Archive for : Hanukkah

8 Nights of Service: Green Your Hanukkah Celebration

Welcome to Repair the World’s 8 Nights of Service: awesome volunteer projects, donation opportunities and tikkun olam ideas to bring service to the center of your Hanukkah celebration!

This time of year you may be finding it hard to escape emails for last minute sales, an overload of holiday music – be it for Christmas, or by the likes of the Maccabeats (ahem, featuring Mayim Bialik!). You may even have a strange urge to eat lots of lots of oily things and (safely) light some stuff on fire for eight nights by a window. Don’t worry. This is normal: Tonight’s the night to shred those potatoes (watch your fingers…), heat up that oil (careful of the splatters!) and get ready to rock out for Hannukah/Chanukah/The Festival of Lights/That-holiday-with-lots-of-yummy-fried-treats.

The Hannukah story of the Maccabees using oil that lasted way beyond its expected one-day may seem, well, really ancient. But we like to use it to remind us about our everyday dependence on the planet and its everyday gifts to us. So why not  make sure we make the world’s resources last a little longer, too? Incorporate eco-awareness, resource conservation and environmentally-friendly practices into your week of celebration. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Take the Green Menorah pledge: This awesome idea, pioneered by The Shalom Center, encourages you make a pledge each night (while lighting your candles, naturally) to make one aspect of your life greener – and inspire friends, family and your community to do the same!
  • Get sustainable gelt: Skip the waxy, mass-produced stuff and indulge your Hanukkah sweet tooth with fair trade chocolate gelt from Divine Chocolate, or all natural gelt from Lake Champlain Chocolates.
  • Fry with organic oils: Crisp your latkes (yummy fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-donuts) in organically-produced olive and vegetable oils. Hanukkah never tasted so eco-delicious.
  • Give homemade gifts: Avoid shopping. Check out CHOW’s homemade gift ideas, or the ones over at Family Education. (You can even make your own wrapping paper using recycled materials!). Even better, skip gifting altogether and make a donation to an organization you love in someone’s honor.
  • Switch to fluorescent light bulbs. Hanukkah is the festival of lights, after all. So make the switch to fluorescent light bulbs which, according to Energy Star, use about 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last 6 times longer.

Find even more eco-friendly Hanukkah tips and ideas at Hazon’s Healthy, Sustainable Hanukkah Resource list. And let us know how you plan to green your Hanukkah by tweeting @repairtheworld and #8Nights.

This Hanukkah: Bring Light into the Darkness

Whether you spell it Hanukkah or Chanukah – the holiday season is here, which means it’s time to light the menorah, exchange presents and, of course, eat latkes. But beyond landing a gimel on the dreidel and raking in the Hanukkah gelt, this ancient holiday holds a deeper message that’s relevant for today.

Hanukkah, often called the festival of lights, celebrates the story of a small group of people changing the system when everyone else thought it was impossible. During the time of the Hannukah story, ancient Israel was not a particularly friendly place for the Israelites. The Jewish religion was being outlawed, celebrating the sabbath risked the penalty of death, and the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had been defiled. A small group of Jewish warriors known as the Maccabees, rebelled against the Greek-Syrian rule and, against all odds, succeeded in igniting a revolution that drove them out from the land.

This is where the Menorah, the symbol of Hannukah comes in. The final victory for the Maccabees came when they removed the foreign statues from the Holy Temple and rededicated it. (The word ‘hannukah’ itself actually comes from the word ‘to dedicate’) As the story goes, the Maccabees rekindled the lights of the menorah and a miracle occurred because  although they only had enough oil to burn for one day, the light of the menorah burned for eight days.

Flash forward to today: When you light a menorah each night of Hanukkah, you plug into a story that is thousands of years old. And you make a bold statement: you become a light in the darkness, you stand up for a strong and meaningful Jewish community, and you cast your vote with hope and change, even when it seems impossible. In other words, you believe in – and are willing to act for – miracles.

Starting tomorrow, give the gift of Hanukkah miracles through Repair the World’s “Eight Nights of Service.” Keep an eye out for great service and volunteering ideas for each night of the holiday.

This article was contributed by Eitan Press who works as the Social Media and Blog Director for The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development.

Spotlight on: Hanukkah’s Opportunities for Service

Hanukkah, which commemorates the victory of the Jews over the Assyrian Greeks in 165 BCE and is celebrated by lighting a menorah for eight nights, is a relatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar. It has no connections to the agricultural cycle (as do the more important observances of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot), and is not mentioned anywhere in the Torah. Yet despite this, Hanukkah is perhaps one of the most widely known Jewish holidays (its proximity to Christmas doesn’t hurt), and certainly a favorite of children everywhere.

When we’re young, Hanukkah is more of a holiday associated with receiving, not giving – the presents and candles, the gelt (coin money), the deliciously oily food, and the “eight crazy nights,” Adam Sandler famously sang about. But if we look deeper into the origins of the holiday, we can find connections to service that we can apply to our lives.
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