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!!!