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Festival of (low-watt) light

How to save the Earth one bulb at a time

The Brooklyn Paper

How many Jews does it take to screw in a light bulb? OK, hold your hate mail. That ain’t my joke. It’s the actual name of a campaign being waged by Reform Jewish congregations nationwide to save this planet one lightbulb at a time.

“We’ve replaced more than 300 regular lightbulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs in the sanctuary alone,” said John Golomb, administrator of the Union Temple at Grand Army Plaza.

The temple is selling its congregants 25-watt fluorescent bulbs — the equivalent of 100-watt regular bulbs — for just $2.56 a piece (which even beats the Park Slope Food Co-op!).

“They last eight times longer than conventional bulbs — which is perfect for Hanukkah, which celebrates how one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days,” Golomb said.

He added that the congregation was motivated by statistics showing that if every American household changed just one bulb to a fluorescent type, the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be the same as taking 1.3 million cars off the road.

But Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman — who screwed in one of the bulbs (by herself!) the other day — said she was answering to a higher authority.

God? No, Gore.

“Al Gore’s movie [the global warming documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”] scared the wits out of a lot of members of our congregation,” she said.

Of course, there is a religious imperative at work, too. Union Temple is Brooklyn’s oldest Jewish congregation and, as such, feels a need to take a leadership role in protecting the environment.

“God, according to our tradition, created the world — and we, essentially, are his partners in creation,” Goodman said.

“That means it’s our job to protect creation.”

You don’t have to be a Devil’s advocate to wonder why man created environmentally unfriendly lightbulbs in the first place.

“Human invention is an ever-evolving dynamic,” said Goodman, cutting Man a little too much slack, if you ask me.

“Now we understand that there are problems with all the energy-sapping technologies we’ve created, so we’re inventing ways to reduce our energy consumption.

“The science is there. We have to fix these problems,” she added. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

Republicans? At Union Temple?

Now that would be a very inconvenient truth.



Gersh Kuntzman is the Editor of The Brooklyn Paper. E-mail Gersh at gkuntzman@cnglocal.com
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