Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Moishe House DUMBO - Isaac's Post

A Good First Impression I'm no stranger to Shabbat dinner, and after a stint as the president of my alma mater's Hillel, I'm no stranger to feeding Shabbat dinner to young people en masse. Yet, I was still knocked a bit off balance when, a month into my Moishe House residency, and a week after I got back from Birthright, half of my Birthright group showed up for Shabbat dinner, a meal to which many of them were indeed strangers. It’s one thing to roast a chicken and boil some soup. It’s another thing to say some blessings and sing some songs. But it’s a different thing altogether to introduce adult Jews to Shabbat. They know it by reputation – challah, synagogue, something about no electricity? - but they have never really met the Sabbath Bride. The pressure to do Shabbat, or any holiday/tradition/ritual, justice when showing it to a newcomer can be intense. My own experiences and education were so rich and fulfilling that the thought of giving a guest an evening that doesn’t live up to my own expectations, even if the guest has none of his own, is an unhappy one. But, what I discovered at that Shabbat dinner immediately after Birthright is that being able to set or even exceed my guests’ expectations – something that’s awfully easy to do for people with no substantial Jewish background – is a rich and fulfilling experience in itself, and one that totally overcomes my anxieties about delivering “the true meaning of Shabbos.” After all, that’s not how I learned to practice Judaism. So this is what I remind myself: a Jewish life doesn’t happen in a meal, or a day. It happens in a lifetime of practice and observance and identity-building, and it is far greater than the sum of all the chickens roasted and all the songs sung. Every time a Jew who doesn’t know Judaism sits down at our table, we give them the chance to meet each other. It’s not as much work as I think it is. Just a good first impression, that’s all. And chances are, they’ll get along.

David Z - MH Vienna

Hello friends of Moishe House

My name is David and I want to share my experiences that I have had in the Viennese Moishe House. A little bit about my person….  I am 29 years old and I am happy to become a dentist soon. I grew up in a traditional non religious family. We always celebrate the “most important” jewish holidays, Pessach, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur; on Friday evening my mum lights the candles and my brother makes the Kiddush blessing over the wine. But I never really learn a deeper meaning of those holidays and why we celebrate them.
I used to live alone in my 2 room apartment. Moving into the Moishe House Vienna some time ago made a big change in my life. In the morning waking up in the same house with 3 other mates, having breakfast with them, talking about life, having discussions about past and upcoming events, makes a huge difference in my day to day life.

A big change for me was and is the responsibility. Living with mates means to establish rules for the house and follow those. You have to get along with your mates, what actually works very well. The biggest experience of course is organizing events and hosting people. Getting to know new people is so amazing! Through the events I also made good friends, whom I also meet in my free time. It makes me feel good when people give a positive feedback about our events or come up with ideas for new events. A kind of proof that our events are successful is, when people call me up and ask when the next event will take place. The feedback is always a big motivation for me and my mates and it helps us improving the quality of our events.
Moishe house is a part of my soul and inspired me!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eli - Moishe House East Bay

My life in the Moishe began one Shabbat dinner that my friend Vanessa invited me to. There I found myself dinning in a small intimate young cool group of jews that enjoy to celebrate the shabbat and chill together. Moishe House Oakland felt home. The night theme was spoken word. It was Joshua Walters one of the current resident, to become my dear friend later led the event with his exciting approach to performance art. That made me realize that this kind of group is leading the type of life I was looking to live. Creating a jewish community for young jews like me, who has strong interest in Performance art, poetry, and music and looking for the rest of the community to join them in our passion. It just felt only right to join a group like that. And so it happened that they were looking for a new housemate. It was a love from first sight and a few weeks later I was already moving in. The Moishe House gave me the supportive structure and funds to lead and create events with a complete freedom. The stage was open and my mind was the director. At that time we already had a few hundred frequent visitors, so it was relatively easy to have a lively attendance. To reach out to other young jews who were looking to celebrate their jewishness in an expressing and artistic way. I created events like lectures about herbal medicines, psychosomatic healing workshops, house concerts, camping trips, massage therapy workshops, radical improv game nights and more. By being an active Moishe House leader I also enriched my private career life and developed new skills that were going to serve me in my unknown then, future careers. While I was already a practicing massage therapist. With the Moishe House I had the opportunity to organize and facilitate massage workshops and healing art events. Through leading I learned a great deal about organizing and guiding a group of people in intimate setting. It was important act fro me to bring it to the community as I believe its a very nourishing and life alongating skill for the private and communal well being. Besides learning how important it was for me to teach touch, I also developed my photography hobby into a career. Starting from creating costume parties where we made photo shoots, and I got to shoot many other fun events at our home and outdoors. By doing that I realized that my passion can be my profession. And so I went to photography schooland now I manage my time between the Moishe House, massage therapy, and being a professional Photographer. Here is my link to my website: Thanks for reading, and please feel free to contact me with any question at:

Clive - Moishe House London

Lots of changes in the House at the moment - Rachel is leaving and moving to the seaside. Aviad has gone to Hong Kong today to a conference and to go diving in the Philippines. Brett has just got engaged. We have a new housemate moving in this week - another Israeli, David. I am looking forward to him moving in a lot. He is very good fun and will bring a lovely new energy into the space. I will look forward to more Middle Eastern cooking - shakshuka, etc. Lots of changes in my life too - I have a new girlfriend as of the last few weeks. Now this is interesting because I have not been in a proper relationship for quite a few years. In fact, the last serious girlfriend I had was 4 years ago and it ended so badly that I think I have been put off from being with anyone until now.  It is taking some adjustment for me but is a very welcome addition to my life. 

I had dinner with Jacob tonight. We talked about my new girlfriend. We talked about how everyone in our group is starting to couple up and get married. I guess it's our age. Our community is very close and revolves around the Moishe House. This is something I have always wanted in my life and only really happened a few years ago. Jacob and I were also chatting about my circus show on Saturday. I run a circus cabaret and we had a very successful sell-out show on Saturday in a lovely theatre in Highgate, NW London. Jacob is a theatre producer, so he was giving me some valuable insights as to the appropriate next steps for me to take to push my show even further. We had a very lovely evening. Our conversation turned to which festivals I was planning to attend - was I going to Wild Heart Gathering? Lots of our friends are going this weekend. Of course the conversation then turned to Burning Man. Am I going again this year? I am not going to go. Then we started talking about the last year we were there and how Jacob felt that everyone brought lots and lots of baggage last year. He had just been travelling for 8 weeks before arriving there and felt very relaxed and then, when everyone else arrived, he felt like he was being pinched. He felt like everyone unloaded their shit onto him. Then the conversation moved to previous years at Burning Man and how much fun we had had. We really have had a ludicrous number of good times together. I then recounted to him how I ended up at Burning Man the first time. I met Bronya at work as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital. She introduced me to lots of things - the Moishe House for one and Burning Man for another. "Clive, come to Burning Man. It will change your life forever". Well, I am not one to ignore my friends when they make such statements. So, not only did I come along, but I also brought Tali along as well. Tali I had met for the first time at Moishe Fest - a one-off festival organised by MoHoLo several years ago - music, games, arts and crafts. Wonderful stuff! So I met Tali for the first time and immediately invited her to Burning Man with me at Bronya's instruction - and so we all went and it was epically, amazingly wonderful. Beautiful, beautiful times. They warm my heart just thinking about them. 

Let's talk a bit more about the house and it's effect on me: One of the many things I love about living in the Moishe House is that even though there are always people around to socialise with, you are always given the space and respect to be alone if you want to be. This is so very important especially if you know what it's like to live alone. It gets pretty lonely. Lonely enough to be motivated to buy your own pedigree cat. Incidentally, due to some allergies within the house, I could not bring little Jabba the Hutt with me, so this he now lives with Uncle Brett and Auntie Anick and is quite a handful. The other thing I love about the house is the quality of people - Such emotionally intelligent, sociable, self-aware creatures. It is truly nourishing and inspiring to be surrounded by such wonderful people for such long periods of time. My time at the house has changed me forever. It is my way of giving back to the community. My way of looking after people who don't have anyone to look after them. My way of being part of something bigger than myself. Not many people get to live in a community like ours and I feel blessed to be a part of it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Compassionate Caring Community

"God is not the destruction of a hurricane, but the relief after the storm" -Rabbi Gersh Zylberman

University Synagogue Preschool Community has helped build the foundation for my passion to be a Jewish leader and dedicate my heart to helping Jewish families in need. For over three years I have volunteered for the Community Scholarship Program at USP and we help raise funds for our local community members in need. During the school year 2010-2011 we were informed of a family crisis within my classroom. The mother was diagnosed with cancer and the father lost his job simultaneously. This experience I developed strong leadership skills and my ambition to support my local Jewish community members in need. During this hurricane our Jewish Community rose above to support this family and I experienced the strength a quality community can bring. Additionally, I knew that I had to pursue lifelong opportunities to unite and lead local Jewish community members to support each other through out the roller coaster we call life. There are times we are up and down, but if you belong to a quality community such as, Moishe House we can share the blessings and struggles in life together.

MHDC - Lily

Humans seek belonging. We love to feel part of something, know that we have friends, be accepted. This fundamental characteristic is behind the Moishe House goal of creating meaningful experiences for young Jews around the world. Since living in the Washington, DC iteration of the amazing experiment in community-building that is Moishe House, I have gotten a chance to stretch my creativity and broaden my perspectives on what community is, how to create it, and how to nurture it. Luckily, around the time I stepped into my role as a Moishe House resident about year ago, I had a fantastic idea handed down to me: Sing for Your Supper (SFYS) has become one of the most successful community-building tools in my arsenal. Music has been a central part of every human civilization. We have different tastes and cultural paradigms, sure, but few people ever leave the earth without singing something. There is more to singing, however, than just creating music. Singing creates community. Last fall, I was reunited with a group of friends from a fellowship year in India. The focus of our group is not musical at all - we were volunteers dealing with various social problems of a complex developing country. But while living together, we had done a lot of singing just for fun. We were a group of very different people with different musical tastes and personality types, yet we got along surprisingly well. As our reunion weekend drew to a close, we walked arm and arm down the sidewalk in Manhattan, singing something that I'm sure was as cheesy as Frank Sinatra or the Backstreet Boys. Someone said, "Do you guys think we're so close because we sang together?" That question planted a seed. I thought about how people have historically connect across language, culture and social problems through song. The civil rights movement came to mind, old slave spirituals, and the critical role music played in the anti-apartheid movement. People empowered and united by music. I remembered how in my public health work in India, songs carried messages of health and nutrition to rural, uneducated communities. Would that message have been as effective if spoken? I thought about communities I'd met in my college days in Vermont, who gathered on cold winter nights to pass on songs as old as America through fiddles, guitars and voices. Could we appreciate the old traditions through recordings alone? I thought about how so much American music can trace its roots to church, and about the time my Rabbi told our congregation to sing because it was holy. "Angels move through you when you sing," he'd said on Rosh Hashana. Joining voices has a power beyond the song. SYFS has not always had its own acronym. It is an old Irish tradition wherein a host cooks a meal and the guests repay the hospitality by performing a song. When I hosted my first supper at Moishe House, the turnout was small. To make the experience more accessible, we decided that the songs not necessarily be performances, but rather sing-along style. It turned out to be a mixture of both, and we had a great time! Since then, the SFYS phenomenon has grown tremendously. The hosting is passed around, and each event is unique but consistently fun, joyfully noisy, and welcoming environment. Most importantly, I've found, the typical social ice is broken and people talk to each other more freely. We leave the communal music-making event with huge smiles on our faces. There is certainly no greater sign of success in the endless quest for human connection.

MH Williamsburg - DeJohn

Wow, it’s amazing how time flies. It seems like just yesterday we were searching for an apartment to start our brand new Moishe House here in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I guess the saying rings true, “time flies when you’re having fun” because these last four and a half months have flown by. Let me take a moment to introduce myself. My name is DeJohn, and I make up one third of the amazing trio that is Moishe House Williamsburg. Just like the “Real World,” we were three strangers picked to live and work in a house together, and it is amazing what we have accomplished in a short time. When we moved in two out of the three of us knew almost no one in the city, and now we have 15-20 guests for each of our Shabbat dinners while attracting regular crowds to events such as challah baking and happy hours. In this post I want to focus on one particularly meaningful event for our house and myself, our second night Passover Seder. Passover is probably my favorite Jewish holiday. I love reflecting on the journey our ancestors made to make our current existence possible, sharing the holiday with friends and family, and enjoying some of my favorite foods. One of my favorite parts of it seems every Seder I have attended is the community aspect. Whether it was my parents inviting in college students and non-Jewish friends, or being invited myself into friends’ family’s homes in Israel or at school in Arizona, Passover always seems to bring new friendships and family into my life, and so I thought it would make the perfect Moishe House event. Armed with my mom’s recipes and guidance, I went about preparing to host my very first Passover Seder. For attendees I reached out to our regular Moishe House community, my friends, the other NYC Moishe Houses, and Facebook, inviting anyone and everyone to join me in celebrating our exodus from Egypt. At the same time I finalized a menu, my mother’s brisket recipe, roasted potatoes and salad, to go along with Passover staples gefilte fish, charoset, matzo and of course lots of wine. For haggadot I went to my trusty friend Google and found a great (and relatively short) Haggadah to help guide us in recounting our ancestors journey out of Egypt. After hours of cooking and cleaning, I finally welcomed 12 guests into our home for the second night of Passover. We had a wide variety of guests, Jews and non-Jews, first time Moishe House attendees and regular attendees, Israelis and Americans. To say the Seder was a great experience would be an understatement. We each took turns reading passages from the Haggadah, enjoyed four glasses of wine, and got to know each other over stimulating dinner conversation. Like all Passovers it seems, I enjoyed my favorite foods, made new friends, and renewed my appreciation for the struggles of the Jewish people. The experience I had hosting a Passover Seder is the perfect example of what an amazing organization and opportunity Moishe House is. Without Moishe House my dozen guests and myself would have had to go to an unfamiliar Seder that may not have felt like home. Instead we were able to gather together and feel like a family celebrating an important Jewish holiday. Like NFTY in high school and AEPi in college, Moishe House has given me a new Jewish family where I can grow and develop with amazing friends, and I can’t wait to continue seizing this amazing opportunity. If you, or someone you know, might be interested in getting involved in Moishe House Williamsburg or is interested in more information send me an email at and I can tell you more about our house and invite you to our next event!