Celebrating a green Hanukkah

Photo: istockphoto.com/Andrei Tchernov
December 4 marks the first day of Hanukkah 2007. This eight-day Jewish holiday celebrates the miracle of a small jar of oil that lasted for eight days while the Maccabees reclaimed the Temple of Jerusaleum. Green Hanukkah Hanukkah customs include lighting the nine-branched candelabrum (one candle per evening and the ninth candle known as the shamash), spinning the dreidel, gift giving and eating special food like potato latkes. This year a number of Jewish communities are incorporating green into their Hanukkah celebrations with enviro-friendly products and using the lighting of the menorah as a reminder to conserve resources. Changing the light In the U.S. a national climate change campaign, A Light Among the Nations (subtitled How Many Jews Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb?) launched in 2006 by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) encourages each household to change one light bulb each night of Hanukkah, switching from regular incandescent and halogen light bulbs to energy-efficient, cost-effective compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Reflect on our resources Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Jeff Sultar of the Philadelphia-based Shalom Center have started also the Green Menorah campaign. "We invite people to light their menorah each evening and dedicate yourself to making the changes in your life that will allow our limited sources of energy to last for as long as they're needed, and with minimal impact on our climate," said Rabbi Waskow. The green menorah Start off your Hanukkah celebrations with a enviro-friendly menorah made from recycled glass from Vertige, fashioned by the Quebec designer Jacques Rivard. Those with a predilection towards industrial art will enjoy the hand assembled 'Man-orah' created from left over steel pipe stock by designer Alyssa Zukas. The Femenorah version is adorned with genuine Swarovski crystals and is available at Not Schlock Big Cartel. Hanukkah candles Celebrate the Festival of Lights with hand dipped beeswax candles that are slow burning, odorless, dripless and smoke free. Fair Trade Online and the the Jewish Museum both sell these special candles. Oh Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I made it out of...sustainable wood! Play with your earth-friendly dreidel from 3r Living or visit Chanukah on the Net for a printable pattern to make your custom dreidel. Fair trade gelt Get some some fair trade chocolate gelt from Divine Chocolate, a member of the Fair Trade Federation. Each bag of these seasonal milk chocolate coins has 22 pieces. One side reads "Ghana Freedom and Justice" and the other side reads "Fair Deal for Cocoa Growers". Profits go to the cocoa farmers. Final thought "Chanukah taught the world that a small group of people could fight the overwhelming power of the Hellenistic empire, and triumph. This year, we need to get back to those messages of hope," said Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine (who also runs "holiday stress" groups as part of the Network of Spiritual Progressives). Lee Schnaiberg is the principal Subject Matter Expert for Green Living Enterprises who never enjoyed getting socks for Hanukkah.