Saturday, December 31, 2011

Global Outreach

In the past year I along with my fellow Moishe House San Diego residents & community have been very involved in our local community putting on a full array of events from Surfdallah to Shabbat dinners, however events have always been just that – local.

In the past year I am proud to say we have begun introducing many events, which focus on the global community, both Jewish and non-sectarian. This began due to the incredible relationship we have with our local supporters whom not only introduced us to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

After participating in a young professional study trip to Germany and Turkey and a service trip to Haiti (again made possible thanks to the generosity of our amazing local community). I returned to San Diego connected to a global Jewish world.

Last month I was able to co-chair the JDC’s first Young professional Service Trip to Ethiopia. I along with 16 other young professionals (including one of our newest Moishe House Family members: Martin Storrow of Moishe House West LA) got to explore Ethiopia and learn about all the ways the JDC is fulfilling its commitment to Jews all over the world as well as its commitment to Repair The World especially through its non-sectarian work.

I would like to share with you all two major themes, which struck me on this trip: Education & Health. We living in the developed world often take both of these for granted. Going to Ethiopia was a shock to my system to see and learn how for most Ethiopians both health and education are such luxuries.


Our group was fortunate to be able to spend some time with several students from Unity University who receive scholarship grants for women that enable them to attend university when they otherwise would not be able to go. These women are not only going to better themselves but it is evident that they are going to change their entire communities.

In Ethiopia women usually do not attain college degrees and are expected to be housewives taking care of the family. With these degrees they are changing the status of women in their country.

Our group also spent a couple days at rural schools in the province of Gondar, where we helped build a new brick and mortar school (so the children in this community will not have to study in mud huts). We also assisted JDC staff in the deworming of the children, giving them pills to swallow (something many of them had never had to do before).

For all these children going to school is such a privilege, as it means not having to work all day in the fields with their parents. It is these children that I hope will become a generation of change for their communities. Their educations will open up new social and economic opportunities for them.


Dr. Rick Hodes, JDC’s Chief Medical Director in Ethiopia, took us into his world by allowing us to see everything from patients whom have undergone spine and heart surgeries to clinic rotations in Gondar. In Gondar he oversees the clinic for the Falash Mura who are pending immigration to Israel.

After the trip, I was able to stay an extra week and spend time with Dr. Hodes (and my brother Shaun whom is volunteering with the JDC’s Jewish Service Corps.) and visit Mother Teresa’s Clinic for the Dying and Destitute. Seeing Dr. Hodes connect to each patient was not only humbling but it was personally motivating.

I hope that I along with my fellow participants are able to take what we have learned on this trip and, in coming home to our privileged lives, keep the ball rolling and continue to “Repair our World”.

Furthermore, I would invite all of you to learn more about the JDC and the amazing work it does in over 70 countries around the world. There are amazing Service and/or Study Trips coming up in 2012. If anyone would like more information or to find out how their Moishe House and community can get involved please feel free to contact me at

Wishing you all a happy new year,

Jonathan Goldstone

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Married to the MoHo

Picture it: Wimberley, Texas, late May. I’m sitting under an oak tree outside a dining hall in a group circle getting sunburned. Just like when I was a kid at camp. Except now, I’m 26 and am back at Camp Young Judaea for yet another Jewish life experience but this time, it’s with Moishe House. I guess once you get involved in Chosen People activities, you can check out any time you like but you can’t leave. Especially when you’re in Wimberley. Anyways. In this particular activity, Social Justice Sarah lead a program where we discussed what it would mean to create a Moishe House ketubah, a contract traditionally drafted for Jewish marriages. But instead of the ketubah being between a bride and groom, it would be between the residents, their communities and their houses.

I was inspired by this concept, so much so that I decided to take on the semi-masochistic task of crafting a ketubah and a fancy frame to properly showcase this important piece of literature. Many months and several creative sessions later, the Palo Alto Moishe House ketubah masterpiece now hangs by the entrance to our house for all to see. The wording was a collaborative effort between residents and community members, as was the art, which was done by two regulars and me. We achieved this by painstakingly cutting different colored paper with X-Acto knives, turning squares of purples, reds, blues and glittery greens into a whole Moses-Exodus-Jerusalem-Heeb extravaganza. Some community members got the chance to sign the ketubah, Constitutional Convention-style except with Jews this time around. In case you don’t have bionic vision to see the wording, it reads as follows:

The Palo Alto Moishe House will be upheld by grad students, techies & normal people alike. The following tenets will help us form a more perfect union:

*Cultivate respectful person to person relationships through meaningful programming

*Respect the house & it will respect you (clean up like your mama told ya!)

*A bountiful community consists of extraordinary individuals who, with their powers combined, make…MOISHE HOUSE! *KAPOW!*

So, it doesn’t actually say KAPOW! but you get the notion. Making our very own ketubah gave us the chance to utilize an ancient Jewish religious concept with a playful twist. What better way to express the special, nerdy identity of the Palo Alto Moishe House and share the communal artwork with all that enter our start-up working, Ph.D. having, Semitic lovin’ house?

Magali Cohen

Moishe House San Diego

The prompt for this month’s blog is to write about the experiences
that have led to my development as a young Jewish leader. I’m not sure
I’m supposed to tell you that straight off, perhaps a more skilled
writer would ever so eloquently weave the theme with grace seamlessly
throughout the remainder of this blog. It’s a topic that’s somewhat
elusive, and while I understand and appreciate the role I signed up
for, assuming the title of “leader” is one I’d prefer not to take for
granted simply because I am fortunate to live in a Moishe House and be
involved with the community, co-hosting, and co-organizing events.
That said, writing about myself makes me squirm a bit and can be an
internally contentious challenge… so it’s a good thing for me that
being a “leader” of Moishe House San Diego is much more about each of
the individuals who comprise our MHSD community than it is about me in
After each yoga class that I lead at our house, I remind each of the
participants that they are my teachers and express gratitude for their
presence in my life. Each person has shown up on their mat in their
own way, each expressing their unique beauty and light through a
specific structure-- asanas (poses), pranayama (breath control
exercises), partner play and other forms --that I have chosen as the
guide for the evening. These forms are the tangible vocabulary though
which unique expressions are conveyed by the MHSD community members
who show up to practice together.

As the class leader, I talk us through the ‘correct’ positions for
each pose, describing the proper positioning of each respective asana.
If I lay a hand on someone’s trapezius, I smile inside (and out) as
she breathes a bit fuller and creates more space between her shoulders
and ears in response. If for the next person, the same prompt doesn’t
do the trick, I find another way to elicit comfort, ease in the pose.
I am reminded of how different each person’s body is, yet how similar
our feelings and experience of struggle and joy challenge and triumph.

A few class participants have expressed that it’s challenging for them
to do yoga because they feel they are inflexible. The only truth in
this, from where I stand, is if the belief of inflexibility translates
into a belief (and a reality) that they are so inflexible they cannot
grow --- as a yogi, as a person. Regardless of what it looks like---
whether someone is touching their toes and energetically reaching for
Earth’s core, or can barely reach below their knees and is hoping to
someday grab an ankle-- there is an opportunity for growth in many
dimensions. Physically, there may be a greater opportunity for growth
in the person who appears to be struggling the most. This is in no
way a condolence prize; it’s a thing of beauty. When I see the light
of new perspective and stoke flicker on -- a new realization of how to
connect deeper into a pose, or more fluidly with another person-- it
inspires me.
When the class asks for more interactive work, I get particularly
excited. We often integrate various forms of partner play, including
counter balance work and partner yoga. For some, the actions simply
mean stretching and exercise. For others who dive a bit deeper, the
structure of the asanas and other activities create a container and
support for each practitioner to express through, to interact
internally, with one another, to spirit, and beyond.

While I chose to use yoga class (asanas and other activities) as the
playground-- the vocabulary-- for this blog, I could have instead
written about our Shabbat dinners (and the amazing potluck
contributions, conversation etc. that ensue), habitat restoration
events (enjoying and giving back to nature, chatting with one another,
physical activity), or any of the other programs we host to convey the
same sentiments. Everyone who shows up has just been somewhere else
and will be going somewhere after the event. Each person has come to
the event to fulfill something inside. Each person brings with them a
bit of everywhere and everyone who has touched their life. Each
person contributes and shares uniquely, enriching each other’s

My development as a “leader” has been most contributed to simply by
interacting with those who come together to create our community. As
my awareness of that which engages and inspires each of the
individuals within the MHSD community deepens, my sense of
responsibility and desire to facilitate and perpetuate connections
within the MHSD community and between MHSD and the larger world also
deepens, as does my own sense of connection.


Blogging Goodbye to Moishe House DC - Rachel Streitfeld

I believe it was just fewer than three months ago that the Euclid Palace said ‘peace out’ to a resident, that young lad off to pursue his pro-Israel, professional dreams. Well next month I shall do the same. I bid adieu to the District after nearly nine sweet years; my destination is sunny South Florida, where I’ll be the South Regional Director for J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy organization.

Frequently, there are great conversations about Israel at our Shabbat dinners and various parties, so respectful and civil. The regard for our community and its diversity always keeps us responsible. The camaraderie and trust that lives among friends in the Moishe House frees us to speak and listen to one another. It’s special. It’s absolutely the best, and we get into it.

What a privilege it is to have lived here and met so many bright, impressive young people. What a scene we are, The Twenty-Something Jews of Washington gathered in two dimply lit, massive rooms around couches and a banquet table on Friday nights. Each of us on the move, scheming our next win for the cause while stuffing our faces with vegan fried rice and flourless chocolate cake. On our Israel politics and many other issues, we know what we’re talking about. Sometimes we agree to disagree and move on to something more fun, no harm done. We are a formidable and passionate demographic.

My roommates Eli Wald, Noah Karesh, Lily Hamburger, Ayelet Cohen and Dan Kandy are hilarious, awesome people. (I hope everyone meets at least several of them at a retreat coming soon). The Moishe House Foundation has my lifetime support. Thank you for this humbling and life-changing opportunity to live here and be a part of this community.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Tight-Knit Community

Throughout my life, I have always tried to remain integrated within the Jewish community. I attended Hebrew school and was involved in my synagogue until I went to college. In college, I went to Shabbat dinners at Chabad and networked with rabbis in the St. Louis community. As a recent graduate, I have chosen to spend the next year of my life living in Moishe House Philadelphia. While I am not religious, it is important for me to be connected to a tight-knit Jewish community. I feel that Moishe House provides exactly that.

I have only lived in the house for two months now and I am amazed at how close the Moishe House community truly is. At every event, I see people mingling, laughing, and having fun. I am constantly surprised that some of the guests at our events have never been to a Moishe House event or even met the other guests before, yet they seem to feel right at home in the Moishe House community. This is evidence that Moishe House provides a warm and hospitable community for all Jews in their twenties.

After spending the last four years in St. Louis, it was important for me to find a welcoming Jewish community like Moishe House. I am proud to say that I am now a part of the organization that provides this community for other Jews like me, who seek an inviting group with which they can spend holidays, learn about the religion, and have fun at social events. During my two months here, Moishe House Philadelphia has hosted a wide array of events, ranging from a large Jewish New Year celebration, called Apples ‘N Hunnies, to smaller, more intimate Shabbat potlucks each month. I am still learning about my responsibilities as a resident and adapting to life in Moishe House Philadelphia, but I am happy to say that I am now a part of a close-knit Jewish community.


Moishe House Philadelphia

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Key to Longevity

There are a few places where people live longer than anywhere else in the world. These include Okinawa (Japan), Ovodda (Sardinia), and, oddly, Loma Linda, California - all of which boast exceptional numbers of centurions (people who live to be over 100). Scientists have all kinds of theories about why this is, starting of course with the obvious; dietary habits, lifestyle, inbreeding (oh, those Sardinians!).

But the one that really stood out to me was Loma Linda - a seemingly normal California town - a place that obviously has the same food and culture as anywhere else in America. What do they have that the rest of us are missing?

The leading theory is that people there live longer for one reason: community. It happens that the 7th Day Adventist church in that particular area has brought a lot of people together, and members of that community simply live longer. Not only that, but a study done by Loma Linda University school of Public Health found that those who went to religious events and observed the Sabbath reported being happier and experiencing better mental health than those who did not.

Before I was asked to be a founding member of the new West LA Moishe House (Which officially opens next week), I was a big Moishe fan. When I moved to Los Angeles and was first feeling my way around, it was really comforting to know I could go to the house and would always be welcomed. And once I was there I never wanted to leave. I was not the only one who felt this way; sometimes the residents had to politely shoo people out because it was getting late and people just didn't want to go. I think they would have stayed the night if they could have.

I know many of us at this moment aren't really focused on longevity. Frankly, I'm a little more concerned with when to eat the second half of the chocolate chip cookie I started last night. But much of our happiness at any age depends on our sense of purpose and meaning. And so much of our purpose and meaning comes from the communities we align ourselves with. They have a profound impact on what we think, how we act, and how we feel.

This is what I have always admired most about those of you who are involved with Moishe House.  You have made the decision to open up your private homes and lives in order to fulfill that deep desire we all have for community; to create a shared sense of belonging and tradition, to learn and celebrate together, and to contribute to each others' success and well-being.

I'm honored to be a part of this community, and I know that the four of us who are opening our new home in West LA next week look forward to striving for the ideal that the rest of you exemplify so well. May we all live to be 100, and have plenty of time to sit around and recount our favorite Moishe House memories in the years to come. In the meantime, I'm going to go finish that cookie I started.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Moishe House East Bay Camping Shabbat

We’d been talking about planning a great camping trip for at least a year here at Moishe House East Bay, and we finally made it happen last weekend! We reserved a camping spot at beautiful Del Valle reservoir, located just outside Livermore. I’ve been going camping there for years, ever since I was about 11 years old, and I can say with all confidence that it is one of the most beautiful, accessible camping places in the Bay Area. It’s only about an hour outside of Oakland, and has trails, a lake, boats, beautiful camping spots, and tons of wildlife.

A couple of us showed up early to schlep in all of the food, water, tents, and toys (guitars, drums, muumuus, etc.) for the weekend, and set up everyone’s tents, put together a camp kitchen, and made the space welcoming for all who would be arriving just in time to celebrate Shabbat. Our guests were delighted to arrive to a campfire, snacks, cocktails, and live guitar music. Thanks to Birthright NEXT, we had plenty of delicious food, and so we lit our Shabbat candles, sang the blessings, feasted, and kicked off a weekend without technology, responsibilities, or distractions.

We spent our time hiking, running, swimming in the lake, sunning, making music, drumming, cooking, eating, making new friends, and just generally escaping from our busy city lives and reveling in the natural beauty of the Del Valle area. We saw tons of birds, including a couple of bald eagles, and even saw a couple of tarantulas in the area!! I’m so grateful to be a part of a community that has the resources to create such a beautiful, restful, peaceful Shabbat experience for such a wonderful group of people. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to create these types of experiences for young people in the Bay Area who are thirsting for a peaceful, meditative, spiritual retreat.

Moishe House East Bay

Moishe House Boston, Hurray!

After spending three incredible years working with the Vancouver young adult Jewish community, I made the move out to Boston to start a graduate program at Brandeis University. When I mentioned to a friend that I'd be moving into the Moishe House here, their response went something to the tune of, "Boston, huh? You know it's a Moishe House on steroids?". I actually had no idea.

In the less then three months that I've been a housemate, this house and community continues to amaze me. Our calender is jam packed with everything from social justice events with local interfaith organizations, to holiday parties, sex ed discussions and leadership trainings. Meetings go on between various committees on an almost daily basis. People here aren't just involved. They are proud and fully committed to this community and treat it as their own.

Fall has been busy for us. Highlights included a Sukkot Party, a Tikun on Tap event which focused on the occupy movement, and our bi-weekly Shabbat services and dinner. New people are always popping in and although the work is non stop, it's more gratifying than I ever could have imagined. People live happier lives when they are connected to community, and for the young adult Jewish community, Moishe House does it better than any organization that I've seen.

With Love,


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Introducing -- SF Russian Jewish Moishe House

It's a real treat writing the first entry from the Russian Jewish Moishe house of San Francisco. The team, Aleks (me), Vitaly, and Anna, are excited to embark on this amazing journey. We can't wait to meet new people, create new memories, and have a lot of fun doing it!

On Friday we inaugurated the Moishe House with our first event, a Housewarming/Halloween party. We had an amazing crowd out here. It was great to see so many people dressed up, letting loose. We enjoyed drinks on roofdeck while dancing and watching ships in the harbour. Special thanks to Gene Kosoy for setting up a photo booth.

A little about us --

We're three friends who decided to open up a Moishe house after realizing how much we enjoy hosting events and having good times with our friends.

A little about our Moishe House:

We're nestled on the south slope of Potrero Hill, which is a sunny neighborhood in SF, by the bay. We're looking to host rewarding and fulfilling events for the Russian Jewish community of SF.

-Aleks S.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Give Shabbat a Shot!

Let me start this blog by saying that I am nowhere near the level of a Rabbi; I'm just a simple Jew, who lives at Moishe House Great Neck, reflecting on his experience of becoming a more observant Jew. It's an experience that has changed my life, and that has given me the opportunity for tremendous growth in character and as a person. Here are few of the simple reasons why:

There is a huge misconception that observant Judaism and it's laws are restrictive to your daily lives and routine; however, I found it to be more liberating than I could have imagined. One example is Kashrut. You might find a Jew who would say, "I am a human, and true freedom is being able to do whatever I want; so I'm going to eat that cheeseburger, because I want to." In truth however, that is not true freedom; that person is merely a slave to his desires. He wouldn't eat that cheeseburger if he didn't desire it. True freedom is being able to understand that there are boundaries in life, and being able to overcome your desires.

As humans it's very easy to take the many blessings we have in life for granted; we tend to look at and desire what others around us have. However, many of us, Thank G-D, are blessed to have the ability to see, hear, talk, and walk. We are blessed to be able to see a rainbow (which we make a blessing on), smell a flower (which we make a blessing on), or even go to the bathroom (which afterwards, we make a blessing on). Another great example is waking up in the morning. Most people usually wake up dissapointed that they have to wake up so early; the first thing an observant Jew does when he wakes up is say they Modeh Ani, and thank G-D for giving him the gift of a new day. By saying blessings and thanking G-D, we automatically become more aware and appreciative of the blessings we have in life.

Finally, the most enjoyable experience for me of becoming a more observant Jew was when I became Shomer Shabbat. It's an awesome experience to be able to have the ability to completely disconnect from the work week and its stresses. It's an awesome experience to be able to have a nice dinner with family and friends without the distraction cell phones. It's an awesome experience to participate in and hear the beautiful Shabbat prayers and songs. It's an awesome experience to be an observant Jew!

So as a friend, a Jew, and fellow Moishe House resident, I would like to encourage all of you to try to apply something from Judaism to your life; even if it's overcoming just one desire, saying just one blessing, or "Giving Shabbat a Shot!"

I wish you all the best,

Joseph Yadgar

History is just stuff repeating

Oh, Fall. Having lived much of my adolescence in California, the change of seasons is still a noteworthy event. This is my second Fall season as a Moishe House resident, and I already feel how different everything is the second time around! The prep for an event, the weekly meetings, the required blogs... what once seemed intimidating or confusing, hah! No longer, my friends.

As fellow bloggers have mentioned, the real start of Fall for the Jews is all about Sukkot. Yes, yes, the Hebrew calendar starts anew sometime in Fall, but Sukkot really gets you in the season properly. For me, it’s the gathering of natural materials for the schach. I’m pretty convinced that the trimming of the city’s parks, family’s yards, the city streets' trees and all that other landscaping you see at this time of year, really started because that’s when we need stuff to cover our temporary shelters. (Another example of our history governing ‘secular’ activities? Pesach & spring cleaning!)

Last year I had also found much of the material for our schach, but I was mostly just hired help, taking directions. This year, as one of 2 ‘veteran’ residents, I took it upon myself to lead the building of our sukkah. (shout-out:!) I won’t go into the details (you should’ve been there!), but will rather share some thing I took from it.

As we built our sukkah, 2 doors down (no, not 3) we could see a family building theirs. (Note: the family’s sukkah was more ‘kit’ than ‘creation’ but to each their own) I stopped my efforts for a few moments to watch the two children throw schach onto their latticed-roof as their parents looked on. It hit me that here I am, participating in a tradition that, by all intent, I’ll be passing on to my children. And that’s what warms my heart about the Judaism I continue to discover, practice & share as a leader in our community: the universality - and at the same time, the uniqueness - of its role in one’s life. In some years, those children will be building their own. Years from now, my children will be throwing schach onto the structure I built. And 800 years ago, far away from Philadelphia, and without the musical accompaniment of an iPod & speakers and other 21st century niceties, a father was watching his children do the same.

-Cody Greenes

Monday, October 31, 2011

A MH Vancouver Sukkah story

It all began with a relatively simple plan: To build a Sukkah.

Jacob and I went to Home Depot with a Sukkah design that seemed affordable and easy to construct. It would be built with 6 and 8 foot long, thin aluminum poles attached together into a 12X12X8 foot Sukkah. Tarp walls would complete a roomy, drafty but altogether lovely Sukkah.Great.

Wandering the aisles at Home depot is probably what it feels like to be ADHD, not knowing where to look first, with nails, brackets, sinks, wood, drainage etc looming to the top of the warehouse ceiling and extending endlessly into the horizon of a D.I.Y junkie's dreamworld. Our first problem was that they didn't have poles, the right ones, that is. They had copper pipes (very expensive), long (12 foot) wobbly plastic pipes, but no 6 and 8 foot aluminum poles. So we kept exploring, silently recognizing that it would take a lot longer than expected. Ideas came to us, like using cinder blocks (didn't have the right ones), using lattices (too expensive), 2X4's (too heavy if we create a base out of them too), but were rejected, and we went home to think about it.

The next day we returned with Rotem. He thought a 2X4 structure could work. We bought 12 and 16 foot long 2X4 beams to build a 12 foot cube, with 16 foot crossbeams for support.

They were HUGE and HEAVY. Could we even fit them into a Subaru station wagon? We turned down the back seats, slid the beams in until they touched the windshield, but they still stuck out of the trunk about 4 feet. We had no rope with us either. We were impatient to go home, so Jacob and I sat in the trunk and held onto 12 -12 foot and 6-16 foot 2X4's, which, when held together, were as thick as a cedar trunk. Then we prayed that the beams a) wouldn't slip out of the open trunk door b) that the car wouldn't hit a bump c)scrape against the ground when driving uphill d) wouldn't get pulled over.

We drove 5 miles an hour to be safe. The drive from Home Depot to our house is uphill almost the entire way along a very busy street. Needless to say people were not happy we held up traffic. We shrugged off the dirty looks, the obscenities, and the people too embarrassed to even look at us for fear we are a bunch of crazy psychos. But then this car cuts us off and stops right in front of us in the middle of the street. This dude wearing a toque walks up and sticks his head in our window and says " you guys better pull over, you have no idea", I am going to write you up". We get a closer look at him and see he has a joint hanging out the corner of his mouth. Rotem looks at me, I look at Jacob who looks back at Rotem. Is he an off-duty cop smoking a joint or a stoner pretending to have authority? Rotem says something like, yeah sure we will get off the road at the next light, and he walks back to his car and drives off. We laugh and make our way slowly back home.

It poured the next day. But people showed up for the Sukkah building event, so we went out with our hammers, nails, brackets, boots and rain coats. After we began to nail the beams together, we realized a) just how tall 12 foot ceilings are, and how difficult it will be to erect the Sukkah and b) that our yard is uneven. So first we built the 3 walls separately, then laid one of the walls on the ground and nailed in the other 2 walls vertically, at right angles on opposite sides. Then we pushed and pushed until the Sukkah rotated 90 degrees, and the wall previously lying on the ground became the back wall. The walls teetered and swayed on the uneven ground, but held! The 10 people who helped stood back and laughed at how ridiculously tall the Sukkah was. It was unreal, like a distorted, monstrous prop. The Frankenstein of sukkahs. A walk- in -joke.

The Sukkah stood for 2 weeks and provided us with a place to host our clothing swap/drive, drink l'chaims, shake the Lulav, and hang out with friends. Would any of us have built such a Sukkah alone? NO, it was too much, too weird. But together as a group, somehow the weirdness of it became charming, the monster protective and comforting, the joke funny and not shameful.

Our walk-in-joke will be up next year, so if you are flying over Vancouver and your plane suddenly lurches, don't be alarmed, chances are you have just avoided our Sukkah.


Baruch Huberman, MH Vancouver

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recently, we are in the midst of the festival of Sukkot, a holiday that celebrates the harvest and often affords us an opportunity to shift the focus of our personal energies from personal introspection outwards into the world. Nothing exemplifies this shift more, than the sukkah, a simple tent, erected at Occupy Boston. Many Moishe Kavodniks have had an opportunity this past month to break bread in this sukkah and to take a look at the the goings-on in Dewey Square and it has struck many of us what an appropriate statement that particular sukkah really is in light of the orientation shift that Sukkot often embodies. Obviously we could look at the symbolic act of moving the festival celebration to the site of a mass protest as way of taking the personal commitments made during Yom Kippur in the process of T’shuvah or repentance and turning them into action in the world. Without endorsing the goals or tactics of the Occupation Movement, it is hard to deny that a public expression of righteous indignation at the current state of affairs is most certainly a conduit for living one’s values, the usually desired end result of t’shuvah.
This is certainly true, but there is another less obvious aspect of the Occupy Boston Sukkah that spoke to me. While meandering through the tent city that currently covers Dewey Square, I saw not one concerted action but dozens, heard not one voice but hundreds. The protesters and occupiers speak to a multitude of issues. Banners and signs decrying the evils of war, economic disparity, the denigration of teachers, the hijacking of the democratic process by business interests, and environmental degradation line Atlantic Avenue. It is a great fruit salad of causes. The sukkah itself also speaks to this level of pluralism for it was erected not by one Jewish organization but by more than eight. One would think that with so many priorities, organization would be next to impossible in this confusion of differing voices, yet chaos is far from the state of affairs there. The tent city sports free hot food distribution, recycling pick-up, and a free library with internet, and has the feeling in its calmer moments of a tidy New England town. It is for this reason that the Occupy Boston Sukkah has given me pause to think. Maybe it is not only that we need to come out of our reveries of introspection this Sukkot but out of our professional and political silos as well. Perhaps this Sukkot then can serve to remind us that turning outward does not just mean looking from ourselves out into the world, but also being able to embrace a diversity of priorities and opinions, that change comes not when we are walled off from one another and working diligently on our own personal projects, but when we find common ground with others. That being in the world and taking effective action often takes not single minded focus but the ability to listen to many voices and from that chorus, finally speak with one accord.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Orleans!

All I knew before coming to New Orleans was that I would be living in the
Moishe House. That was the only fact, the only stable thing I had to look forward to
while I waited to move. I had just graduated college from the University of Michigan
in May and I had decided to quit the job I had waiting for me in San Francisco and
move unemployed to New Orleans. When I had visited New Orleans in the past I
was moved by the emphasis that people in New Orleans seemed to place on
community and relationships. I was drawn to the people I had met during my visit
and the opportunities I could foresee in such a great city. Ideologically I was sold on the city, yet when I arrived I realized, what do I do now?

My first few days were spent networking with non-profits, companies, and
even restaurants that were just not hiring. I would walk into my not yet settled
home, the Moishe House and wallop in my discouragement to roommates who did
not yet know me. The support I received from my Moishe House roommates and
the larger Moishe House community literally got me through a rough transition
period. Everybody I met was willing to hash out my sorrows with me and offer
me positive reinforcement. I believe strongly in the power of community and
specifically the power of intentional community, Moishe House exemplifies my

At this point I have been in New Orleans slightly over a month and Moishe
House is now not the only thing that is settled for me in this city. Yet, living at the house and hosting people on a weekly basis has helped me focus and concentrate on
creating a new home for myself in New Orleans.

Barrie Schwartz
MH New Orleans

Monday, October 10, 2011

MH San Diego turns 1!!!

MHSD turns 1!!!!! That's right, as of October 1, 2011, we turned one. It's been a great year, our community has grown from essentially 3 people to hundreds. We now get at least 30 guests every Shabbat, and many regulars hang out outside of MHSD events.

That our birthday happened to fall between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur makes contemplating the year that passed both easy and interesting. This past year has been a learning experience to say the least. I personally learned how much EFFORT it takes to host successful and meaningful events and really what it takes to facilitate community-building. I want to thank my house-mates (Dovi, Natalie and Jon) for all their efforts in making our house and this social experiment called Moishe House an absolute success.

Personally, this was a year of big changes as well. It was my first complete year back in the US after living/working/studying in Israel for the prior 3 years; I also started a PhD program here in San Diego that was *a little* more time-consuming than I thought it would be. Even with all the stress of trying to juggle 5-6 events a month, tons of school work, trying to maintain a life outside of Moishe House (it's actually possible), at the end of every month it's been completely worth it. This month, I'm especially looking forward to building our sukkah (this Sunday). We just missed Sukkot when we moved in last year and I'm really excited to have an amazing house and back yard in which to build one this year.

Shana Tova and Gmar Chatima Tova to all.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I love...everything!

Life. Oh Life! So many things to think about. So many things to worry about. So many people to care about. But in the end...everything is great! Life. Is. Beautiful.

I spent the last 3 weeks of my life UBER stressed out with work, my love life, and I hate to admit it...Moishe House. Everything seemed to hit me at once. A few events crept up, kids at my work were being really obnoxious and hard to deal with, and for the first time in a while I was completely single (not even one date in the near future). I called my sister, cried to my mother, and then it hit me. "What am I doing?" There are SO many moments in my life where everything seems so tough and unbearable, but then I realize, I get to wake up tomorrow- healthy, well-educated, loved, etc. etc., and I get to start fresh. "Snap out of it lucky are you?"

I'm also lucky that this point in my life/year came at the end of the Jewish year. "Going home", aka driving 20 minutes into the San Fernando Valley, was a breath of fresh air. My cousin was in town from NY, I spent a few nights at my parents house, and I was able to really digest everything that was happening in my life and how I wanted to grow from it all. Erev Rosh Hashana was the I went over to my aunt and uncles house with my mom and grandma and was able to enjoy a dinner filled with fond memories from the motherland, prayers over food, and damn good challah and honey. It was easy to completely forget about all my stress and focus on laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Moments and memories such as these seem to somehow erase all bad feelings and bad days. The bad days come and they go, but dinners with family and laughing until you cry are the memories I keep from year to year.

Moishe House was also something that made me super happy this week! Although it can sometimes be a stressful thing, Moishe House is sure to provide me with a dose of love, spirituality, and community that makes me forget about all my stress. This past week Moishe House LA hosted our biggest non-partnered event ever. We had 50 people at our house for Shabbat dinner. Being in the house all day, cooking, and setting up for 30 people only to watch person after person and group after group coming in to join in on our dinner made me smile from ear to ear. Sure there was a point in all of our nights where we thought "Oy! There's not enough food!" or "Oy! Not everyone can sit!" but...WHO CARES? There's ALWAYS enough food, and so what if people have to stand? They're still enjoying their night and meeting new awesome people. It was so beautiful, and I can honestly say I felt almost high the next day from the feeling of being so proud to be a part of our house and a part of our organization.

So I hope to share with all of you and I hope to remind myself next time I feel like! Love everything you do! Be happy! Happiness is the key to sanity! and Breathe! What ever that means to you- whether it's an actual inhale and exhale or whether it's a few nights away from reality- BREATHE!

Besos to all.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A new year, a new crew

Well, MH Chicago has gone through many transitions. September marked the departure of 3 of our treasured residents, Kelly, Wendy and Emma, and the arrival of three new residents, Benjamin, Elli and Danny, who are eager to take on the mission of living in a Moishe House. September, of course, also marked the beginning of 5772.

I've had many reflections on what it means to be a Moishe House resident. It was wonderful to live in MH Chicago, the past 2 years with 4 of my best friends. We developed a rhythm and a clear set of expectations for our responsibilities and came to function like a well-oiled machine when it came to hosting programs and dinners for over 40 people. Using the principles of community organizing as a foundation for our community, we watched as many of our community members became invested in the broader MH community and developed as strong leaders. Many of our programming initiatives came from requests of what people wanted to see from MH Chicago. Then we worked with them to make their visions a reality.

Now, our three new members, all of whom were community members before, have taken over the reigns. They bring a new energy and excitement to the table. They come with fresh ideas and a passion to see MH grow. It is great to see. As we grow, I wonder how we do it in a sustainable way and how we grow in a way that does not ostracize the original community.

In this season of self reflection, I am taking time to step back and think about what I like most about MH Chicago. While there is a wealth of synagogue based initiatives for Jews in their 20s and 30s, I think we have filled a niche for people who are seeking a less institutionalized form of Judaism. A community that is member driven. A Jewish community that is pertinent to our members' lives and that is attuned to their interests. I am reminded what an honor and privilege it is to live in a Moishe House. And I am inspired by the new-comers energy to reignite my own passion for building a strong, progressive, egalitarian Jewish community.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fall transitions at Moishe House San Francisco

This fall (this upcoming Halloween actually) marks my 3rd year of living in Moishe House San Francisco. When I moved in, sight unseen, straight from Brooklyn 3 years ago, I never thought I'd live in the house for as long as I have. I moved in looking for connections with other Jews, looking for a social life, and looking for a network. I knew I loved planning events, hosting dinner parties, and participating in social justice. I also knew that the roommates I'd be moving in with were kind, passionate, and really welcoming. I didn't know how long I'd stay, and I didn't know where life would take me in the next few years. I didn't have a plan, but I had concieved of it as an interim move while I got settled in SF, maybe for a year or so before finding my own place.

Now, it's hard to imagine anything else. Moishe House is my home and a huge part of my life. My boyfriend moved in with us about 8 months ago, and now we are both completely involved in the workings of the house. It's my 'hobby,' my 'second job' and a lot of my social life. I've been in the house now long enough to see so many people come and go. Resident changes, guests, etc.

It's fall and it seems apt that there are some more changes in progress. First, we had to say goodbye to Kiki Fabian, who had been a great roommate, but had to follow her heart and started med school in Israel at Ben Gurion. Then, we got a new roommate - Monique Arar. Just as she is settling in, I'm starting to think about moving along. I don't know how I'll know that I'm absolutely 'ready' because how would anyone ever feel ready to leave such a gorgeous house, such great friendships, and such a great project?

I do know though that I've grown and learned a lot in my time at moishe house, and whenever it is that Jordan and I decide to move on, I'll take all that with me. Moishe House has changed me. It's pushed my schmooze skills to their absolute limits, it's taught me a lot about Jewish ritual that I never learned growing up in a very reform, hippy synagogue, and has connected me with hundreds of young San Francisco Jews and Jewish organizations. It has taught me about collaboration, team work, communication, and how not to be passive-agressive with routine roommate issues like dirty dishes or loud noises. I know that I'll keep hosting shabbat dinner, keep volunteering, and keep connected once I leave. My Jewish identity has grown stronger over the past few years, and really all I've done in that time that's 'Jewish' is everything moishe.
Thanks to moishe house I build a sukkah once a year, and now I frequently get to light candles, say kiddish, and eat challah; all things that really mean a lot to me. Once I leave I know I'll find a way to keep this aspect of my life in my identity and in my social plans.

We've got a lot of great September events coming up, so definitely check the moishe house website and our calendar if you'd like to join us. It's a fun filled and busy high holiday season for sure!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bye bye MoHo-Fo now :)

It's that time we all know exists, but have no idea when it will happen. It's my time to spread my wings, and move on out of the wonderful, beautifully, loving Moishe House LA.

I moved to LA a year and a half ago, and my transition into my new life would have been far more difficult had I not had the Moishe House Community. Over the past 15 months I have built some of the most loving, strong friendships which I know will continue to flourish, post-moho.

I could go on thanking the moishe house for providing me this amazing opportunity, however I feel it would be more entertaining to leave you with a couple lessons I have learned from living in a communal house.

(1) Men don't do dishes. This may be an exaggeration, because sure, occasionally, the sink will be clean. HOWEVER, for the most part, I am prepared for the sink responsibilities for my future relationships.

(2) Communication, respect and love are the most important factors in creating positive, beneficial relationships.

(3) The moishe house is not just a non-profit organization, but it is a home dedicated to providing a safe and warm space to the lost community of wandering Jews.

I am sad to say farewell, but am excited to move on with my life. I look forward to being a part of the "attending" moho community, and cannot wait to see the wonderful events mohola will throw in the future.

If you miss me and are hungry, come visit me at Whole Foods in Venice, Ca.

I love you all,
Julie Auerbach

Monday, August 29, 2011

September Fun!

Hey Moisheniks, 

Hope you're enjoying the summer! Although as I write this it is pouring rain, but I guess it's the summer thoughts that count... 

Here at the House we are busy busy busy-- between festivals, holiday travels, planning for Rosh Hashana, and getting ready for our newest member. We have said goodbye to Joel, and are welcoming Rebecca/Becky who (in her own words) has been spending the last year in goat poo and is nervous to return to a place with WiFi and a decent public transport system. I am sure she will fill you in on the details if you only ask!

Anyway, September is jam-packed with events from geeky films, Tantra, Rosh Hashana spiritual and physical preparations, services, and even Craniosacral therapy-- read on for details! 

Have a beautiful month, 
Alli, Aviad, Rachel, Brett, and Clive x

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, 30 August

Moishe House
Tomorrow 19:00

Welcome to Moishe House London's "Geek Week". 
Three nights, three different "geeky" films. 

Come to one, come to all-- dress up if you want, bring some snacks and drinks, and be prepared for some fun. 

Tuesday: Back to the Future Trilogy
Wednesday: Indiana Jones (best two we can think of)
Thursday: X-Men Trilogy

Wednesday 31 August

Moishe House London
Wednesday 19:00

01 September

Moishe House London
Thursday 19:00

08 September

Moishe House London
08 September at 18:30

After Leora Lightwoman's fantastic session at the Moishe House in December, we decided to team up with Diamond Light Tantra again. We will be their venue for this mini-introduction session. It is open to the general public for £25 per person if booked in advance (£30 on the door) but MOISHE HOUSE LONDON COMMUNITY CAN BOOK IN ADVANCE FOR JUST £10 - just call Diamond Light on 0845 388 2231 with a credit/debit card and say you're from Moishe House London, or book using the following link:


Please do not re-post this special offer on any other public forum.

18 September

Moishe House London
18 September at 11:00

Elul is the Hebrew month preceding the High Holidays. It is a time dedicated to preparing ourselves for the upcoming Big Days. Come to our Elul day so that when we hit Rosh Hashana you feel ready instead of bewildered. Guaranteed to enhance your Grassroots experience or I'm wrong.
Freel free to join us regardless of whether you will be with us for the Grassroots Jews services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
For more about those services though, see:

Grassroots Art Camp:

Create our space. Rutie Borthwick, Alli Zionts and Gaby Pomeroy will be coordinating this day of creation, decoration and adornment for the Grassroots temporary home in Moishe House. Come and crochet a part of our new trichitza will Rutie and help make beautiful things to make our space beautiful.

Grassroots Elul Learning: 

Program of talks, shiurim and lectures by the best in the business. More of the high quality approachable learning that Grassroots hosts. Speakers include: Rabbi Judith Rosen Berry, Benedict Roth, Daniel Lichman, Prof. Vic Seidler. Subjects range from Talmudic insights into fasting to understanding Rosh Hashana through the lens of submissive/dominant sexuality. 

Full program to be published nearer the date!

28-30 September

Moishe House London
28 September at 18:30

*Please take care! Saying you are 'attending' on Facebook does NOT secure your place at Grassroots. To ensure your spot, click this link: and look around the blog for all the crucial info you'll need!*

Daniel Kingsley

Craniosacral Therapy at Moishe House with Daniel Kingsley – Individual Sessions

Available every Monday from 2pm to 9pm

[link to a facebook event/page for the individual sessions]

Craniosacral therapy is a very gentle yet powerful hands-on form of bodywork, developed from Osteopathy. It is great for relieving stress, helping to resolve headaches, neck and back issues. Because it supports the body in its own rebalancing and self-healing it can also be used to treat many other conditions that conventional medicine can't such as insomnia, digestive problems, low energy, depression and hormonal imbalances. Sessions are usually experienced as deeply relaxing and revitalising.

Daniel Kingsley will be offering individual 50 minute sessions every Monday. Sessions cost £60. Free consultations are available either by phone or just by dropping into the house.

For more information call Daniel on 07958 655 406, check out his website or his facebook page

Friday, August 5, 2011

Of All the Little Surprises

In my determination not to help at all during the transition of Moishe House OC from Laguna Beach to Costa Mesa I decided to break my ankle in two places, confine myself to a couch for six weeks or so, and have a bunch of metal installed in m body. This is the obvious solution to laziness. I mean really who enjoys packing up a house and moving, when I say “I will do anything to avoid moving.” I mean it.

I am writing this from a well worn patch of couch situated in the living room of our new house. Strewn about me are the necessities of daily life, IPOD, water bottle, crutches, pen , paper, and of course my laptop. My world is really small right now, and yet the community it holds is larger than I ever imagined. After the break I disappeared home for 3 weeks to recuperate, drawing on the support of family leaving my roommates to run the new MoHo. Now that I am at our new home, my wonderful roommates are helping me, I get to enjoy events from the couch perspective, we plan events together better than ever, and out turnout skyrocketed after with the location change.

I want to return to the community though, never before in my life have I sought out a strong network of support. Yet here I am on a couch, getting messages on Facebook, phone calls and emails from community members, the very people that make this organization thrive asking how they can help. When one member of the community is in trouble, we all help. I think that this simple idea of community helping its members is often forgotten, it is the original social safety net. At our house we have not missed a beat, participants are helping with breakdown of events, moving us in, bringing extra food for Shabbat, even though we are down one person (me!) we have ten more people to help out.

Honestly all of this sentiment is feeling rather maudlin, but the truth is had anyone asked me when I started here, “If you broke your ankle what would you do?”
I would’ve said “I have no clue”. During all my forced vacation time I’ve done too much reading, and one very talented author’s words bring me comfort right now,
“…we cannot possibly know what it is we’ve yet to make manifest in our lives…”.
I couldn’t have planned for any of this, Moishe House happened to me just as accidentally as my broken ankle. All I am certain of right now is that our house is going to keep going strong, and that we have a wonderful group of people around us that will make sure we are here for quite some time to come.

Moishe House OC

August: a fond farewell

It's been an unbelievable four years, but I'm moving out of MoHoLo at the end of August. If all goes well, I'll still be involved in Moishe House, working with the other MoHoLo residents and Moishe Houses in other countries, but my time living here is coming to an end.

When five of us decided to start a Jewish community house in 2007 we were prompted by a deep sense of personal need, for a type of community that was almost within reach but didn't yet exist. On my part, I wanted a better Jewish life.

Four years on and my Jewish life is completely transformed, through Moishe House London and other stellar clusters of creative Jewish community. So for this individual, it's mission accomplished.

MoHoLo continues to evolve, with all of us shaping it. If you want to run an event, get in touch - I certainly plan to be part of things.

Clive Selwyn has been a resident since before the summer and he'll continue to bring his special brand of madness to the Moishe House. And in September, again all going well, you'll be able to meet a sixth resident, arriving back in the UK with fresh ideas.

Indulge me here. I'd like to sign off with my top 5 Moishe House London events from the last four years - evenings of magic:

5) Shotei Ha'Nevua (January 2011)
4) Gaza Listening (January 2009)
3) Dining in the Dark (February 2011)
2) The Big One (December 2009)
1) Moishe Fest (July 2009)

And the future...? READ ON



We've got two Tisha B'Av events, dancing, drumming, geeky movies and, moving into September and beyond, Tantra and - oh yeah - Grassroots Jews Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.

One more thing first: Facebook groups are changing and their new format doesn't let us do the things we need to do as residents of MoHoLo. Please help us transition to a new system of alerting you to events by filling in this form:

It only takes a few seconds.



08 August

Yachad Beit Midrash - Tisha b'Av Tikkun

Where:Moishe House London
When: 08 August from 21:00 to 23:00

The first of two Tisha B'Av events at MoHoLo is presented by Yachad. Study texts on Jewish sovereignty, ask difficult questions and search for answers together.
09 August

Footsteps in the Sand - Tisha B'Av Event

When:09 August from 19:00 to 20:30

Aviad presents his personal take on Tisha B'Av and Gush Katif, looking at the expulsion of 8,600 Jews from their houses six years ago. We will learn some Talmud and more recent Jewish approaches to suffering, before watching the film 'Footsteps in the Sand.'
10 August

Dancing the Philtrum

Where:Moishe House London, message us for specific address
When:10 August from 19:30 to 22:00

Free dance movement, meditation, voice, breath and automatic drawing/writing to get in touch with our innate wisdom. This session is full but there is a waiting list - email for more info.
11 August

Drumming Workshop

When:11 August from 19:30 to 21:30

Back by popular demand. Bring your own hand drums and percussion, and learn how to play it!

30 August

Geek Week pt 1- Back to the Future

Where:Moishe House
When:30 August from 19:00 to 22:00

Three nights, three 'geek classics' - projected on our big screen. Dress up (if you want), bring some snacks and drinks, and be prepared for some fun.
31 August

Geek Week pt 2- Indiana Jones

Where:Moishe House London
When:31 August from 19:00 to 22:00

Three nights, three 'geek classics' - projected on our big screen. Dress up (if you want), bring some snacks and drinks, and be prepared for some fun.
01 September

Geek Week pt 3- X-Men Trilogy

Where:Moishe House London
When:01 September from 19:00 to 22:00

Three nights, three 'geek classics' - projected on our big screen. Dress up (if you want), bring some snacks and drinks, and be prepared for some fun.
08 September

Mini-introduction to Tantra

Where:Moishe House London
When:08 September from 18:30 to 21:00

After Leora Lightwoman's fantastic session in December, we decided to team up with Diamond Light Tantra again, for this mini-introduction session. Enhance connectedness, harmony and compassion - with a special offer for MoHoLo community.