Beforehand: Start Now. If you don’t have Seasons of Our Joy and/ or want the newly updated 4th edition, published by the Jewish Publication Society, plan NOW before Hanukkah to go on-line at https://jps.org/books/seasons-of-our-joy/ to order it, or call Longleaf Services at 800-848-6224 or 919-966-7449, or Email email@example.com
Prepare for Learning Early -- Right Now!: The next Jewish festival will be Tu B’Shvat, the ReBirthDay of Trees and of the Sacred Tree of Life. It will come on Sunday evening January 20 and daytime Monday January 21, which this year is also Martin Luther King’s Birthday and comes right after the Women’s March on January 19. How do we connect the Earth-oriented Tu B’Shvat with the activist-oriented MLK Day? Maybe by focusing on defeating environmental racism?
You can do early learning for your way into Tu B’Shvat in two ways:
- Ordering Trees, Earth, and Torah, a rich anthology on Tu B’Shvat published by the Jewish Publication Society.
Click to https://jps.org/books/trees-earth-and-torah/ Explore the book after Hanukkah. It will help you think, and plan.
- Joining a Webinar about Tu B’Shvat the evening of Wednesday, January 9. Register here: https://tinyurl.com/ss4sereg
The book and the Webinar will help you gather friends for a Tu B’Shvat Seder with four courses of fruit and nuts, four cups of wine, and a commitment to heal earth, water, air, and fire (energy).
NOW FOR HANUKKAH ITSELF:
Overview: These suggestions are not intended to be commands or strictures. They are intended as pointers toward a way of making Hanukkah both serious and joyful, a grown-up time to bring people together using a Jewish festival to help heal the Earth from the climate crisis. Add or substitute your own ideas as you feel moved.
Sunday Evening Dec 2. Candle 1: Learn and Build Community: Invite friends over. From my book Seasons of Our Joy, read aloud together the chapter on Hanukkah. Each person around the circle can read a paragraph, and pause to discuss whenever anyone has a question or a suggestion. Sing some Hanukkah songs, share latkes and doughnuts fried in olive oil.
Monday daytime, Dec 3, first day Hanukkah: Call your electric-power utility to switch your own home to wind-powered or solar-powered electricity. (For each home, 100% renewable power reduces CO2 emissions the same as not driving 20,000 miles in one year.) Call your friends and suggest they also call your local utility.
Daytime, Tuesday Day 2, Dec 4. Invite about five friends or neighbors, to gather on Tuesday evening for a conversation about organizing a neighborhood Solar Co-op. Maybe include your rabbi or leaders of your congregation.
Tues evening Dec 4: Candle 3: Gather with the people you invited. Click again to https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/ for background information, and spend the first hour reading and discussing what’s there. Then spend an hour talking about how to call a larger meeting of 20 to 50 people, with perhaps a speaker or panel. Set a date and each one of you jot down whom you will call.
Daytime Wednesday, Dec 5, Day 3. Start listing whom you want to call for the larger gathering, and make a few calls to speakers you agreed on.
Weds eve Dec 5, Candle 4: Play dreidl with kids, your partner, and/or close friends. Relax and have fun.
Daytime Thurs, Day 4, Dec. 6. Write a letter to your own State Senator and/or Delegate urging them to reduce subsidies for highways, increase them for mass transit. In states (like PA, NY) where high-profit oil/ gas companies are trying to “frack” Oil Shale deposits, demand a moratorium on fracking until we can get full information on what poisonous chemicals are being poured into the water table and our drinking water.
Thursday evening, Dec 6, Candle 5; Except for lighting the candles, time out. Just veg out.
Daytime Friday, Dec 7, Day 5: Write and/or call a few town/city officials asking them to require provision of bike lanes in downtown and major neighborhoods, reducing space for cars; and to require greening of buildings through persuasion of businesses, ordinances, tax policy, and executive orders. Creating change is often easier on the local level!
Fri eve Dec. 7, Candle 6, Shabbat: Invite friends to light the Hanukah candles and then the Shabbat candles together, and then have a relaxed Shabbat dinner. After dinner, read and discuss the Zechariah Haftarah for Shabbat Hanukkah. Add the extra verses till verse 12. What does this mean to you? (There are no “wrong” answers.)
Daytime Shabbat Saturday Dec 8, Day 6: If at all possible, choose today or name one day every week for the next seven weeks to not use your car at all. Even if not driving at all seems impossible, on each day, lessen driving: use public transit, bike, walk. Cluster errands. Carpool. Don’t idle engine beyond 20 seconds. Drive at maximum 55 mph.
Sat eve Dec 8, Candle 7. Maybe watch the film “Avatar” on video. What thoughts does it stir?
Daytime Sunday, Dec. 9, Day 7: Write to urge your Congressmember and Senators to demand EPA regulate CO2 emissions from coal-burning plants, autos, oil refineries, etc. — for the sake of our planet’s climate, to prevent economic & ecological disaster, and to lessen asthma outbreaks among our children and the spread of "tropical" diseases for everyone.
Sunday evening, Dec. 9, Candle 8. Invite friends for a relaxed evening of dreidl games, story-telling about moments of inspiration in connection with nature, etc.
Daytime Monday, Dec 10, Day 8. Write a letter to The Shalom Center at Hanukkah@theshalomcenter.org to tell us how you feel about the eight days, how you feel now about working on the climate issue, etc. If you feel moved by your experience, please include The Shalom Center in your Hanukkah gifts by clicking on the maroon “Contribute” line in the left margin. Thanks!
Happy Hanukkah for Planet Earth —- and you!
Blessings of light in a month of dark, hopeful action in a time of doubt. — Arthur