Sunday, April 4, 2010

Becca Cigan/Portland/Individual Blog

I would like to share a special moment for me, in which I also learned something!

This last week, as you probably know, has been Passover. Passover has always been a very special holiday for me. From the seder to the time with family to the eating restrictions to the great stories, there is a natural emphasis put on this holiday that is different from other holidays. Even as a child, I felt important, observing this holiday with my family and friends. It gives us the important opportunity to remember our past and keep telling the story.

I'm pretty sure this has been my best Passover ever, for many reasons. The observant nature of Portland Moishe House pushes me to observe and understand holidays in a deeper way. Over Pesach, there are 4 halachik days of rest outside of Israel, and I never knew it, but Conservative and Orthodox halacha say that a Jew is commanded to take those 4 days off from "work" as it is defined for Shabbat. So I figure since I have Conservative and Orthodox rabbis, I should do that. Refraining from work for us at Moishe House is not different from the way it was at my Rama-style Conservative Jewish summer sports camp. We tape our lights, no blow dryers or straighteners on in the girls cabins, lol, etc. And it's definitely a meaningful experience. This Pesach it has pushed me closer to my community members, neighbors--even my roommates! We've been spending more time at home together and it's great!!

So, keeping a shomer mitzvot house has it's definite advantages. It's not always easy, but like I said, it's increased the meaningfulness of my experience of the holiday.

The specific story I'd like to share is from our Shabbat dinner last Friday night. We had the meal catered by the local Kosher deli, and it was completely Kosher for Pesach. We invited 12 or so friends in the community who usually have us over for holiday meals and some of our regular attendees, and it was really nice. Unlike other events I've led at the Moishe House, this one was truly initiated in the spirit of being an active Jew in my community. It wasn't for an event quota, it was to find a way to eat during the holiday--and invite my friends over too!!!

This moment taught me several things. As Moishe House, we serve an important role of leadership in our communities. Not only do we serve young adults who are Jewish, we connect those Jewish young adults to the larger Jewish community. We connect those young Jewish adults to a history and tradition of the Jewish people. Once in a while comes an event that is so effortless, and you wonder why, and you realize it's because it's something you'd do anyway, even if you didn't have an event quota to meet or even if you didn't live in the Moishe House.

Moishe House gives us important tools and resources to integrate our natural social and Jewish lives with our peers in an inviting and inclusive way.

It's a relationship that keeps building on itself. I've been in the Moishe House for a year, and my religious and social life has changed so much in a positive way, that inviting people over for a Shabbat dinner is just natural. Observing Passover with my roommates is just natural. And the people who come over to our house and experience this with us, they really truly benefit from it. They learn something, they leave smiling, and they know they can come to us with questions or special requests.

So, more than ever, this event taught me the very important role Moishe House serves in our community. So I hope to continue to grow in responsibility and knowledge to serve those needs in our community.

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