Shabbat Candles Go Green!
by Richard Gray
Light has always been an important component
of Jewish spirituality, from the weekly
Shabbat candles to the ner tamid (eternal
light) that burns in front of the arks
in our synagogues. In 2008 the Federation
of Jewish Men’s Clubs accepted the mandate of the Leadership Council
of Conservative Judaism to create new vehicles to green our movement. This
effort, named Shomrei Ha’Aretz (Guardians of the Earth), has resulted in the creation
of two generations of soy-based Shabbat candles and a solar ner tamid kit.
Why soy candles? Paraffin wax is a byproduct of the refinement of crude oil
into gasoline. The soy candle helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which
comes largely from the Middle East. In addition, traditional paraffin wax candles
can burn unevenly and are more difficult to light than soy candles. Soy
candles are cleaner-burning and can be engineered to burn for the required two
to four hours on a Shabbat evening.
Rabbi Charles Simon, FJMC’s executive director, oversaw the development
of the original soy candle – the Shabbat Eco-Candle -- along with Richard Gray,
a leader of FJMC’s environmental initiative. The candle was improved in 2010
with a less expensive model with an even smaller environmental footprint. These
newer soy candles have a brighter flame in clear flame-retardant cups and custom-
made glass candlestick adapters. They are shipped in flat rate boxes to minimize
shipping costs and environmental impact.
What does this history mean to you? You can be assured that the added satisfaction
you get from welcoming Shabbat with petroleum-free soy candles that come
from the brightest spirits in the Conservative movement.
For more information, go to www.fjmc.org/soycandle.
Richard Gray is an FJMC vice president and sponsor for the Shomrei Ha’aretz initiative.