Thursday, March 24, 2011

LimmudPhilly: The next step on my Jewish journey

I spent 2 very fruitful years living in Moishe House Philly. I hosted Shabbat dinners, organized Passover seders, did yoga for the first time, all the while making friends that I hope to keep for the foreseeable future. My friends outside of MHP joked that I had gotten "as Jewish as I could possibly get." My new coworkers at the school where I taught thought the same thing. Little did they know I was about to become impassioned with my next Jewish context: LimmudPhilly.

Explained simply, LimmudPhilly is part of a large global network of volunteer-led conferences that every year provides various Jewish learning options for thousands of people aged 0-90 (or higher if we Jews have any of those). There are sessions on traditional text study and/or lecture, performance art, movies, shmoozing, food-tasting, Jewish paper cutting and origami; it is a veritable feast of Jewish culture. After attending my first Limmud conference in 2009 I became enamored by the whole idea of something of that nature being created by volunteers.

Naturally, I got more involved. During my second year living at MHP, I took on a larger leadership role in the 2010 conference. During the planning stages, they asked me if I wanted to be in charge in 2011 and offered me a free ticket to the UK to see the mother of all Limmud conferences take place. December 2009 I experienced 2500 people of all different shapes, sizes, political viewpoints and even religions, talking, eating, learning together. I even made a good friend named Nikki who I stay in touch with to this day!

Fast forward to March 4-6, 2011. LimmudPhilly 2011 takes place with 450 people. We expanded our program to be a whole weekend in downtown Philadelphia. Shabbat was at the core of our community-building and people from across the region came to visit and take part. While I attended sessions of all different kinds, the most important lesson I learned was that I am able to deal with major problems as they arise and not go crazy. It was an amazing weekend and we got so much positive feedback from presenters, vendors, and participants.

Moishe House Philly was a way for me to learn what I could do with the young adult section of the Philadelphia Jewish community. While I moved out in order to take on this larger responsibility, I maintain touch with the current residents and offer to help where I can (after all, I only moved 3 blocks away). I was pleased when all of them attended the conference and got something interesting out of it. Perhaps I can get them more involved in planning it in the future!

Overall, LimmudPhilly 2011 was a great success. The lessons I have learned over the past few years by being involved in the Jewish community of Philadelphia will be a true asset for my future plans. I only hope I can instill this passion in others in our community so that they, too, can feel the exhilaration of planning a great event (large or small).

I look forward to getting you all involved as I start planning for LimmudPhilly 2012!

Brian Cohen, former Moishe House Philly resident.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Austin Litoff - MH Dallas

Hi Y'all,

This is my very first blog entry. In trying to figure out what I wanted to say, I looked at some of what other mohoniks wrote. Many contain stories of Moishe House events and how it has reached all kinds of different people in forging a community, basically, examples of us, as Moishe house, following through with the game plan and doing what we're supposed to do. Similarly some wrote of the novel exciting programming that they organized and executed. While I was at first tempted to do some of the same, I, instead, would like to write about Moishe House from a different angle, writing not of what Moishe House has done for the community but rather writing about what this whole Moishe House experience has done for me.

Before joining Moishe House, my life was just that, "my" life. I could make whatever I wanted out of my free time. It was great. At least so I thought. Moishe House changed all of that. Instead of thinking just of what I was doing on a given Friday night, instead I'm cooking for a group of 20 or 30 and making a night happen. Now, instead of just catching the game, I'm sending emails and making phone calls bringing together a watch party. Instead of thinking up something new and cool to do, I'm thinking what would be an exciting activity that all kinds of different people might find to be fun.

And all of that is so much better. Thinking of those around me first and trying to forge a community makes all of those things that would have been fun before into something truly rewarding, something we can all be proud of. Going and playing poker was fun on its own. Bringing people together at our place for a charity poker tournament is something special. An analogy anyone can understand is that of preparing a meal. Anyone who has ever cooked a meal knows how good it feels to have put time and effort into putting something delicious together. That of course, is made all the sweeter when that meal is shared. It is much more satisfying to see the look on a persons face of enjoying a tasty home made treat, than to eat to eat the treat oneself. That satisfaction is something we at Moishe House get with all of our programming (not just making shabbat dinner!). The look of appreciation when people have found a home at Moishe House Dallas is really something to cherish and something for which I myself must be grateful. To take it one step further, though, that it instills in us the want to lead and make things happen in a community is all the more valuable; changing me to want to do those things is even better.




Tuesday, March 8, 2011

March Fun

This is the first post coming out of the DC Moishe House for 2011. We had a great end to 2010 with a huge Hanukah party attended by over 250 party-goers celebrating the festival of lights.

2011 has been treating the house well. We have been really focused on expanding our partnership with local non-profits. We just held an amazing dinner party with the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation. Two Kenyan founders came by with their cooking knives and taught a group of 35 local DCers the ins and outs of Kenyan cuisine. Unbeknownst to me, Kenyan food shares a lot of similar spices and dishes with Indian cuisine. After the lesson we feasted on chicken curry, lentils, maze, and other delicious dishes. Besides the fantastic food, the event created great exposure for the organization and even compelled some of our guests to start volunteering for them.

Beyond the more serious causes we support and promote, MH DC is bringing some light hearted and fun events to help alleviate the stress that this city can bring upon us. Two events of note this March will be the Purim Party, which will top of the Hanukah party, as costumes will be in full effect. Check it out on facebook!

The other event, which we are very excited about is the monthly art gallery party, called VestibuleDC. MH DC has partnered with local artist and curators to bring the city’s best, young talent into our house to display their art work. The artist will change monthly and host everything from painters to photographers, to chefs, musician and more. So we are thrilled to welcome in the springtime, our new roommates, and a whole new sector of the DC community.

That the latest for now.

Moishe House DC

Friday, March 4, 2011

March at MoHoLo

The News & Intro Bit:

Brett's away on tour with Gabby Young ( so we're joined by Laura Wolfisz for a massive March. Lots of Purim-related events coming up, including our big Inner Animal Purim Party, and a couple of very special story-telling and listening events.

Oh and a heads up for our Davening in the Dark Shabbat in June. Book now - limited numbers.

The Events Bit:

06 March · 15:00 - 17:30
Mask and Costume Clinic
Yes, Purim is nearly upon us... With a little bit of glitter and Purim magic we will turn simple everyday materials into beautiful and unique creations. Please bring some recycled or reusable objects, veggie snacks for tea and most importantly your creativity and imagination! The costume clinic will be a chance to discuss any costume ideas you have but maybe don't know where to start or would like some advice as to how to make sure you really stand out from the crowd.

06 March · 19:30 - 21:00
I'm Hans Christian Andersen (brush up performance / dress rehearsal)
Following last month's beautiful storytelling night with Nick Hennessey, RRR unpacks her storytelling show and performs a pared down, intimate performance before taking it on the road around the UK. £6 Limited space. Please EMAIL to book, and we will send you a reply to confirm your spot in the room or on the waiting list.

08 March · 19:30 - 22:30
The Art of Mindful Drinking
A special pre-Purim session from Meaning Through Being's Zvi Bellin. The Talmud teaches that "Wine Enters and Secrets Emerge." A Jewish ritual based on drinking might be fun for hedonistic Purim parties, but is there more to gain than a hangover? This session will explore how we can engage in this important mitzvah with greater wisdom and intention. We will explore the kind of secrets the Rabbis were talking about, and how to uncover these secrets either through alcohol or without chemical intoxication.

14 March · 19:30 - 21:30
Mishloach Manot Packathon
It is a custom to send gifts of food on Purim. These Gifts are called Mishloach Manot and are intended to increase friendship and fellowship.' You are invited to bake and decorate delicious vegan hamentashen! The idea is to pack them up and give them to individuals and groups in the community to promote peace and goodwill.

20 March · 15:00 - 22:00
Inner Animal Purim Party
Release your party animal at our day-of-Purim Sunday afternoon of animalistic mayhem. When we're obliged to get until we can't tell our right from our left, come to express your in-the-wild side, and bring whatever drink you'd like to consume and share with others. Featuring:
* Balkan beats and breaks
* Professional costume life-drawing: capture your animal!
* Professional face-painting
* In-house veterinary service
Celebrate Purim with us! Let your inner animal free! Kwwwwwwaaaaa

24 March · 19:00 - 21:00
Honouring (& Celebrating!) the Absent
There are friends and relatives no longer alive who still light up our lives, and we love and want to celebrate them. But sometimes, what with all this British-ness it can be hard to know when to launch into such a topic. So bring us a memory about them to share. lease join us for a joyful and tender listening circle (you don't have to speak). Feel free to bring things to help you 'show and tell' if you like. We will be joined by artists who will make a picture as we speak, taking words and imagery and transforming them into a piece of art for the house, so if possible, please bring a small photocopy of a picture of the person you want to talk about.

27 March · 14:30 - 17:00
Jewelry Creation
Would you like to create your own beautiful jewelry? In this workshop, we will learn how to make earrings, pendants, and charms. Everything will be provided for you, and everyone will go home with beautiful creations of their own. This will cost £6 for beads for your jewelry - the rest will be provided by Moishe House. Also, because of the teaching nature of this workshop, it is limited to eight people. Please EMAIL Alli at to reserve your place.

03 June · 19:00 - 22:00 (but book early!)
Davening in the Dark: A Shabbat of Sensory Deprivation
Dive into more blindfolded lusciousness at MoHoLo, this time as a very special Friday night. We'll create a safe space to explore dancing, praying and eating, without the use of sight. What does darkness do to your Shabbat experience? Can you surrender with grace and devotion?
7pm Dancing in the Dark (12 people max)
8pm Davening in the Dark (20 people max - a traditional *and* creative service)
9pm Dining in the Dark (20 people max - pot luck, non-meat)
Shabbat comes in at 8.56pm - we will use amplified music until the service starts at 8pm.
Limited number so we need people to EMAIL to confirm their place.

Much love from MoHoLo.