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December 04, 2007

When Religions Collide...

In one corner...Global Warming Fetishsizers.

In the other corner...The Traditions of Judaism.

Who will come out ahead? I'm betting on the God that isn't named "Al Gore".

In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.

The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

You know, not only is this absurd. This is patently offensive. And I'm not even Jewish.

There is a reason 8 candles are lit in the Menorah to celebrate Hannakuh (9 if you count the "Shamesh", the candle used to light the others.) When the Jews overthrew the oppressive vestiges of Alexander the Great's Hellinistic Empire (under which the practice of Judaism was outlawed by successive rulers) and rededicated the second temple, God didn't make one day's supply of oil burn for 24 hours. The oil didn't last 4 days. Or 6 days. Or 14 days.

It lasted 8 days.

To attempt to encourage observant Jews to abandon the traditions of their religion to accomodate some New Age Fad is abhorrent. Symbols and traditions are important: they help define a people and a culture. They are a source of strength and of continuity. They are not to be changed whimsically. A people that have historically been subjugated, as the Jews have been, know this inherently.

Fortunately, the cavalry appears to be coming to the rescue:

United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz called the environmentalists "crazy people who are playing with the minds of innocent Jewish people." He said the campaign would only convince people who do not light candles anyway.

"They should encourage people to light one less cigarette instead," Ravitz said.

Rabbi Benny Lau of Jerusalem's Ramban Congregation, who is himself an environmental activist, praised the good intentions of the people behind the campaign. But he said the environmentalists should be trying to reach out to observant Jews instead of running campaigns that turn them away.

"People in the green movement who have an agenda have unfortunately made it anti-religious," Lau said. "This makes religious people think incorrectly that anything environmentalist is against them. The damage ends up being a thousand times the benefit. Tikkun olam [fixing the world] must be done by adding more light and not by adding more darkness."

Emphasis added.

This is exactly correct. It is the replacing of one belief system with another, incrementally. It is as repulsive a notion as any of the numerous accomodations that have been made to soothe the feelinigs of the Religion of the Perpetually Aggrieved. And it should be objected to strenuously.

So, I'm going to do my own little bit this year. I won't be lighting a menorah, as I won't be a part of belittling the tradition to make a political point.

Instead, I'm going to do something that I never do. I'm going to burn the biggest damn Yule Log I can fit into my fireplace.

It may not be a candle on a menorah, but it ought to offset the actions of many of those who choose to laugh in the face of God.

Because when it comes to choosing sides between these two religions, I know what side I'm on.

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posted by Jack M. at 04:54 PM

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