Subscribe to Pardes Yehuda

Pardes Yehuda: October 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's like Facebook for Social Justice and Green Living

Hat tip to my mother on this one!

World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility, which is the spelled out version of

According to their website,
WiserEarth serves the people who are transforming the world. It is a community-editable international directory and networking forum that maps and connects the largest movement in the world – the hundreds of thousands of organizations and concerned individuals that address social justice, poverty, and the environment.

WiserEarth provides the tools and a platform for organizations, businesses funders, social entrepreneurs, students, organizers, academics, activists, scientists, and citizens to find each other, make connections, build alliances and share resources.

Signing up is quick and easy so you can join 18,000+ others who want to network and learn about all the great stuff people are going in the world to make it a more sustainable and just planet.
Read more!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sustainable Housing Project Underway in Savannah, GA

It sure has been difficult to find positive news recently... But here's a great one!

According to construction has commenced on Savannah's first housing project, and why is that positive? Because it is sustainable and it's called Sustainable Fellwood.

The plans call for 220 home units, 40% public housing, 40% for low- to mid-income families and 20% at market rate. The community features an organic garden and large green common space.

Having grown up near Chicago, I have seen projects, their failure and their destruction. This provides an amazing alternative to the public and mixed income developments I've seen because it allows for a community to grow with a closeness to food, natural surroundings and decreased utility expenses. This provides amazing educational opportunities for children, and the chance for cross-cultural and cross-class encounters.

Taking a look at the Development Team of the housing project, one can see that this is different off the bat--the most important members of the team are local Savannah business and organizations. Over the years, in Chicago, both Cabrini Green and the Robert Taylor Homes were often administered by the Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) because the Chicago HUD board was so inept at their job, but this didn't bring good tidings to the now demolished housing projects in Chicago.

Chicago's story should be a lesson that when embarking a public housing projects, the tenants must be provided with adequate and efficient housing. Just as importantly, they should be provided with a means to establish and grow a healthy and safe community.

Hopefully Sustainable Fellwood can be a model of a new variety of housing project that will have a different story and experience than Chicago.
Read more!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Synagogue to house Mosque

cross posted at

I just stumbled upon this lovely piece of news from a local Virginia newspaper (thanks to the wonders of Google):
Synagogue Lends Space to Mosque

By Julia O'Donoghue
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) has found a new home for its weekly prayer services in Reston in an unusual place, a Jewish synagogue.
The Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has agreed to rent its multi-purpose room to the Sterling mosque, which has operated a Reston "branch" for several years, in the early afternoon on Fridays.

"Many people [in the congregation] don’t know yet because I just wrote the newsletter article about it," said synagogue president Hana Newcomb. She accepted an award from ADAMS on behalf of her congregation for its efforts in promoting interfaith dialogues and peace Sept. 27.

"The Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation has opened its doors to our prayers," said Rizwan Jaka, an ADAMS board member, during the ceremony.

The mosque also honored United Christian Parish, which has hosted its Friday prayer services in Reston for the past seven years. The parish sold one of its facilities and no longer has the extra space to share with ADAMS, said parish board moderator Kay Rodgers.

"We don’t have the space anymore but United Christian Parish is totally committed and dedicated to the interfaith experience we have," said Rodgers.

Wow. Just wow. This is a beautiful and amazing show of interfaith relations and co-existence. The shul is a Reform congregation of near 500 families, the ADAMS Center serves 5000 families in seven communities in the DC area. What an amazing opportunity not only to embark on some very real and concrete interfaith work, but to also set an example of using the synagogue in the 21st century for applications that have a unique place in our era--this gives a whole new meaning to beit k'nesset (house of gathering).

Plus, in my minimal experience with Muslim-Jewish dialogue it is difficult to get down to discuss the intricacies and structure of our respective traditions because politics (i.e. the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) loom so large. This seems like an incredible opportunity to engage in joint worship and study in ways that have probably not happened much between our communities in, at the very least, the last half-century.

According to Jewish law, we can pray in mosques (not the case with churches, according to tradition) and as far as I understand, Muslims can eat kosher meat (while kosher Jews cannot indulge in halal meat). The Rambam's brother, David, would practice dhkir, an Islamic meditation on the Oneness of God with Muslims. If we could only put politics aside, we could connect deeply on a religious and spiritual level. The opportunities that have arisen between the All Dulles Area Muslim Society and the North Virginia Hebrew Congregation are endless and provide a great opportunity for the Jewish and Muslim communities of America (and perhaps beyond).

May 5769 continue to bring such blessings.
Read more!

The Divided Highway Merges Once Again

Wow, I actually have goose bumps.

After hoofing around the country to see one band at least 60 times, and swearing that I would never go to another show (at least three times), I am riveted with excitement to hear that Mike Gordon, Jon Fishman, Page McConnell and Trey Anastasio are jumping back in the game, for better or worse. Anyone that cares already knows, but thank the Good Lord, I just had to write about it.

Phish, simply put, is possibly the best quartet of its kind to ever ensemble. I've said it before and I'll say it again, anyone who says otherwise is deaf, soulless or has not heard enough. Well, they're heading out to one of their favorite venues and one of the sources of some of the best shows in their 25 year history, at the Hampton Coliseum in Hampton, VA. They are playing a three show run in early March and will soon announce further tour dates.

I can remember the days of chasing FedEx trucks down the road hoping and praying that they were coming to my house with my mail-order tickets. I remember hoping that I would get assigned seats so I could trade them for lawn tickets--I never understood the people who liked the seats, but they sure seemed happy to get them!

The last time they took a break and came back, the results weren't so much to my liking--they downright sucked. But I have very, very high hopes for the prospects of what some growth and maturity could bring to this group of gentleman. I know that traveling up and down, back and forth across the country put a wear on me and my friends, I can only imagine what it did to the four of them. That being said, I can only imagine they're a bit more chilled out, a lot more experienced, and the only reason they would do this is because they love each other, they love making music together, and they love making music for their fans--I can remember a time when that was true in the past, when it was about the love of the music and the fans, and it poured out to create some amazing grooves and incredible and memorable moments.

I'll tell you this much, I will do everything in my ability to travel far and wide to hit a show if they throw down a summer tour. You can find me dancing my tail off (which I just may have to bust out for the occasion. Yeah, that's right, I wore a tail on Phish tour, you got a problem with that? I wore a skirt, too!) in the best spot in the place, UPS (Upper Page Side).
Read more!