also the environment.

MHP Personal Blog - Rebecca

As I’m gearing up for Passover, my favorite Jewish holiday, I’m again struck by the thoughtfulness of the Jewish calendar. Even though sometimes preparing for Passover can seem a daunting task, the act of cleaning your kitchen, scrubbing the light switches, going through the corners of your home to check for chametz, not to mention the mental preparedness of bringing new ideas to the Seder, thinking of how you will ever survive without bread for seven. whole. days., it’s also a great time to do some spring cleaning, both in actuality (the refrigerator needed a good wipe-down anyway) and metaphorically speaking.

What cobwebs can you clean out of your mental closet? It’s been a few months since we’ve all done the stock-taking that’s tradition during the month leading up to Rosh Hashanah and it’s probably safe to say that, were it not for Passover, you might not think about this kind of stuff until the fall rolls around again – I mean, the weather’s getting nicer, the days are getting longer, who wants to stay inside and clean?!

But Judaism points out that not only is it a good idea to think about the being free, it’s a commandment – to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt as if you were there and were being liberated right along with Moses. So, what are you a slave to in our modern world? Maybe it’s time to do some mental spring-cleaning of your own.

Praying for music

Last couple of months for all of us here in Warsaw was a major step forward. We had a lot of small and big events, organizing a lot of different stuff which had a large impact on ourself and of course all others. But for me specially it was a very special time. It's reason it was a organized by me a concert in synagogue of jazz trio Mizrachi with a grate musicians.

Besides music, it was success of my idea of bringing more life into the temple. It appeared that with paying respect to religion, the sacrum of that place it can be a good place to meet with other people and experiencing something special. Music gives people a very special experience that can be compared only to religious feelings. So even if one is not religious or atheist even music can give an idea of religion.

This time in Warsaw synagogue we could give that experience to all of our friends, and to other people who came. And what is very important show that temple can be used not only for prayers and religious purpose. That is very important for community, and to all others to show people what is synagogue, what temple can be and is. Let's hope it's a beginning of a new tradition!


----
Personal Blog Filip Warsaw

Monday, April 5, 2010

Does every ship need a captain?

So something I've been thinking about during our first year at the RSJ Chicago is whether a team can function effectively without a captain. From what I understand, all the Moishe Houses function as teams comprised of equal-standing members that together make decisions. This is how we've been functioning for the past 9 months. And we have been successful, very successful as a matter of fact, but nevertheless, there have been many times when we've spent too much time making a decision because all of us had different opinions. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that in any organization, there has to be a person that is responsible for making the final decision whether the rest of the team members agree or not. That way, the issue is discussed, the feedback and opinions are shared and heart, but in the end the decision is made no matter what and the person responsible for that decision can rule that the discussion has gone long enough and it is time to end it. Yes, it means that one person has more authority than the others, but it also means that things are done quicker and more efficiently. Now, I'm not sure what is the best way to go about it. Maybe, that person can be chosen every quarter or even every month, but in my opinion that is the most effective way for a team to function. Any feedback is appreciated.

-Rostik, RSJ Chicago

And then there were two in MoHOC…

This month at the MoHOC we faced an interesting challenge: the temporary loss of one of our members. Rae, the awesome yang to our yin found herself on a plane to Israel early march leaving Mitch and myself to run the show. What makes a Moishe house interesting is how members develop a following; Rae is well connected and liked in the local Jewish community, where Mitch and I are "newcomers" on the scene. Some of the first questions we received are, "So are the events still happening this month.." and "There is still a Moishe house right?" I never realized how we are such a unit, one of is sick and we post it on Facebook, again we are asked if everything is cancelled (of course this is after all the well wishing and offers of chicken soup). Needless to say our house didn't dissolve, the sky stayed in place, and our events went off without a hitch.

We hosted a very successful first Seder, I cooked most of the food while Mitch was at work and poof food appeared. In real time let's just say that I woke up 7:30 started the brisket so it could braise for 4 hours then rest, peeled and chopped, mashed and smashed, simmered and fried, boiled and whisked, then and only then POOF did food appear. I have never had the chance to cook for so many people with such diverse tastes. There are few places where such an interesting group can come together and share in one of the most special holidays, in a stranger's house that feels so much like home. Being able to host our own Seder was especially fun because it could be formatted to our needs.

One of the guests was pregnant and very hungry, in true Seder fashion we were just ready to roll at 7:15pm. We took a vote, eat first then do the service, or keep to tradition? Eating won. This proved to be a conversation piece the whole evening, prompting discussions on the meaning of Passover, family, community, and tradition. Our backwards Seder was a success, stuffed to the gills, the parsley on our Seder plate soothed our stomach, with a small portion of haroset acting as a simple desert.

The fun thing about being part of such an amazing group as Moishe House is that we get to start our own traditions, be it upside down, reverse, diagonal wise or the inverse, what makes a tradition memorable is what you take away from it. By breaking our usual method of service, serve food, eat – letting necessity guide our experience it made for one of the best Passovers both myself and our guests have ever had.

Chef Parker Hosts a Seder

I hosted my first Seder this month, this is an act of insanity or love, I'm still not sure yet. Wake up early, fire up the oven, set the brisket out to come to temperature. Chop some aromatics: sweet and earthy parsnips, creamy carrots, nibs of dusty potato, crisp watery bits of celery, and weeping crescents of onions, all bound by the unifying forces of red wine and a muslin sack of bouquet garni. The smell of searing meat mingles with the aromas of stock coming to a simmer.

I know I can deal with the caramel coated onion kugel later, that won't take long; just thinking of the smell of them cooking down to a rich golden paste makes me giddy.

Our house is permeated with the scent of fresh cooked food, and slowly guests gather, some familiar others no so much. We are a house for people who have nowhere to go; an eclectic group of Jews with one thing in common, we had nowhere to be on the first night of Passover.

Glasses clink, the table is hushed as serving dishes scurry about finding their way to a new person; the food is too good for conversation. As the wine flows and the matzoh balls are doled out en masse, we start to talk. The conversation glows more lively as embarrassing stories pile up, old memories are dusted off, and a healthy dose of embellishment is served alongside the haroset, homemade gifilte fish, kugel, and everything else that makes a Seder wonderful.

Some of our guests are house regulars, others family of residents, some just didn't have a place to go - it doesn't matter we are all there for one reason.

With dishes piled up in the sink, and with everyone either gone home or asleep, I can breathe a sigh of relief, it's done. Preparing a Seder is a labor of love, and the clean up, that is the insane part.

Passover at MoHo OC

Moishe House has created a new vehicle for me to practice my Judaism with friends. For me the last few years of Passover have been spent at my aunt and uncles house where my uncle leads the ceremony. It’s pretty much the same food, service and conversation each year. It’s not that I don’t enjoy tradition, in fact I actually really do there is something I find very warm and comforting about it. But this year we decided to start our own tradition. We ran a Seder at our Moishe House for people that are not fortunate enough to have family or friends close by that they can celebrate the holiday with.
The night began slow as I would say all events do when new people gather in the same room for the first time. But within 20 minutes and everyone having time to meet one another and become more comfortable with each other the decibel level in the room began to rise. Also due to being a workday for most the night had a rather late start. Food was being prepared as the guests were showing up and stomachs were beginning to growl shortly after. We decided to break from tradition and offer our guests the option of eating before the Seder. Everyone decided they wanted to eat so we did.
My roommate being the amazing chef he is put a twist on the meal adding almost a new life to Seder food for me. Our Gifilte fish was absolutely amazing. One was fairly traditional but made from Salmon and the other was not so traditional. It was made with Mahi Mahi and then seared (yes it was Kosher). Once again it’s not that I don’t enjoy my families cooking it’s just that after 27 years of the same cook for Seder it was nice to have a new zest to the evening meal. The brisket, kugel, morror and everything else was divine or in the words of Kevin Sorbo “it was like the fruit of the gods”.
We ended up running a reverse Seder. And it was a success!

Chickens at Moishe Nola

Chickens make great addition to a Moishe House.

I picked up Gertie, Pearl, Rose and Bubbs in December and they've been great pets of the past 4 months.  The hens regularly produce eggs, trim the lawn, and eat mosquitoes.
The hens are easy to cleanup after and require less work then a dog.

There is the need to build a coop and predators, but with the right materials (leftovers from a sukkah) and clipped wings, the hens will settle in to your yard nicely.

We're averaging 5 eggs a week per bird and it's a great joy to find the eggs each morning.  It's also great to see the birds foraging the yard or picking through the compost.

If you have any questions about getting started, let me know.  jprussack@gmail.com

Moishe Nola, Collaboration

While there are a number of tools to help MH residents collaborate, one that could be useful is an easy to manage list serve to provide postings and notices to other residents.  Every tool for collaboration of residents takes time and energy, but this is another one that could be helpful.

Currently the majority of my personal collaboration is brought about by the chance traveler that visits New Orleans, and by the retreats.

The travelers that visit bring a perspective on our house and an opportunity to learn from not just feedback, but exposure to a different set of experiences that seems to guide each house.
The retreats provide a more unifying experience where the clear mission can be shared and reflected upon.  The sharing often leads to more opportunities, and energy to be directed towards further growing our house.

We look to grow our use of MoisheWiki, and perhaps a few new tools that will help enrich our Jewish content.  Lacking any house members with a Jewish day school background our house benefits the most, in adhering to our core mission, when we have the tools to capably lead diverse Jewish programming.

Jeff

MH-Cle, personal blog - Naima

Here in Cleveland there is an awesome opportunity for young Jewish adults in their twenties and thirties through PresenTense, a program made possible by the Jewish Comunity Federation of Cleveland. In short, if you are Jewish, living in the area and have ever had a great idea of a potential business venture, NGO, non-profit, or for-profit business that supports or benifits the Cleveland comunity at large, and are fairly uncertain if this dream is possible or how to ever get it off the ground, this is the fellowship for you! Simply apply at http://www.clevelandfellowship.com . Three people will be accepted and they will recive an all expenses paid six week intensive business course of masters level work in Jerusalem! This business course will not focus on general marketing concepts of hypothetical business ventures. Rather, your dream business will be picked apart piece by piece by professionals untill all the kinks are worked out. The recipients of this fellowship will also be schooled extensively in networking and obtaining money from donors, investors and philanthropists. Upon their return, they will recive a $15,ooo stipend which they can either live on or use for personal expenses or invest directly into thier business. They will also have the support of the Jewish Comunity Federation of Cleveland in their search for funding, employees, networking, etc. This is an amazing oppertunity! I am definitely applying for it and I have spent a lot of the last month and a half telling all of the creative, innovative Jews around about it! I hope that all my Moishe House roommates apply for it as well (cough, Ti, the dead line is April 15th, don't miss it, cough).

tutti frutti

I write this just after returning from the Green Mill Poetry Slam, which back in the day was the first poetry slam in existence, and, more recently, is our latest Moishe event. Tonight traveling poets from New York and around the world came together on stage to talk about everything from race, to losing their virginity, to Little Richard's legacy (being a fierce gay man in the '50s black community, if you're wondering), and in the middle of it, I had a really nice moment looking around at my roommates and some friends we'd brought together and giggling at the "wap bam ih do bap di dap bam boom" coming from the stage. It made me excited for the network of inside jokes we're building. That network is, of course, closely connected to the network of freshly baked challah lovers, eaters and bakers. Not to mention the network of justice makers, marchers, and mind speakers. My best moments in Moishe so far have been when my favorite things about Judaism come out and build through our programming. Looking forward to doing more social justice oriented programs in the new quarter. And, inspired by my visit to Moishe house New Orleans, I think we need some chickens.

Can't even wait to see ya'll outside of Austin!

wendy

Understanding your guests

One thing that I've noticed is the importance of being able to understand and relate to your guests. Without it, you can organize events, and people will definitely show up, because for any event, you can find a subgroup of people who is interested in what you're presenting. But it's hard to build a community with a disjointed collection of events that have no central meaning behind them. In order to overcome that and start building a community, you have to look at the people who come to your events, and try to figure out what is it that appeals to them in Moishe House, and what is it that they're trying to find here. Once you figure that out, planning events around these central themes will generate predictable interest in the community and you'll be able to have repeat visitors that you can build better relationships with.

Inter-Moishe House Collaboration

We at the Moishe House are very fortunate to have an amazing network to work with. The fact is we haven't really taken advantage of that to the fullest here at the RSJ Chicago. We have collaborated with the other Chicago Moishe House on one or two occassions and have shared tips with other Moishe Houses during the last regional retreat and a bit after, but that's about it. I definitely think that we should move in the direction of greater collaboration, but I'm not quite sure how. I guess that's what this blog entry is all about - us sharing ideas on the topic. So here are a few of my ideas:

First, I think it could be cool for several Moishe Houses to hold a joint event on the same day - maybe a celebration of a holiday or a fundraiser of some kind. There would be some joint planning and execution. That would really be awesome because it would provide a sense of community that spans nationwide or even worldwide. It would also encourage sharing of knowledge and experience and help all of us think outside the box because it would some fresh energy to the mix. Which brings me to...

Second, what we are already doing with the blog and the wiki is great because it allows us to share our ideas and knowledge with each other. Maybe we could take turns and schedule conference calls with the other Moishe Houses to share our insights and issues that we're dealing with that month.

Third, a great idea is to use our network to help each other and members of our community to find job opportunities, discounts on products, and services, business partners, consulting in different areas, etc. In other words, we can utilize the contacts that we all have to help each other in different areas.

Also, we can definitely travel between Moishe Houses and participate in each other's events and/or if we meet people from other areas, we can refer them to local Moishe Houses.

That's about it for this blog entry. Hope some of this could be useful. Until next time.

-Rostik, RSJ Chicago

A few bits of wisdom

I will share a few valuable lessons I learned while living here the
past 9 months.

- Compartmentalize your time. When you focus on your main job, school
work, business, or whatever it is you do during the day, don't get
distracted. Yes, put all your effort into completing whatever task
you are focused on, with prejudice. Nothing, not even Moishe House
should come in the way. Similarly, once you are devoting your time to
Moishe House activities, focus 100% on that. Single-tasking is the
greatest virtue in being effective with your time.

- Optimize. Reuse an old meeting agenda as a quick template for a new
one. Focus on the essentials of your responsibilities. Delegate
mundane housekeeping tasks to others. Keep records of house and event
related purchases for future use. Use a plain text editor instead of
a word processor, especially when presentation is not an issue.

- Don't waste time. Keep meetings short. Force yourself to fit the
agenda in the available time. Write short, but to-the-point emails.
Communicate briefly, but concisely.

- Don't over-exert yourself. Don't stick around for an event longer
than your have to, when you don't want to. Don't commit to more than
you think you can comfortably handle. Step away from the spotlight
when it becomes too bright. Ask for help when you're struggling.
Adjust your schedule. No-one expects you to carry the world on your
shoulders like Atlas. Feel free to leave a heated debate or a
meeting. Protect your emotions.

- Don't lie to yourself. Say no to responsibilities you know you will
procrastinate indefinitely on, or worse, not do. Delegate to someone
who is more eager to take the challenge. Don't accept a
responsibility simply because it is "your turn."

- Relax, and retreat if necessary. Moishe House will survive without
your immediate presence. Your room-mates will either pick up the
slack when you are struggling, or the task will simply get dropped.
In the latter case, the task is most likely not that important.
Either way, life will go on. Few circumstances are truly mission
critical.

I urge you all to consider these tips as a guide to get you through
tough times at the Moishe House, or other daily ordeals.