Holiday Programming on One Foot

Summary: Evonne Marzouk, founder and executive director of Canfei Nesharim, uses Hannukah as a key example of how to connect a Jewish holiday to environmentalism.

The holiday of Hanukkah is another opportunity to reflect upon Jewish wisdom as it relates to our natural resources, energy in particular. Hanukkah revolves in large part around a miracle related to olive oil. In biblical and Talmudic times, olive oil — used for light, heat, fuel and food — was a very important renewable resource for energy. The limitations on this resource often posed problems in ancient times, just as modern limits on availability of energy resources pose a problem today.

The traditional Jewish relationship to olive oil can teach us much about how we can relate to energy. For example, it’s interesting to reflect that the reason Hanukkah lasts eight days was because that was how long it took to create a pure batch of renewable olive oil. One of the miracles of Hanukkah — the energy that lasted longer than expected — can remind us of the need to conserve our own energy resources.

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Evonne Marzouk is the founder and executive director of Canfei Nesharim. She has spoken worldwide on the Torah-environment connection, and also leads Maayan Olam, a Torah-environment committee serving three synagogues in Silver Spring, Md. Marzouk also works for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where she has served on its policy coordination team for the U.N.’s World Summit on Sustainable Development. She previously worked as a legislative assistant for the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life and she also has served on the executive board of Shomrei Adamah. A co-founder of, Marzouk was selected as one of The Jewish Week’s “36 under 36” young Jewish leaders.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL's Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology's Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy.The guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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