[The Shalom Center has been developing resources for making Hanukkah -- the festival of learning from the Clarity of Light in the midst of the Mystery of Dark and the festival of celebrating the conservation of energy, into a framework for addressing the climate crisis and strengthening joyful communities rooted in the Spirit. These suggestions for the first half of Hanukkah were brought together by Faryn Borella, a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Ira Silverman Memorial Intern for The Shalom Center. See also other articles on Hanukkah on our home page. -- AW, editor]
Day 2 - Switch your utility provider from coal or oil to renewable
In this Mishna, the rabbis set a precedent that polluting industries must not be established within cities, but rather well outside of cities, and not placed in any such way that the pollution produced therein could have negative impact on the inhabitants of the city.
However, in our day and age, not only do we find agents of pollution right within our cities, but even polluting industries located outside of cities to provide the electricity for our cities are having a negative impact, on both urban and rural populations, for the pollution they are producing not only has dire health impact on those directly exposed, but secondary impact on the entire human population, for these polluting industries are largely to blame for global climate collapse. The Shalom Center has been developing resources and suggestions for making Hanukkah, the festival that celebrates conservation of energy and deep learning from the Clarity of Light and the Mystery of Dark, into a framework for addressing the climate crisis.
Therefore, in the spirit of the rabbis of old, we call upon you to cease to support these polluting industries. While electricity is a seeming necessity in our day and age, where it comes from is increasingly a choice. You now have a say in whether your power from the grid is from coal, oil, natural gas, or renewable energy. We are calling upon you to take advantage of this choice and opt into renewables. Sources such as Arcadia Power help you to locate ways to switch to renewable energy without opting out of the main power grid, and they help you to do so at the least financial cost. So on this third day of Hanukkah, we encourage you to research the options in your area, and make the change today.
Day 3: Go 100% LED light bulbs at home & Jewish & other religious or communal gathering-spaces.The third night of Hanukkah this year happens to fall on Christmas Eve, a day in American society where the public sphere takes a Shabbat. Take advantage of this day of familial and communal rest to gather your community for a new form of Hanukkah ritual.
In the Talmud, there was debate as to how we should light the Hanukkah candles. Some said one candle should be lit per household, some said one per person per household. However, Rabbi Hillel said you should light one candle on the first night, and with each night add a candle, for holiness can only increase.
Lighting one candle on the first night indicates a tendency toward resource conservation, and a trust that if we preserve and conserve, God -- the Ruach HaKodesh, Holy InterBreathing that unifies all life -- will provide fuller abundance in the future, but if we use all of our resource at once, far less will be available for our children and our children’s children in the future.
Therefore, we call upon you to enact a new ritual on the first night of Hanukkah. After you light your Hanukkah candles, go room-to-room in your house or Jewish communal home, changing all your bulbs to LED, and as you begin the process with the first bulb, recite the bracha:
Baruch atah YHWH [Yahh, HaShem, Breath of Life] Eloheynu ruach haolam asher kidshanu b’mitzvot vitzivanu lo tash'chit.
Blessed are You, Breathing Spirit of the world, our God, for making us holy with ways of affirming our connections with all life -- among them the connection of consciously refusing to waste and destroy.
When you have finished, affirm this joyful "first" in your life by reciting:
Baruch atah YHWH [Yahh, HaShem, Breath of Life] Eloheynu ruach haolam -- sheh-hechianu v'kimanu v'higianu lazman hazeh!
Blessed are You, Breathing Spirit of the world, our God, Who fills us with life, lifts us up, and carries us to this moment![Read further for additional suggestions on how to draw on Hanukkah traditions to heal Earth and Humanity from the cclimate crisis.]
For God through our ancestors asks of us to not waste the gifts of material resource, but rather honor them, bless them and conserve them. By switching our bulbs to the least wasteful variety, we are following that precedent, honoring our ancestors, and protecting our offspring.
Day 4: Shift your banking from Carbon-supporting Earth-burning national banks to community banks or credit unions to boost local neighborhoods.
“If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, do not act toward them as a creditor; exact no interest from them.” (Exodus 22:25)
According to the Prophet Ezekiel, lending money with the intent to exact interest is one of the greatest abominations of humankind. Yet it has become commonplace in our society, especially exercised by national, corporate banks in order to make a profit. And what do they do with these profits? Invest it in order to make more money. And where does much of this investment go? Into the fossil fuel industry.
According to the Rainforest Action NetworkBanking on Climate Change 2019 Report, national and international banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America are responsible for investing $1.9 trillion in the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Agreement was adopted just a few years ago.
It is time to divest from these banks. No longer let them use your money to reap profit from the very industries destroying our planet! Instead, shift your funds into local credit unions, which operate at-cost rather than for-profit in order to serve the people, not profit off of them. And the World Council of Credit Unions is supporting credit unions around the world in combating climate change, setting up emergency aid funds for climate disaster and switching their operations to be run on entirely green energy.
For this fourth day of Hanukkah, it is time for your money to speak. Divest from banks using your money to scorch the earth and invest in local economies looking out for the local and global community.
Please help The Shalom Center continue bringing you the resources to draw on ancient spiritual wisdom for the healing of Amerca and Earth today. You can do this by clicking on the maroon “Contribute” button just below, to make a Hanukkah/ end-of-the-civil-year (tax-deductible) gift to The Shalom Center. Thanks!
Blessings of Light and Dark, Clarity and Mystery, as we approach this Hanukkah! -- Faryn & Arthur