Moishe House has a global network of former residents, Moishe House Without Walls hosts, and retreat leaders, Camp Nai Nai Nai attendees, and program participants. In this spotlight we feature MHWOW host and former resident and retreat facilitator Stef Groner.
How It Started
Moishe House alumna Stefanie “Stef” Groner has had a multifaceted journey with Moishe House as a Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) host, resident, peer-led retreat facilitator, and retreat participant, including the inaugural 4HQ trip to Israel in 2018. Originally from New Brunswick, New Jersey, Stef grew up in the conservative movement and attended Hebrew school three times per week outside of her public school education. Though she lived in a blended household, her family observed Kosher practices. Stef was first introduced to Moishe House in 2013 while on a spring break trip to Budapest, Hungary. She attended a poetry slam Passover Seder hosted by MH Budapest and discovered a new way of expressing Judaism after having more traditional encounters. “It was such an awesome opportunity to experience with my peers,” Stef said.
Gathering people has always been a part of Stef’s identity and she eventually became a Moishe House Without Walls Host, creating programs for members of her Chicago community. Stef relocated to Boston in her mid-twenties without knowing many people. Someone in her network started a Moishe House in the area, and it was there that she found a welcoming place to create a foundation in her new city. She was asked to join the board of that house – MH Cambridge – to assist with planning programs. She later became a resident where she helped to engage her peers for three years.
How It’s Going
All of these experiences have made an impact on Stef’s life – personally and professionally – and she has continued to serve as an MHWOW host since ending her term as a resident. Stef met her fiancée, Sam, a former MH Wrigleyville resident during her time as a resident and they currently host Shabbat dinners for their peers. One of her key takeaways from her Moishe House experiences has been to bring a sense of intentionality to the way she convenes people. “My regional House manager shared that people remember the goodbye they get an event and encouraged us to think about people’s experiences during their time with us. That has helped me in the work that I do,” she said. As the chief of staff for a healthcare organization, Stef has been able implement all that she learned as a community leader to help strengthen the teams within her organization. “Moishe House invested in my leadership skills, relationship building, and provided a strong model for mentorship from the staff. I’ve always learned from people whether it was through a small ice breaker, seven days of discussion on 4HQ, or the facilitation skills that have been passed on to me,” Stef said.
When I think of all that I have gotten out of Moishe House – travel, leading retreats, my future husband – how dare I not give back? – Stef Groner
Personally, Stef appreciates the deep relationships and friendships she has been able to form and looks forward to seeing old and new friends at her upcoming nuptials. “We’ve gone to each other’s weddings, lived together, created awesome experiences together; it’s just an easy way to connect,” she said. Beyond her involvement with Moishe House, Stef also provides spiritual counseling during disasters with her local Red Cross, offering non-denominational, spiritual guidance in crisis or emergency situations. She credits Moishe House with giving her with the confidence to believe that I could take the lead in spiritual ways and spaces without having a clergy designation or official title.
Stef is grateful for all that she has gleaned from her tenure in the Moishe House community and has issued a challenge to encourage alumni giving this year. She will provide a matching gift of up to eighteen $100 contributions by her peers. “Moishe House is encouraging people to find a connection to Judaism and philanthropy is a major Jewish value. When I think of all that I have gotten out of Moishe House – travel, leading retreats, my future husband – how dare I not give back? This was the least I could do to pay it forward and ensure that other people have this same experience,” she said.
Once you are connected to Moishe House through one of our programs, you become a part of our extensive community of alumni. We encourage you to remain connected with us as a member of our Ambassador Circle, through our Networking Forum on LinkedIn, as an employee of Moishe House, or even as a participant at one of our North American or Global retreats.
Visit our Alumni Page and discover how you can continue your involvement as an alumni ambassador and much more!