Hanukkah | Oil miracle inspires conservation efforts

The miracle of Hanukkah is an epic story of conservation, as one day’s worth of oil lighted the Temple for eight days. Now, in some circles, energy conservation and energy independence are Hanukkah’s hallmarks.

Hanukkah is the original holiday of energy conservation, according to David Krantz, president and chairperson of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism. “Think about it,” Krantz said. “One day’s worth of oil lasted for eight days. Imagine if we conserved energy like we did during the first Hanukkah and only used one-eighth as much energy as we do today.

“Hanukkah reminds us to rise up, to challenge the status quo,” he added. “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. Learning about the environmental lessons of Hanukkah can help light the way.”

Krantz whose organization runs the Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth projects, suggested taking on a new environmental commitment each day of the holiday. Some suggestions:

• Change incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent or, better yet, LED bulbs.

• Commit to wearing sweaters in the winter instead of turning up the heat.

• Plan a garden for the spring.

• Make a donation to an environmental organization.

• If you own stocks, disinvest from fossil-fuel stocks and invest in renewable energy instead.

• Contact your collegiate alma mater, your synagogue, your local Jewish federation, and other institutions to ask them to disinvest and reinvest.

• Commit to eating less meat, the production of which creates large amounts of greenhouse gases.

• Call your representatives in Congress to advocate for climate-smart policies.

Krantz recommended additional measures that he calls “low-hanging fruit”: unplug appliances and chargers when they aren’t in use; turn off lights when you leave the room; use fans instead of air conditioning when possible; walk or take public transit instead of driving when possible; and use timers rather than leaving lights on for the duration of Shabbat and Yom Tov.