By Leah Jalfon, MHWOW Program Manager

I always look forward to our quarterly North American MHWOW team gatherings because we all work in different offices, so working together in person is really special. We spent three days in Los Angeles working together, talking until our voices hurt, and eating allll of the food. Here’s our “Ask Us Anything” from our Instagram takeover that really exemplifies all of our personalities and is actually pretty informative.

Josh in our super strange Airbnb. Can you spot the Moishe House logo?

One of the main goals of our gathering was to strategize how we’re going to achieve our goal of motivating hosts to create over 4,000 MHWOW programs in 2019. For scale, in 2018, we ended the year with 3,087 programs. In order to make it to 4,081 we need to 1) recruit new MHWOW hosts and 2) help current hosts create more programs. Here are some takeaways from those conversations.

The WeWork in Los Angeles where our gathering took place

Host Recruitment

There are TWO main ways to become an MHWOW host: attend a retreat or live in Moishe House. In our perfect world, every person that attends a retreat and every resident who moves out of a Moishe House would start hosting MHWOW programs in their communities. We’re working hard this year to recruit awesome new hosts from our already great group of retreat goers and residents.

Do you know someone who would be a great host? Send them to one of our fully-subsidized (aka free-for-you) retreats. I hear the MHWOW Retreat is going to be particularly dope.

Liza and Alyssa at American Jewish University, the site of the May MHWOW Retreat

Consistent Programming

Last year was all about creativity. Hosts asked us for new, innovative program ideas, so we have been highlighting the most unique programs in our monthly newsletters.

Through surveys and conversations with hosts, residents, and community builders we know that the best way to build a meaningfully connected community is to gather your people as often as possible, at least every other month.

There are so many of you who have created traditions through MHWOW, whether that is a monthly Shabbat dinner, Rosh Chodesh group, torah study, etc. We see you, and we appreciate you. In addition to spotlighting highly active hosts in this newsletter, we are also working on more concrete ways to recognize your hard work.

Site Visits – We’re coming to a city near you!

The entire MHWOW staff are hitting the road to meet as many hosts this year as possible! In total, we’ll be visiting over a dozen cities around the world to see you, learn from your experience, and understand how we can support you better.

It was fascinating to share our site visits plans with each other because each community is so different. For example, in cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma, with few MHWOW hosts, our focus will be on recruiting new people to attend retreats and become hosts. In active MHWOW communities like Washington D.C., we’ll learn from hosts about what’s working and how we can better support the thriving young adult Jewish community already in action.

Stay tuned for site visit recaps in upcoming newsletters (spoiler alert: MHWOW Atlanta is great).

Our Date with a Fundraiser

I loved meeting Laura Reader, our West Coast Director of Advancement (aka Badass Fundraising Kween) while in LA. She started off our meeting with an icebreaker: What’s the most meaningful donation you’ve ever made and why? It reminded us that those donations were opportunities for us to make a difference. She reframed fundraising as providing an opportunity to give back to an organization that’s given something to them rather than an ask for money. Her passion for her work and her helpful fundraising tips got us HYPED for alumni fundraising this year!

An Emotional End

Terry revealed that he will be leaving MHWOW and joining the Houses team as Senior Director of House Operations. He has brought MHWOW to unprecedented heights, and he will do the same in the Houses department. Although I have shed MANY tears over this, we are all really happy for this next step in Terry’s career. This is the part where I reluctantly provide the link to the Senior Director of Moishe House Without Walls job description, but I really am excited to meet whoever will fill his shoes.

We are so excited that Ziva Sholin, Moishe House’s Administrative Coordinator, is joining our team as a MHWOW Program Coordinator in April! Ziva manages large systems seamlessly, and she’s looking forward to exercising her creativity more in her next position. We’re excited to officially introduce Ziva in our newsletter.

Our team gatherings are far enough apart that I almost forget what it feels like to be in each other’s presence. It’s a special energy that’s hard to describe; it’s part adrenaline to maximize the time we have each other to talk about our big dreams for MHWOW instead of the day-to-day. It’s partly just pure giddiness because we constantly make each other laugh. It’s also a bit of deliriousness from staying up late talking and at least 2 of us have jet lag.

But I don’t need to explain it to you. You know what it feels like to be around people who share your passion; you’re an MHWOW host.

Alyssa, Liza, and me at Grand Central Market in Los Angeles