Monday, April 30, 2012

Rafi - MH Buenos Aires

Three months ago the "Moishe House Experience" started for me. I was recently graduated from the Industrial Design Career in the University of Buenos Aires and I was ready to move in to Moishe House Buenos Aires. I lived all my life in this city, being an active member of my jewish community and I was really happy about this opportunity. 

Many things and events happen during those first days and lots of new people start being part of my life.
And suddenly only one month after I moved in, a trip opportunity to the USA came up and with that, the possibility of visiting many other Moishe House during my journey.

See you later Moishe House Buenos Aires! And Welcome Moishe House New Orleans, New Jersey, Brooklyn and Boston! I prepared my luggage, went to Ezeiza Airport and the travel started…

MH NOLA received me and my friends during Mardi Gras celebrations. We arrived a Saturday night, it was a strange city for me and as soon as I saw the Moishe house Carpet in the floor I felt a little bit like in home. Immediately this great group of residents: Zake, Malory, Barry and Laura made us feel like part of their group of friends.
MH Hoboken was next and this time I arrived alone to New Jersey.  Josh, David and Shira invited me to every event , we share a great Shabbat dinner together and enjoy so much with all of them. We even went together to a Purim party in the Moishe House Williamsburg in Brooklyn.
Last stop was MH Boston I only spent one day there, people in the House was so nice with me, and it was enough time to see how they live, and the kind of events and activities they do.

What an amazing experience! Such a great trip! Meeting new friends around the world! Feeling in home away from home, even when I wasn’t talking my first language.

I came back to Buenos Aires with a better knowledge of what all this “Moishe House thing ” is about. It was a very inspiring travel. Met new friends, learn how jewish young adults from abroad live, what kind of activities other Moishe house residents organized.  
It is so exciting to be part of this great project that aims to change the life of many… well it is certainly starting to change mine!

Thank you Moishe House! Gracias!! =)

Rafi Zelmann - MH Buenos Aires

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rachael - Moishe House West LA

Since I moved into Moishe House West LA in December, I've received weekly emails from Zvi offering up his take on the weekly Torah portion and some learnings to help make the ancient texts relatable. To completely come clean, I tried to read them a few times but would get distracted by something else and never went back. Then I just started to ignore them since they'd pop into my inbox during work, I'd save them to read for a few weeks and they'd pile up until I'd admit to myself that I probably wouldn't get to them. In general, I don't really consider myself a "torah studier" and liked the idea of giving it a try once in awhile, but wasn't making the time.

This weekend I had the pleasure of meeting Zvi at the Moishe House National Conference and quickly realized that I'd been missing out on his weekly nuggets of Torah gold. He presented teachings to our group in a way that paid tribute to the words that have been studied for ages but boiled it down to relatable, modern ideas and ways to bring these lessons into our daily lives, however we see fit. It was really refreshing.

So yesterday, Zvi sent another email and I marked it unread. But this afternoon I read it and I'm so glad I did. It was about the counting of the Omer which is something I'd never heard of before. I read the article he attached and then put his webinar on in the background while I updated my production schedule. I was really inspired by the conversation that he led and decided to pitch an idea to my roommates that we incorporate the counting of the omer into our events between Passover and Shavuot by collecting food items in our SOVA bin, with the goal to collect 49 lbs of food to donate. And at the end we can deliver the food and have a celebratory dinner with food we've grown on our rooftop garden (planted on Tu B'Shevat!) as a symbol of our own harvest.

The greatest thing about Moishe House that I took away from the National Conference is that the organization gives its residents access to a plethora of valuable resources and our job is to take advantage of them however we see fit. I heard it several times this weekend, but the Conference did sincerely make me feel like part of a huge, tight-knit network. I love the community that we've started to create in Moishe House West LA, and even more the community that the three LA houses have created by bringing their communities together, but this weekend took that feeling to a whole new level! I realized that our West LA house has just scratched the surface and that the resources that Moishe House offers us are ours for the taking. Rent subsidies and monthly budgets are just the beginning. It's really the knowledge and ideas and passion for the work that the Moishe House staff does that makes this organization so special and unique. But the most amazing part, as a resident, is that they're encouraging us to take all of their resources and gifts and make them our own, however we see fit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dovi - Moishe House San Diego

At some point in the recent past, and I am not sure exactly when, both I and MHSD have gone through a transformation of sorts. It used to be that when people would ask me about Moishe House I would reply with something along the lines of “we are trying to start an active and engaged community of Jewish young adults set in a comfortable, pressure-free environment.” Now, however, my response is different. It sounds more along the lines of “we ARE a community …” Somewhere along the line we matured from a goal into a realized product. This is not to say that the community is now static; we are still learning and growing each and every event, but we are certainly a true community in every sense of the word. We are there to celebrate simchas together as well as to grieve with or console one another when necessary. We learn from one another, inspire one another, and create a synergy that is far greater than the sum of each of us individually. It is no longer a question of whether the Moishe House models is right for San Diego or do young adults want to be engaged and a part of the Jewish world. Rather, the question is how much can we accomplish as a community. How can we better one another? What can we do to benefit the larger community? How can we make the world a better place?
Moishe House San Diego also recently experienced its first personnel change. The four original residents have lived together and planned events together since the inception of the house. This has been great and we have worked hard to help facilitate community growth, so we were not sure what the dynamic would be when someone moved out. In February we found out. It was hard to say goodbye to one of our roommates, but it was exciting to bring in a new mind and heart with fresh ideas and invigorating passion. Our new roommate reminded me of the excitement that I had when the house started and the transition prompted me to take a moment to reflect on our progress as a community. Seeing someone new come into the role of community leader so effortlessly gave me renewed hope that as each of us transitions out of living in MHSD, we will be replaced with someone equally devoted to the goals of the house. This shows me that we are a sustainable community and not just the product of four roommates. I am not sure how we as a community reached this point, but I am proud to know that I have been a part of it. Now, I look forward to seeing how Moishe House San Diego continues to grow and what we are capable of achieving together.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Ido - MH Cape Town

Living in Moishe House – A home in foreign country

I would like to start with a short intro about myself, in order to emphasize the uniqueness of my experience living in MH Cape Town.
My name is Ido Shapira, I’m 23 years old and I’m from Israel.
Like most Israelis, after finishing my service in the IDF I packed a bag and went traveling. But just a bit before I started my trip in South America, I volunteered in a Jewish summer camp in Texas USA.
I was exposed to a side of the Jewish world that I barely knew, the bigger side - Jews in the diaspora. After two and a half months of working in Texas and eight and a half months of thinking (while traveling in South America), I decided that before I’m going to start studying, I want to explore this side of the Jewish world a bit more.=

Six months ago I arrived in Cape Town and joined MH.
I’m volunteering in the Jewish community in Cape Town, working for the Jewish schools, the Union of Jewish students in the University of Cape Town (UCT), the various Youth movements and other Jewish organizations in Cape Town. My job is to strengthen the connection between Israel and the Jewish community of Cape Town.

Living in a foreign country is always a hard thing, but trying to integrate in a Jewish community in a foreign country is even harder.
Moishe House gave me the opportunity to mix and mingle with people of my age (more or less) and through them to get to know the community (and to get the community to know me).

When growing up in Israel, Judaism is taken for granted; only when leaving Israel can you perceive the difficulties of being and maintaining one’s Jewish identity in the diaspora. Moishe House allows young people to interact and meet other Jews and actually makes it easier for them to be Jewish. Participating and leading activities that deal with Jewish culture and tradition, practicing Jewish values through outreach programs or just creating a Jewish group of friends (a thing that sometimes can be really hard considering the size of the Jewish community in SA) - all of this is a result of a changing group of people who have lived or are still living in one Moishe House in Cape Town.

Looking back over the last six moths, knowing that there are six left to go, I have no doubt that I made the right choice. Living in MH puts me at the center of things and allows me to accomplish my main goal – getting people to know Israel and strengthening their Jewish identity, while experiencing living in a Jewish community in the diaspora.

Who knows, maybe when I’ll be back in Israel I’ll open an Israeli MH.