There are so many themes that we can explore during the holiday. This year, we encourage our congregation to think about ways to use the holiday to increase environmental, economic, and social justice.
Take time each night to relax and embrace the opportunity observe the light of the candles and the beauty of the menorah. It is a gift to have a full week to be mindful and put our attention to tikkun olam, healing the world.
For the eight days of Hanukkah, make a conscious choice not to use single use plastics for the entire duration of the holiday. The holiday celebrates the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days. This Hanukkah we can adopt the practice of using things more, and throwing things out less.
The oil of Hanukkah is not petroleum! Look for candles that are made of beeswax or soy, you can even use olive oil, just like the Maccabees! Use the week of Hanukkah to begin the process of reducing fossil fuel use in other areas of your life.
Make your holiday meals with food from local farms. Your latkes can be from potatoes and onions that are locally grown. The eggs can also come from local farms or the farmers’ market. Top the latkes with apple sauce that comes from apples from local farms. We have many local choices in our area, so we can use this as an opportunity to think about the food we prepare as a way to support local and sustainable farming and open spaces. Locally produced foods also require less fossil fuel for transport so you are accomplishing two goals in one!
Think about purchasing gifts as another way to be sustainable and local. Make a pledge to only purchase from small, local businesses. Buying local gives our small businesses a boost. Unlike purchasing from Amazon, it keeps the money in our local economy and not in space!
Gifts don’t have to be purchased, and some of the best gifts can be homemade. Baked goods, prepared meals, craft projects, are very meaningful. Some gifts might not be a thing at all, like gifting time spent with one another.
Giving can also be done through donations to local non-profits. Supporting work that you believe in, in the community can be a powerful gift that you share with someone you love.
Don’t be jealous of Christmas trees, adopt a tradition of planting a Hanukkah tree through organizations that are working to protect old growth forests or are doing sustainable reforestation. Support local organizations that are protecting open spaces and forests.