Unexpected Hurdles At Jewish-Muslim Day Of Service

May 2, 2010

Author: Rashi Kesarwani

Source: The Orange County Register


It might not have been the Mideast peace process, yet good intentions still went awry Sunday when students from a Jewish school were unable to volunteer alongside students from a Muslim day school for an interfaith day of service.

Fifth- and sixth-graders from University Synagogue in Irvine, unaware of an O.C. Parks volunteer waiver form, were prevented from removing non-native plants at Mason Park alongside students from New Horizon, said Susan Penn, director of education at University Synagogue.

"They were so excited to meet students from New Horizon, and so disappointed they didn't get the chance," Penn said.

After both groups posed together for a photo, about 20 students from University Synagogue went on a short walk to pick up trash while New Horizon students did the original project of clipping mustard plants, a non-native species, from a small section of the 345-acre park in Irvine.

A friendship between the schools' two principals, Penn of University Synagogue and Dina Eletreby of New Horizon, led to the day of service, in which about 20 fifth- and sixth-grade students from each school were supposed to pull mustard plants together.