Starting tomorrow at Sunset, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins. Holidays are a time to spend with family and reflect, as well as for religious teachings. They are also a perfect time for education and information about environmentalism. The Festival of Lights is a wonderful time to promote the Green lifestyle and there are many easy ways to do so. Last year, the Daily Green posted a great piece on the reasons Hanukkah is Green. They spoke with Rabbis Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center and he explained the three levels of wisdom in Hanukkah’s teachings that are relevant to the Green movement:
- *The Talmud’s legend about using one day’s oil to meet eight days’ needs: a reminder to conserve resources.
- *The vision of the prophet Zechariah (read on Hanukkah), in which the Temple Menorah is viewed as a living being, flanked by two olive trees feeding oil into it, and uniting the worlds of nature and humanity.
- *The memory that a community of “the powerless” can overcome a great empire. ‘Now we face great oil and coal empires, and if people feel helpless they should be inspired,’ says Waskow.
Hanukkah and other holidays like it are wonderful teaching tools to spread the important message of the holidays. We have some easy suggestions on how to green your Hanukkah this year!
1) Decorations: Although traditionally Hanukkah is blue, it is easy to decorate for the holiday using Green! Heck, they even make sustainable wood dreidels! On top of sustainable dreidels, you can also find organic and fair trade flowers. In fact, Organic Style, an online store of organic and eco-friendly flowers and gifts, even has an organic blue-themed Hanukkah bouquet!
2) Recycled Menorahs: There seems to be a whole host of recycle Hanukkah themed items this year, but the plethora of recycled menorahs takes the cake! Online many repurposed and recycled menorahs can be found including some made out of recycled white oak, recycled glass, recycled LED lighting, and even bicycle chain. Even though all these materials are fascinating, the one we find most interesting is made out of pipe stock. Surprisingly, it is as pleasing to the eye as it is pleasing to the Earth.
3) Organic Candles: Since you are going for an eco-friendly menorah, make sure you top it off with sustainable candles. There are many companies who make organic candles and you can also purchase soy, tree oil or palm oil candles. These candles are made from renewable sources, unlike conventional candles that are made from a petroleum base.
4) Organic & Vegan Foods: Remember to purchase all organic, fair trade, or local for all your ingredients this year! Sustainable food can have a huge impact. You can also serve vegetarian and vegan dishes rather than traditional items, as meat and dairy production is terrible on the environment. We have a couple of great vegan Hanukkah recipes including vegan latkes and matzo ball soup. Also check out the Jewish Vegetarians of North America’s helpful recipe list.
5) Responsible Gifts: For great green gifts, there are a number of sources and ideas! You can always make gifts out of materials you have around the house. This always makes for a “gift from the heart.” But if you are like most people, you simply do not have the time. There are tons of great eco-friendly gifts out there to find. Check out this great gift guide: 100+ Green Gift Guide and these 100 green websites to shop for gifts. Or for something a little different considering having a tree planted in your loved ones name and help out the Earth! Remember also to purchase or make recycled wrapping paper and gift cards!