By Alyssa Gorenberg
As we hope you’ve realized, Moishe House Without Walls is the opportunity of a lifetime to foster your own Jewish community for three years as you move through young adulthood. A growing number of hosts we work with create Jewish community while they are in graduate school and use programs to connect with new faces and provide much needed time off the clock. I am so proud to showcase three stellar hosts who are full time grad students and Jewish community builders!
Anna Bobrow is a second-year law student at the University of Virginia. After living in the vibrant Chicago Jewish community post-undergrad, she moved to small-town Charlottesville, Virginia (two days after the Unite the Right Rally in August 2017) which was a major change to navigate. Anna has used MHWOW resources to develop programs that fit the specific time constraints and interests of busy law students, as well as build connections with existing circles of Jewish young professionals in Charlottesville.
“MHWOW has helped me to make new friends at the law school and feel connected to my Judaism; other students have commented that my MHWOW programming has helped them find much-needed grounding and time for reflection.
My favorite program to date was a Hanukkah Exam Study Break in a common area of the law school, where nearly 70 students, faculty, and staff lit the menorah, ate sufganiyot and latkes, and played dreidel. As a [first year law student] last year, I wished I could have lit a menorah at the law school since I was there late into the evening during exams. A year later, with funding from MHWOW, I was able to turn this program into a reality.”
Michael Wilkins is in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences at Mary Baldwin University because of its focus on bringing health professions together to better treat patients.
“I want to help improve people’s lives and it gives me great joy to help others be the best version of themselves,” reflects Michael.
Graduate students’ challenging coursework and busy schedules create a need for some time off the clock, so Michael uses MHWOW to create meaningful experiences where students can decompress from their studies.
“Support from MHWOW allows me to bring together students and friends from diverse social circles and gives us a chance to get to know more about each other besides how you do on school work. My favorite program was last year’s summer picnic where all the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant students came together for a luncheon filled with outdoor games and fun in the sun. MHWOW helped bring together more than 60 people for a day to de-stress and catch up after being apart for over a month while we worked in clinics across the country.”
Rose Pollard is getting her Masters of Science in Public Health in International Health from Johns Hopkins University with a focus on Social Behavior Interventions. Most recently she spent some time abroad in Uganda to do research for her program. She has used MHWOW to foster community in both places this year and ensure that even while she was abroad she could have a little taste of home!
“MHWOW has enabled me to maintain a Jewish community and practice throughout many transitions as a result of grad school. From moving from [Washington] D.C. to Baltimore then living in Uganda to complete my thesis research, I have reliably shared holidays and Shabbats with others. The consistency of hosting events and making new connections from them has proved grounding and fulfilling.
I will always remember the Sukkot program I held in Uganda. Most people had never heard of Sukkot but were so eager to learn how to make a Sukkah, eat new foods and celebrate. Their energy was inspiring and fueled such a joyful celebration!”
We are incredibly proud of Anna, Michael, and Rose’s efforts to build community and we are honored to be able to support them! If you are a graduate student interested in becoming a Moishe House Without Walls host, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and maybe you’ll find yourself on the next MHWOW Host Spotlight.