Jews campaign for oil conservation

first_imgRabbi Ron Stern has scanned the parking lot at Stephen S. Wise Temple and seen the same gas-guzzling cars that dominate Los Angeles freeways. He’s turned the ignition of his own SUV and known he was contributing to America’s reliance on foreign oil. But after realizing that America’s driving habits help fill the treasury of Iran, whose president has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, Stern decided to buy a more energy-efficient car and to encourage his congregation to be more “environmentally kosher.” “It is a direct connection between the cars we drive and the money the terrorists have,” he said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: John Jackson greets a Christmas that he wasn’t sure he’d seeStern is the first rabbi to join an energy-conservation campaign launched by the American Jewish Committee’s L.A. office to coincide with Hanukkah, which concludes Saturday at sundown and celebrates the miracle of a vial of oil that lighted the temple menorah for eight days instead of just one. “Can we count on G-d for another miracle – ensuring our oil supply lasts 80 years instead of 10 years?” the AJC asked in a letter to local rabbis. The letter expressed concern that America’s dependence on foreign oil could make the country “susceptible to pressure from oil-producing nations, vulnerable to terrorist attack, and impaired in its ability to remain an independent player on the world stage.” “God makes miracles,” said Nadine Gerson, who co-chairs the organization’s energy independence and national security committee. “But this time we need to make our own miracle.” With a population of 300 million, less than 5 percent of the world, the United States typically accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of global daily oil consumption. About 35 percent of U.S. crude oil is harvested domestically, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. The rest is imported, predominantly from Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria, in that order. The U.S. does not buy oil from Iran, among the most anti-American Middle East countries and a financier of the Hezbollah militia, whose kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers this summer helped spark a 34-day war. But U.S. energy habits benefit the oil-rich nation by driving the global market. “We are financing both sides of the War on Terror,” said AJC spokesman Eli Lipmen, borrowing from Thomas L. Friedman’s oft-quoted New York Times column “No Mullah Left Behind.” Americans are worried about dependence on foreign oil, too. Last year, 92 percent of those polled by Yale University defined the problem as somewhat or very serious. But for Jews, it is a moral imperative, rabbis said. Judaism is heavily accented with the concept of tikkun olam, a Hebrew phrase that means “repairing the world.” “This is not political,” said Rabbi Joshua Levine-Grater, social action chairman of The Board of Rabbis of Southern California. “This is an issue that makes us better Jews, better human beings.” Unlike during the 1970s oil crisis, electricity accounts for only 3 percent of U.S. oil consumption, according to the federal government. Transportation accounts for 68 percent. So coalitions like Set Free America – which includes AJC Executive Director David A. Harris, President Reagan’s national security adviser Robert McFarlane, and Bill Holmberg of the American Council on Renewable Energy – are promoting governmental requirements that new vehicles be designed to run on flexible fuels, including ethanol derived from corn or sugar. Because flexible-fuel vehicles use a blend of gasoline and alcohol, they consume dramatically less oil. Coupled with hybrid technology that partially powers vehicles with electricity, supporters envision a car that would get 500 miles per gallon – of gasoline. Though the cost would be transferred to ethanol fuel and electricity, it would reduce American dependence on oil-rich countries, said Anne Korin, chairwoman of Set Free America. Auto-reliant L.A., a city with 600,000 Jews and an economy spread across 500 square miles, is a fitting place for Jewish leaders to make this push. “The miracle of Hanukkah is that the Maccabees were willing to take on an amazing challenge against unbeatable odds. This little band of Jews were willing to fight back against the Greeks and their supporters. And they did it,” Stern said. “Here is a similar situation: There is an overwhelming dependence on foreign oil; the petros-producing countries have this around our necks. We need to be willing to take it on.” (818) 713-3634160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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