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Woodstock Jews mark Hanukkah with solar-powered menorah

solar-powered menorah in woodstock, new york

No winter holiday lends itself to environmental discussions quite as well as Hanukkah: getting eight days’ use out of one day of oil (the miracle on which the celebration is based) inevitably leads to discussions of efficiency and conservation. Numerous Jewish organizations have recognized this connection, and organized a variety of “green Hanukkah” celebrations in recent years involving everything from CFLs to recycled menorahs.

Last night in Woodstock, NY (yes, that Woodstock), members of the local Jewish congregation witnessed yet another green take on the festival of lights: a solar-powered menorah. Though the Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters News notes that Rabbi AB Itkin’s DIY project isn’t “suitable to fulfill the mitzvah of menorah lighting which requires fire as the source of light,” the candleabrum allows for a public recognition of the holiday that hasn’t been possible before: the village green where it stands has no electricity. This doesn’t mean that the solar-powered menorah’s value is purely symbolic, though: another local rabbi Yitzchok Hecht notes that  “the concept of taking the energy of the sun and using it to bring light into the darkness of night is a beautiful complement to the miracle and story of [Hanukkah].”

It strikes me that there’s also a bit of “can-do” spirit in the holiday (along with divine help, of course), and that the Woodstock menorah also sums up this quality nicely. Know of other communities adding their own green touches to Hanukkah (or Christmas, or even Kwanzaa) celebrations? Let us know about them.

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Image credit: lubavitch.com