All month long we’ve been connecting with our alumni with throwback posts on social media, recollections of your favorite Moishe memories, and featuring alumni here on our website. This week, our alumni appreciation continues with a spotlight on former Moishe House Aventura resident Victoria Godieva, who is currently a Biochemistry Ph.D. Candidate at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Learn about ways to participate as an alumni.
Featured Alumna: Victoria Godieva
Current Location: Miami, Florida (USA)
By: Loán Lake, Senior Communications Manager
How It Started
When Victoria Godieva first completed her undergraduate education in 2017 at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, she was surprised at just how large the void was that remained after four years of endless activities and involvement as a young Jewish student on campus. It wasn’t until she moved back to her parents’ retirement community after graduation that she realized how much she missed the connection to her peers. That’s when she set out to find her own community – people, just like her, who were now too old for youth-related activities, but too young for existing programming that attracted an older audience. “It was a difficult transition from a college environment to young adulthood,” Victoria said.
Soon after, she discovered Moishe House while searching for ways to become involved with Jewish life through the Miami Jewish Federation newsletter. Victoria researched the organization and liked what she saw. Fortunately, there was an opportunity to create a new Moishe House in the Miami area, so she got together with two friends and opened Moishe House Aventura in 2018. “I loved being in Moishe House and everything about it. I got to meet so many people, make so many friends in the community where I grew up as a kid. Moishe House provided a place for us to gather during our young adult phase,” she said. One of Victoria’s favorite memories is the very first Shabbat dinner that she and her roommates hosted. “Some of my friends still say it was the best Shabbat they’ve ever had. It felt like a family dinner and we had 20 local, young adults who live in Aventura celebrating Shabbat like one big family,” she said.
Beyond a sense of belonging, Victoria, who identifies as a Russian-Speaking Jew, also learned about the parts of her heritage that were lost when her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor was orphaned at age four in Belarus. Victoria’s grandmother did not learn to read or write until she was in her forties, therefore she was not able to share much with her own daughter. “I think that before, that I never understood what it’s like to be a part of a Jewish community. I grew up in the Soviet Union, so there was definitely a disconnect because we couldn’t practice [our] religion. In Belarus, most of the community was moving to Israel or to the U.S. and I never had a strong connection to Jewish community,” Victoria said. She also did not know much about Judaism because of her grandmother’s own limited knowledge. “She [grandmother] is Polish and was raised in a Catholic orphanage, so she couldn’t provide any knowledge to my mom. When I moved into Moishe House I was living with more religious residents, and it was a way for me to immerse myself in the community and the religion. My parents have always been encouraging of me getting involved in the Jewish community since my time as an undergraduate because it was something they couldn’t provide for me. That’s something I would have never gotten if I didn’t live in Moishe House,” Victoria said.
In her own family, Victoria has also been able to close the gap between her grandmother’s Jewish experience and her own. She is now able to pass on the traditions of her culture with her parents and stepbrother and even helped her parents to put up their first mezuzah after experiencing that ritual for herself.
How It’s Going
Victoria’s tenure as a resident ended earlier this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she still attends events such as Shabbat dinners at Moishe House Brickell because she misses the constant stream of programming that life as a resident provides. “It’s been a few months [since moving out] and it’s felt so weird transitioning from living in a Moishe House to living on my own. I’ve felt like something is missing,” she said. “When I moved out, Moishe House was not accepting Moishe House Without Walls (MHWOW) hosts at that time, but I still hosted Shabbat dinners with my friends. During COVID I missed seeing my friends and everyone was isolated. The house is kind of like an open house for the community,” Victoria said. “I’ve missed the feeling that something was always happening at the house – where you would have a bunch of friends over for the weekends for Shabbat and chill by the pool,” she said. To that end, Victoria has set her sights on becoming an MHWOW host once the opportunity becomes available.