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Sun shines on Temple Sinai

The clergy of Temple Sinai dedicated 125 new solar panels with song and prayer Sunday morning, becoming the third house of worship in Glendale to make the leap toward solar-powered facilities.

“We are all here because of the vision of one man who started us on the path of true environmental sustainability,” began Rabbi Richard Schechter.

That man is Jan Freed, who 18 months ago realized that Temple Sinai was paying an annual $35,000 utility bill, so he suggested the temple install solar panels.

“He came to the board and we looked at him like, ‘You’re insane,’” recalled Eddy Polon, executive vice-president of Temple Sinai.


With membership down, Temple Sinai was facing financial challenges. President Marc Lavender suggested Freed do some research, create a committee, and return to the board with a new pitch.

When Freed discovered the Los Angeles-based Moore Solar company, he hired them to outfit his own Eagle Rock home in panels, and then confidently returned to the board with a handful of temple members who backed his idea.

The board unanimously approved, began a fundraising campaign and hired Moore Solar.

“It was really important for our congregation that we didn’t incur debt doing this; that it’s just about giving back to the community,” Polon said.


At Sunday’s ceremony, Polon announced that 117 individuals and families raised $24,000, with a goal of raising an additional $12,000.

The 240-watt panels would have cost $140,000 if not for state rebates, but after a Glendale Water & Power rebate for $51,000 — made available by a statewide charge on utility bills — the final tab was $89,000.

The panels will last between 25 to 40 years and produce up to 44,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, officials said. Last year, the temple consumed 104,320 kilowatt-hours.

Each month, Temple Sinai estimates it will save $900.

Temple Sinai is the third house of worship in Southern California to equip itself with solar power, officials said.

In Glendale, Holy Family Church was the first to go solar in 2007, according to Hector Gutierrez, a programs coordinator for Glendale Water & Power.

They were followed by Chinese Faith Church in 2009. Later this year, First Evangelical Church will follow Temple Sinai by installing panels on its four buildings.

“In faith-based communities, it is part of our vision to repair the world and not to be a drain on our resources,” Polon said. “It’s surprising to us that so few congregations have done this.”