By Brett Richman, MHWOW Program Manager

There is so much to be grateful for from 2021! This year I am grateful for a number of things: a new job, moving and joining a new community, reconnecting with friends and family, spending quality time with my nieces after almost 2 years of not seeing them, and so much more. Oftentimes, we focus on what is going wrong when there is so much good around us. While 2021 undoubtedly brought its fair share of challenges, it was also filled with so much to be grateful for.

As the MHWOW team reflects on all of the great milestones that happened in 2021, we wanted to share them with our community, too:

“This year I was able to host so many great programs, both virtually and in-person, despite the on-again-off-again lockdowns in Toronto.  Whether it was virtual programs like Queer Jewish Drag Cabaret (170 participants!) and the Validating Jewish Identity: You are Enough panel (38 participants), or in-person events like Pride Shabbat (20 participants) and A Sweet New Year’s Dinner: Chosen Family Rosh Hashan (26 participants), I didn’t let the barriers stop me from bringing together my community – we just pivoted!” – Alex Richler, Toronto, Ontario

  • MHWOW has welcomed 163 new hosts and counting to the program, supporting communities all over the world. MHWOW hosts are building communities on 6 different continents any given month. MHWOW travels with you, so wherever in the world you may find yourself you can build Jewish community.
  • For the first time this year, all of our 300 MHWOW communities around the world are able to gather in person! We are excited and hopeful to see so much progress around the world that allows all hosts to gather their communities in person.

Hannah Maia’s Shabbat Dinner

“This year, I am grateful for the dynamic nature of my community.  As we continue to encounter unforeseen obstacles globally, we are here to support each other locally.  To be able to continue to grow and connect with people as an MHWOW host, after the Resident chapter of my life has drawn to a close, has been a particular privilege, as has learning to tetris 15 people into my tiny apartment for events and dinners!” – Hannah Maia Frishberg, Shanghai, China

  • Moishe House brought back Couch Con in 2021 as a way to celebrate the amazing moments hosts and residents have achieved this year.  We were joined by more than 60 hosts in addition to more than 300 other community builders and staff from around the world. Many of you were highlighted throughout the event and our very own Esther Gopin was an MC for the experience!

I’ve decided this will be my year of authenticity — doing all sorts of things I’ve been too scared to do. And sometimes it’s been really hard, but it’s turned out to actually be loads of fun! Some highlights include: rappelling down mountains, ATVing, getting a cartilage ear piercing, going on all sorts of crazy adventures around Manhattan, and starting to actually take care of my health — both physical and mental. I’m really proud of myself. And I can’t wait to see what other adventures are in store for me!  As an MHWOW host I brought in Abby Stein for a program called, the first openly transgender person from the Chassidic community. Hearing her Torah was magnificent. As a queer Jew rooted in Torah, she was able to expose us to Chassidic thought informed by queer theory. It was very cool.” – Sarah Robinson, New York, New York

  • In November, MHWOW will be hosting our first retreat since 2019, with more than 30 participants already registered. We will gather at OSRUI in Wisconsin for a weekend of fun, nostalgia, and imagination.  We can’t wait to welcome you to one of Moishe House’s many retreats in 2022!

Beto’s Rosh Hashanah Celebration

“I’m grateful for the increasingly active European Jewish Youth.  From BBYO to Moishe House to regional events, I can see a more interconnected network of young people taking the lead in Jewish life.” – Beto Guzman, Helsinki, Finland

December marks the first group of hosts to complete a full year of the new MHWOW program, and the inaugural Capstone Programs.  We are excited to see what you all put together for your communities to celebrate completing a year of programming with MHWOW!

What are you grateful for in 2021? As you reflect on your year, we challenge you to reflect on the moments of light and levity that brought you happiness and incorporate that feeling into your programs and community gatherings as the year wraps up!