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.