Thursday, June 23, 2011

Shavuot (Sarah's May Blog)

Moishe House Chicago recently had a Shavuot program where we stayed up and learned different things that members of the community offered to share. People taught improv, led discussions on unions and Judaism, led text studies, learned Israeli dancing, and much more. One session specifically touched me and is one of my favorite Moishe House memories I hold close to my heart. A community member was teaching a session on Shavuot and poetry. I was very interested in attending this session because I wanted to do some writing and had not had time lately. I also wanted to support the community member who was leading the session.

This community member had come to Moishe House for the first time a year before (at the last Shavuot event). He was shy, reserved, and after the event, I wasn’t sure if he would come back. I sometimes worry that Moishe might be overwhelming for people that are introverted and don’t know many people in the community. However, the story of this man has shown me that our community does doing a good job of being inclusive for lots of different personalities.

The participant came back and slowly grew less shy and began to make friends. He began coming to trivia and happy hours. He then joined a discussion group called “Privilege, Oppression, and the Jewish Community,” and co-lead a series of discussions on history. Next, he became a part of our weekly text study group. He recently told me that he had started to think of things differently at Moishe House. He now saw issues with more of a social justice lens, and he was grateful that Moishe House had given him the opportunity to gain friends and learn about Judaism and society in a larger context.

What I saw the night that I participated in his Shavuot poetry session was leadership. He led us through three different readings about G-d giving the 10 commandments and gave us a very creative writing prompt. We all wrote poetry that we shared with each other. I thought about all the learning we were doing that night and reflected on the learning and growing we had done in the past year. As residents and community members, we have come a long way in continuing to build a meaningful Jewish community.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June already

Summer. Lots of events. Events events events events events.

It is very easy to think of Moishe House London, and the other stellar groups in our sparkling community constellation, as event-based organisations. And on one level that's what we are.

But actually we're a community.

Of course that means different things to different people. But it tends to work like this. You come to, yes, an event or two. And you meet the people who also come here and you start to discover there's something about this place and these people, and soon they're your people too and you want to spend time with them in other contexts and combinations. And you want to contribute - and spend time round here when there's not an event on.

And then, what do you know, your life is changed. For real.

Well, it's almost Shavuot now and I have to go and cook some cheese ('What did the cheese say when he looked in the mirror? Haloumi!') so I will now get off my soap box and tell you about... our events.

But before I do (and talking of changing lives) we're soon going to launch a kind of Grassroots MoHoLo social justice fellowship, for a group of people to receive training and be paired with a disadvantaged child to mentor, and meet up however often it suits them for social justice learning and skills. Email if you think you might be interested.


12 June

Jewellery Creation, part two!

Where:Moishe House London
When:12 June from 14:30 to 17:30

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. 

23 June

"Big Lebowski" Night

Where:MoHoLo (message me for the address)
When:23 June from 19:00 to 22:00

Come along for a film night-- The Big Lebowski, classic amusing Jewish film.  We shall be drinking (vegan optional) White Russians, and points to the person who comes best dressed in a dressing gown/ oversized cardigan.  7pm for drinks and snacks, 8pm for the film. Bring snacks and drinks as you wish, and come along for a fun night :)

Glastonbury Festival's Lovely Jewish Tent

Where:Next to the Hare Krishnas, near the Glade Stage, right in the middle of the festival
When: 23 June at 19:00 until 
26 June at 22:30

One for those of you at Glasto. MoHoLo is supporting and co-organising the Jewish tent. Come join us for a little relaxation, food, drink, arts & crafts, music, poetry, meditation and general chilling. We'll be hosting a musical Kabalat Shabbat service, dubstep raves, make-your-own-lovely hebraica workshops, kabbalistic meditation sessions and anything else that you might require (let us know!) plus of course the annual institution that is our Friday night challah, humous & cocktails party. On Friday afternoon we are going to hit you hard with a mini dubstep rave using the MoHoLo Underground 900 watt sound system, this pleasure will be followed by a switch off/switch on candle lighting ceremony and a Friday night improvised service and Kiddush. 

27 June

Book Discussion- "The Ladies Auxiliary"

When: 27 June from 19:30 to 22:30

Tova Mirvis' novel about a tight-knit orthodox Jewish community being forced to welcome someone a little different. 7:30pm for snacks and drinks, 8pm for book discussion (and if the weather is lovely, outside!).

29 June

Clowning Workshop (MAX 20 PEOPLE)

Where:Moishe House London
When: 29 June from 19:30 to 22:30

Ever wondered what it takes to be a clown? Well, wonder no more! We are very lucky to be joined again by the very talented Hernandez (from The Rubbish Sideshow and Dr. Clive's Circus ). His speciality is clown/eccentric performance/physical theatre. We will be playing a lot of games on that theme. 

Numbers are limited to 20 and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

30 June

Future Sound of Yoga

Where:Moishe House London, Willesden Green (please message us for full address)
When:30 June from 19:30 to 21:30

This event is completely full right now (we can fit 10 yoga mats into our living room!) but if you're interested in Future Sound of Yoga's unique blend of yoga and dance with a live DJ we recommend the following:

- RSVP and get yourself on the waiting list (people do sometimes drop out last minute)
- Go to FSOY at one of only three other major London dates. All details here:

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Journey to Moishe House STL

When I returned to St. Louis after college and work, I had been away for almost six years, and I quickly came to the realization that my friends were scattered around the country.  I had one truly close friend who dragged me to a Jewish Federation event, a happy hour for young, Jewish professionals.  That event represents a turning point in my life that led me to Moishe House STL.  At that happy hour I met a group of individuals who partnered with me in the creation of Next Dor STL, a nonprofit organization aimed at building Jewish community.  Over the next year, I met hundreds of Jewish, young adults and watched as they developed relationships with each other. I was intrigued by the way these relationships extended beyond the platform that had been built by Next Dor STL.  It was a really organic way of creating and building community. 

I then began to look at Next Dor STL and the Jewish community as a whole. In an effort to provide more to the community, I began to hold speaker series and entrepreneur roundtables.  I began to attend events at Washington University, and recruit speakers and mentors for community members of Next Dor STL.  My goal at that point was to help nurture the Jewish community, and to assist people in making connections necessary to stay in St. Louis, as well as strengthening the partnerships and communication between the three major young Jewish Groups in St. Louis; Next Dor STL, the Jewish Federation’s Young Professional Division (YPD), and Moishe House STL. I understood the role and importance of having more than one organization aimed at this segment of the community. 

In January 2011, I was approached by Moishe House STL, and was offered a chance to move into the Moishe house.  After much consideration, I moved into the house in February 2011. Currently, I still serve on the board for Next Dor STL in an effort to increase cooperation between the two organizations.   In my time in Moishe House STL, I, along with Jordan Mandel and Ben Levinson, have succeeded in hosting a plethora of programs ranging from community service to religious and social events. These events have consisted of Shabbat dinners, Cardinals games, volunteer work, and going bowling among many others. We have proudly partnered with YPD and Next Dor STL on programming ventures in order to have more Jewish, young adults involved in community events. Having been a part of our recent success, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future, and I hope we are able to build even stronger relationships, and an increased sense of community with young Jewish adults.

MH San Francisco - Jordan Clare-Rothe

May was a really good month for me here at Moishe House San Francisco. One event that was really important to me was Arise: posters for Japan relief. This was a fundraiser that I put on with an organization from my school to raise money for the rebuilding effort in Japan. Artists from all over the world designed posters and in the beginning of May we displayed them in a gallery in San Francisco, and sold them to raise money for Japan relief. (Five of these posters are still being sold online at and all proceeds go to Japan relief). It was great to make this a Moishe House event and be able to bring people out through the MH network.

This is also a month of change for us here. Our room mate Ariel moved out last week to go to New Orleans with Teach for America. And Kiki was accepted to Medical school in Israel and will be leaving towards the end of this month. I'm really sad to see these two go, but also super happy for them and excited that they are taking up new adventures. Adios, muchachos.

Another fun event at the beginning of the month was the second meeting of the Moishe House Comics club. For this meting we went to Wondercon, a huge exhibition of comics that happens here once a year. Got to hang out with Batman and Elvira. The Comics club will meet again for our third meeting in June.

Until next time, same moishe time, same moishe channel!

Transitions by Eli Zaturnasky - MH East bay

ALICE by Shel Silverstein
She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME
And up she grew so tall,
She ate from a plate called TASTE ME
And down she shrank so small
And so she changed, while other folks
Never tried nothin’ at all

There are three sure things in life, Taxes, Death, and Transitions. We all go through them on a regular basis, whether we are aware of them or not. And I’m categorizing transitions with taxes and death not because I think they are bad, but on the contrary. I think transitions are too often too good to be understood. Even more often, they create unnecessary stress and frustration. A teaching that helped me stay connected and balanced during my last transition came from the Buddhist teacher Trungpa Rinpoche, who says, “We are always in transition.” According to Rinpoche, pain is an inevitable part of life; the only way to stop it is by staying with it and accepting the changes, not letting the illusion of fixed identity dictate what is right or wrong in your life.

My story of transition is the moving of our MH from Oakland to Berkeley. The un-dreamable dream--finding a 5 bedroom place, near Bart, in a safe spot, in the center of Berkeley--did not happen. We couldn’t find anything near what we were looking for, so we had to compromise and go to live in the Berkeley hills, which by all accounts is not bad, but also not centered at all. The house is located very high up a steep hill, far from Bart (our subway system), and other regular public transportation. However, it has turned out to be an amazing experience living in such proximity to forests and parks. And yes, our community is still coming and growing with us in our new location. So again, our fear of transition was unreal and a non-productive agent for us.

The challenge of transitions in general is that often we can’t see the benefits of the change before we make it. However, we must remember from experience that change also yields unexpected gifts. One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chodron, teaches: "We suffer when we resist the noble and irrefutable truth of impermanence.” We are trying to cling to permanence and security, but those do not exist. True peace can come only when we learn to embrace the uncertainty and stay present with the changes we experience. Only then are we fully open to all of its gifts. This is a lifetime process, especially when we dealing with big choices like moving our house to a new place.

When we dream alone, it is just a dream. When we share our dream with others, we change the world.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer Time in Charm City

It's really crazy to think that it's been 10 months since we've opened the doors of Moishe House Baltimore. Looking back, I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to connect with so many different people around the Baltimore area and provide an atmosphere in which they can reconnect with their own unique Jewish identity. Whether that has been through our awesome Shabbat dinners, rooftop BBQs or thought-provoking brunch and learns, it has been incredible to think about how far we have come in such a relatively short period of time. With all of the momentum we have gained in the past few months, both in terms of numbers as well as quality of events, the future of Moishe House in Charm City is as bright as could be!
Having opened our doors in August 2010, we were only able to really enjoy the summer time in Charm City within the friendly confines of this house for a month or so. With the weather just starting to really heat up, we couldn't be more excited for all of the fun that will be going on around the house during this time of the year!

Continuing what we have started: MH Palo Alto, Josh Weinstein

Palo Alto is a complex town. Life moves rapidly. Fortunes are both made and ambitions dashed. But somewhere in the bustling landscape of technological revolutions, boundless optimism, has-been’s, will-be’s, and graduate students lies a kernel of the who-am-I. For Jews, this question is part of the perennial task of integrating the personal and the communal, the ancient and the modern. It is identity politics and religious observance and careers and family and friends, and the dizzying task to reconcile each of these facts of life in turn.

We first hung our mezuzah and moved into our house in the quiet Palo Alto neighborhood of Barron Park in July 2010. Since then, our Moishe House has worked to enable young Jews living in the hyper-competitive world of Silicon Valley to form and define their relationships to Judaism and the Jewish community at large. Our successes, I believe, have come from events that focused on creating a strong culture of Jewish traditions, values, and unity. In the past year, what have we accomplished? We have held Kabbalat Shabbat services with dozens of young Jews singing together in our very own living room. We have hosted fundraisers for Lone Soldiers and youth villages in Israel. We have built sukkot around our neighborhood. We have hosted weekly parsha classes, Shabbat dinners, and speakers. Our kosher kitchen has made Jews from every denomination feel welcome, and the warmth we have brought to these events has drawn crowds. We have, in short, created something that simply did not exist here before for Jews in their 20’s.

Where do we go from here? As resident turnover and an expiring lease loom large on the horizon, the answer, I believe, lies in honing a social atmosphere that differs qualitatively from the atmosphere our community of young Jews experience in their day-to-day lives. This is to say that our strength, and value, is measurable within this contrast. Continuing to ensure Moishe House Palo Alto acts as a haven that fosters Jewish identity and Jewish life in a comprehensively welcoming way, is, I believe, the surest path to its continued success.