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8 Questions for Annice Moses and Mike Rosenthal: Urban Renewers, Herbivores, Mini-Van Drivers

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01/13/2009

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Annice Moses and Michael Rosenthal, with help from friends and neighbors, took Englewood teenagers on a trip to Washington D.C. There they met with some of the nation's leaders and saw the sights. 

Some people talk about making the world a better place. Other people just do it, in their own unassuming way. For Annice Moses and Mike Rosenthal, this means taking I-94 from their home in Glencoe and investing their time, hearts and money in their adopted community, Englewood. In a neighborhood where liquor stores double as food stores and fresh produce is scarce, Mike’s passion is the community garden. And last March, inspired by a story in  People magazine, Annice rounded up 30 high school kids – most of whom had never left Englewood – and boarded a plane to DC on a whirlwind advocacy mission. Three days later, Annice and Mike flew home with 30 tired teens who now understood that some people talk about making the world a better place, and others just do it.

So whether you put your passions to action, your dogs walk you, or you just wish for a good night’s sleep, Annice Moses and Mike Rosenthal are Jews You Should Know.

1. What do you love about what you do?
Annice: I have a master’s in counseling and used to work with teens at Response Center. After our first son was born, I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Our brood has now grown to include – in order of acquisition: Sidney Oy (our yellow lab/Weimaraner mix), Milo (our black lab), BJ (age 7), Ryder (age 5), and Phoenix (age 3). In the spring, we are adopting a daughter from Ethiopia. (And how do the boys feel about that? They vacillate between being excited and suggesting we name her Poo Poo Head, depending on the day.) This is what I’ve always wanted – a big family, lots of noise and chaos, volunteer time, and the opportunity to infuse hippie, vegetarian, liberal views on unsuspecting dependents.
Mike: I help run Rosenthal Manufacturing, my family's business. As an engineer, I design and build custom machinery from start to finish. There is satisfaction in seeing something on paper come to life and be useful for someone else. And I love the flexibility it gives me to pursue my other passions – my family, biking, hiking, nonprofit work like Imagine Englewood If.
Annice: In other words, our sons love playing in piles of dirt. Whether that dirt is in our suburban backyard or in the serenity of the Englewood community garden, the boys don’t notice and don’t care. And we love that. Walking into the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, a teen from Englewood told me he had never met a Jew besides “that guy on South Park.” I was like, that’s not a guy – that’s a cartoon. Walking out of the Holocaust Museum, the teens were so angered by the senseless persecution Jews faced because they were different, and it was an experience they, as African-Americans, could relate to.  That’s powerful, too.

2. What is your favorite blog or website?
Annice: Mike says he’s a “Facebook widower” if that gives you a clue.  All 266 of my bestest friends ever are on there. Needless to say, Mike is not my Facebook friend.
Mike: Ha’aretz – my favorite news source. It's how I look up stuff about Israel.

3. If time and money were limitless, where would you travel?
Annice: Australia, if for nothing else, to be surrounded by that excellent accent all day (although as a vegetarian, the food options might be a slim). Mike wanted to honeymoon in Africa, but at the time I was afraid to camp out with wild animals – I'm much more of a trooper these days.
Mike: I would take my family on a boat trip up the Amazon River – one of the last places untouched by human hands.

4. If a movie was made about your life, who would play you?
Annice: Lauren Ambrose (Claire from  Six Feet Under ).
Mike: Benji – the dog.
Annice: He says it’s because he’s soft and cuddly, but in reality, Benji is the only pop culture icon Mike can name.

5. If you could have a meal with any two people, living or dead, famous or not, who would they be? Where would you eat or what would you serve?
Annice: It’s hard to top the backyard barbeque when we first met each other and, of course, both opted for the veggie burger. We never let the fact that I was an ETHS grad and he was a New Trier grad get in our way.
Mike: Okay, we admit, we’re just stumped by this question.

6. What's your idea of the perfect day?
Annice: Waking up from a good night’s sleep, mint-green tea in my cup, my family buzzing around me happily, getting in a workout and some semi-trashy reality TV after the kids are sleeping, a bath and to bed! (So maybe a beer or glass of wine is in there somewhere.)
Mike: Waking up from a good night’s sleep, going on a family adventure where we all learn something new, a peaceful hike, and a nice chocolate dessert followed by dinner (dessert is always better when it's first) where no one complains about what they are eating and everyone goes to bed without a fuss.

7. What job would you have had if not the one you have now?
Mike:  A teacher or a community organizer. I like the idea of empowering people to make their lives better.
Annice: Running an overnight camp would be awesome, living there year-round with our kids, being a perpetual teenager as my official job.

8. What's your favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago? In other words, how do you Jew?
Mike: Building a sukkah in our yard every year.
Annice: Two years ago, Mike slept overnight with the boys in the sukkah and ended up with walking pneumonia. So now we limit our sukkah-dwelling activities to my favorite Jewish thing to do in Chicago: eat, eat and more eat.

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