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Archive for : Moishe House

A Day in the Life: Abby Rubin on Moishe House and Being a Detroit Fellow

Curious what it means to be a Repair the World fellow? Here’s former Detroit fellow (and current partner at Detroit Moishe House), Abby Rubin’s take in an interview conducted by Andrew Weiner.

Tell me a little about yourself?
So my name is Abby Rubin. I grew up in Cleveland. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2013 with a degree in Organizational Studies, which means I learned how to make organizations run more efficiently and effectively, and just generally make them better. I was a Repair the World fellow last year doing education justice and fell in love with after-school programming,and the city of Detroit. Now I live in Midtown in the Detroit City Moishe House and work for Arts and Scraps, which is an amazing art and science education non-profit and I sell bracelets on Etsy!
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FINDING A HOUSE OF OUR OWN

Everyone has that one place where they feel happiest and most comfortable.

For me, it is an old car factory on Holden Street, which is now used as the city of Detroit’s recycling center, Recycle Here! I stand there every Saturday morning welcoming recyclers, answering questions and collecting zip codes.

But it was in front of my favorite space that I found the perfect place to live.

I spent three months this summer scouring Detroit’s real estate listings with three soon-to-be housemates. We were looking for a place to call home for not just ourselves, but the new Repair the World-Moishe House, where for the next year we will work to build a community for young Jews by creating a home-base for service and volunteerism — and of course socializing.

Finding a house is never easy. This is the ninth time I’ve tried, and it had unique challenges. For one, none of us were living in the same city when we found out we had been selected to live in the Repair the World-Moishe House. (Over the course of our search, I believe the four of us were in the same country at the same time for a total of four days.) And in our separate corners, each was incredibly busy on our own with jobs that let us do a little good in this world.

I run Green Living Science, a nonprofit that works to help mobilize action and education around environmental issues in Detroit.

Besides trying to communicate over different time zones, we found out that it isn’t that easy to find a house to rent in Detroit with four bedrooms, plenty of space for Shabbat dinners, and a surrounding community with the infrastructure ready to tap into for planning volunteer and service projects.

Thankfully, a little serendipity stepped in.

Green Living Science works with the nonprofit Recycle Here!, the city of Detroit and Detroit Public School’s Office of Science to bring recycling services to some 20 local schools for the first time as well as in-class and after school lessons that teach students about recycling and environmentally sound waste disposal.

That means that I have a close association with about 2,000 students, teachers and community leaders — and the great advantage of talking to more than 500 different Detroit residents every Saturday.

It was on one of these Saturdays in front of Recycle Here! that I started telling a recycler named Tony about the same thing I talked to everyone about at the time: my search for the perfect house.

It turned out that Tony was looking to rent the other side of his duplex in Woodbridge, a historic district full of beautiful mansions and large front porches perfect for meeting neighbors.

It was the first neighborhood I lived in when I first moved to Detroit in 2007 and nostalgia set in as I started thinking about all the things I loved about the neighborhood, including the diversity, the character of the houses, the library next to Scripps Park, the backyard gardens, the history and the neighborhood pancake breakfast.

But nostalgia gave way to practical thought as my mind started racing about all the different organizations in and near Woodbridge with which we could partner, and about all of community projects in which we could be a part.

Without even seeing it, I knew the perfect house had found us.

By the time you read this, I and my three new friends and housemates (I believe you met Devon on this page last month) will have lived in the house for a little more than a month.

The first couple of weeks spent setting up the house have been a little less magical than the story that brought us to its door. We’re working out logistics, scheduling, deciding who does what chore, who cleans which room and trying to figure out who gets to share what food.

(I’ve been named de-facto house treasurer, responsible for bills and rent.)

By the time you read this next dispatch, we’ll have more fun stories to report, as now we’re also in the midst of planning our first few volunteer projects and social engagements.

So far, our welcome to Woodbridge has been amazing. A number of organizations have already offered to host Shabbat dinner in our home.

We’ll start saying yes as soon as we work out the details — and are actively creating our October calendar of events now.

In October, our real work will begin. We’ll start to partner with local nonprofits on volunteer projects. The first will be with Arts and Scraps, an organization that assembles learning kits for kids. So check our website soon for more details.

In the meantime, we’re going to find time between our day/evening/weekend jobs scavenging to find enough furniture to fill the house, brainstorming volunteer projects, and sometimes even finding time to enjoy the massive garden and koi pond in the backyard of our perfect service house. 

Rachel Klegon runs Green Living Science and is a resident of the new Repair the World-Moishe House in the Woodbridge area in Detroit.

The Soul of Service: The new Repair the World-Moishe House in Detroit aims to build a community of volunteerism

Devon RubensteinI should be long gone from Michigan by now. Like most New Yorkers who move here to attend school in Ann Arbor, I had no intention of staying.

Still, after graduating last December, I couldn’t bring myself to leave. First, I chalked it up to not wanting my college experience to end and not wanting to leave my friends, my house and, of course, Michigan athletics. But as I watched most of my friends and classmates pick up and move, I realized it was more than that. Michigan had become a part of me.

That’s why I’ll spend the next year of my life immersed in helping the heart of Michigan — Detroit — and joining one of the Jewish world’s most innovative new ventures: a residence dedicated to building a community of volunteerism.
This past week, I moved, along with three other 20-somethings, into a Repair the World-Moishe House in the Woodbridge area in Detroit. We didn’t know each other much beforehand, but we share a common desire to make a difference in the world.

The idea is simple, really: We want to build a center for volunteerism for other young Jews like ourselves. That’s why we will be inviting anyone we know — and anyone they might know — to join us for both social and service-related events and activities.

The House is an amazing chance for us to put into practice our ideas about helping others and activism, and to build something concrete around what for many our age may seem like a nice — but abstract — idea.

Devon in front of Repair the World-Moishe HouseI got to understand the power of volunteerism when I was 16. I met Rodney, an 8-year-old boy who had recently lost both of his parents, and I had the honor of mentoring him through the Salvation Army Daycare in Hempstead, N.Y.

Since then, volunteerism has been a constant for me, whether it’s working with preschoolers at Head Start in Ann Arbor or setting up window displays at the Ten Thousand Villages in Austin, Texas.

In college, I learned about Detroit from textbooks and the news. Academically, I understood the city’s ups and downs. But it wasn’t until I took the last elective I needed for my public policy degree that I really embraced Detroit for all these ups and downs and started to connect my past volunteerism with a new passion. I realized that I wanted to help Detroit.

As I learned about incredible service opportunities here, for the first time I saw a career in helping others. I realized that if I really want to follow my heart and actually make a difference, this is the place to be.

This Repair the World-Moishe House project is designed for people like me.
My new friends and I, the residents of the Repair-Moishe House, will each have full-time day jobs. And in our spare time, we’ll work to encourage others our age to volunteer to help Detroit.

I’ll be working with underprivileged communities through AmeriCorps VISTA; Brad Snider will continue his urban development work in Mexicantown; Rachel Klegon will continue to run the nonprofit Green Living Science; and Josh Kantor will work with NEXTGen engagement at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

(In the coming months, they’ll each share with you in these pages more about their initiatives, thoughts and experiences. And, of course, we’ll give you updates about how the house is progressing.)

We spent most of the summer searching for a four-bedroom house in a neighborhood that is both accessible to young people and that would provide a solid home base for service projects.

After weeks of dead ends, we found the perfect house in the perfect location at 4446 Commonwealth St. in Woodbridge.  I can count the number of times I’ve been to Woodbridge on one hand. But it’s exactly what we wanted — a diverse and dynamic community anchored by organizations like the Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation and Woodbridge Community Youth Center (WCYC), with which we will work closely.

We’re not sure exactly what all of our service projects will look like down the road, or what projects, programs and partnerships will fill our Repair-Moishe House.But we are starting close to home with our first volunteer event: Painting the batting-cage room in the WCYC to make it resemble a baseball stadium.
From there, we hope to create sustainable partnerships with other groups both in Woodbridge and broader Detroit to make a positive difference here.

I’m excited, and I embrace our House’s mission to mobilize Jewish young adults toward service in Detroit. Because, while I may still have a slight New York accent, and I’ll probably always say “soda” instead of “pop,” there is something about this place — its rich history and tremendous potential — that makes me proud to now call it home.

Devon Rubenstein works with underprivileged communities through AmeriCorps VISTA and is a resident of the new Repair the World- Moishe House in the Woodbridge area in Detroit.

Repair the World, Moishe House team up in Chicago, Detroit

Two Jewish houses for young adults dedicated to community service will be built during the fall in Chicago and Detroit as part of a partnership between Repair the World and Moishe House.

Repair the World is a New York-based operation that works to inspire American Jews and their communities to volunteer; Moishe House is an international organization focused on building community for Jews in their twenties.

There are 44 Moishe Houses in 13 countries, engaging more than 53,000 young adults each year, according to the organization.

“We have been working with Repair the World for more than a year to strengthen our service-oriented program offerings at Moishe Houses around the globe,” said Moishe House’s CEO David Cygielman in a statement. “The opening of the Repair the World-Moishe House represents the next step in our partnership, cementing our commitment to providing high-quality Tikkun Olam opportunities to Jewish young adults.”

The houses will act as hubs for volunteer and service activity in each city as their residents engage local young people in addressing pressing social issues and humanitarian needs such as educational inequality, homelessness, poverty, hunger and domestic violence.

“In our work building a generation of young Jews committed to service, the Repair the World Moishe Houses will play a critical role in inspiring young adults to make a commitment to promoting service, giving residents and their peers an excellent opportunity to make a difference in their local communities,” said Repair the World’s CEO Jon Rosenberg in a statement. “We’re excited about this expanded partnership and its potential to see real impact on the ground.”

Moishe House and Repair the World Partner to Open Service Oriented Houses

Following a national search for outstanding young leaders dedicated to serving those in need, Repair the World and Moishe House will open two Repair the World Moishe Houses to serve as communal residences for young adults in Detroit and Chicago. The houses will act as hubs for volunteer and service activity in each city as their residents engage local young people in addressing pressing social issues and humanitarian needs such as educational inequality, homelessness, poverty, hunger and domestic violence.

The collaboration enhances the Moishe House model with an increased service requirement, tapping into Repair the World’s expertise in building effective service and Jewish service-learning programs while also bolstering existing Repair the World service projects

For each house, two groups of four residents will receive a modest rent subsidy and budget to build service-related programming for other Jews in their twenties, as they work to improve social conditions and then relate this volunteerism to their Jewish heritage, history and values. The residents are expected to move into the homes – which they are currently identifying – in August and begin programming by September 1, 2012.

The opening of Repair the World Moishe House represents a growing partnership between the two organizations who earlier this summer co-sponsored a Jewish service-learning retreat in Maryland focused on training Moishe House residents and community members across the country on methods by which to engage their peers in meaningful, effective service.