My Journey into Hanukkah, Our Invitation into Covenant
The Shalom Center needs your help. The tradition of Hanukkah gelt—gifts of money—is a form of tzedakah. (The word comes from tzedek, justice, and today includes funding work for eco-social justice.) Your gift will sustain our work of helping to heal Mother Earth.
Your (tax-deductible) gift will also grant you membership in the Green Menorah Covenant. We’ll send you a Green Menorah certificate inscribed with your name to hang in your home or workplace, to inspire others to join you in this healing for our children and their children.
Why is the Green Menorah so important to me? Let me tell you a story.
Fourteen years ago—two Sabbatical Year cycles ago!—in the fall of 2001, I was sitting in our back yard, enjoying a tree bursting into leafy flame.
I was thinking about how we breathe in what those trees breathe out, and they breathe in what we breathe out. And also how the over-burning of coal and oil have thrown that whole sacred relationship—indeed, our whole planet—into danger.
I was searching for language to address that danger: “Global scorching,” I thought, because “warming” seemed much too pleasant. But was there Jewish language? I thought about Jewish festivals, their roots in the Earth, and their power as frameworks for social action.
By 2001 The Shalom Center had made Tu B’Shvat a day to protect 2,000-year-old redwoods from being logged. Had made Sukkot a time to protect the Hudson River from cancer-causing chemicals dumped into it by General Electric.
So wistfully I muttered, “I wish there were a Jewish holiday about conserving oil!”
And clear as a Voice I heard the flaming trees, so filled with light, speak back to me: “There is! It’s Hanukkah! The legend -- one day’s Temple oil
met eight days’ Temple needs --- teaches us: Conserving energy is a sacred act!”
And the Torah patterned the Temple Menorah itself as a flaming Tree of Light: branches, buds, flowers. A Green Menorah. So The Shalom Center began to work with Hanukkah as an entryway into the fuller earthy meaning of the Festival of Light.
Today, we can conserve energy by taking on a simple task in our homes, workplaces, offices, synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, Federation buildings. Is the electricity that lights your home or building coming from coal–fired plants? Burning that coal brings on global scorching and causes asthma in the low-income neighborhoods where most coal plants are located.
In many cities, you can already switch to wind-based or solar-based power. What about your community? Call your electric power company on the first day of Hanukkah—Monday, December 7—and ask. Put it in your calendar now.
OR—harder, but even better—you can work on getting your synagogue or any other group you’re part of to organize an energy-conservation/solar-energy coop in your neighborhood.
AND—Rabbis can give a Shabbat Hanukkah sermon (December 11-12) on the Green Menorah Covenant, and congregants can ask them to. They could publicly urge that by next Sabbatical/ Shmita year (Fall 2021-2022), the U.S. reduces oil use by 7/8: “One day’s oil for eight days’ needs.”
If you support our work by becoming a member of the Green Menorah Covenant,we can help you take these healing actions.
And that brings us back to Hanukkah gelt.
We can’t afford to keep generating meaningful actions that make real change and emailing you inspiring information without your gifts to pay the bills. It’s that simple.
This Hanukkah, we celebrate great breakthroughs into healing Mother Earth.
We need more such breakthroughs. They will depend on a growing movement—including religious communities, as we were in the struggle for civil rights fifty years ago. The first step is for you to join the Green Menorah Covenant.
To join, please click on the "Donate" button in the left-hand margin of this page, to send us your gift of Hanukkah gelt.
Blessings from us to you of Shalom, Salaam, Peace;
Light and Earth Renewed—
Arlene Goldbard, President
Rabbi Arthur Waskow