What is Moishe Kavod House?
Moishe Kavod House is a vibrant, home-based Jewish community for people in their 20s and 30s dedicated to tikkun olam, the repair of the world. By integrating arts, learning, Jewish spiritual practice, and social justice work, we strive to create a welcoming Jewish community that is personally meaningful and deeply engaged with the world. We are part of the international Moishe House Network, which provides meaningful experiences to Jewish young adults world wide.
Our name comes from Pirkei Avot, where it says, “Who receives honor/kavod? The one who treats all beings with kavod.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1) At the Moishe Kavod House, we seek to treat all with honor, recognizing the unique talents each person has to share.
Inclusive: We believe communities are stronger when they include people from many backgrounds.
Jewish: We believe the Jewish tradition offers meaningful lessons and rituals that can deepen our lives and guide our work for justice. We welcome Jews from across the religious spectrum.
Progressive: We care about social justice and the environment, and believe change is possible when we work together.
Local and Tangible: We work on service projects and organizing campaigns that directly impact the Boston community and environment.
Leadership Development Oriented: We believe each person has something to offer, and that everyone can learn to be a leader who makes our community stronger.
Replicable: We hope our work can serve as a model for similar houses around the country. We do our best the first time around, and keep track of your feedback to make our project even better as it grows.
Who We Are
Moishe Kavod House is powered by community volunteers, team leaders, board members, and resident organizers. We believe that we all have the knowledge and power to build meaningful communal life. Teams of volunteers organize all of our work with the help of resident organizers who live in the physical space of Moishe Kavod House. The resident organizers also serve with elected leaders on our community board, which guides our strategic planning and oversees our work.
Resident organizers (housemates) live at MKH, and in exchange for subsidized rent, generously supported by the Moishe House Network, they manage and do a lot of the work that keeps our community going strong. Housemates are responsible for many of the day to day operations of the house. They try to get to know everybody and keep an eye on the various activities going on, supporting the programming done by established community leaders, helping newer members of the community find ways to connect and plug in, and helping members develop into stronger leaders.
Our 2017 – 2018 Resident Organizers are:
Aidan is originally from southern Connecticut but spent the last several years in California and Jerusalem. Passionate about reclaiming his Israeli and Jewish identities for environmental justice, Aidan has organized primarily on urban farms, and in multiracial and multifaith communities in the US and Palestine. Aidan is excited about building radical community at Kavod, while dancing a lot. Send an email.
Aviva was born and raised in San Anselmo, California. She recently graduated from Tufts University, where she studied Education and Middle East studies and first discovered her love for community organizing. While serving as a resident organizer at Kavod, Aviva will also be working in the refugee services department of Boston’s Jewish vocational service as an Americorps member. She is excited to bring her passion for Jewish ritual, relationship building, and justice work to the Kavod community which has already given her so much! Things that make Aviva feel joyful include baking challah, speaking Arabic, studying feminist theology, singing in community, and drinking coconut milkshakes. Send an email.
Jen was born and raised in Newton. Jen graduated Smith College in 2016, but spent much of their undergrad studying community organizing and radical education at UMass Amherst. They currently work as an outdoor experiential education facilitator, where they get to work with incredible people to play their way through questions of group dynamics. Jen loves being outdoors, building community, martial arts, and education for social change. Send an email.
The Moishe Kavod House Board oversees organizational operations including membership, communications, finance, and development. The Board also guides the community in leadership development, visioning and makes policy decisions in order to ensure that we operate in a way that reflects our shared values and priorities. The Board consists of seven elected members and the three resident organizers.
Our 2017-2018 board consists of the following roles and leaders:
President – Aliza Schwartz
Aliza is the Assistant Director for the New Israel Fund’s (NIF) New England Region, working on progressive issues in Israel including civil and human rights, combating racism, religious freedom, and economic justice. Before NIF, Aliza served as Community Organizer at Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters. Aliza is an alumna of AmeriCorps and JOIN for Justice’s Jewish Organizing Fellowship, and Aliza spent a year in Israel working especially with Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv. Aliza has been involved at MKH for about five years, and this upcoming year will be her fourth year serving on the board. With terrifically deep love for and total excitement about this community, she can’t wait to serve as Board President for a second year. Send an email.
Vice President – Sarah Langer
Sarah has been an educator in Boston Public Schools since she graduated from college. After teaching high school math at a Community Leadership pilot school, she has moved into coaching graduates and student teachers of the Boston Teacher Residency. She’s recently been enjoying learning basics of cognitive science and applying it to all the learners she works with (students, teachers, coaches). At Moishe Kavod House, Sarah has been co-leading a few social justice teams and was Rosh Organizer last year. She is really excited to step into the role of Vice President! Sarah enjoys learning new things, well facilitated meetings, aerials arts, and the outdoors. Send an email.
Membership Chair – Leah Varsano
Leah is a proud native of Western Massachusetts. As a Kavodnik she’s been active with the GBIO and Racial Justice teams (and helped coordinate carpools for the Retreat one year!). Before moving to Boston, Leah worked as a neighborhood organizer in New Orleans and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. She holds a master’s degree from Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development. Feel free to ask her opinion on language learning apps, knitting styles, and what book you should read next. By day she works on domestic poverty and labor issues with Oxfam America. Send an email.
Communications Chair – Lauren Brodsky
Originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida, Lauren moved up to Boston and fell in love with the snow. She is excited to lead the MKH Communications efforts for a second year and make sure we cross our t’s and dot our i’s. Lauren has been involved in CoFAB, the Inclusion team, and helping to plan the retreat! Outside of MKH, she is working towards her doctorate in School Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she is interested in learning about school systems and ways to involve families in those systems. When not studying for school or drafting the Kavod Newsletter, she enjoys riding her bike, cooking Indian food, and completing arts & crafts projects inspired by Pinterest. Send an email.
Development Chair – Mikaela Zetley
Mikaela grew up in Milwaukee, but has made Boston (and Moishe Kavod House) home since 2016. She spends her weekdays as a middle school math teacher at Excel Academy Charter School in East Boston, where she works to close the achievement gap. She holds a B.S. in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University, where she also led the Development Team and sat on the Board of Directors at Northwestern Hillel. She is excited to develop and grow through her service as the Development Chair at Moishe Kavod House. She enjoys making elaborate meals to share, walking around Jamaica Pond, singing loudly, and practicing yoga. Send an email.
Finance Chair – Nora Paul-Schultz
Nora spends her days as a high school Physics and Engineering teacher at the O’Bryant School in Boston. She spends her time telling corny physics jokes, helping students build robots and hoping that one day she will be as cool as Ms. Frizzle among other things. When she is not at school she enjoys spending as much time as possible outside. She can be found walking around the pond (while sometimes identifying trees). She also enjoys knitting, reading, baking bread and weaving. At Kavod, she is one of the liaisons to the JP Sanctuary Cluster, a member of the Interfaith Team, and a past Giving Circle member. In college, Nora was the Treasurer of Smith Hillel for many years and is excited to be back in her role as Finance Chair for a second year. Send an email.
Housemate Coordinator – Talya Sokoll
Tayla is a middle and high school librarian at the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham. She holds a B.S. and an M.A. from N.Y.U. in English Education and an M.L.S. from Simmons College in Library Science. In her work as a librarian she is involved in advising the Jewish Culture Club, the High School Book Club, and the travel program leading trips to Georgia, Alabama, and Camp Sunshine in Casco, ME. She is passionate about reading, walking, eating, volunteering at Mayyim Hayyim, comprehensive sex ed and being a “big sister.” Send an email.
Social Justice Chair – Simona Lang
Simona first joined Kavod in 2010 and although she left Massachusetts for a number of years, Kavod’s sense of community and focus on combining Jewish tradition and practice with active justice work ultimately drew her back to Boston. She works as an infectious disease epidemiologist at the MA Department of Public Health, investigating outbreaks and sneaking picnic lunches in the Arboretum. In between juggling deep commitments to local activism and baking as many sweet treats as possible, Simona enjoys reading, dancing, hiking, crafting, spending time with friends, and dismantling white supremacy and the capitalist cisheteropatriarchy. Send an email.
Rosh Spirituality – Ida Assefa
Bio coming soon! Send an email.
Strategy Chair – Ariela Lovett
Ariela is finishing up a dual Masters in Public Policy and MBA in Nonprofit Management at Brandeis’ Heller School. Like many before her, she moved to the Boston area for graduate school, but she first developed her fondness for the Commonwealth as an undergraduate at Mount Holyoke in Western Mass. Ariela is a proud and involved alumna of Avodah, which she completed in New York City in 2011-2012. Ariela’s first exposure to MKH was in March 2016 when Membership Chair Leah Varsano brought her to Friday night services and potluck, and she’s been coming back for the Jewish ritual, social justice, and community ever since. Ariela is excited to be applying her skill-set in organizational strategy and planning as Kavod’s new Strategy chair. She loves taking baths, watching her guilty pleasure Bachelor/Bachelorette shows, reading the New York Times, and talking on the phone with friends.
Send an email.
Partnerships Chair – Nadav David
Nadav is a mixed Mizrahi/Arab and Ashkenazi Jew (Iraq + Poland) who was born in Jerusalem and moved to Northern California at age 5. He recently graduated from a five year program at Northeastern University, where he was deeply engaged in racial justice and immigrant rights organizing. In the past year, he’s become involved with Kavod’s social justice team, which has been a powerful opportunity for him to connect his Jewish ritual practice and identity with his commitment to justice work. Professionally, he just started a position at a nonprofit called Compass Working Capital, working as a financial coach to support individuals and families living in subsidized housing programs to reach their financial goals. Send an email.
Accessibility Chair – Rachel Collman
Rachel hails from the humid state of North Carolina, which she left in June 2015 for the frigid winters of Boston. She first came to Kavod that summer and has loved every conversation, meal, and action she’s shared with the community. Rachel works as a youth worker Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, empowering teenagers to educate their peers, families, and communities about human sexuality and healthy decision making and to advocate for just and positive sexual attitudes and policies. In her free time, Rachel eats too many eggs, carefully bikes the streets, cooks for friends, and acts as a Jewish mother for all. Send an email.
Leadership Development Chair – Talie Lewis
Talie grew up in Philadelphia, experiencing lots of Jewish community along the way. She moved to Boston in 2014 after finishing medical school in Beersheva, Israel and has spent the last 3 years completing her family medicine residency. She just began a 1 year fellowship in hospice and palliative medicine and is excited to pursue one of the more team-oriented and value-driven fields of medicine. She is also excited to be thinking more about how best to support leaders in the Kavod community. She enjoys making omelets, writing Haikus and listening to and talking about the podcast On Being. Send an email.
Everyone at MKH is encouraged to take ownership of the community in their own way. Volunteers from the community make everything we do happen. Anyone is invited to participate in the community and to take on volunteer and leadership roles in whatever way they choose. In addition, making a financial contribution to MKH to officially become a member is an important part of how we sustain ourselves. You can learn a lot more about that here.
History of MKH
A light-hearted history of the Moishe Kavod House in verse, based on an interview with Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin, written and read by Sam Dreyfus at the 2014 Community Retreat
There was a young organizer named Margie Klein
who devoted her mind and her hands and her time
to changing the world in directions progressive
and whose talents and skill were always quite impressive.
In 2004 after months of great stress
spent to win an election, she felt quite depressed–
We lefties were beaten by the strengths of the Right
and Margie wanted to know how to rework the fight.
Meanwhile, her friend Joe was devising a plot:
Lefties need homes, he declared, that could work like Chabad.
At Jews in the Woods, Margie, Joe, and some friends
stayed up all night dreaming a way they could spend
the wealth of a funder to make the plot real–
they’d build a home for young Jews who were ready to deal
with the world’s jagged edges, who were ready to struggle
and who needed a place to learn, grow, and to snuggle.
The vision they had was one of a home
that would open the walls of the world they had known:
Young Jews would be fighters for justice, and shake
the establishment organizations awake
With a model of vibrant community, thriving
with justice and love as the core forces driving
a rebirth of Jewish life for young and old:
They thrilled with the thrill of a vision unfolding.
Then: Margie got a grant to study for the rabbinate!
She moved up to Boston and found herself quite without
the community she thought she would have to get started
and so she set up a plan to build a strong beating heart
for the home that she now was committed to building.
Her plan was ambitious and scheduled and grueling:
she sought out the young Jews, the queer ones, the artsy,
went to every event, always asked out to coffee
Anyone who might want to take part in the project.
After one month in town, she gathered two dozen
young Jews who were hungry for what she was baking!
Starting with Shabbat dinners, they then began making
monthly meetings with themes, then campaigns with core leaders
then built up teams, and with startling speed, they
joined GBIO’s fight for health care and people’s power,
and got funding from Moishe House. The community flowered
with leaders ready to build and with funders intrigued.
Margie’s vision wasn’t just in her head now: the league
of leaders planned a retreat that was quite a lot like this
and the folks who showed up liked it, but said transparency was missing!
How did this whole thing work? They started to build structures
of membership, Board, thinking hard of the future
and how they would make the house comprehensible
as a strong organization for folks thinking intentionally.
Each month new teams formed: Housing Justice! Recruitment!
Each year new ideas were hatched, tried, tested, and improved on.
Today we are bigger than ever, and growing
and with the work we all do, there is no way of knowing
What we will do next, but one thing is certain:
This community’s shaped by those who take part in
the work of leadership, in all of its forms.
Our future is ours to shape. Friends, this is your home.
What To Expect When You Visit MKH
We would love you to welcome you to the Moishe Kavod House community. Please join us for any of the events on the calendar, including Shabbat services and potluck dinner, team planning meetings, and other community events. If you want to keep up to date with what’s going on, subscribe to our Newsletter. When you arrive at the Kavod house, please enter the door next to the driveway. Make yourself a name tag and someone from the community will be there to greet you.
Accessibility and Inclusion
Moishe Kavod House aims to be accessible to people of all abilities. While we are currently located on the second floor of a house, we will do all we can to accommodate you. We are also currently searching for a new house which we hope will be more accessible, please be in touch if this is important to you or if you have suggestions about what we should do.
If there is any accommodation you need to feel welcome at MKH please feel free to ask. We would love to have you and will do everything we can to accommodate you.
Inclusivity is an important value that guides our food choices at MKH. All food served at MKH events in vegetarian. Not all food is hechsher kosher, but we do our best to provide a hechsher kosher option. We will always provide a hechsher kosher option if you RSVP and let us know you’d like one.
We sure do have a lot of allergies! To keep everyone safe and healthy food at events is always labeled with ingredients. We ask people not to mix utensils and to be mindful of cross-contaminating dishes.
In addition to thinking about inclusivity when it comes to food, our community has been working hard o develop guidelines about how to purchase food ethically and consistently with our progressive values. You can learn more about our Institutional purchasing campaign here .
About Shabbat Services and Potluck Dinners at MKH
On the first Friday of every month, we hold Shabbat services and potluck dinner at the Kavod house (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for the location).
Services begin at 6:30 and the potluck dinner starts around 8:00. Services are egalitarian, community-led, and song-filled. Attendance ranges from around 30 to 70 people. The potluck dinner is vegetarian meal that has both hechsher kosher and non-hechsher kosher offerings. Please bring a dinner item, such as salad, main course, drink, or dessert.
Please check the calendar to confirm. During some holidays, services and potluck dinners are not held.
If you have any questions or would like to be in touch with a community member before coming to services, please email email@example.com.
About Other Activities at MKH
MKH does a lot more than hold Shabbat services! Our calendar is full with team meetings, social events, opportunities for learning and engagement in social justice work. Some activities have a handful of people, and others have dozens. If you want to know more about what to expect, you can contact the event host listed on the calendar. New folks are welcome at every event on the calendar (except board meetings) and unless the event otherwise specifies, you don’t even need to RSVP. If you’re new (or just want to), you can email the contact person for the event to let them know you’re coming and ask any questions you want to feel more comfortable when you arrive.