Celebrating Our Alumni
By: Loán Lake, Senior Communications Manager
We are excited to launch our very first Alumni Appreciation Month to celebrate the many young adults who have helped to create unmatched experiences around the globe. Beginning in July, we will feature alumni stories, ways to stay connected, and ways to give back. To kick off our interview series, we are highlighting former Moishe House Palo Alto and Moishe House Shanghai residents Ally Berman and Michael Godin. Learn about ways to participate as an alumni.
Featured Alumni: Ally Berman and Michael Godin
Current Location: Atlanta, Georgia (USA)
How It Started
Moishe House is known for creating community for young Jewish adults, but imagine traveling halfway around the world and meeting your life partner? That is exactly what happened with former residents Ally Berman (MH Palo Alto ’13-’14) and Michael Godin (MH Shanghai ’14-’15).
Michael was an expat in China and wanted to connect with other Jews. He learned from two friends that he could host other Jews in his living room and realized that he could build a place where he belonged, thus becoming a founding member of Moishe House Shanghai. Ally, a former resident of Moishe House Palo Alto, first heard about Moishe House when she was an undergraduate student attending a Jewish Federation national conference. Upon moving to San Francisco after college, she sought out Moishe House to lock into a network and to help create that same resource for other people without connections – especially being new to the area herself. “It’s hard to make friends as an adult. Moishe House was that place for so many of us,” Ally said.
As fate would have it, Michael and Ally both traveled to Boston, Massachusetts in 2014 along with community members from around the world to learn the art of Jewish retreat-making at an annual Retreatology conference. This moment, that would lead to their wedding in 2016, is among their favorite memories. “I was living in a community with very few Jews and Moishe House was literally the connection point to meet my girlfriend, fiancée, my wife. I didn’t know what to expect but it’s really great how it worked out,” Michael said.
One of Ally’s other favorite moments is when they were traveling to Paris during Hannukah. “We looked to see what Moishe House had going on, so we took a subway and went from house to house for Hanukkah gatherings. It was so international and so diverse and we ran into people who knew [our friends]. We were able to spend the most incredible night meeting people we wouldn’t have otherwise known,” Ally said.
How It’s Going
Today, Michael and Ally continue to apply the leadership skills they learned with Moishe House as they serve the Jewish community. Michael recently joined Moishe House’s national board, and as one of its youngest members, he is finding ways to incorporate his alumni experience into the board management process. Michael also serves as a leader with Urban Land Institute and other real estate organizations in Atlanta. Ally, who has served on the Moishe House Alumni Advisory Board, also provides insight into the alumni experience as a member of University of Michigan Hillel’s Board of Trustees.
Michael and Ally are the proud parents of a nine-month-old girl, Mira, whom they have already described as the second generation of Moishe House. Most importantly, the couple continues to build community beyond their Moishe House experience by opening their home to others. “The sole reason we bought our kitchen table was that it could fit the maximum number of people for Shabbat. If you don’t know where to go, call us and you’ll always have a spot. We have a few more high chairs and it’s a bit messier than it used to be but [hosting] is one of the things we love most,” Ally said.