Ben’s Summer Tips
By Ben Varhula, Moishe House Regional Manager — Midwest
Summertime in the Midwest — is there anything better? Even though we don’t have a summer break anymore, everyone still seems so much happier in the summer. And after what seems like an eternity-long winter, the 80 degree days feel like heaven on Earth! As a recent Moishe House alum, new Midwest Regional Manager, and new MHWOW host some of my favorite Moishe House programs have been during those three glorious months when the sun isn’t just a Greek myth.
For me, it all starts with the tried and true: the bonfire. If it worked at summer camp, why can’t it work now? For a Moishe House event, I don’t think there’s anything more versatile than a bonfire.
You can make s’mores on a Tuesday and easily schmooze with everyone, you can make it the perfect way to end Shabbat and celebrate Havdalah, and you can even create a Jewish learning program all about fire or warmth. People are drawn to fire, and a bonfire is a chance to put your own spin on an old classic. At my Moishe House, the monthly bonfires were some of our most popular. It was the perfect way to wind down on a Thursday night and bring back those summer camp feels.
As fun as bonfires are, they don’t beat out my favorite summer program that I’ve run. If I have one piece of advice for running Moishe House programs, it’s this: get yourself a friend that is a great cook. I have a friend, Carl, that’s a professionally trained chef and not only helped my Moishe House cook for Shabbat dinners, but we also had him teach cooking classes as programs! It seems weird to be excited about an indoor program during the summer, I know. but during summer all of the ingredients are fresh and eating freshly made pasta on a beautiful patio is the pinnacle for me.
So far this summer Carl has taught us how to make: pasta (both fettuccini and ravioli), marinara sauce, pesto sauce, hummus, tabouli, and falafel. Can you even imagine what kind of amazing Boomerangs we got from that pasta making event? That alone made it a success. And of course the best part: enjoying your new found skill and the newly made food. I’m still no chef, but I do know how to eat. And thanks to Carl and Moishe House, I have some new recipes to try during those sweet Chicago summers.
Happy Summer Eating!
Midwest Regional Manager