Being Maccabees: A Clean Air Story Of Hanukkah

BY ON December 20, 2011

Molly RauchWe’ve got our menorah out, our dreidels ready, and little bags of foil covered chocolate coins. My daughter has been practicing her Hanukkah songs on the piano, and we are wrapping little presents. We’ve had several rounds of potato latkes already, and Hanukkah has only just started. It’s a fun, warm, bright time of year.

There’s a story behind all this celebration. I think of it as a clean air story.

Hanukkah tells the story of a small amount of oil that miraculously lasted eight nights. How did the Maccabees do it? They had oil for one night, but it lasted for eight. The story goes that it was a miracle. But what if that miracle worked through the careful planning, brilliant designs, and righteous priorities of the Maccabees? What if they made the oil last through their own hands? Through measures like energy efficiency, novel oil-lamp design, and grassroots organizing?

As 2011 draws to a close, a year that brought unprecedented attacks on the Clean Air Act from the halls of Congress, these eight nights of Hanukkah represent the potential of a committed group of people to create that miracle of the oil. We can, ourselves, make the oil last eight nights, and beyond.

With every drop of oil saved, there’s that much less pollution going into the air. Less mercury in our breast milk. Less ozone to trigger asthma attacks. Less arsenic and lead falling on our soil. Less carbon dioxide heating our atmosphere.

Let’s all be Maccabees this year.

To match the eight nights of Hanukkah, here are eight ways we can make the oil last.

  1. Turn off the lights when we’re not using them.
  2. Replace incandescent bulbs with energy efficient bulbs, where possible.
  3. Drive less by taking the bus sometimes, walking sometimes, and carpooling sometimes.
  4. Turn down the thermostat in the winter, and turn in up in the summer.
  5. Turn off the computer, turn off the power strip, and unplug appliances when not in use.
  6. Contact elected representatives at the local and national level to let them know that reducing fossil fuel pollution and consumption is a crucial public health measure.
  7. Speak out in your community for the importance of clean air, alternative energy, and pollution controls.
  8. Join with Moms Clean Air Force in this important fight for clean air.

TOPICS: Asthma, Mercury Poisoning, Pollution