Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving the vibrant community that is MHP

After two years of being involved in a successful experiment of Jewish community, I find myself moving on to other activities. One of the many contacts I have made over this time has helped me gain a new leadership role in my community - I am one of the co-chairs of LimmudPhilly, a large Jewish learning conference run almost entirely by volunteers. Unfortunately, it is a large time commitment and I cannot see myself performing adequately in Moishe House while putting the time into LimmudPhilly. Thus, I am leaving.

That being said, I want to emphasize to those residents in other cities who are moving out or who have moved out already: you can STILL remain involved. I plan on attending multiple events per month, helping to plan anything that I can, and bring a resource for the new housemates. As "Transition Specialist" I have already helped to bring a few of them into the fold and look forward to helping guide them in their new tasks.

And, in reality, I am not moving that far away. I found a wonderful place about four blocks west of Moishe House Philly so I'll be easily accessible. I look forward to sticking around and seeing how the community will grow and flourish. Yay MHP!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Building a Jewish Community

One of the confusing things about Jewish community is the feel of it – it’s different from mainstream American community. For folks who aren’t Jewish it can seem to make sense that Jews are different – even if they can’t quite put their finger on why. But for American Jews it can be baffling – why do I feel different or out of place? After all, I grew up here. The American dream is that an individual through hard work can rise to wealth and greater independence. If you become wealthy enough you can pay for your own home, car, health care, vacations, etc. However we never learn about the American Dream as a communal concept, it is an individual goal.

Judaism’s greatest hero is Moses. When Moses rode (or walked) off into the wilderness he took the whole Jewish family along, the women and children, the weak as well as the strong, the complainers with the enthusiasts. The Jewish dream is a time of peace for all the Jews, an end to persecution and the return to Zion. The expectation is that each Jew will care for all the other Jews, sacrificing her/his own needs and desires for the greater needs of the group.

In America we create Jewish community in synagogue. There the multiple burdens – responsibilities – are spread out over the many members so that no one person is expected to do it all. However, synagogues are inherently expensive to be a part of, synagogue dues are currently going up exponentially as synagogue membership is going down, as a way to offset one another. Unfortunately, when you are in your 20's, paying $1,000 or even $2,000 a year to be a part of a "Jewish Community" just is not in the cards. This is where Moishe House steps in. Additionally, there are very few burdens associated with being a part of a Moishe House. There is shopping and preparing food, posting events on the internet, taking pictures, and general event promotions. However, the dividends are endless. We get to create our own community, we get to do the events we want to do, and if the go really well, we get to them again. We get to invite our friends, and have the opportunity to make new friends every single time we have an event. Moishe House is a very informal and comfortable environment, a sad reality that is missing from some synagogue environments.

Countless times, whether it be during Shabbat, a Yom Hashoah dinner, celebrating Hannukah, sharing a tikkun olam experience, playing sports, poker, cooking events, or even picking weeds in a community garden this conversation of how to be a part of a Jewish Community comes up with the people we interact with. What a wonderful outlet for young Jews to be a part of, and not only is of no cost to them, it is with other young Jewish people who are also wanting to be a part of Jewish community, who already are living in the same community. What a wonderful recipe for success that speaks to the groups needs, while also including individuals wants and desires!!

SF monthly blog

MoHoLo news JUNE




Hello all,

Summer is officially here and we are loaded with events to fill in the time between festivals, early morning hangovers and Shabbat afternoon sunbathing!

So here's our events for this month- ta ta ta tam tam   tam (drums and trumpets) -


13 June

Naomi Chazan & NIF: 'Sit Down! You're rocking the boat...'




Naomi, President of New Israel Fund and former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, will talk about the work of NIF and its recent vilification by Israeli media. In her role as President of NIF, she has come under fire in recent months for NIF's support of human rights organisations that expose immoral conduct by Israel during critical times of war.

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (message us for the full address)
When:13 June from 17:30 to 20:30
 :

15 June

Urban Bee Keeping Collective

Where:MoHoLo

Bee-keeping is surprisingly easy, immensely fulfilling and has a sweet reward.
Join Mark and his growing group at MoHoLo for the second gathering of potential urban beekeepers, ready and willing to host a hive in their own garden or to help care for one in someone's else's.

When:15 June from 19:00 to 21:00



18 June

England vs Algeria / Shabbat Dinner

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (message us for exact address)

On Friday 18th June, at 7.30pm, England play Algeria in their second World Cup group game. At 9:07pm Shabbat comes in, with a further 18 minutes leeway to get into Shabbat mode, light candles etc.

When:18 June from 19:30 to 23:00
 


27 June

The MoHoLo Art Exhibition

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (message us for exact address)

Moishe House London cordially invite you to their second ever art exhibition, in which young Jewish artists display their works and turn MoHoLo into a temporary art gallery, curated by Daniel Heyman.

When:27 June from 18:30 to 23:30



30 June
 

Hang Out at the House / Summer BBQ

Where:Moishe House London (message us for full address)

MEAT AND CHICKEN @ MOISHE yes yes it is finally happening (but ONLY in the back garden)..
Our regular evening for chilling with friends from the Darfuri refugee community.

This time the plan is to test our new barbecue kit (and the English summer), outside in the back garden with a nice jam session and new album of Sudanese music...

Children and their adults are welcome from around 4pm to play in the garden and eat, although barbecued food won't be available until 8:00

When:30 June from 19:30 to 22:00


4 July        

 Get ready to our ZOO- MANIA! A themed Sunday summer garden mash-up!     Think jungle animals, live music from the castle, carnivores and herbivorous bbq, animal yoga poses, a fully equipped alternative veterinary for all you wild animals and more...




If you live in the NW2 or NW6 area, then order your weekly Moishe House fresh fruit and veg box here.


And a little bit about what's going on with the Moishnik monsters... We have all been insanely busy in the past month.  Joel is happy with 'The Engineer of Chelm' at the Jewish Museum and ready to push onto projects new,Rachel is telling stories all over the place and says please join her fb page and have a cup of tea whilst you are thereBrett is attempting  self-duplication so he can do all festivals, Tali is planning for her south american adventure and Aviad is living in random airports around the world searching something  

Lots of love to you all.. keep hydrated !


The Moi Sha (turning Japanese now) 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.

www.moishehouse.org

Monday, June 7, 2010

A meaningful story from Moishe House Warsaw

Once when I just got into MH crew :-) I had a funny situation with observing my friends coming on our parties. The thing for me was, that most of them were even thrilled to come here, looking around like it was a spooky place or a temple other place for prayers. For me it was a grate experience to watch it and in the same time I was feeling that it's the way it should be, that's the point of MH. All of these questions about MH – from religion to rules, were very meaningful. For some it was the first time to get in touch with Judaism.

Specially the way people were looking at inside – just like they were not quite sure how to react and where were they: a temple, a house, squat or what? Afterwards, the concerts I was doing in the house and in synagogue. How to behave, how to react. Of course this is the question to me also – how to describe, how to tell, how to explain. And the best thing was that I could let the people see that inside this old culture you can do something new, you can join it without fear of being bored of it. And important thing for me – to let myself into it even more, be part of it and create something new.

Sometimes it's so grate, that people starts to sign up for youth organizations or some other on place during some event. Then you can actually see how people react when you give them something special, something new or let them see that what old structures, traditions can give today.


Filip from Warsaw

Meaningful story of Moishe house Budapest

A message for the future

On one of our kabbalath shabbaths there was a tall man with mostly white hair and round glasses – who appeared, a friend of one friend – her family name is Mózes – Moishe! Zsófi talked to this tall men, and they had the idea to organize an exhibition in our living room. He is a very nice, very open person – and looks like the “artist” you imagine by the book. Ha has taken photos of beautiful women in the last 4 years, as part of a method called “photo therapy”. The idea is to bring out your true personality through a portrait. After having taken the photo he also paints it with chemicals until it gets to its final form.

While preparing to the exhibition he invited us, the Moishe girls to his studio that is located in a squat, close to us. The building used to be a school, there is still the place of the big bell that signalized the beginning and the end of the break. Before the war it actually used to be a Jewish school. In the middle of the house there is a café / bar, and it has several other rooms where there are parties, concerts, movie screenings, exhibitions and more. Already getting into András Szirtes apartment was an experience. His apartment can be reached from the corridor, is on the 5th floor. His doorbell is mechanic, meaning, you need to pull a string at the entrance, and ca. 5 meters behind, at the door of the apartment a small bell, that is tied to the string, starts to move and make sounds. The next image of this visit was that the three of us sitting next to each other, and need to stay still until he takes the photo. We agreed before that he will take a photo of the three Moishe girls, but none of us knew how this will really go. While preparing to the photo he gave funny instructions, like: And now look, as if you are sending a message to the future by your expression. Or: and now look, as if you knew that this image of your is on a huge painting at the entrance of your castle, that your grandchildren look at whenever they enter. His camera is really old, it stands on huge legs, and he hides behind it when he takes the photo – or he makes circles with a candle in front of our faces to light it up. He made a shorter exposition time with us – just 4 seconds, maybe a bit longer. After the experiment he has developed and checked the photos. Some days later we have received the work – framed. It did not become part of the exhibition, but more just a joke, a memory. This time he has started to put up the exhibition and come to the Moishe house regularly. András, quickly became member of the Moishe house family – a brother, a father, an uncle, sometimes a child. Finally the time of the exhibition opening came. András has sent an invitation to all of his models, and many of them came. It was really funny to recognize people who were on the photos. Eszter has invited Dani, our friend a great jazz musician to play some music. András has written a very funny text about the exhibition he made, and he also has read aloud an other text which was the lines of him chatting online with his daughter. We provided some wine and some leftover sandwiches from the previous day. They were gone in a minute. After András has read his exhibition opening he was suddenly holding three roses in his hand that he said were presents for the Moishe girls. Moreover, since this day was Anna’s birthday, he also got a cake (flódni – typical Hungarian Jewish cake) for her. Anna was really touched by his “performance”, and it was a very special moment for us, the Moishe house girls. We had a lot of work and things in the last months, but the exhibition and Anna’s birthday has united us again, in a very special way. Couple hours after there were still people coming, even though we have almost consumed everything. Dani was playing “juke box” – you could ask for any song, and he played it! We were in Anna’s room, with open window, as the weather was nice already – and we felt like 18 a bit… The exhibition is still there, there is a nice guest book, and András comes regularly to take care of the images, sometimes he changes one person to someone else, sometimes he just comes to hang out. He even put a painting on our balcony, so that you can see it from the street – something we have planed for long to do! In the meantime, talking to András it has turned out that he used to go to the camp in Bánk – a place where we are organizing a summer festival. It is so interesting how our lifes are connected, intertwined!

We are now planning to do a finissage this month for those who could not see the exhibition yet. Next week one of the models will come – we are curious to meet her. And maybe, Anna Mózes, our friend whose friend is András, will be the next one to make an exhibition in the Budapest Moishe house. I am sure it will be as adventurous, meaningful and funny as this one!

May Blog - MH Cape Town

The Crazy Cat lady strikes again!


May has been a fantastic month in the Cape Town Moishe House! With the world cup just around the corner, everyone seems to be getting really patriotic even in the house. It is a very exciting time, and we are looking forward to hanging out in the moishe house and watching some of the games together. We will be screening all the games live in the house and we welcome everyone to come and watch together. It should be great!

May also saw the birth of two new kittens Rosey and Lulu. As I am sure you know we live opposite a lady who is very fond of looking after stray kittens. One of the stray kittens recently gave birth in our back yard to two adorable kittens. Our neighbour has been helping feed them and we are now looking for homes for the two of them so that they can be nutured and loved in a good home. It was a very memorable experice and we erally hope that we can find homes for the two kittens as soon as possible. Although it shouldn't take too long, because they are exceptionally cute.

We are thinking of maybe adopting one of them as the new Moishe House cat, but we still need to give it some more thought.

We also celebrated both Julian and Omer's birthday in true Moishe House Cape Town style. They were both fantastic nights, I hope Julian and Omer enjoyed them as much as the rest of us. Unfortunately since all four of us have now had out birthdays, it looks like there won't be any cakes in the house for quite a while!

Until next time folks

Moishe House CT

May Blog - MH Mexico City

What does "meaningful" actually mean? If by meaningful you mean important, then I guess that this is something we have to define too.

There are many moments from which we have learned as a group, some that you could call crisis evens, and others that we can consider, in every aspect, as success stories.

Taking this in mind, it has been hard to choose only one as the most "meaningful" one of the many moments we´ve had in the Moishe House, What we have decided, then, is to talk about our last event as the most meaningful recent event. The reason for this is that it helped us have a feel of what a self-sustainable Moishe House community could be like in the future. This is, a vibrant pluralistic, international spot for jews to meet other jews.

Although we planed a month in advanced for one of our already traditional movie nights, lack of time and energies where factors that influenced this a pretty irregular night. Most of the times we have to call people to get them to come. This time, however, due to pressure from work and school, neither one of us called someone this time. The whole event was prepared a little hastily: we only uploaded the facebook event and hoped for the best. All we had where: a couple movies, no popcorn and nothing else to eat or to drink during the movie time.

"So... What make this event so special?" the reader could ask. Let us warn the reader that the upcoming answer to this question may not be as amazing or fantastic as reading about a miracle or something extraordinary series of events that will change world dynamics or alter future events. The very simple, very straightforward thing that happened was that, this time, our guests were completely new.

These newcomers found out about us through press, media and word-of mouth. What´s interesting is that none of them came from the same countries, and all of them had been planning on coming to our events a long time back, not knowing each other in any way.

Finally, they all managed to get to our facebook page and come to the event.

With the presence of these international newcomers, the event transformed completely; we could see that our past work as finally getting into all the rest of the people. We immediately felt what it´s like to feel like the catalyzers of a local community. Our house had turned into a place where anyone could come and just enjoy watching a movie with people, most of them unknown.

Tomorrow we are pushing the limits once again and making our first tikun olam event, this time we are going to join a meeting in support to the parents that lost their sons and daughters. Last year a daycare center exploded i´m Mexico and there has not been any accountable, all of this because of all the corruption that we suffer here in Mexico. We don't know what is going to happen in this event: lets hope we receive one of these small surprises once again.

MH Vienna - May House Blog

Hello I would like to tell about one of our exciting Shabbat.

That was the last shabbat before Eytan our ex-roommate moved to Paris. As we have already mentioned we have several Jewish families who cook for Moishe House.This time we also wanted(for a change:-) to try some cooking arts, so we began on Thursday night. Each of us had to cook something(We remind you that we have 3 men in this Moishe House...). Michael has baked the chicken, Eytan - the fish, Tal- rice with the sauce, some families have made the salad and baked the cake for us,I prepared the choullent . For Friday evening we invited 26 guests and for Saturday afternoon - 20 guests.However, before the beginning of shabbat we had a small incident..., the choullent burned... it was so bad that the whole apartment smelled horrible.It was impossible to eat in our house and we could not let everyone know because it was almost Shabbat... You can imagine how we felt. Hectic we have 20 guests, no choullent, and we didn't have enough time. Eytan told me this: do not care, I will speak with owner of the kosher restaurant (Bernholz) if he still have place for 15 people (normally you need to reserve the dinner beforehand). And if it does not work we will ask some people in the synagogue if they can accommodate some of our people and we will have to find a place for us separately in the worst case.

But thanks God, Bernholz helped us with a great pleasure.There was a young woman, she was sitting alone at the table we told her to join us. We spent the entire Shabbat together. She was so happy that she mentioned that it was one of the best shabbats that she ever had.


So evantually, even if things seem to go bad it might change in a second. because we kept having a good spirit and belived that all that happens is for the best we had one of the most memoriable Shabbes here, this weekend could easily torn into a disaster...:-)

That's the secret of our Moishe House: you simply need to have the right people and the right approach and then you will have great time - no matter what!

Special memories/moments at MHBA by way of some comments from participants...

We held a pesach seder at the House – the first one MHBA has seen – and at the beginning we went around the table introducing themselves and our past seder experiences. One girl said that this was really special for her because the last time she had seder was 12 years ago, when she was 16. Her family stopped doing seder and so she did too, but she was very happy to be pick up the tradition again. Another person thanked us for the past 4 months that she had been coming to the House – she said that she had done more Jewish things in the past 4 months than in her whole life.

This year also saw the first tikkun leil Shavuot of MHBA. One new participant was not just new to MHBA, but new Judaism as well – she had recently discovered that she was Jewish and this was her first Jewish experience. (Thankfully she enjoyed it and wants to come back to more events.)

Last year some Israeli friends were staying over and they experienced a Friday night dinner and a party here the following night. They loved it and over a year later they still talk about their time at the Moishe House as being a highlight of their 8 months travelling in South America.

Friday night dinners are somewhat bonkers affairs at MHBA J. They usually take the form of a delicious dinner, relaxed chit chat, singing, and then all out dancing latino style. The smiles all evening say it all.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank to everyone behind the scenes at Moishe House who make these and all the many other special moments possible.

May Blog - MH JHB

For the month of May, one of our events was planned to be an Israel Update and dessert evening. Only 2 days before did we realize that it was actually Shavuot ! Neither of us are particularly observant Jews but there is a great tradition of learning all night for Shavuot to remember the receiving of the Torah. We felt it would be apt to change our event rather to a short tikkun leil looking at some of the biblical texts and of course eating cheese cake as is custom!

We were unsure if people would attend so we decided to partner up with Habonim for the event. It was such a success and we were really happy that we had the opportunity to engage people with Jewish learning that wasn’t boring or outdated. It was a really meaningful event for us as it showed that the youth in JHB who aren’t religious are still interested in their culture and traditions and showed us that perhaps we could do a bit more in this area/topic.

Unfortunately we are saying goodbye to our house mate Kayda as she makes Aliya and she will be sorely missed. Welcome to our new house mate Jenna Segal who will be moving in as of the 14th June!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A nostalgic moment

Once upon a time the Chicago Russian Moishe House co-hosted an event
with the non-Russian Moishe House and KFAR, a Jewish Arts
organization. We promoted Solico, an Israeli DJ performing at a
bar/performance venue in Ukrainian Village, my old neighborhood. This
was not a major moment in Moishe House history, but a moment that was
both memorable and meaningful to me personally. When I lived in the
Ukrainian Village, I hung out with a non-Russian group of friends
before I knew anyone from the Russian-speaking community. I no longer
spend as much time with them, but on this night, both of my worlds
were heading on a collision course.

As it turns out, without promoting this event to anyone, my
non-Russian crew heard about this performance, and were heading there
that evening. They actually invited me - what a coincidence! While
the event did not attract massive numbers of people, I got to witness
members of not only my Russian Moishe House community and my old
community, but the other Moishe House and KFAR, all under one roof,
and in my old neighborhood. I have yet to fully comprehend the events
surrounding this evening, but there was magic, symbolism, and a
connection deeper than what I usually run across.

1 Year Reflection

I am proud to announce that the Russian Speaking Moishe House is about to celebrate its first year anniversary, and what a year it’s been. Looking back, with the level of action and fast pace activity, the whole song and dance feels dreamy. As our community becomes integrated and the mission is no longer migrated, rather cultivated and innovative, our connections will become deeper and the roots will become interrelated. Currently our community connections will become formulated. I foresee our movement being congregated and then duplicated.
Another lesson that I have recognized over the course of the year is that the only certainties in life is that life is uncertain. We will never know how an event will turn out or what combination of variables truly lead to a highly energetic program. As a result, sometimes we simply need to throw up our hands look at our roommates smile and say “Your guess is as good as mine.”
A brief example of randomness and uncertainty recently occurred during a collaborative event where KFAR and Moishe House teamed up and flew in a Jewish String Band from New York. They arrived with a whole sound crew with club style speakers on our patio. Needless to say, the night was a blast and not knowing what to expect made the occasion refreshing.
Bottom line, the last year has been the best of my life and it feels like its getting better. I am thankful for the opportunity to truly create a community space where our Jewish roots can be explored and shared. The upcoming year is going to be even juicer, more loving, more challenging and more rewarding and I say bring it ON!!!

Moishe House Great Neck

At a Moishe House Shabbaton in Brooklyn Nathan Yadgar met Oren Kashi. Oren heard about the Shabbaton from a friend and decided to come. When they met they figured out that they are related and it was the beginining of a great friendship. Now Oren is not only a friend or a relative, he is also a new house member of the Moishe House Great Neck. This one of the many examples of great bonds formed at a Moishe House Great Neck event.

A STORY FROM MoHoLo - MAY BLOG

Looking into the past, a year seems like a long time. So much has happened, we have had many changes in housemates, a move into a new house and so many events full of joy I can hardly pin point one that rides above all else.

I would gladly look back to Moishe Fest, where we had more than 100 people in our garden bouncing up and down to live music blasting over a fat sound system. Whilst others were in the lounge 'Morrocan Tea Tent' listening to a skilled storyteller spinning yarns of wonder.

Or would it be countless Friday nights, when we have people sitting in the lounge in a circle singing Kabbalat Shabbat songs.

And then I could easily draw on the Tu Bish Vat Seder when we were skillfully taken through enjoying fruits in a meditative way and celebrating the mixtures of wine that are taken at this time.

When I look into the colourful past, I see yellows, blues and oranges. I see smiling faces, and times of beauty, love and community.

However, of late the time that really sticks in my mind is moving from the other house to this one. It was one of the hardest things I have had to go through, and could have been the most stressful but the way in which it was done was amazing. We had parents, friends and housemates helping us take belongings from one house to another. AND because they are so close we were using shopping trolleys to transfer some stuff.

I will never forget pushing a shopping trolley down the road in this civilized area, with house belongings in it, being stared at by confused onlookers!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

MH Ho Bo

Use this month's blog to share a meaningful story or experience from your Moishe House Community. Feel free to be as specific as you would like when writing this blog.

One of my favorite Moishe House moments was in January when we had two members of two different Moishe Houses staying with us, Rachel of MH Silver Spring and Nati of MH Buenos Aires. It was awesome getting to reconnect with Rachel and bonding with Nati. The same week that Nati and Rachel were visiting we hosted a Tu B'shvat Seder, hosted by one of our community members, Danielle Spring. We were worried about the turnout of this event since this was the first time that we were having a Tu B'shvat seder and we knew that some of our regulars were going to be unable to come. It turned out we had no reason to worry as we had about 45 people, one of our largest turnouts ever and about 15 new people. During this program we had 3 Moishe Houses being represented and it was so nice to hear participants speaking to one another about their excitement of Moishe House and the anticipation of getting to visit Moishe Houses in different cities. It reminded me of how great the Moishe House community is and how amazing it that we can go to so many other cities and find a welcoming Moishe House community. I can't wait until the day when we will be able to go to any city and know that there will be a Moishe House there.

What Do You Do When You Want To Build 125 Green, Affordable Homes

 On October 29th 2008 Moishe Nola hosted a meeting for Destination Broadmoor - a program with the New Orleans Young Urban Professional to create process by which community participation helps direct the redevelopment of commercial/retail properties.  The leaders of the event - Reuben Teague and Zach Kupperman - led a discussion about the Broadmoor neighborhood and the types of redevelopment opportunities that may be possible in Broadmoor.  It was an evening of lively discussion and big ideas.  But no one could realize the seeds of progress that was planted that evening at the Moishe House.  

Fast forward to May 2010, Jonathan Graboyes (Moishe Nola resident and Director of Housing at Broadmoor Development Corporation) was attending EnviRenew's annual luncheon at the Downtown Sheraton.  EnviRenew aims to establish a replicable model for affordable housing while at the same time establishing community capacity so that New Orleans communities can grow even stronger than before.  After a sleep-inducing lunch buffet, Captain Ethan Frizell (aka Captain), the Director of the Salvation Army, stands up to address the audience.  He began his speech  by asking "What do you do if you want build 125 houses?"  The Captain made it clear this question was rhetorical.  The answer: "You go to a Moishe House."  

Over the next 10 minutes the Captain described how he came to the Moishe House in New Orleans bck in 2008 to attend the Nola YURP Destination Broadmoor.  Turns out the Captain met Reuben Teague - also a co-founder of Green Coast Enterprises - and they began a conversation that would ultimately lead to the Salvation Army committing $10 million dollars towards the construction of 125 durable, energy efficient, affordable homes for teachers and first-responders in the Greater New Orleans Area over the next two years.  Twenty-five of these homes are to be built in the Broadmoor neighborhood. 

 

So next time you want to build 25 Leed Certified Affordable Homes come hang out at 5416 S. Tonti Street, New Orleans LA.  Moishe Nola - Connecting ambitious talented people in New Orleans since 2008.

MoHo Dallas-This ain't no meat market

Two stories in particular highlight the successful attainment of our main goals - instilling a sense of community and building friendships.

The first is about a 24 year old named David (last names withheld to ensure anonymity) who moved to the Dallas area a few months ago for a job. He had been to a few Friday night services at various synagogues but felt out of place as he was single among a crowd of older, often married adults with children. He was looking for a communal Jewish outlet but not necessarily to be a "member" of a community. There was JDate and a few singles mixers put on by the local Jewish Federation as well but these held both the stigma and pressure of meeting someone in an artificially imposed romantic setting. As he told me later, he was looking to meet people not attend a "meat market."

David saw our article in the Texas Jewish Post and contacted us. This started a dialogue and he attended one of our Shabbat dinners. He told me about his experiences in the few months he had been living in Dallas and relayed how this was the first time since college that he felt a sense of community in an easy-going and relaxed environment. Since that Shabbat, David has been a fixture at many of our events which has led to his greater involvement in the Uptown community both Jewish and professional.

Another story was borne out of our very first event - the MoHo Brunch. Attendance was, to our surprise and delight, much higher than we expected including many people whom we met for the first time. As it turns out, many of our guests did not know each other either. Two people in particular, Rachel and Traci, struck up a conversation by the muffin station despite having never met before. After a few rounds of Jewish geography they realized they knew many of the same people and shared much in common. Traci was even in the same college sorority as Rachel's cousin. From bagels and coffee bloomed a friendship and from what I am told Traci and Rachel will be moving in together as roommates in the fall when their respective leases run out.

Stories like this emphasize the need for MoHo Dallas and make our jobs as community organizers and facilitators all the more rewarding.

-MoHo Dallas

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A sukkah visit from the 1st American citizen to join the Chinese Communist Party (MHBJ May blog)

Last year we built our rooftop sukkah for the second time. It was bright yellow this time, and another achievement in Chinese materials turned into Jewish ritual object.

Thank goodness we had this wonder, because it became the site for a really meaningful event at Moishe House Beijing when we invited a speaker to address our community: 88-year-old Sidney Rittenberg. Born in South Carolina, Rittenberg (Chinese name 李敦白) arrived in China during World War II. After the war, he joined the Communists at their base in Yan’an, where he worked as a translator for Chairman Mao, and worked closely with Zhou Enlai, Zhu De and the other leaders behind the Communist victory in 1949. He was put in solitary confinement twice, for a total of 16 years. Rittenberg shared his experiences as a young Jewish-American in revolutionary China, and very candidly answered the thoughtful questions of the almost 30 people who came.

Rittenberg was an invited speaker at many events in Beijing around this time, the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China--- places like embassies and the Foreign Correspondents' Club. Yet he had such a good time speaking with us young people he asked us to call his daughter and tell her not to pick him up! He wanted to take a cab home instead, and after the talk in our living room he climbed our narrow staircase to join everyone for a dessert reception in the upstairs sukkah. For a group of Jewish expats in Beijing to hear from a Jewish expat who was in China in the 1940s, a man with a truly unique story, it was a meaningful day I know many in the community did not forget.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Moishe House Oakland -- Meaningful Moment in May

I just moved into the Moishe House Oakland on May 1st. I'm only a month old here and have already shared a number of meaningful moments. I'm sure many of you can resonate with me on this one-- the feel of an enormous about of meaning and potential within the walls of our home. I'd like to share a particular story about an event we had last month-- CPR certification!

I've been certified in CPR a few times before, and all experiences were absurdly boring. The instructors were stale and awkward and it always took place in uncomfortable environments where we had to sit on the floor for hours and hours. Ironically, I remember pretty much nothing from these courses.

This month we hosted a CPR event in partnership with the staff of Camp Galileo. Our instructor was a cool man named Dan, who came to our house. We prepared some food and drinks and got our guests comfy on our large couches. Immediately, people were cracking jokes, at ease and having fun. Our instructor-- professional and yet silly-- felt comfortable enough to take the risk to share with us why he got into teaching CPR. His father had died suddenly from a heart attack while at the gym and not a single person volunteered to save his life by doing CPR. We were sobered by the importance of seriously learning the techniques of CPR and first aid, and yet, our instructor and guests still were connected to having fun and making the most of the experience. The event, beginning at 2pm... ended up lasting until the late hours of the night when we headed to the bar for a drink after all of us successfully passed the certification.

I was really excited by the possibility of making CPR training fun, affordable, and comfortable while taking it seriously all at once. If you'd told me two months ago that I'd be facilitating a way for 20+ people to save lives and have fun doing it I would have been very surprised! Moishe House has really opened a new context of potential in my life (not to mention a new found confidence to save peoples' lives!)

What I like about mobile email

Very little. Any communication technology artificially inseminated
into our culture by predatory marketing tactics has a threshold where
it transitions from useful and productive to addictive and
destructive. Speaking only for myself, I can think of very few
circumstances where having a constant stream of email pushed to my
phone has made any difference. In my experience, these circumstances
included subletting or renting out a property, selling an item on
Craigslist, or addressing an urgent support issue at work. These
issues, however, account for the minority of mobile email usages, and
most of the time, mobile email is nothing but anxiety and stress. For
example, if I don't maintain self discipline, I end up checking my
phone for a newly arrived email every time it vibrates or I notice the
LED light. If I'm expecting something, I experience way too many
emotional states in the 5 - 10 seconds it takes me unlock my phone,
check the email, process it's importance, possibly scan it for
content, decide if I want to delete it, and lock my phone again. I
feel much happier when I'm present in the moment than multitasking
between a conversation or a meeting, and my phone. Whatever
inconvenience I may experience on some rare occasions is justified by
the increased pleasure in everyday life I will gain by eliminating
this major distraction.

I think I'm be better off without mobile email.

Being where we need to be

After being Providence Moishe House host and hostess together for a year and a half (and after having been host with Jesse Stout for another for another year and a half prior), Nathaniel and I are preparing to hand the baton off to the next Moisheniks at the end of this summer. We adore Moishe, of course, but Nathaniel is starting medical school this fall, and we're ready to transition out. So as one of our programs for this month, we decided to host an information session, with dinner included, to teach prospective Moisheniks about the priveleges and responsibilities that accompany Moishe House. We promoted the information session both nationally through the Moishe list, and locally through local synagogues, Jewish student groups like Hillel and J Street U, Jewish organizations like the JCC and J Street U and JFed, a new awesome online resource for 'all things Jewish' in Rhode Island called ShalomRI.org, and our ever-expanding email list and Facebook community. But when the evening came - last night, on June 3rd - no one showed. My first reaction was, understandably, disappointment. But as I thought about it further, I considered the situation meaningful. At the East Coast Moishe Retreat last November, David Cygielman showed us some absolutely amazing videos sent in by people wanting to create Moishe houses in their home city (I distinctly remember ones from Kiev and Jerusalem). I remember being awed by how much people in cities worldwide want to start Moishe Houses, and feeling incredibly lucky that we have a Moishe House in Providence (ok, there was a lil Jewish guilt there too). There are many, many more cities that want Moishe than there are resources to fund them. We're in touch with a few people who are interested taking the baton and were unable to make it last night, but it may be meaningful that no one showed up. And although I feel sad, I also feel comfortable surrendering to the possibility that it may be time for Moishe to dissolve in Providence and re-emerge in another city.

Meaningful story of Moishe house Budapest

A message for the future

On one of our kabbalath shabbaths there was a tall man with mostly white hair and round glasses – who appeared, a friend of one friend – her family name is Mózes – Moishe! Zsófi talked to this tall men, and they had the idea to organize an exhibition in our living room. He is a very nice, very open person – and looks like the “artist” you imagine by the book. He has taken photos of beautiful women in the last 4 years, as part of a method called “photo therapy”. The idea is to bring out your true personality through a portrait. After having taken the photo he also paints it with chemicals until it gets to its final form.

While preparing to the exhibition he invited us, the Moishe girls to his studio that is located in a squat, close to us. The building used to be a school, there is still the place of the big bell that signalized the beginning and the end of the break. Before the war it actually used to be a Jewish school. In the middle of the house there is a café / bar, and it has several other rooms where there are parties, concerts, movie screenings, exhibitions and more. Already getting into András Szirtes apartment was an experience. His apartment can be reached from the corridor, is on the 5th floor. His doorbell is mechanic, meaning, you need to pull a string at the entrance, and ca. 5 meters behind, at the door of the apartment a small bell, that is tied to the string, starts to move and make sounds. The next image of this visit was that the three of us sitting next to each other, and need to stay still until he takes the photo. We agreed before that he will take a photo of the three Moishe girls, but none of us knew how this will really go. While preparing to the photo he gave funny instructions, like: And now look, as if you are sending a message to the future by your expression. Or: and now look, as if you knew that this image of you is on a huge painting at the entrance of your castle, that your grandchildren look at whenever they enter. His camera is really old, it stands on huge legs, and he hides behind it when he takes the photo – or he makes circles with a candle in front of our faces to light it up. He made a shorter exposition time with us – just 4 seconds, maybe a bit longer. After the experiment he has developed and checked the photos. Some days later we have received the work – framed. It did not become part of the exhibition, but more just a joke, a memory. This time he has started to put up the exhibition and come to the Moishe house regularly. András, quickly became member of the Moishe house family – a brother, a father, an uncle, sometimes a child. Finally the time of the exhibition opening came. András has sent an invitation to all of his models, and many of them came. It was really funny to recognize people who were on the photos. Eszter has invited Dani, our friend a great jazz musician to play some music. András has written a very funny text about the exhibition he made, and he also has read aloud an other text which was the lines of him chatting online with his daughter. We provided some wine and some leftover sandwiches from the previous day. They were gone in a minute. After András has read his exhibition opening he was suddenly holding three roses in his hand that he said were presents for the Moishe girls. Moreover, since this day was Anna’s birthday, he also got a cake (flódni – typical Hungarian Jewish cake) for her. Anna was really touched by his “performance”, and it was a very special moment for us, the Moishe house girls. We had a lot of work and things in the last months, but the exhibition and Anna’s birthday has united us again, in a very special way. Couple hours after there were still people coming, even though we have almost consumed everything. Dani was playing “juke box” – you could ask for any song, and he played it! We were in Anna’s room, with open window, as the weather was nice already – and we felt like 18 a bit… The exhibition is still there, there is a nice guest book, and András comes regularly to take care of the images, sometimes he changes one person to someone else, sometimes he just comes to hang out. He even put a painting on our balcony, so that you can see it from the street – something we have planed for long to do! In the meantime, talking to András it has turned out that he used to go to the camp in Bánk – a place where we are organizing a summer festival. It is so interesting how our lifes are connected, intertwined!

We are now planning to do a finissage this month for those who could not see the exhibition yet. Next week one of the models will come – we are curious to meet her. And maybe, Anna Mózes, our friend whose friend is András, will be the next one to make an exhibition in the Budapest Moishe house. I am sure it will be as adventurous, meaningful and funny as this one!

June House Blog - Cleveland

This past winter we had a tikkun olam event involving volunteering at the Cleveland Food Bank. Our job was to sort donated food into different categories so that it could be further distributed to individuals, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and other organizations. We expected to have around 15 MH people attend. A few hours before the event which was set to take place in the late afternoon, the sky turned dark and stormy. There was then a large thunderstorm, followed by hail, and later snow. The driving conditions were especially bad in the area surrounding the food bank because it is located in an impoverished area of the city, and the roads in the surrounding neighborhood are poorly maintained. As the calls, text messages, and emails started to come in from MH participants canceling because the roads were too slick and they were hesitant to drive, it seemed to me that no one would come to the event at all. We considered canceling the event, but decided that we had already made a commitment to the food bank to volunteer. Moishe House residents were the only people from our MH group in attendance for the first 45 minutes of the 2 hour event. Eventually, other people started to trickle in, saying that the treacherous roads added up to an hour to their commute to the food bank. I was grateful that people came out and that not everyone was deterred by the driving conditions. Although supervising volunteers at the food bank seemed annoyed that we had people from our group show up a half hour before the end of the event, I thought it showed real dedication.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

MoHoLa Meaningful Moment

It's been a great first month. We (Micah, Steve, Jon, and Julie) are honored to be in charge of the Los Angeles chapter of Moishe house. If May is any indication of how our house will function then we're looking towards a successful year. We've seen relationships and friendships develop between strangers, we've created a warm space for the young Jewish community to congregate, and have created events that BP can't even contain, the fun is just pouring non-stop and has increased 20% since the kink knockout. It's difficult to choose one specific event/time that we can all say stood out above the rest. So we will talk about our first Shabbat as a house.

We hosted our first shabbat dinner, welcoming in our close friends and our families. We all felt a sense of pride and joy in being able to show everyone our house, and explain to them exactly what the Moishe House is about. We had a delicious dinner filled with matzoh ball soup, 3 different types of chicken, vegetarian chopped liver, babaganoush and a shmorgisboard of side dishes contributed by our guests. We did kiddush, shmoozed, and merrily enjoyed our evening. It was awesome for all of us to bring all of our friends together and introduce them to one another! We have already seen some sparks in the air, and can only imagine the friendships and relationships that will flourish. The shabbos spirit was in the air, and everyone could feel her.

Saturday evening, we attempted to have a havdallah event, and even though nobody outside of our house attended, we had a very meaningful havdallah service, amongst ourselves. Post havdallah, we had our first house warming party, and it was a great way to start the new week!

We look forward to the many more meaningful MoHoLa moments!


:)

Mindfulness and Meaning in MoHOC

"Moishe house is the gateway drug [to Judaism]" Sara Mouser, MoHOC Participant

I decided to ask my roommates to contribute meaningful happenings from their time here.

"Seeing people come together and make new friends and take that new friendship to a new level means a great deal. As strangers become roommates, maybe start dating, make lifelong friendships; these are the moments that bring the depth of the Moishe House experience to light." Rae finds her meaningfulness in the unification of people who might have never otherwise met.

Mitch finds his muse in, "Helping people make friends, and not just the go and grab a beer type either; but the type of people you bring into your life that you can turn to and lean on when you need help. Even better is knowing that I, well we, have made a difference in the lives of those that pass through our doors. Personally, meeting my girlfriend, Alina, through the program is one of the most special things that has happened to me in my time here so far."

Me, I've been able to bring my non Jewish friends into a part of my life that they never previously ventured. I feel that sometimes we tend to segregate ourselves into compartments of Jews and Goy, having the opportunity to break down the "walls" between the two groups is really special to me. Being able to have the chance to invite non-Jew friends to try out Passover food, and be able to share a part of what makes me whole as a personal brings a deeper level of relevance to my Moishe House Experience.

Chicago's meaningful moment

The prompt brought to mind two moments in particular that I found particularly meaningful for our Chicago Moishe community.

The first moment was at a recent Shabbat dinner. A girl, Rebecca, who had come to one program arrived. Later, two of our regulars, Karin and Brendan, arrived. They all got to talking and while playing Jewish geography, they slowly came to realize that Rebecca was about to move in as a subletter in Karin and Brendan's apartment. They had not yet met. We were thrilled at this connection. Moishe House Chicago is coming to be a place where people with similar values come together. On a side note, Karin and Brendan moved away at the beginning of June. Moishe House played a very important role in their time here in Chicago. They said it was the first community of which they really felt a part and they always looked forward to our programs, especially our Shabbat dinners. We are super sad to see them leave.

The second experience that comes to mind is the program we planned with some of our community members for Shavuot. I (Hannah) am trying to explore Judaism and its traditions. I've never celebrated Shavuot, but I wanted to do it this year and I trusted there would be others out there looking for a similar experience. So I tapped some people that I thought would contribute well to program development and they were excited to help plan. We had a very successful event. 30 people attended, 8-10 of them were new too! I was thrilled to see that there is an appetite for more Jewish-learning oriented programs. Additionally, a handful of people that attended are not Jewish. It's important to us, at MH Chicago, that we develop a diverse and open community. So we were happy that a program celebrating a holy day still attracted our community members that are not Jewish. Finally, it was great to see the enthusiasm of the planning crew. They were grateful to have been asked to participate in that regard, and we were grateful for all the assistance they provided.

May there be many more meaningful moments.
Over and out.

Meaningful MoHouse Philly

The evening of Moishe House Philly’s 2nd Annual, super classy, incredibly scrumptious, holiday Shabbat feast had finally arrived. Unsuspecting MoHouse Philly resident Alissa Worly was seated next to the dear friend of her roommate Danielle, a friend that would change the course of her life forever. The evening was filled with overflowing merriment, wine & spirits, and - of course because we are Jewish - great food. As the evening wore on and the mood lighting kicked in, Danielle’s friend became more and more convinced it was time to make her move or the opportunity might be lost for forever—she impulsively turned to Alissa and popped the age-old, tried and true question that’s been responsible for more than a handful of Jewish matrimonies: “Are you single?” Luckily for the friend, Alissa’s reply was a “Yes!” pronounced with at least 85% certainty.

To cut a long, meaningful story short—mysterious friend was none other than Ilana Jerud, dutiful sister, who was hitting on Alissa for her very eligible bachelor brother, Elliot Jerud. Once Ilana’s matchmaking genius set the ball rolling, Alissa and Elliot mutually swept each other off their respective feet. The crescendo-ing romance included scooter rides, sushi-making, skiing, and watching television under the protection of a giant umbrella. Oh, and SEATTLE. Yes, the happy ending is that this happy couple is now moving to Seattle together where Elliot will work at a hospital while Alissa gets her PhD in psychology. “We’re really PSYCHed about this move!” They told me one day when they didn’t realize I was interviewing them. “The Groupon deals in Seattle are sooo much better than in Philly!” When asked about her uncanny matchmaking abilities, Ilana explained, “It’s simple really. My brother is a Virgo, the Virgin, the Earth element and Alissa is a Sagittarius, Centaur, Fire—it’s a match made in the stars…” She paused for a moment before motioning me to lean in and whispered with a knowing nod, “They both have six letters in their first name and five letters in their last name.”

We leave our dedicated blog readers with a question to ponder—what will be the most lasting mark Alissa Worly and her boo will make on the Jewish community as they set forth on their new lives?

1) Moishe House Seattle?—specializing in psychoanalyzing and curing your most pressing mental and physical ailments.

2) Doubling the Jewish population of Sealand—the most beautiful island nation built on concrete stilts—during their honeymoon.

3) "MoHouse Baby" bibs. Or perhaps a little onesie that reads, “Ima and Abba met at MoHouse” ???

The possibilities are endless, but one thing's for certain--

Moishe House Philly will miss you, Alissa!

Meaningful Story from Moishe House Portland

There's clearly a lot that's meaningful about experiencing Moishe House.

Here we realize that we, as residents, are sometimes out of touch with our participants, which is why we strive to ask them what they're interested in doing for events, and what their Jewish/social needs are. So first of all, I think it's necessary to acknowledge that when we (residents) are at events and notice two people we know introducing each other for the first time, it's kind of a weird feeling. We realize that we are in a position of responsibility, to bring people together for these events. We become aware of our centrality to Moishe House. We see everyone who comes to events, but sometimes we forget that if they don't come to the same event, these participants don't see each other. It's a cool feeling to realize that you're helping people make connections, and that others are benefiting from Moishe House's services. Chance meetings can turn into job opportunities, relationships, friendships, or just a more cohesive Jewish community. It's also rewarding because we as programmers can get our blinders on and get really focused on what it takes to make an event happen. It's good to see that ultimately, people other than ourselves reap benefits from these efforts.

As a microcosm of a team of roommates and professional programmers, I think our bonding experiences together are most memorable. The memories of house meetings, house retreats, and sitting around talking and joking late at night will be what I sit back and remember years from now. I still remember when Rachel and I first moved in last year. Jeremy was here but Jodi was still out of town. I think everyone was excited about the new changes in roommates, and we fed off that energy. One night, the three of us went to some stupid bar close by and played pool and darts. Then we found out that Rachel was really good at darts. Which is funny because Jeremy didn't know her previously, but I knew her growing up, and it was good to reconnect. She did go to college in NY after all--and she must have picked up darts at some point! Haha.

There are other memories too: our first in-house retreat with our old "House Dad" where we led each other through silly home-made obstacle courses on the floor and enjoyed a Shabbat together. There's the retreat we took to Whistler, where we spent 7 hours in the car together each way in addition to enjoying a new part of the world and experiencing the local Jewish communities in Vancouver and Whistler. And then there's all our meetings. We've made meeting on a weekly basis a huge priority. Half of those meetings are all business at home. Some of them fizzle out because some of us are tired or have something else going on. Then a good portion of them are spent out somewhere getting drinks, so that we enjoy the time together in addition to getting through some business stuff. Since we've been doing this weekly, we've been getting a lot done. It also gives us the opportunity to check in with each other, know what's going on in each others' lives, and have fun.

A learning experience from living in Moishe House is that it's important to put in the effort to maintain great relationships with other housemates, and also to take the opportunity to step back, get some perspective, and see what kind of affect the work you are doing is--or isn't!--having on the surrounding community.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

MohoDen soccer game with Nene

Yes, we played soccer with the star center for the Denver Nuggets out in front of our house at Wash Park. Weighing in at 250 lbs, 6'11" - he was pretty good. I gave him an assist for a goal, with at least 100 people watching on the sidelines of our pick-up-in-the-park game. I suppose makes sense - as he's from Brazil - here's his profile: http://www.nba.com/playerfile/nene/

Jodi, thanks again for the soccer ball! we've put it to good use and been sporting our USA shorts recently for most moishe house picnics/field days... best, josh.

ps - al gore and tipper decided to separate today after 40 yrs married! crazy.