This blog is written by guest blogger Leah Schuckit, JCRC Fall 2016 Social Justice Intern.
As a young Jewish kid, Hanukkah was my favorite time of the year. I can still remember being in grade school and impatiently waiting for my Hebrew School lessons to turn to the Maccabees and the Temple menorah’s miracle. I remember the way that certain brands of candles smelled once you lit them and the excitement I felt when my family would start singing Hanukkah songs. I remember all of this alongside the more central concepts of Judaism I was taught in my childhood—most notably, the Jewish focus on making the world a better place for future generations.
Hanukkah, while it may be a minor Jewish holiday to some, is an especially significant event every year for many Jewish children. Incorporating eco-friendly practices into your family’s Hanukkah rituals not only contributes to healing our Earth but also instills the importance of being environmentally-conscious in the next generation of Jewish children.
Here are a few ways to incorporate environmentalism into your upcoming Hanukkah festivities:
- Buy Local for your Latkes
o Shrink your carbon footprint by getting potatoes and onions from local markets that operate winter hours like City Greens Market, Soulard Farmers Market, or Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. Large-scale, non-local food companies often use harmful agricultural processes to boost profits through increased production of pesticide-ridden, chemically-altered foods. Talk to your children about the value of buying local: you help to heal the earth while supporting local businesses.
- Make the Most of your Menorah
o Candle lighting is a staple of Hanukkah festivities, but you can reduce the harm it causes while still maintaining its magical effect. Look into buying candles made from natural beeswax or vegetable oil. If you have more than one child, consider only lighting one menorah and have your children take turns lighting the candles. It is custom to leave your menorah in the window for the public to see, so turn off some or all of your lights to better appreciate the menorah’s magic.
- Do-It-Yourself Recycled Hanukkah Decorations
o In the time leading up to Hanukkah, save up scraps of materials you might otherwise throw away. Have a craft day with your children to make recycled and recyclable decorations for your home. Consider helping your children to make their own wrapping paper with scraps of paper left behind from other projects.