Hanukkah for Humanity: 1 Day’s Oil for 8 Days’ Need

Hanukkah for Humanity: 1 Day's Oil for 8 Days' Need

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow | 11/17/2009

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Hanukkah: Festival of light in a dark time, action in times of despair. Rededication, reconsecration, in times of desecration and disaster. The Green Menorah: A living, growing Tree Of Light in the ancient Temple, in the sacred temple of the Earth today, and in the hearts of those who join in covenant to heal our climate, the Interbreathing of all life.

Our earth: desecrated. Our governments: fiddling while the planet burns.

What shall we do?

For example: Light Hanukkah menorahs at offices of the Environmental Protection Administration, calling out –-

One day’s oil for eight days’ need:
EPA restrain the Big Polluters’ greed!”

Last week the governments officially said that the US Senate would not pass a climate bill by year’s end, and that the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen would not come up with a new climate treaty, as originally intended
Wait till next year, they said.

Among the many legends of Hanukkah is this: When the just-victorious guerrillas who had defeated a great Empire tried to rededicate the Temple, they found only enough consecrated olive oil to last one day. They lit the Menorah anyway, and – according to the legend – it stayed alight eight days until new oil could be consecrated.

God’s conservation of oil was, according to the ancient rabbis, the miracle we celebrate on Hanukkah. But I think the most important miracle happened on the first day: It began with an act of stubborn affirmation in the face of a hopeless reality. There was only enough olive oil to keep the Menorah alight for one day. Why take the trouble to light it and then see it flicker out? What a bummer that would be!

They did it anyway. Those stubborn guerrillas lit the Menorah anyway. They had no hope – just a stubborn determination to act on the side of life and sacred truth. To reconsecrate, rededicate, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

We have not just one sacred building of one sacred community to reconsecrate, but the whole round earth that Empires and Corporations have been desecrating and despoiling for generations.

According to the legend, God responded when the people acted.

Today, it is clearer than ever that our governments and our corporations will respond only when the people act. What would it mean, in these days of dark that yearn toward light, of determination that goes beyond despair, to act?

Hanukkah is not only the festival of energy conservation; it is when we honor grass-roots action that transformed society despite elephantine top-down power-centers; it is when we celebrate “Not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit, YHWH/ Breath of Life.”

We encourage you to take action – before, during, and after Hanukkah — rooted in Seven Principles that should underlie Jewish and interfaith efforts to shape US and world policy on healing the climate crisis.

Besides the Seven Principles, we propose a policy Yardstick to measure the proposals that come before Congress (and by extension, the other governments assembled in Copenhagen). (Click here to see the Seven Principles and the Yardstick: http://www.theshalomcenter.org/node/1588 )

If the Jewish community undertakes this effort, not only Hanukkah, which means “Dedication,” and originally focused on Rededication of the desecrated Temple in Jerusalem, but our lives as a whole can become a practice of Rededication and Reconsecration of the universal temple of God’s Presence: Earth.

Please read “Seven Principles and a Yardstick”on this page and comment on both essays at the bottom of the “Seven Principles” article:

Shalom, salaam, shantih –- Peace!


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