By David Krantz, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
More than any other Jewish holiday, Hanukah is about energy and light. The candles are a light for us, but how often do we ask ourselves how can we be a light for others? And how can we, as a Jewish people, fulfill Isaiah’s prediction and Herzl’s and Ben-Gurion’s vision for us to serve as a light unto the nations?
This final night of Hanukah, as the world’s climate-change negotiators finish meeting in Paris, the City of Light, we will light candles for our Festival of Light while thinking about what we accomplished this year to help Israel serve as a light unto the nations. Aytzim’s Green Zionist Alliance slate to the World Zionist Congress proposed and passed a new law that bans fossil-fuel extraction on all land under the jurisdiction of Israel’s WZO government. Can you imagine what would happen if all other nations followed this light? What if the twenty first Conference of Parties climate-change summit resulted in all nations agreeing to phase out fossil-fuel extraction? We’d have a carbon-free future faster than anyone would think possible. After all, we can’t burn fossil fuels if we don’t dig them out of the ground first.
Following Aytzim’s lead and banning fossil-fuel extraction around the world would take a miracle, of course, but Hanukah is also about miracles, as well as about the righteous few overcoming the far-more-powerful. Indeed, Hanukah itself can serve as a light to the environmental movement, a reminder of the success that can happen when a small but dedicated band of activists take on a much bigger foe. People fighting for environmental justice — for clean air, clean water, and clean land for all people and other animals — can be more powerful than all those who merely fight for fiscal profit from dirty and deadly fossil fuels.
So, this final night of Hanukah, think about what it would mean to serve as a modern climate Maccabee: What do you plan to do to help our people serve as a light unto the nations? And remember, you don’t need to do it alone. You can join Jewish-environmental organizations such as COEJL or Aytzim and together we can help light the way to a sustainable future.