The traditional Hanukkah celebrations at Temple Sinai in Glendale are going to get even brighter this year.
Folded into this week’s festival of lights is a fledgling effort to raise money for 120 or so solar panels to affix to the temple’s roof.
Rabbi Rick Schechter sees the effort as a modern twist on the Maccabees tale. In the teachings of the Talmud, the Maccabees returned to the Temple in Jerusalem after the Greek occupation of the holy land. They found enough oil in the Temple to light just one menorah, yet it burned for eight days.
“We’re going to take our oil … in the form of solar panels on the roof,” Rabbi Schechter said.
It’s no surprise Temple Sinai would adopt a forward-thinking technology to help defer energy costs and reduce its environmental impact. The idea began with former Sunday school teacher Jan Freed, who installed solar energy for his own home and thought it might help at the temple.
Members of the congregation say its willingness to try new ideas keeps Temple Sinai a special place for its families.
One of those families includes Burbank resident Harold Singer, whose parents helped found Temple Sinai more than 80 years ago. The congregation began in a rented room above Ralph’s grocery store on Broadway in Glendale.
“There were very few Jewish families in Burbank, and they wanted their children to have some sort of Jewish education,” Singer recalled.
Glendale’s Leonard Coutin has belonged to the synagogue since he was born. He recalled the temple having one of the first female rabbis as a head of a congregation in California, and has seen how women have adopted new roles in Reform Judaism.
Earlier this month, he took photos of the kickoff event for the solar panel fundraising campaign and said this is just another example of Temple Sinai’s tradition of growth. But this time, it’s reflected in the miracle of the oil at the Temple.
“Raising money in a bad time … that’s a miracle too,” he said.
Rabbi Schechter said the synagogue hopes to raise $36,000 to lease the panels from Moore Solar, making Temple Sinai one of just three temples in California to make this type of solar energy investment. The figure is symbolic — 18 is the number for chai, or life. By raising $18,000 twice, the synagogue hopes to preserve the life of the planet.
“It’s history-making for the temple,” Rabbi Schechter said.
To contribute to Temple Sinai’s fundraising campaign, send donations to: Temple Sinai c/o Solar Sinai Project, 1212 North Pacific Ave., Glendale, CA 91202.