This year, as Hanukkah began, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference of parties in Lima, Peru wrapped up two weeks of international negotiations with guidelines for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation to the present and immanent facts of climate disruption for populations around the globe. The conference in Lima is a precursor to a more formal and final round of negotiations on adapting to and mitigating the causes of climate change in Paris, France over Hanukkah 5776.
By Rabbi Kevin M. Kleinman
Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, and yet it takes place during the darkest time of the year. The Hanukkah story told in the Babylonian Talmud and repeated from generation to generation centers on the great miracle of light. The oil used in the menorah to rededicate the Temple after the Maccabbees’ victory was supposed to last for only one night, but instead it lasted for eight nights. I’ll rephrase it this way: one day’s worth of oil provided eight days of light. Halleluyah! It was a miracle indeed. A miracle of conservation. Who knew that Hanukkah could provide us with a model of sustainability? Move over Tu B’shvat, Hanukkah is joining you on the climate justice train.
Jewish environmental leaders have been using this teaching about Hanukkah for several years to encourage households to switch from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs during Hanukkah. RAC legislative assistant Liya Rechtman wrote about this connection on this blog a few weeks ago. Looking for a last minute holiday gift? How about giving the gift of reducing carbon emissions, in the form of a light bulb?
By Cantor Ross Wolman
In this week’s parashah, Vayeishev, we read the story of Tamar’s struggle in the house of Judah (Genesis 38). Tamar marries Judah’s eldest son and he dies. Through the biblical law of levirate marriage, she is obligated to marry his younger brother so that his name may continue. When that brother dies, Tamar must marry another younger brother but Judah is reluctant to send her to him as two of his sons have died while married to her.
Time passes, Judah’s wife dies, and Tamar takes cunning action. She hears Judah is away from home and she dresses seductively as a prostitute, disguising her identity. Judah lays with Tamar and she becomes pregnant. He gives her his seal and cord (like an ID) as collateral until she receives payment.
It’s easy to talk about global warming when it’s sweltering hot outside and everyone is sweating during the summer, especially in a summer like 2014, which was the hottest ever on record. Once we’re all bundled up in gloves and scarves, drinking hot tea, it’s a little harder to be heard when you’re talking about how global temperatures and rising quickly and dangerously. Just because it’s seasonally colder out doesn’t mean that climate change is less of a global disaster.
By Paul Kaufman
And God said, “Let Us make man in Our image…and let them have dominion…over all the earth….” With these words in Genesis 1:27-28, God assigns to humankind the responsibility for caring for the planet. Genesis 2:15 also emphasizes our responsibility to protect the integrity of the environment so that its diverse species, including humans, can thrive: “The human being was placed in the Garden of Eden to till it and to tend it.” Similarly, Jewish tradition teaches us that human dominion over nature does not include a license to abuse the environment.
This week, talks have begun between global leaders and civil society in Lima, Peru on what an international commitment to mitigating the harmful effects of climate disruption and reducing our worldwide greenhouse gas emission footprint could look like. In the past month, President Obama has made several historical moves as a global leader on climate change.
Green Kislev and Hanukkah Challenge to Use CFL Light Bulbs
Welcome to December and the Jewish month of Kislev! Hanukkah, the Festival of Light, is just around the corner and as the days shorten towards the winter equinox later this month, it seems fitting to focus on how we light our houses for this month’s Green Challenge.
On Saturday, President Obama announced that the United States would contribute $3 billion towards the international Green Climate Fund, intended to help poorer nations address the devastating effects of climate disruption. The pledge, made in advance of the 2014 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru next month, places the U.S. as a leader in the global move towards mitigation of climate change and concurrent adaptation.