Our Voices: 8 nights of Hanukkah & Climate Change

Our friends at Our Voices (and the #LightForLima campaign) have partnered with Shomrei Breishit: Rabbi and Cantors For the Earth to create and share 8 videos of rabbis and cantors who have created special prayers or kavannot (meditations) for lighting the candles for Hanukkah, connecting the holiday with our need to act on climate change.

1st night: Rabbi Lawrence Troster (coordinator of Shomrei Breishit) and Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster (Program Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights) of Teaneck, New Jersey introduce the videos and talk about the connections between Hanukkah, climate change and environmental justice.

Whether or not you are Jewish, give the videos a listen.  If you are not Jewish, you will find various pieces that activate echoes in prayer, practice, and scripture of your own traditions.  If you are, it will bring a new lens to familiar practices, prayers, and songs.

The encouragement in the 7th night (from Pittsburgh!) to lift our own small lights and lean toward the light in those around us (together joining our sparks into something far more powerful and bright than we could ever create alone) will be evocative for people of all faiths. It is certainly a much-needed encouragement for all engaged in working for climate justice.

2nd night: Rabbi Jill Hammer (Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion, who specializes in ancient and contemporary midrash) New York, New York does a meditation on the Temple as a symbol for the world and how we must purify and rededicate the Temple of the Earth.

3rd night: Rabbi Katy Allen (founder and spiritual leader of Ma’yan Tikvah, staff chaplain at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and co-convener of the new Boston-area Jewish Climate Action Network) of Boston, Massachusetts talks about how Hanukkah inspires us to increase holiness and light in the world by committing to personal actions to reduce our carbon footprint.

4th night: Rabbi Robin Damsky (Rabbi of West Suburban Temple Har Zion) of River Forest, Illinois, talks about the link between Hanukkah, Shabbat and personal action to prevent climate change.

5th night: Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Bethesda, Maryland, lights the 5th candle with his Hebrew school students and connects the miracle of Hanukkah to sustainable energy.  Rabbi Fred is Rabbi of Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Chair of the national board of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and Immediate Past Chair of Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light.  See photos and learn about Adat Shalom’s food gardening and energy efficiency on the 2014.5 PA IPL Bike Blog post, or hear him talk some more about faith and climate change in the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly episode featuring the 2013 PA IPL cyclists.

6th night: Cantor Jack Chomsky (Cantor of Congregation Tifereth Israel, and President of B.R.E.A.D. [Building Responsibility, Equality And Dignity], a local community action organization) of Columbus, Ohio, talks about personal and communal responsibility for energy and then lights the 6th candle with members of his congregation.

7th night: Rabbi Amy Levin of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania connects the theme of light dispelling the darkness taken from a Hanukkah song to how each of us can be a light in sustaining the earth.

8th night: Rabbi Yonatan Neril (Founder and Director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development) of Jerusalem, Israel talks about the connections between the story of Jacob, Hanukkah and the need for action on climate change.