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What does Hanukkah have to do with global warming?

maccabee.jpgAs the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah begins this Friday, let’s explore the environmental themes of this holiday and its message for today. The story of Judah Maccabee (190-160 BC) and how his small band of warriors overcame far more numerous forces to liberate Jerusalem has been an inspiration for 2,000 years. The miracle of the one-day supply of oil lasting for eight days and nights is the basis for lighting the Hanukkah menorah. It represents an early example of energy conservation with relevance to our current environmental challenges.

Getting more out less oil and other energy sources will be essential to addressing global warming. It’s why so many TerraPass members write us with accounts of their own personal progress in conserving energy.

A new initiative sponsored by the Coalition on the Environmental Jewish Life (COEJL) is helping Jewish institutions, particularly synagogues, conserve energy by switching to compact fluorescent lighting. Already, COEJL’s campaign has sold 20,000 CFL bulbs, which over their lifetime, will prevent 8,250 tons of C02 from entering the atmosphere.

You can do your part by installing CFLs in your own home. Many CFLs provide the same amount of light, while lasting six times longer than incandescent bulbs. Here’s a helpful guide for finding the right bulb for any home setting. And if you buy a TerraPass for your home, we’ll send you a versatile CFL in your welcome kit.

So whether you celebrate Hanukkah, or just find the story inspiring, let us be the Maccabees of our time and lead the way to a more energy-efficient, sustainable world.

Update: Salon takes note of this Hanukkah post and takes the symbolism a step further. Not only did the ancient Israelis achieve an 88% reduction in fuel use, they were burning olive oil. That’s right: biofuel.

Further update: A reader sent in a link to a column she wrote with a few more ideas for a green Hanukkah.

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