Happy Chanukah! The opportunity for me to blog about my experiences as a resident of a Moishe House couldn't come at more appropriate time, as we celebrate one of the 2 Jewish holidays that has been a constant throughout my life. I did not grow up in a particularly observant house as a child. In fact, until I neared the age of Bar Mitzvah, Chanukah and Passover were the only aspects of Judaism I honored regularly. Fast forward to the start of law school and we find me, for the first time, in a community where Judaism is prevalent. Professors cancelled class for the Rosh as well as Yom Kippur. At this same time, I met a resident of Moishe House Philadelphia and started attending an event or two every couple months. The more I visited the house, the more I learned about cultural Judaism and the more comfortable I became with Judaism playing a role in my daily, non-holiday life.
Skip another couple years forward and we find me a regular attendee of events at/organized by MHP. I'm also about to turn 27 and realize, that even with all I've become accustomed, there's a lot more. A lot more for me to learn, but a lot more for me to contribute. So I applied to be a resident of MHP, and the rest is היסטוריה.
Let's get to the good stuff.. my life as a resident. Moishe House has presented me with the opportunity, resources and vehicle to live an active Jewish life. My roommates are family. I had never known Havdalah before MHP. I had certainly never lived in a house honoring rules of Kashrut. Every day I feel Judaism coursing through my veins and heart. But it's not just grabbing a dairy dish for my bagel and cream cheese in the morning, or a meat bowl for the side of veggies I just boiled (in the appropriate pot, of course) for my kosher-chicken dinner. It's hearing something almost every day from a roommate (in the idea of family, they're all sisters - it's me and three girls, but that's another blog for another time!) about an experience she had in Israel, or a Yiddish word used so casually in conversation I barely notice it. It's sharing Shabbat. It's a conversation about Gilad Shalit or the Israeli forest fire near Haifa (one roommate has close friends local to the area) in our living room in the evening. It's being able to visit, 9 blocks away, the National Museum for American Jewish History with an Employee's Friends & Family pass from a roommate.
As a member of the Moishe House community, one can attend the holiday meals (and participate further by contributing a dish cooked in their own kitchen), hear the speech from the Editor of GRID magazine, bless the start of Shabbat, pick apples at Linvilla Orchards, shake the tuchas for the annual Apples & Hunnies party, learn about relationships and Judaism while drinking a beer (or glass of wine, or water, whatever the fancy) during a session of Topics on Tap and enjoy a roaring fire while sipping cocktails (coming up!!). We're talking about further engagement by gauging interest in community-led/hosted activities. But for many of those post-college members of the MH community, they don't have a local Jewish family to call their own. As a resident of Moishe House Philadelphia, I do.