By Rabbi Kevin M. Kleinman
Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, and yet it takes place during the darkest time of the year. The Hanukkah story told in the Babylonian Talmud and repeated from generation to generation centers on the great miracle of light. The oil used in the menorah to rededicate the Temple after the Maccabbees’ victory was supposed to last for only one night, but instead it lasted for eight nights. I’ll rephrase it this way: one day’s worth of oil provided eight days of light. Halleluyah! It was a miracle indeed. A miracle of conservation. Who knew that Hanukkah could provide us with a model of sustainability? Move over Tu B’shvat, Hanukkah is joining you on the climate justice train.
Jewish environmental leaders have been using this teaching about Hanukkah for several years to encourage households to switch from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs during Hanukkah. RAC legislative assistant Liya Rechtman wrote about this connection on this blog a few weeks ago. Looking for a last minute holiday gift? How about giving the gift of reducing carbon emissions, in the form of a light bulb?