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Chanukah and Today's Fight for Freedom

By David Krantz


NEW YORK (Dec. 16, 2014) — Chanukah is the original Holiday of Energy Conservation. Think about it: One day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days! Imagine if we conserved energy like we did during the first Chanukah and only used one eighth as much energy as we do today.

It's also important to remember that the oil of the Chanukah story comes from the olive tree; today, Israel's dependence on burning crude oil — and some corporations' desires to extract and burn shale oil — threatens the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike. Air pollution leads to more deaths in Israel than wars and terrorism combined. Much of that air pollution is due to oil-burning automobiles, and, since nature knows no borders, pollution poisons Israelis and Palestinians alike. On the first Chanukah, we rose up against our oppressors and fought for freedom. But today, it's harder for us to see our oppressors — Big Carbon.

When we poison the air we breathe, when we poison the water we drink, when we poison the ground from which we grow our food, we poison ourselves. And we are complicit in our own poison. Like Passover, Chanukah reminds us to rise up, to challenge the status quo. Today, we need to fight for what our ancestors took for granted: clean air, clean water and clean land. We need freedom from fossil fuels. And learning about the environmental lessons of Chanukah can help light the way.

So here's a challenge: On each day, take on a new environmental commitment:

On the first day of Chanukah, change your incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent or, better yet, LED bulbs.

On the second day, commit to wearing sweaters in the winter instead of turning up the heat.

On the third day, plan a garden for the spring.

On the fourth day, gift a donation to your favorite environmental organization.

On the fifth day, disinvest your stock portfolio from fossil-fuel stocks and invest in renewable energy instead.

On the sixth day, contact your collegiate alma mater, your synagogue, your local Jewish Federation and other institutions and ask them to follow your example of disinvestment and reinvestment.

On the seventh day, commit to eating less meat, which is the single largest contributor of greenhouse gases.

And on the eighth day, call your elected representatives and demand the enactment of smart climate policy.


David Krantz is the president and chairperson of the Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.




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