This is my first blog and I would like to take the time to talk a little about my background and the reasons behind why I decided to become a resident of Moishe House and why I along with my roommates founded the Russian Moishe House in San Francisco. I was born in the former USSR and grew up there until I was 8 years old when my family and I immigrated to the Bay Area. I grew up here identifying more with being Russian than Jewish since I spoke Russian with my family and many of my friends I related my culture to that with which I grew up with in the former Soviet Union.
I went to a university that had a very large percentage of Jewish students on campus. I started going to the campus Hillel and even started volunteering to help with many different Jewish events around campus. I wanted so badly to learn about my Jewish culture, about my people’s history, our traditions and holidays, and just to learn why; why I don’t completely fit in with Russian or Latvian people.
Getting out of college, I got the opportunity to start a Russian Jewish Moishe house in San Francisco. I usually am very cautious with making decisions regarding my personal time, as I work full time as an HR manager and bartend on the weekends, but this felt like an amazing opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Maybe god was looking over my decision because everything really came together. We found a great place which ended up being very convenient for me, we came up with some great events, it gave me the opportunity to meet great people, learn about Jewish customs, more about the situation in Israel, began observing Jewish Holidays and traditions, and now looking back on it I believe it was one of the best decisions for me.
I had one particular experience at an event that we hosted. A couple of speakers from Israel came to our house and talked about the current living conditions and the political environment there today. They were both from the former Soviet Union like me. This one meeting answered so many of the questions I had been wondering about, and gave me a whole new perspective on my culture. It left me wondering what if my family would have immigrated to Israel, or anywhere else for that matter? Would I have the same values, ideas, want to surround myself with like minded people?
I am just starting this journey, but starting Moishe house 5 months ago, has led me to become a young Jewish leader already, and I think of it as a great positive experience in all aspects, I have also become the coordinator for Jewish service events for my house. I believe that this is foretelling of things to come for me in my Jewish community!