One day’s fuel that lasts for eight? Now that’s a miracle we could use today! Global warming, limited energy supplies, and volatile prices all make the need for conservation of resources more important than ever. They also make the holiday of Hanukkah timelier than ever.
According to the Talmud, one jug of oil, enough to light the Temple Lamp for one day, lasted instead for eight—making Hanukkah is the original Festival of Fuel Efficiency! This year, the Festival of Lights takes place December 11 though 19—coinciding with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This Hanukkah is therefore the perfect occasion for us—individually and as a community—to consider ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.
This Hanukkah, Beth Shalom will dedicate a new Solar Panel, which will be used to power the Ner Tamid. Now that’s an eternal light! From now on, the light that glows in our sanctuary will clean and renewable… truly holy. (Many thanks to Ted Scott and Harvey Livschitz.) We will also hunt down and replace the old, energy inefficient light bulbs in our synagogue with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)—more efficient (using about 75% of the power), longer lasting (six to fifteen times longer), and cost reducing. This, along with the new trees and plants going into our gardens, will make Beth Shalom a greener place—another reason to be proud of our synagogue.
It’s true that these small changes won’t make an appreciable difference in slowing global warming. But they, like the lights of the Hanukkiah, serve both as symbols of our values and also as reminders that we can indeed shift our practices so as to live in line with those values. And, just as the Temple’s destruction long ago made each Jewish home the focal point of Jewish practice, so we hope that the changes at Beth Shalom will encourage each of you to make similar changes in your house. Imagine if we all changed to CFLs and half installed a solar panel? What if a quarter of us explored the new Jewish Climate Change Campaign and signed the pledge (hazon.org) and started carpooling to shul? As the Hanukkah story teaches, that’s how change begins: one family at a time. If we each make a change, truly “Nes Gadol Y’hiyeh Po: A great miracle can happen here.”
Energy Efficient Lighting in New Zealand
Some Resources on Judaism and the Environment:
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life: www.coejl.org/~coejlor/index.php
Union for Reform Judaism: www.urj.org/green
ADAMAH: The Jewish Environmental Fellowship: isabellafreedman.org/adamah/intro