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.