Sunday, May 15, 2011

Start planning those Summer week-end getaways..........

 

                                                                                                                
                                                                                                  
 

Jewish Heritage Tours Summer programme has limited spaces still available on the following weekend breaks;

 

Krakow  opening weekend of  The Jewish Culture Festival  The largest Jewish event of its kind  24th – 27th June.

SOLD OUT

 

Krakow  closing weekend of  The Jewish Culture Festival  1st – 4th July 2011 Including Music, Films, Exhibitions & Sightseeing. Culminating in Klezmer concert.  Auschwitz-Birkenau visit included.

LIMITED SPACE STILL AVAILABLE

 

Rome – The Eternal City 2nd – 5th September 2011

3 days of ancient, classical and ghetto tours – a weekend with the worlds oldest continuing Jewish community outside Israel - & some of the finest Kosher cuisine in Europe.

BOOK NOW FOR SPECIAL OFFERS WITH AIRLINES

 

Jewish Heritage Tours provide an unforgettable insight into Jewish History and culture, exploring the Jewish world that once existed together with remaining communities.

Join us and learn about the astonishing contribution Jewish life & culture has made, and the lasting impression in this part of the world.

Jewish Heritage Tours tailor-made trips offer cultural & informative travel in a fun, relaxed environment making our tours a perfect addition to your travel calendar.

Please check our website www.jewishheritagetours.co.uk for all package details and offers;

FUTURE TRIPS…

Romania, Moldova & Bessarabia 7 days leaving on 15th September 2011

Magical Marrakesh weekend 27th October 2011 chill out

Danube Luxury 8 day river cruise from Budapest November 2011

Morocco February 2012

Tunisia incl Djerba island March 2012

ISTANBUL April 2012

BALTIC States May 2012

UKRAINE Autumn 2012

Poland - Warsaw, Lodz & Lublin June 2012 to coincide with Euro Championships

Incredible INDIA November 2012

Jewish Heritage Tours

6, Golf Close

Stanmore

Middlesex

England    HA7 2PP

Tel No   0044 0 208 9545074

Fax No 0044 0 208 954 5074

Mobile N0 0771 2290520

e-mail:     marcel@jewishheritagetours.co.uk

www.jewishheritagetours.co.uk
 

 

 

Monday, May 9, 2011

My First Jewish Experience: MH East Bay Glenn Howe

The first Jewish experience I can remember was when I went to a Seder at the local Synagogue in Arcata, the town where I was attending college at Humboldt State University. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the Rabbi emphasized throughout the main principles of freedom, celebration, and above all, community. I loved the songs, the rituals, the symbolism, and the conversation. And drinking 4 cups of wine while reclining came naturally to me as well. I attended a few Shabbats with some close friends of mine after that, and found the song, dance, celebration, and symbolism to be beautiful, compelling, and powerful. After college, I moved back to my hometown of Oakland, where I didn’t many Jewish friends, and so my experience with Jewish culture tailed off. Until I found Moishe House Oakland, that is.
I came to a Moishe House Oakland for the first time in 2009 as a friend of Brady Gill’s, one of the very first Moishe House residents who started one of the founding houses, Moishe House Oakland, back in 2006. “Brady, I’d love to come over, but…I’m not Jewish,” I said. He reassured me that I would be welcome, and so I decided to come over. The event was a great gathering of young, vibrant people, eating good food, singing good songs, and reading stories and poetry to each other in an informal open mic setting—without a mic. Like I said, informal. I had a great time, and thought to myself, “this is a community I’d LOVE to be a part of.” I came to many more events, and got to know the Jewish community that regularly gathered at Moishe House Oakland. I made many friends, and even hosted a couple of events with them. I took everyone to the B.A.D Girls (Bay Area Derby Girls) roller derby in Richmond one evening, where Joshua Walters, current Moishe House East Bay resident ended up getting a gig beatboxing for the derby for the entire season. I also brought my car over one afternoon for the Moishe House Oakland community to “decorate” with spray paint—you may have seen an eclectically painted Nissan Sentra cruising around Oakland, Pac Man on the driver’s side, a Jolly Roger on the passenger side, sea foam cresting off the hood, ocean waves riding along the trunk, and Einstein smiling out from the compass rose on the roof, guiding me along through the Cosmos of the Mac Arthur Maze traffic.
As my involvement with and ties to the Moishe House Oakland community—and particularly its residents—grew deeper, a question arose: Can a non-Jew be a resident in a home dedicated to building Jewish community? At first, the answer was an obvious NO. We laughed at the idea, dreamed of the day when all peoples live in harmony, and then blessed the Shabbat wine and got down to some serious chillaxing—day of rest, and all. But as the weeks and months went by, the question kept coming up, again and again…the residents were looking for another resident to move in and contribute to the project, and not finding the right person…I was living on my boat—a romantic, but lonely adventure—and was looking for a community to call home. I already had a strong connection to the residents and community, and a knack for helping with and hosting events…the only problem…not Jewish. We’d ask ourselves the question again, and one of us would invariably stop, look at the group, pause, and say, “Not Jewish.” We’d laugh and get back to Mario Karts, Baking Challah, and singing our favorite Jewish songs--mine happens to be “Hinei Ma Tov,” which I play beautifully on guitar, ukulele, and kazoo, in case anyone’s asking.
Then Passover came, the Afikomen was hidden, and when we all searched for it, low and behold, I was the one who found it! Sacrilege? Maybe. Or, beautiful synchronicity? I say yes to the latter. I held it aloft with excitement, uncertainty, and anticipation, and Joshua Walters saw me and burst into a grin. I said, “what do I win?!” Josh said, “You get to live in Moishe House.” A joke, of course…but when I submitted my application to Dave Cygielman, CEO of Moishe House, he invited me in for an interview, and said YES. “YES, Glenn Howe, you can be a resident of Moishe House. You’ve already made an obvious contribution to the community, and are dedicated to the project. We’d love to have you.” The only proviso: There should be at least 4 other Jewish roommates, to make sure that we’re still a majority-Jewish household that will be inviting to young Jews who are looking for a strong, vibrant Jewish community. Done. I became a member, and have LOVED the opportunity to exercise my community building muscles. I don’t have a strong background in Jewish learning, naturally, but I’m able to make a valuable contribution to the community none-the-less because of my propensity to connect with people of all walks. Come to the Moishe House East Bay and I’ll greet you at the door, offer you food and drink, and sit down with you and connect, 1-on-1. The songs, tradition, and rituals of Jewish culture still speak to me with the same clear, simple message that I learned on that first Passover dinner in a synagogue in Arcata: Freedom, Celebration, and—above all—Community. If my presence here in Moishe House East Bay says anything, it says that this community is strong, inclusive, and welcoming. Those are values that I can get behind.

Glenn

Thursday, May 5, 2011

MH Hoboken

As I sat down to write this blog I realized how much I have seen both the MH Hoboken community and Hoboken Jewish community grow. When I first moved in, almost 2 1/2 years ago, we were the only Jewish group in Hoboken that was having Shabbat dinner on a regular basis. Now there is at least one Shabbat dinner every Friday night being organized and sponsored by different Jewish groups. Next week we, in collaboration with UJA-NNJ and MetroWest Federation and other local Jewish groups, are throwing a large Yom Ha'atzmaut party in Hoboken for young adults. The programming we do has also evolved and expanded tremendously including more tikkun olam events, joint community programs, and a broad range of speakers.

About a month ago we organized a meeting of Jewish community builders engaged in building grassroots, independent, peer lead Jewish community of, for, and by young adults (20/30's) from across NYC and New Jersey; which was held at the Birthright offices (thanks, birthright!). The community builders ranged from local Jewish community organizations of all types, spiritual, religious, tikkun olam focused, social, socialist, learning focused, Zionist and any mix of the afformentioned meeting, sharing their communities raison d'etra and vision, learning about other communities in the area, sharing strengths and area's of improvement, and meeting other community leaders they may want to collaborate with but didn't even know existed. The meeting was a great success and resulted in great ideas for future collaboration between the groups.

The connections and friendships that I have made through MH Hoboken are ones that I hope will last a lifetime!

ON BEING A MEXIJEW ON CINCO DE MAYO!

ON BEING A MEXIJEW ON CINCO DE MAYO!

Rodrigo Rafael Rodarte, MoHoLA

Ever since I moved into Moishe House LA, I’ve been filled with pride. Proud of being young and living in this great city, proud of being part of an amazing organization, and proud of being a Jew. So much so that I was recently called a racist – sort of. “It’s great that you’re getting in touch with your Jewish roots,” a friend of mine told me, only half-sincerely, “but what about your Mexican side?” It’s true I am half Mexican, and that my Mexican side is not Jewish, so it often sparks a conflict of who to identify with, and occasionally someone will point out the fact that I do seem to favor one culture over the other – at least externally.

“You live in a house with all Jews, you host Jewish events and hang out primarily with Jewish people, you eat at Kosher restaurants and you talk about Judaism all the time. What about the other wonderful cultures out there? And what about your own Mexican side? Don’t you think you’re being… exclusionary?!”

Exclusionary? Does she mean racist? Is it racist to care about your religion and culture so much that you want to incorporate them into all aspects of your life? I don’t think so. My Moishe House mates and I don’t treat anyone else any differently, we just happen to love Jews a little extra. But what about the other thing she said – the part about my other half, my… non-Jew half? I’d hate to think I’m only embracing half of who I am. But what am I supposed to do? I was raised by a single mom, a Ukrainian Jew from the Bronx, I went to an Orthodox pre-school, got yelled at by my grandparents in Yiddish constantly, ate gefiltefish and borsht more than rice and beans, and probably most noticeably, I’m white as can be, wear glasses and possess what you might call a healthy Jewish nose. It does get Jew-ier than that, but not by much. So then… my friend is right… Right? Maybe not – culture, after all, is not as simple as black and white.

This month is Cinco de Mayo. Also it’s my birthday month. A month filled with little reminders of who I am at every turn. When I get just as many “feliz cumpleanos” Facebook posts as “happy birthdays.” A month filled with tequila and piƱatas and sombreros and Coronas – when, for one special day, everyone gets to feel like they’re Mexican. And more than that, it’s also a time to remember our past and honor those who haven’t always had it as easy as some of us do now. This Month we celebrate May Day, commemorating the history of labor struggles in California and those who fought hard for equal rights. Also on May 1st this year we remembered the 6 million members of our extended family who were taken from us during the Holocaust. And on May 11th we honor our fallen soldiers in Israel – our brothers and sisters who gave their lives so that our people will always have a land of our own.

With all of this going on in one month, it’s impossible for me to ignore the fact that so much of who I am is in no small part thanks to these two cultures – both having struggled so much and come so far. I spend so much time thinking about myself, making Facebook invites for my birthday and worrying about how many girls are going to come to my party, that I sometimes forget I’d be nothing at all if it weren’t for my parents, both of them, and their parents before them, and the generations before them, both Mexican and Jewish. That I’d be nothing without Hashem, and the thousands, the millions who’ve given their lives so that I can do what I do today. So that I can live in this house that brings so much joy to my community.

This month I remember to be proud of who I am, and of everything that has played a part in bringing me to where I’m lucky enough to be right now. To keep my heart open for all, not just Jews, and, whether it be in English, Hebrew, Spanish or Tagolog, to offer a warm welcome to anyone who wants to be a part of my life.

Independence Day - Harry Flaster MH Palo Alto

Independence Day

“We are all exiles, Harry”.

He says this with solemn certainty. He is my friend and roommate, a Jewish Persian American whose family fled Iran when he was 10.

“We are all exiles”.

We are sitting on the balcony overlooking the stage. The lead singer begins the next song. His Farsi is a low, soft rumble in the microphone, the sound of distant thunder in the desert awaiting the rain. He is a large man with curly hair. When he is not leading Iran’s most famous outlaw rock band, he is an architect. The drummer wears black and is balding. He has glasses and looks like he just completed a great novel. The violinist is young, thin, and beautiful, with characteristic large Persian eyes. She wears dark jeans and a tight blue sweater. She is a bundle of compressed energy gracefully channeled into her strings. The back-up singer, another beautiful woman with short hair caressing her face, has a shy but endearing stage presence. She gives a gentle smile when the lead singer introduces her. The guitarists, all men, hold their guitars with poise, caressing their instruments until the music brings them to furious life. The piano and accordion player is in a corner, a man with a full head of curls that bob and wave with the music.

There are no veils, no hijabs. In the audience men and women hold hands. Muslims and Jews share tables.

They sing in metaphors, of buses that make no progress because each passenger demands to go their own route, of love and freedom and struggle and revolution. The lead singer makes jokes and the audience erupts in laughter. He invites many guest musicians onto the stage to perform, and personally thanks members of the audience for their support. It is a family reunion.

This family of beautiful women in black dresses and proud men in jeans and sports jackets sit drinking cocktails and eating sushi in a club in San Francisco. It is July 4th,, 2010. This family was vomited out of their home country of Iran. They are members of the Persian exile, Jews and Muslims, doctors, lawyers, architects, businessmen and talented musicians, all proud heirs to a cultural fortune built over millennia.

They are here to celebrate, and to mourn.

The band is called Kiosk, and its members left Iran in 2005. Finding it increasingly difficult to perform, living a life haunted by the secret police and stifled by the religious police, they named their band Kiosk after the small storefronts that hosted their clandestine and impromptu performances. They would play at any kiosk at anytime, but never the same kiosk twice, in order to evade the police. Their albums are illegal in Iran.

This band has what so many American bands lack but try so hard to achieve – they are cool. Not because they wear make-up, or smash their guitars, or yell with rage, but because they are just cool. There is no acting on this stage. Acting is a temporary refuge for those who fall prey to an interrogator. There are no fireworks. Fireworks are for those caught in the crossfire at a protest. There is no rage. Rage is in a prison cell in Iran. But, there is composure. There is joy. And there is sadness.

Outside there are fireworks to mark the birth of a new country.

Later that night, we arrive at a party 15 floors above the city. An older woman opens the door and invites us in. It is packed, and the dance floor is filled with young men and women. The men shake their shoulders and writhe their arms back and forth in the air. The women shake their hips and make graceful turns with their hands. The music is loud and hits you like the heat of an oven. Shouted conversations are in Farsi with scattered English.

Our group adds the following to the party: two American Jews, two Persian American Jews, one Persian American Israeli, and one Persian American Muslim who has driven us to the concert and to the party. Discrete questions are asked among the Jews in our group soon after we arrive. We are the only Jews at the party.

I have four shots and start to dance.

I shake my shoulders back and forth and my arms are writhing snakes. My hips keep the beat and my body rides the music. A girl starts to dance with me.

“Do you speak Farsi?”

“Baleh.”

Yes is the only word I know. It does not take long before she discovers this, but we have made a connection. We dance for a while.

“What is that bracelet for?”

She asks, pointing at a blue bracelet on my wrist.

“You don’t want to know.”

“No, I do. Please tell me.”

“I have two brothers who served in the Israeli army. One of them started an organization to support soldiers who serve without their family.”

Pause. We stop dancing.

“I told you that you didn’t want to know. Does this mean you can’t dance with me?”

I smile as I say this. She smiles and we keep on dancing.

Later that night we are talking in the kitchen. I notice that she too has a bracelet. It is green and says: “Free Iran”.

“I want your bracelet. Lets trade.”

“I will never wear yours. You know that I attended all the free Gaza protests?”

“I also want a free Gaza, though by different means. I also want a free Iran.”

She pauses for a second, as if to take this in.

“Did you vote for Obama?” she asks.

I laugh; “Yes, I did.”

“Well, at least you have that going for you.”

She examines my bracelet. There are no markings that betray its identity as supporting Israel. It says, simply: “Lone Soldier Center”.

She agrees to trade. We pour shots and I toast:

“To a free Gaza, and a free Iran!”

For the rest of the night, I wear a green bracelet and she wears a blue bracelet.

A few hours later and we are returning from the city to Palo Alto. Most of the car is drunk, with the important exception of our driver, our friend the Persian American Muslim Doctor who is driving a car overloaded with inebriated Jews.

When we return to Palo Alto, I think:

In Israel my brothers are awakening. Their guns are stored under their beds and their uniforms hang in their closet. In Iran, the first call to prayer is heard. The Ayatollah prepares another sermon denouncing Jews, Israel and the United States.

We may be exiles. But for tonight, at least, we were all Americans.

MOISHE MONTHLY NEWSLETTER - MAY EVENTS

HI MOISHE CREW!

Hope you all have a spring in your step, eyes forward towards the summer!

We are celebrating having not only a full compliment of house mates back. But have the pleasure of many visiting guests from all over the world and Yes, the rumours are true, Dr. Clive Selwyn has moved into the house for a bit. We would like to Welcome him all the way from Kilburn.

Well, we have a great variation of events on this month's calendar.  We are still waiting to confirm a Hang Out At The House event for this month. Please keep your eyes peeled for that on the facebook.

We look forward to seeing you this month.

Much LOVE

Xx Alli, Aviad, Brett, Clive, Joel, Rachel and our international guests xX

MAY EVENTS

Ongoing until Monday, May 23

NW6/NW2 Beit Midrash: 'Difficult Questions' Series

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (message for the exact address)
When:Tuesday, May 3 at 7:30 pm until
Monday, May 23 at 10:00 pm

Falafel supplied for anyone attending ON TIME from Pita in West Hampstead!





Tuesday, May 10

Book Discussion- "The Finkler Question"

Where:Moishe House London
When:Tuesday, May 10 from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm





Wednesday, May 11

New Israel Fund Yom Ha'Atzmaut with Naomi Chazan

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green
When:Wednesday, May 11 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm



Saturday, May 21

Dr. Clive's Circus - Lag B'omer Special

Where:MoHoLo
When:Saturday, May 21 from 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm




Sunday, May 29

Jewellery Creation, part two!

Where: Moishe House London
When:Sunday, May 29 from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm




Friday, June 3

Davening in the Dark: A Shabbat of Sensory Deprivation

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (message us for the address)
When:Friday, June 3 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm










Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Jeremy Guzik - MH Orange County

Life at the Moishe House in Orange County

Moishe House has brought me many things both before and after I became a resident. Moving back to Orange County in the end of 2009, I soon realized that most of my friends growing up were either still in school, working, or just MIA, leaving me with a lack of Jewish community and a social life. Just my luck, a fellow alumnus informed me of this great organization, Moishe House, so I gave it a try and went to one of the Shabbat dinners that happened to be during the World Series (Go Angels!). From day one, I liked what I saw and enjoyed the events Moishe House threw, the people who came to them, and to be put simply, the aspect of belonging somewhere.
After a year of participating in many events, I was asked to move in as a resident, an offer I could not refuse. In the beginning it felt as if my life turned upside down. I was out of my parents’ house, throwing events to bring my peers together, and living by the beach…I can’t really complain. Moishe House has helped to make me an independent person. Four months have come to pass with many things changing, but mainly only within my perspective. I no longer view an event as an activity I create for my peers, but an event is more so hosting a place for the entire community to come together to create what we call an “event.” This may be subtle, but it is quite the difference to me.
Many of the attendees who come out to schmooze, as that is what Jews do best, are searching just like I was for a place to fit in. It puts a smile on my face knowing what I am capable of contributing to the community. Whether we are throwing a social event, educating on Jewish heritage, Tikkun Olam, or in some cases, bringing couples together, I hope that I can continue to contribute for some time to come.

-Jeremy Guzik

MH San Diego - Dovi Kacev

Today we had an event to commemorate Yom Hashoah. As I was sitting listening to the program it dawned on me that nephew, who was born just four short weeks ago, will likely never have this experience. He and his generation will never sit around listening to their grandparents and their grandparents’ friends talk about their lost families. They will never go to a day school function or their local Jewish Community Center to hear survivors recount the atrocities they experienced in Europe during the Holocaust. This realization made me understand that for this next generation, I will have to be the witness that helps them never forget.

This also made me think about the concept of never forgetting. What is it that we should never forget? Is it just that we as Jews were severely persecuted that we must remember. I think it is also important to never forget that we as a religion and as a people survived the persecution; that as the Third Reich went the way of many of our previous persecutors, we are still here as a people. Of course, in surviving, we lost six million people, many entire families, and many aspects of our culture. It is heartbreaking to listen to tales of children who had to survive without their families as they were moved from camp to camp, but none-the-less these are stories of survival. I hope that we, as a community, do not only gather once year to shed communal tears, but that we never forget to celebrate and appreciate the vitality of our Jewishness, however we choose to express it.


MHSD - mr. kacev

Loco for MoHoMoCo

We've had an insanely busy year as we moved from our old Silver Spring location to our beautiful new house in North Bethesda. I am so glad we made this move as now we have the space to comfortably host many more people for our events, e.g. Shabbat dinners. Last Shabbat we had over 60 people at our house, all having a fantastic time sitting both in our dining room as well as outside on our gorgeous backyard porch with candlelit tables. Realizing I've become an integral part of the Jewish community here is both an honor and a responsibility.

April marks my one year anniversary as a Moishe House resident, so this is a perfect time for me to reflect upon how Moishe House has shaped me into who I am today, as well as how I'd like to shape Moishe House and its community. I recently won a DC Jewish Guy of the Year award from www.gatherthejews.com, and I know that wouldn't have happened were it not for Moishe House.

I've always had a strong Jewish identity, but I wasn't very active in the traditional aspects of Judaism. My co-residents and previous residents of MH-MoCo (previously known as MH-Silver Spring) are much more active in Jewish practices, so this has been an incredibly intense learning period for me. With local Rabbis, I've been delving deeper into Torah and Talmud as I try to reconcile my identity as a scientist/skeptic with my rapidly evolving/growing spiritual life.

This personal journey to reconcile different aspects of myself lies at the heart of what I consider to be one of the most important challenges as a Moishe House resident: Creating a pluralistic environment for the Jewish community. Even though I wasn't raised religious, I still feel kinship with my deeply observant Jewish brethren, and I want nothing more than to provide a space in our home for them to feel welcome and comfortable. The challenge lies in the fact that it is unfortunately very hard to do that in a way that both secular and observant Jews can feel comfortable in the same room at the same time.

Given that the Jewish community is so small when compared to the rest of the world's communities, I feel that fragmentation within the Jewish community is a very significant obstacle. All that said, I do NOT believe that homogenization is a viable solution - we need/want to have all different kinds of Jews with different practices and outlooks in our world and in our lives - we just need to find a way to get along and connect with each other without judging or feeling judged.

As part of this effort to increase solidarity, I've been working hard to encourage more interactions between different Moishe House communities - last month I took a group of people to Philadelphia to see the new American Jewish History Museum, and we all stayed and hung out with MH-Philly. This last Shabbat, MH-Philly came to visit us, and I would dare say that these two events were some of our best ever (at least while I've been living in the house)! We've also had two great events with MH-Hoboken, and hopefully soon we'll be planning a triple MH event with Hoboken, Philly, and MoCo for a 4th of July weekend.

Along with a book club on science and G-d, the other thing I've been emphasizing in my efforts to create a greater sense of community is to have events that anyone can enjoy. As silly as it sounds, movie nights, nature hikes, and the like are incredibly important for bringing people of different outlooks and lifestyles together. I am particularly fond of our hiking events as these settings tend to foster deeper dialogues, and therefore deeper connections.

I know that I cannot live in Moishe House forever, so it is important to me that I leave something behind that lasts. I haven't figured out exactly what that is, but I think it will have to do with generating lasting partnerships with local organizations. If nothing else, I believe that helping MoHoMoCo make the transition towards a locally self-sustainable organization would be a significant contribution, so hopefully I can help make significant progress on that soon.

Thanks for reading :)