Friday, June 29, 2012

Building Community - Vancouver

Four years ago, I moved from Israel to Vancouver. I left my family and friends back home. Today I owe many of my present relationships and some of my new skills to the vibrant young Jewish community of Vancouver. Due to the fact that I grew up and lived in Israel most of my life, Jewish culture and ideals are strongly embedded in my lifestyle and are second nature to me. After I finished my army service I went travelling around the world for a few years. Everywhere I landed I found amazing unique Jewish experiences. I found Jewish communities that were more than willing to help me out in any way possible. It was through these experiences that learned the importance of helping others in need and welcoming new comers to the community. I quickly came to realize that being Jewish is not only a privilege but also a responsibility. During my first year in Vancouver, my close friends and I saw a need for more tailored Jewish events and programming. We took upon ourselves to independently create such events. We hosted many busy Shabbat dinners and a 30-plus guest Passover Seder among others. The visions and values which spurned these events coincided with other Jewish organizational missions of building a strong Jewish community. Not only did these events help strengthen friendships, but they also allowed newcomers to meet an already thriving young adult Jewish community. After a year of successful gatherings we decided to apply to Moishe House. Thankfully our application was accepted and we obtained founding for our house and events. This has allowed me, my roommates and the community to take our Jewish values to the next level. Now we have at least two Tzdakah and Tikkun Olam events a month and a Shabbat and other social events as well. The help and skills that we get from the Moishe House is unbelievable. Moishe House has helped us build a stronger community that is proud to help the greater community grow and thrive. This drive to create and maintain community is integral to my personal Jewish identity. By being part of Moishe House I am able to give back to the same community that helped and supported me back when I was travelling. I wouldn’t have made it this far, if it weren’t for all the invaluable help of my Jewish community. Thank You Moishe House for all your help and support!! Rotem Tal Moishe House Vancouver B.C

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Lessons from Capeside - Rachel Hodes, Moishe House Murray Hill

On this lazy, summer vacation Wednesday, I’ve decided to catch up on all of the Dawson’s Creek episodes I failed to watch during my teenage years. As I sit here watching the angsty teens of Capeside navigate through their melodramatic lives, I find myself continually rolling my eyes at their verbose and ridiculously dramatic explosions of love. However, as I have just completed watching the series finale, it struck me as I watched Jen Lindly, who upon her death bed had asked her best friend, Jack to “help my daughter find a place…I never really felt like I belonged,” that all they were trying to do (for six seasons) was find their community! Which, in reality, is really what we’re all trying to do. For me, I see this as a life-long process, an evolution, of which Moishe House is currently a huge part. Growing up, the Jewish community was a constant, I went to Hebrew school two days a week, and worked there as a teacher’s aide for another two, I participated in my local Young Judaea chapter, and was on the temple youth group board for three years. It was only when I entered college that I began to really engage with what being a member (and leader) of the Jewish community really meant…and what I decided was that it wasn’t for me.
It was this moment in my life that has shaped every other decision that I have made. What I realized after quite a few months, and with the help of a truly magnificent Hillel professional, is that the answer to solving my qualms with the Jewish community wasn’t DIS-engagement, but rather RE-engagement. How could I, as a thoughtful, smart, motivated individual form a place where people could come together comfortably? And thus, began the journey that led me here…helping to create small pockets of Jewish life on my college campus, and after moving to NYC last year, starting Moishe House Murray Hill. I see our job as young, Jewish leaders not to determine the direction of the Jewish communities we reside in, but rather to help empower the community to decide for itself – provide the space for any individual to explore what their Jewish identity means to them, and how that will manifest in their own lives. We have such a unique opportunity to organically grow our peer’s ideas and dreams, and as Jen Lindly so sagely advised us, to help them belong. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

House on the Table by the Sea - Dan Kruss, MH Cape Town

This is my second year that I am lucky enough to live in the best house in the best city in the World.
Moishe House, Cape Town, is my home (as temporary as it may be).
I share it with my housemates -People that are as awesome and chilled as me.

We work like dogs to make events awesome, engaging and magnetic. And in the end of the day, it's all worth it.
Our home is always filled with our friends, friends of friends and we love it.
The table tennis table never rests. The kettle works overtime, pumping out copious amounts of tea and hot chocolate in this cold weather.
This vast, omnifarious, crazy group of people have become a community.

We may all be made of different fabric, but we share a thread.
We are all Jewish. We are all Jewish young adults in a city filled with both opportunities and hurdles.
The important and fascinating thing is that we embrace and tackle every one.

I work from 9 to 5 everyday. I work late at night.
But when I get home and there's 10 people there to greet me. All worries and stress seems to wane away.

It has been amazing living in Moishe House CT.

People ask me why I live here.
I ask them why not.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to Throw The Best Event Ever: Tips from a Pro Moishee

Have you ever wondered how the Moishees across the world plan amazing event after amazing event? Well LOOK NO FURTHER, friends! Here is a handy dandy step-by-step instructional guide to do just that! Follow these items and you'll be on your way to planning MOT meet 'n greets, bashes, and bonanzas all on your own! STEP 1: BRAINSTORMING Sit down with your co-event planners, or stare down at a piece of paper (if you're riding solo). All stare blankly at each other for a bit. Go around and say "ummmmm" or "emmm" (if you're of the israeli persuasion) for a little bit. When you decide on throwing a learning slash drinking event, all throw out multiple ideas at once. Have the secretary-by-nature scribble illegible notes. Give it a Pun-ny name incorporating the word "Moish-". All be pumped at your brilliance and creativity! STEP 2: DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITIES Attempt to figure out how to divide all the work evenly! Eventually, settle on the person who works from home doing all the cooking prep, with the person who gets home earliest doing set-up, and the person who works late buying groceries the night before. NICE. STEP 3: PROMOTE PROMOTE PROMOTE We are digital people, we live in a digital age, in a digital world (via Daft Punk). Make a facebook event. Use a stock photo from google images, and then use Preview or Microsoft Paint to copy and paste the Moishe House logo and/or a Jewish Star and/or an animated Rabbi with Payos onto said google image of beer. Invite your 1,000 person network, including all other American Moishe Houses who could not possibly attend across the country. STEP 4: EXECUTE EVENT HOORAY! It was a HUGE success. You ably talked to the guests who arrived on time while still cooking the meal, you introduced nice Jewish boys to nice Jewish girls (and any combination therein!), you had a little nosh, maybe a little drash, you expressed undying love for your rooommates at least 3x over the course of the evening, and you ended up in a cuddle puddle on your somewhat over-used couch. Now that that hard part's over, on to . . . STEP 5: CLEAN-UP You wake up at 11am and you make sure to put on your flip flops because you are NOT walking on that floor barefoot! Except for that one roommate, who is kind of gross. . . just kidding guys! Grab multiple garbage bags, dutifully separating trash and recycling like a champ. Wipe down tablecloths BEFORE putting them away (DON'T SKIP THIS STEP IT IS SO IMPORTANT LET ME TELL YOU YOU DO NOT WANT STICKY TABLECLOTHS), and finally, whip out the steam mop you borrowed from your mom to make your floor sparkling (or as close as possible) as can be! If you follow these 5 important steps, every event is sure to go off without a hitch! To see how it's done, come to a Moishe House NEXT Shabbat dinner or brunch any time this summer! --Rachel Kraus

Moishe House Williamsburg - Micah's Post

About six months ago I moved across the country, from Los Angeles to New York. It wasn't easy, LA was comfortable, filled with close friends and family. I was the only sibling of three still living there, I felt guilty moving away from my parents. I also spent years building a community while running the LA Moishe House. So why did I leave? Move to a city with bad weather, too many people, and no good mexican food. As much as I loved living in LA, I felt stagnant. Building a Moishe House in New York was a challenge. I was up for it, and was eager to get the house up and running. The Williamsburg crew is a group of three young adults, all not from New York, all working together to throw seven events a month for Jewish young professionals in a city not lacking in Jewish events. As mentioned I moved here six months ago, and I couldn't be happier. Our Moishe House has risen to the task. We've brought people together from all over New York, created memories, friendships, and Jewish experiences.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Jeremy Guzik’s May Moishe House Blog

Living in the Moishe House has been quite the journey. It all started a year and a half ago in January of 2010, back in the time when I couldn’t cook, didn’t know how to organize an event, and had never really lived on my own, college aside. My have things changed with time. Throwing about eight events each month, we have tried all types of events including outdoors activities, intellectual discussions, poker nights, beer brewing, themed parties, tea parties, dance classes, and of course Shabbats and holidays. I realized, it really isn’t about what the event is, but getting the community to come out to participate. Once they are there, they create the event and the theme means nothing, most of the time. ☺ Our House alone has gone through some adventures along the way in the past year. One thing we have dealt with is the continual urge to try to get new people to come out to events, which in turn helped us make the decision to moving our house from Laguna Beach to Costa Mesa becoming more centrally located in Orange County. Aside from being quite close to the beach, this was the best decision ever. Our events started to get more people out and the community felt again, like a community. Another key thing was getting enough funding to keep our house around. We quickly went to work along with much help from our community to accumulate the funds needed, which we have succeeded in, at least up until June 2013. A few people from our community came to us, one of them writing an article on what Moishe House does for our community and how it differs from other organizations, and another person came with the connection to get Moishe House in Jewish Life Magazine. Did I say in it, I meant on the cover of it, along with a few pages that included the article and a few photos from the magazine’s photographer taken at our Sha-Brunch event. This moment truly showed how much our community needed and wanted us to stay around. If not for them stepping up, who knows if our house would have survived another year? It has truly been a privilege to be among those living in a Moishe House from around the world. Having met most of the other residents on our retreats, I feel we all have something in common, the strive to make our own communities better, and have some fun times in the process. This bond of being part of something bigger has really motivated me to continue on in this path of life. Better yet, because of it, I can’t wait to find out what organized chaos will occur in the years to come.

East Bay Moishe House – Finding the meaning of life under a Jewish shelter

As I reflect on the last five months of my life spent as a leader in the East Bay Moishe House, it is almost impossible to think of life without this incredible opportunity that I am a part of every day. The opportunity to be creating a living space that is home to the many Jewish young adults of the East Bay community who are going through the very same challenge in life: Figuring out how to create a meaningful Jewish identity in the twenty first century. The guidance and connection that traditional Judaism once offered to past generations of Jews is not fulfilling the needs of the modern day Jewish young adult who no longer needs rigid structure to support us. We have endless possibilities and choices to make regarding how we spend our time and energy, and we’re struggling to figure out how to fit our Jewish identity into that expression. We need new structures that provide enough space to find our individual path in a Jewish context. Moishe House provides that space. For our house, It begins in a living room in the Hills of the East Bay where 30 people who aren’t going home for Passover sit on pillows around a colorfully decorated carpet and take turns theatrically telling the story of Exodus and celebrating freedom. But freedom doesn’t come for free. We know as Jews we have to continue to ask the big questions and search for meaning in everything. When you get a group of Jews together, no matter what century you are in, or what part of the world you are in, the questions of finding depth and meaning in life are being asked. Our revolving door of Jewish young men and women who are travelers, artists, law students, business professionals, therapists, musicians, entrepreneurs come to our house to have meaningful conversations with other Jews, and by no coincidence, many of us have the very same questions: What is my path? Who am I? Where do I fit into this vast world? How can I create a life for myself that works? When we answer these questions together in the Moishe House, there is a power that culminates into inspiration. When we relate to the very same challenges, and can talk about the processes we are going through, there is a feeling of support that becomes an integral part of making big life commitments that move us to be the full expression of who we are. The fact that we are in a Jewish home together that is supported by a Jewish organization allows us to integrate our Jewish expression into this process. There is a feeling of connection to Judaism that that exists under our roof in the Hills of Berkeley, and could not be found anywhere else. The shelter of the East Bay Moishe House relies upon so many different Jewish organizations and people for support – and all of that support continues to be cultivated in the magic that happens in our home. Speaking from my own personal experience, my journey in deciding to apply to grad school and study integral counseling psychology was strongly influenced by the people I met at East Bay Moishe House. Even before I moved in here, I met a multitude of other Jewish young adults who had an interest in psychology. From there, the conversations continued until I literally found a home and moved in here. Since moving in, I have found direct inspiration from my housemate Katherine who is getting her Masters in Counseling Psychology. Everyone I have met here is creating their own unique journey, and in most cases it’s not the path of least resistance. Earlier this month, two Moishe House members from other houses in the U.S. came and stayed with us along their travels. I was also inspired by each of their stories. Benji from Moishe House DUMBO is beginning his filming internship with the UN and continues to create original music videos of the different Moishe Houses around the country. It was quite serendipitous that as he was planning his travel to Vancouver to get his Visa, he was staying over at our place the same night Baruch from the Vancouver house was also staying over during his short stay in Berkeley. Baruch had shared his journey of going from an Orthodox upbringing to finding his own unique expression of Judaism and is now going on to study and practice physical therapy. As the Bay sun set through the window of our living room, we each separately worked on our laptops. But The Moishe House connection and synergy continued to emanate through the living room, and the memories of being together will continue to move us to connect from this powerful Jewish space. We are all travelers on our journey through life, and Moishe House just happens to be a place we have stopped to reflect and connect during this crucial transitional time of our lives, our mid twenties through early thirties. It also just so happens that it’s a place where we can find support. Support from our Jewish community, support from each other, and support from the Divine. Thank you Moishe House for providing the space for all of this beauty to unfold! --Halley

Moishe House SFV Shabbat

We have been a Moishe House for nine months now. In that nine months we have created a fun, energetic, and vibrant Jewish community in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Hundreds of our community members have participated in MHSFV events like Pub Quiz, Dodger Games, building a garden, and beer making. However, the event that we believe is the reason for the wonderful growth of our community and their commitment to making Moishe House SFV a comfortable place is our Friday night Shabbat dinners. One person cannot create the Shabbat experience. Every participant helps us turn an empty living room into a loud, silly, inviting space. Shabbat is our identity. I want to share how Shabbat becomes reality in Moishe House SFV. Friday afternoon: 12:45pm At my office, I should really leave soon, we have so much to do and I don't want to be here anymore. 1:00pm I blow up my Jetsons-esque doll and prop it up at my desk, play the recording of fingers hitting a keyboard on loop while I slyly slip out of the office...(shhh, don’t tell the boss.) I drive home to meet the roommates who I presume have done the exact same thing. 2:00pm They have done the exact same thing. I put on the new Edward Sharp album I just bought on vinyl, and we start to clean, sing, and dodge incoming Nerf disks shot from each other’s own personal Nerf weapon. Somehow the cleaning gets done, with a few added Nerf disk decorations around. 3:00pm We all pile in the car and drive to Vallarta, our amazing local Mexican market. Before we can even think about the next five hours of preparations we devour a trayful of tacos and glutton-sized horchata from Vallarta’s in-store restaurant. Stomachs full and thirsts quenched we start shopping. Fresh tortillas, rice, beans, carne asada, chicken, and lots of chiles. Vallarta’s butcher counter is the foundation of a good Shabbat meal. Stuff 30 grocery bags into the car and drive home. 4:30pm Arrive home to a few early birds who have come to help cook and prepare for the Shabbat. We’d serve dinner at midnight if it weren’t for our dedicated community members who leave their jobs early to help prepare dinner for people they may or may not know. I trip over the massive amounts of grocery bags and stare overwhelmed at $250 worth of ingredients and wonder how it will turn into dinner for 30 people in just a few hours. Oy Vey! The Barenaked Ladies album, Rock Spectacle has become our pre-shabbat anthem. So with the Amp turned up to 11, everyone starts to sing and get into the cooking mood. We set up tables, make place settings, cover challot, find kiddush cups and candles, pause for a beer, fire up the grill and fix the broken sink in the bathroom. 7:00pm People start to arrive, first 10, then 15.... 7:30pm More People, 20, 25... “Jason, I thought you said only 20 people RSVP’d on the Facebook event!” 7:40pm 30, 35... 8:00pm 40 people are now sitting around our table, some on chairs, some on couches, some on coffee tables, and some on each other. Those 30 bags of groceries have somehow been chopped, mixed, grilled, and baked into a delicious meal. Miles Davis has taken the place of The Barenaked Ladies as we introduce ourselves and welcome the new community members. We ask for volunteers to lead us in the Shabbat prayers. We have a ha’motzi tradition in our house where you touch the challah, or touch someone who is touching the challah, or you touch someone, who is touching someone, who is touching the challah. This way we make a big chain around the table all connected to the challah and say ha’motzi to welcome in the shabbat together. 8:30pm - 12:30am Eat, drink, and be merry/spontaneous dance party. 1:00am Jason, Noah, Terry and I sit around the table in our empty home examining the graveyard of challah crumbs and abandoned wine glasses. Its over, we did it. Shabbat is the time we welcome new people into our house, it is where we decompress from the week and it is the time we are able to share the things we love with our community. Good food, great wine, best friends, funny stories, and age old traditions. These are the reasons we started a Moishe House in the first place and Shabbat brings them all together at the same table. David Starkopf

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moishe House Baltimore - Mickey's Post

It is amazing to think that my time as a resident of Moishe House Baltimore will soon be coming to an end. To say that it has been an incredible ride would be a real understatement. Although I have been a resident for almost two years, it seems just yesterday that former resident Max Pollak and I went to the initial informational meeting at Johns Hopkins University to learn about this crazy concept called Moishe House. Throughout my time in the house, I have had the incredible opportunity to meet so many cool people and build friendships that may not have otherwise been possible. Few things have been quite as satisfying as affording young Jewish adults the chance to incorporate some level of Judaism into their lives through an environment in which they can feel comfortable and relaxed. As a Jewish communal professional working for Hillel, I spend most of my time working directly with college aged students. Although my job is fantastic and allows me to be very creative, it is just as important to seek out new, out-of-the-box ways to incorporate Judaism into the lives of my very own friends within my own personal and regional network. In this world, when someone opens up a new business, it is imperative that the person educates themselves about current trends and business practices and adapt as such. This, to me, is exactly what makes Moishe House so successful— we have successfully adapted and made the necessary adjustments to fulfill the needs and interests of young Jewish adults in the world today. Though I certainly will miss being a resident of the house, I will undoubtedly continue to support Moishe House Baltimore and the new incoming residents. know they will come in here with fresh pairs of eyes and brand new ideas that will help bring us to the next level. There is nothing short of a bright future in store for Moishe House Baltimore!