Spotlight on Moishe House Shanghai Alum, former Shanghai MHWOW Host, and Moishe House Midwest Director of Advancement Hannah Maia Frishberg

Supporting the work of Moishe House comes easy for former resident, MHWOW host, and now staff member Hannah Maia Frishberg, who serves as the Midwest Director of Advancement in Chicago. Hannah Maia first discovered Moishe House at a Chabad Rosh Hashanah dinner while studying abroad in Shanghai in 2014. That chance meeting with the current resident led her to a Moishe House Peer-led Retreat in Kaifeng, home to an historic Jewish community that is more than 1000 years old, and a new community of friends thanks to the warm welcome from the residents of Moishe House Shanghai.  

Following her initial year-long stay in China, Hannah Maia sought out Moishe House programs in New York and Washington, D.C. – where she resided after finishing college. In 2017, she decided to relocate to Shanghai and immerse herself in the culture and community. She applied to become a resident at Moishe House Shanghai and the rest is history. “I moved to Shanghai China in 2017, and I could have never imagined when I accepted the spot to live in the house how deeply it would impact my life. Having the opportunity to create authentic and accepting community for Jews in Shanghai left in indelible mark on my Neshama (soul) and facilitated some of my most important friendships,” she said. 

Hannah Maia spent four years building community at Moishe House Shanghai, and even extended her residency for six months to help facilitate a smooth resident transition in December 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. “There is an immense amount of ethnic, national, and denominational diversity in Shanghai’s small Jewish community. This led to multiple thriving communities that did not come together regularly (pre-pandemic), though not in competition with each other. However,  Moishe House Shanghai always played a major role in leading the organization of the annual Israeli style Purim party, which was the one event of the year you could find members from all communities present. The COVID timeline for China was a little different, as we were allowed to gather in person again by mid-March 2020, and Moishe House ended up hosting a much smaller version of this party that year. It was one of the first community events as things began to open up again in Shanghai and was a really special moment for us as residents to host for the whole Shanghai community,” she said. 

In 2021, Hannah Maia took the next step of becoming an MHWOW host where she could develop programs on her own. During the Shanghai lockdown in April-June of 2022, she tried to host as many online events as possible, learning from the MHWOW hosts who pioneered online hosting during the global lockdowns. In partnership with a friend, they worked with the Museum of Jewish Heritage to host a talk with Holocaust Survivor Jerry Lindenstraus, who escaped Germany in 1939 and spent his teenage years in Shanghai during WWII. “There were so many parallels, and honestly some irony, being in strict lockdown while listening to Jerry tell his story. It was an incredibly powerful testimony, and equally powerful for Jerry to speak to the ‘next generation’ of Shanghai Jewry,” she said.  

After almost six years overseas, Hannah Maia returned home to Maryland in late 2022. Little did she know that the next chapter of her Moishe House journey would soon begin. Her strong background in fundraising and community engagement were the perfect fit for an opening on Moishe House’s advancement team, and in January 2023, Hannah Maia officially joined the staff as the Midwest Director of Advancement where she now leads donor outreach for the region. “Moishe House empowered and honed my community building skills, and I am still creating community wherever I go. My ‘return’ to Moishe House (though truly I never left) as a staff person was motivated by the fact it seemed like the perfect place to grow professionally in my career, while working at an organization I knew was aligned to my values. It feels good to work for a place I feel so connected to and that has invested so much in me! I love that I get to share that passion with other supporters and donors of Moishe House,” she said. 

With so many experiences, it’s easy to see why Hannah Maia is so grateful to Moishe House. “If I could write a thank you card to Moishe House, it would include a heartfelt note about how important and formative it was for me to be empowered as a leader and become a “content area expert” about China Jewry. It is vital for us to invest in small international communities. I would never have known about Moishe House if there was not one in China!” she said. 


See more of Hannah Maia’s Moishe House journey on our Instagram feed 

Learn more about Moishe House programs.