Monday, June 4, 2012

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

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