Because of Moishe House Buenos Aires, I am happy to say that I am now actively struggling with my jewishness, even if it wasn´t always like that. Both of my parents come from Jewish families, so somehow I could say I grew up in a Jewish home but at the same time without knowing it was one. Why? As Shaya Cohen points out “jewishness has no empirical, objective, verificable reality to which we can point and over which we can exclaim `this is it´”. My parents encouraged me since an early age to explore, think and go beyond what I was supposed to learn; and by doing that they took me to the beginning of what I refer to as my “Jewish journey” when they taught me the essential to any Jew, as our name Israel means struggle with God.
In Argentina it’s not common at all to live with housemates. My friends and family thought I was going crazy when I told them about moving into the Moishe House, so this idea of struggling was crucial to become a Moishe House resident. I got involved in Moishe House almost by chance...while backpacking in Europe, someone in Warsaw tolde me about this group of young Jews living at a place called Moishe House.
Day after day Moishe House gives me the opportunity to explore, define and most importantly experience Judaism. Being Jewish was implicit when I grew up, then became something related to certain institutions and is currently something that’s part of who I am, that I can’t separate myself from. Judaism is now alive, I learn from it every time I share dinner or even sing on a karaoke with Jews from different backgrounds and even different countries at my living room.
I have a new family, it’s members live all around the world. I live at the Moishe House, I got new brothers and a sister, I call it home. That’s exactly how everyone that comes feels about it. We are a house, we are a family, we respect and love each other, as a consequence we all feel free to say and do whatever we want. I am blessed to belong to a healthy community where we let and encourage each other to shine.
“Why am I a jew?” Thanks to Moishe House I can’t answer it. Instead we replace words and rules with our collective actions. We get to ask the questions ourselves.
I didn’t want to be corny, but I know it’s worth it in this case! Thanks to everyone that make Moishe House possible, to it’s donors, amazing staff and crazy residents.
Natalia Etkin – Resident of the Moishe House Buenos Aires