What motivated you to want to live at Moishe House? It all started after I had dated a non-Jew for about 5 years, and I realized that fundamentally I need to marry a Jew in order to feel compatible with a mate. I didn’t have any Jewish friends growing up, and I had always felt a “disconnect” between my religion/tradition and my social life. I decided that I will only date Jewish people from now on. My mom’s friend had told me about how her daughter went to this “Moishe House” and how it’s a fun, cool place for Jews to meet and mingle with other Jews.
I decided to give this “Moishe House” a shot. I was very skeptical, but I am so happy I decided to try it out. My first event was a Poker Night – not a super Jewish event. In fact, that’s why I initially loved the Moishe House OC. Not only are there events geared towards the more religious people, but there are many other types such as social, cultural and Tikkun Olam (Fixing the World/Social Service).
I started about 2½ years ago, and I never looked back. Luckily, I was in the “right place at the right time,” and they needed a new replacement roommate, and I could not wait to fulfill the task. I loved having a bunch of new awesome friends that I love and cherish to this day. I love meeting new people and building new connections. I love that the Moishe House is a fun, safe environment where everyone has a place. My life has changed in so many wonderful ways since I moved into the Moishe House, and I am so glad I got to be a part of this great and life-changing experience.
What kind of background did you have in Jewish programming for young adults before you assumed that role? I had no background in Jewish programming before I assumed this role. That is the best part. No prior experience needed, but you are able to learn and grow so much as an individual while living and working at the Moishe House.
What percentage of your time overall do you spend on Moishe House activities, and how does that time break down? Moishe House has become somewhat of my “baby.” I want to see it succeed and therefore I dedicate a large portion of my time to planning, setting up, preparing for events, brainstorming for upcoming events and much more. I don’t see it as “work” at the Moishe House, although it IS a lot of work, because I absolutely love every moment of it. Being a leader in this community has taught me a lot; I feel like I have matured as an individual, and I am growing a little more every day.
There are certain planning meetings that we must have to make sure all events are up in a timely manner, but there is a large amount of behind-the-scenes work. We have to make sure we have enough food and beverages for events, and we have to make sure we have time to get things done. It is really about time management and prioritizing. Moishe House is a huge part of my life, so it’s easy to prioritize and make it one of my number one priorities throughout the week.
How much guidance did you get from Parker Weinthal and other Moishe House residents who lived there before you did? Parker has been a huge influence on me and has taught me everything I know to date. He has trained me and shaped me to be his replacement for the Moishe House OC, and I am honored to have had the pleasure of working so closely with him. He is not only my mentor and friend, but he is one of the most awesome people I have ever met. Moishe House would not have been the same without him, and it will be totally different when he’s gone. I loved living with all my roommates. Currently it’s Parker Weinthal, Ron Benporat and Dany Medhitash. I have also lived with Jeremy Guzik, as well as Nicole Jaievsky, and I loved seeing the different views and ideas each individual would bring to the table. The Moishe House has created this fun environment where a bunch of different people with different ideas and experiences can all come together and create events, new experiences and make this Jewish community a more interesting and fun one.
How much guidance did you get from Moishe House International? While I was in Israel, I was able to get in touch with the Tel-Aviv Moishe House, which was a great experience. To be able to travel thousands of miles and still have a familiar place to go is an absolutely amazing feeling. I do not have much experience with Moishe House International, but I have internationally experienced the Moishe House.
How do you think your personal and professional background helped you to be an effective leader at Moishe House? Considering that I am a Zumba instructor, you can tell I am definitely not a shy person. I have the nickname “Jenergy,” and it’s because I just have so much energy to share with everyone all the time. I was also so eager to be a part of a Jewish community that when I was offered this position at the Moishe House OC, I was more than ecstatic to begin sharing my ideas and creating my own sense of community within our Jewish community.
Besides teaching Zumba, what do you do professionally? Besides Zumba, I am also a Graphic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst. Zumba instructor by day, cartographer by night. I work for a private environmental consulting agency, and I am responsible for making all the maps, figures and tables for projects/reports. I do analysis with the GIS software as well as database management. I love all three of my jobs: Zumba, Cartography and being a leader at the Moishe House. I could not be happier in my life right now.
Where did you grow up and go to school? I was born and raised in sunny Huntington Beach, California. After I graduated from Huntington Beach High School, I got my Bachelor’s Degree from Cal State University, Long Beach. I lived for a year in Israel (studied abroad and learned Hebrew), and I flew helicopters for 2 years. I am a licensed private, instrument, commercial and certified flight instructor pilot, and I am ready for my next adventure.
How has Moishe House enhanced your personal growth? Moishe House has not only given me my independence, but it has also allowed me to mature as a young Jewish adult. Being in the community spotlight really pushes you to lead by example and try and be the best person you can be for your community. I have met some of the most amazing people in the 2 years I have lived at the Moishe House. This is also the only time in my life that I have had so many Jewish friends. The Moishe House has made me more responsible, patient, experienced, confident, strong and creative than ever before. Hosting seven to nine events a month has taught me the importance of prior proper planning and I would love to continue in this field some day.
What issues are of most concern to people your age today? People my age, especially the women, are most concerned with finding a Jewish mate and starting a family. But for the most part I haven’t heard many complaints. A majority of the members just come to hang out and have a place to go. The Moishe House is a place for people to go to have fun and get away from their daily stresses. That is why the Moishe House is so successful, because everyone needs a place to go.