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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Celebrating the Feast of Freedom by remembering the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Seder

hat tip to one of my favorite people, Danya, who posted this on Jewschool

Let us all remember that there are still many people in need of liberation and redemption around the world. The work is not done, and we must continue to do it.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Something to post about--President Obama appoints official envoy to Sudan

It's been a long, long time since I've written here. But I came home to an email that made me smile big. It reads like this:
President Obama has appointed retired Major General J. Scott Gration as special envoy to Sudan.

General Gration traveled to Africa with President Obama in 2006, visiting refugee camps in Chad. His experience, gravitas and close relationship with President Obama will contribute greatly to his effectiveness. It remains to be seen if he will have the mandate and authority to drive U.S. policy on Sudan.

The appointment of a special envoy is an urgently needed step forward—and it wouldn't have happened if we hadn't raised our voices together. But our work isn't over.

The Sudanese government's recent decision to expel 13 international aid agencies has left about 1.1 million civilians without food aid, 1.5 million without health care and over a million without potable water—threatening starvation and disease on a massive scale.

General Gration has his work cut out for him. He will need to hit the ground running and spearhead an urgent and sustained diplomatic push to establish unimpeded humanitarian access in Darfur, as well as sustainable peace in all of Sudan. And we'll need your help again in the days and weeks to come.

Again, thank you for raising your voice for Darfur. Our constituency of conscience has had a powerful impact on our leaders—and made a difference in the lives of Darfuris. We will continue our fight together.


Jerry Fowler
Save Darfur Coalition

This is a major step in international efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. This move is incredibly important right now as the International Criminal Court in The Hague recently issued an arrest warrant for Omar al Bashir, the president of Sudan, which has caused some negative backlashes--including the expulsion of the aid workers mentioned in the letter above.

If you're able to help with your voice and body, click here and if you're able to also help with your pocketbook, click here. Mr. Bush famously wrote "Not on my watch," and ultimately let the genocide continue while in office; let's collectively urge President Obama to end this genocide.
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Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama makes landmark move on fuel efficiency

After announcing the planned closures of the prisons at Guantanamo Bay and secret locations in central Europe, the Obama administration has made another fabulously positive and noteworthy announcement.

President Barack Obama has directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

yes, that EPA, to reconsider an application by California and 13 other states to set stricter limits on greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and trucks and President Obama would also raise the average fuel economy to 35mpg by 2020.

While the second initiative is wonderful, the prior truly provides for some groundbreaking change in how our nation approaches pollution caps. Under the Bush regime states were regulated not in how much pollution they could emit, but rather how much they were able to cap what they emitted. That's right, the Bush regime made it harder for states like California to protect the environment from corporate irresponsibility.

President Obama's insistence that the EPA look again at these states proposal to self-regulate more strictly than federal regulations propose, whether it be his intention or not, is empowering states' rights. The two initiatives coupled together, the rising of the average national fuel economy and the rights for states to self-regulate beyond that level, sets a model for responsible movement towards more productive automobiles and also encourages states to determine for themselves in what capacity they would like to regulate their responsibilities.

When these 14 states set forth stricter guidelines, and are successful with positive results to show, other states will follow suit and we could see the active pursuit, nationwide, of better production and capability of our automobiles. Not because the manufacturers are telling us what we "need," but because consumer demand will call for it.

Yay, change.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Love Song to Islamic Fundamentalists

Amazing, funny and right on. I'm in! Amen.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

I just peed my pants with excitement...

Phish Summer Tour 2009

  1. 6.04.09 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY
  2. 6.05.09 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY
  3. 6.06.09 Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
  4. 6.07.09 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ
  5. 6.09.09 Asheville Civic Center, Asheville, NC
  6. 6.16.09 Fox Theatre, St. Louis, MO
  7. 6.18.09 Post Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
  8. 6.19.09 Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville, IN
  9. 6.20.09 Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, WI
  10. 6.21.09 Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, WI
Yes. A ten show run, ending in two of my absolute favorite venues of all time, Deer Creek and Alpine (oh the memories, foggy they may be). Mail order starts January 17th, so get those money orders ready and start chasing those FedEx trucks, Phish is going on tour! I need a new skirt...

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009, Let's make it Divine--Partners in Creation

My resolution this year is that I will be pro-peaceople. That's right, not pro-peace, pro-people. We cannot know peace until we know justice, and we will never know justice until we know people.

As 2008 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on the Divinity of humanity. According to Jewish mysticism, a world of metaphors, the universe was created by means of the shvi'rat ha'keilim, the 'shattering of the vessels.' The Torah says that when the Holy One set about to create the universe, the first step in the sacred act of creation was that of light. Not the light of the sun or stars, but rather the Supernal light of existence. Yet the keilim, these vessels, could not contain the intensity of the emanation of the Divine Spirit... and they shattered. The shards of the shattered vessels descended from the Supernal realms and became the matter that is the foundational material of the universe.

I recently learned according to our current understandings of astrophysics, all physical matter that is not hydrogen or oxygen inevitably originates from the destruction of a star. That is to say that when a star reaches the end of its life and it implodes, the matter that results from the death of that star expands into the universe bonding with other matter to create new life. In other words, you and I, even the computers we're looking at, are stardust. We are made of the same Supernal Light that allows for the physical stars to shine. We are all emanations of the Divine Light, and in that we are all One with the Unity of Divinity.

We have seen another year of ravaging wars, another year of criminal corruption, another year of environmental degradation, another year of political manipulation, another year of starvation, another year of genocide. He have reasons, and excuses, we have other things to do. We know other people who could do it better, and things that we would rather being doing ourselves. The key, though, to our survival is you, yes you. And, yes, you are me. Oh, and, yes, you're her and you're him. You are people.

Every step each of us takes, reverberates around us sending waves of intention and thought through the ether, which is then absorbed and experienced by all those around us. Why is this so? Because we are created in the image and likeness of the Divine.

The word 'Holy' means separate, different, other than--because it is 'other than' something mundane. So much so that when the Holy Blessed One set about to Create the Universe, there was no space within the infinity of the Divine Existence. When the Holy One did manage to create space within the infinity, it was only by means of tzim'tzum, the Divine contraction. The infinite contracted to make room for the finite space. As the Universe expands, the Holy One contracts.

The lesson of the shvi'rat ha'keilim, the 'shattering of the vessels,' is tikkun olam, 'repairing the world.' This entails gathering the shards of the shattered vessels to reconstitute the emanation of the Divine Light. But remember, it is those shards that are the fabric of the universe, therefore their restoration means the end of Creation. Creation is inherently separate from the Divine because of tzim'tzum, the 'Divine contraction,' therefore the restoration of the vessels represents complete and utter Unity with the Divine, if there is pure Oneness there is no holiness, as holiness only exists in distinction.

Just as the Holy Blessed One exists in contradiction, needing to contract in order to create expanse, and just as our material existence is a contradiction, that our life is by virtue of the death of a star, so too is the contradiction of tikkun olam, of 'fixing the world.' That our complete Unity with Divinity is our material destruction. But along the way, in our path to live, seek and establish holiness in the world we must find the balance. We must find the reality where we live in a balance of contraction and expansion, between Hesed and Gevurah, between completely open and endless lovingkindness, and between the loving embrace of firmness, in other words, soft love vs. tough love.

We must find it in ourselves to balance not only our own personal needs and desires, but also the needs and desires of those around us. Because ultimately we are all of One Source, be it stardust, or the Divine Emanation of Light that brought the stardust into being.

And regarding all of this, the Torah says we are created in the Divine image and likeness. This does not mean that the Holy Blessed One, the Master of the World, is a person, looks like a person, has thoughts or feelings like a person. Rather, it means, that people are like the Divine. By virtue of being a product of the Supernal Light, the true essence of Divine Emanation, we are Divine. The mystical tradition teaches that the Holy One emanates an outpouring of sustenance that we all exist by means of. In that same way, by virtue of our acts, our thoughts, and our intentions, our Divine spirit emanates through the world effecting and infecting those around us. How many times have you encountered a group of people laughing, you have absolutely NO idea why they are laughing, and the sound of the laughter alone infects you to the point that laughing emits from your belly.

When we see each other as equal, and when we interact with one another as if we're interacting with Divinity, when we can truly see others in ourselves and ourselves in others, then we can begin to discuss justice. Only then can we begin to discuss peace. Right now, on this day, we need to begin with people.

So many of our actions and our thoughts stem from ego, stem from the I. Not the Unity that we all experience as a collective existence, but the aloneness of the sole experience. That is not Unity, or Oneness; when we come from a place of only concern for ourselves, for our needs, that is loneliness. This is especially interesting, because according to the Hasidic understanding of the shvi'rat ha'keilim, the 'shattering of the vessels,' The Holy One broke them intentionally on accident, you know, like a child breaking something 'on accident' for attention. Why would the Holy One break the vessels that contained the true essence of Unity? Loneliness. The Creator desired a partner in Creation.

I would like to be your partner in Creation. I would like you to work with me, her and him to be partners in Creation. As partners in Creation we can opt out of destruction and consumption.

All the wars we've witnessed, all the destruction and the damage. All the crimes we saw committed, all the unjust laws we saw legislated, all the greed and the hate, it all comes from ego. If you and I work with her and him, and she and he work with you and I, we not about ourselves or yourselves, we are about each other. We recognize that we ARE each other.

So I ask you to join me in making one of your resolutions for 2009 to join one another in being partners in Creation, and be pro-people.

This is what I see as the 7 key points in how I will be pro-people, and do my part to make 2009 feel Divine:
  • I will engage, rather than dismiss
  • I will listen to hear, rather than listen to respond
  • I will think about your needs as I consider my own
  • I will seek to see yourself in myself, and the Divine Self in ourselves
  • I will consider how my actions contribute to your actions, before I act on my own
  • I will reflect on your experience as it might be my experience
  • I will recognize that I am capable of loving myself no more than I am capable of loving you

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Food Democracy Now!

Between my own busyness and the world's crises, it has been challenging to find positive things to post... until now!

Our food systems are broken and monopolized by special interests. Let's take them back. Let's hold Obama accountable to the change he promised us all, let's make him deliver.

Go to and tell him that you want to change the way our government does agriculture, sign the petition for change, and for a sustainable USDA and a healthy future for America.

Here's a sampling from the petition:

We believe that a new administration should address our nation’s growing health problems by promoting a children’s school lunch program that incorporates more healthy food choices, including the creation of opportunities for schools to purchase food from local sources that place a high emphasis on nutrition and sustainable farming practices. We recognize that our children’s health is our nation’s future and that currently schools are unable to meet these needs because they do not have the financial resources to invest in better food choices. We believe this reflects and is in line with your emphasis on childhood education as a child’s health and nutrition are fundamental to their academic success.

click here to sign and demand real change.
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