How Can I Turn My Moishe House Into a Moishe Home?

December 9, 2014

Source: eJewish Philanthropy


Judaism is a religion that starts in the home. From the signs we put on the doorpost to our houses to the way we eat, interact with guests, and celebrate the cycles of the week and year, the home serves as the focal point for our culture, religion, and identity. From November 14-16, 28 residents, alumni, and community members of Moishe Houses across Europe and the Former Soviet Union, from nearly a dozen different countries, gathered on the outskirts of Budapest to discuss ‘What exactly makes a home Jewish?’


Moishe House residents, as well as their alumni and community members, are faced with the challenge of creating a community, often times from scratch. The apartment or house which serves as their Moishe House has to be a place that is much more than four walls. It must have all the intangibles of a Jewish home, all the warmth of a Shabbat meal, all the comforts of familiarity in what can often be a scary and unfamiliar place. What did these participants, coming from across the European spectrum, truly have in common? What bound them together? What could they hope to find in Budapest that they could bring back ‘home?’…


These are just a few of the amazing stories we had at our retreat, where the participants were truly a ‘hodge-podge’ of European Jewry. From an Italian-Jewish journalist from Milan, to a Jewish communal professional from Kiev, to a furniture maker from Riga, cultures and languages came together to explore their own Jewish identity and attempt to form their own Jewish futures. As we learned different texts, sang different songs and practiced different rituals, we were all united in our commitment to the Jewish people and strengthening our Jewish communities back home.


One of the most powerful moments came at Havdallah, where we sang “Shavua Tov,” or “Have a Good Week,” a traditional blessing given and sung as the Sabbath departs on Saturday night. After we sang it in Hebrew and English, we sang it in Russian, Latvian, Serbian Italian, Ukrainian, Spanish, French, Yiddish, Hungarian, Czech and Polish! The tongues of the earth reuniting under one roof because a Jewish home is where the light of our people shine.


And the glow from Budapest that Shabbat was very, very bright.

Updated: Dec. 23, 2014