The small hamlet of Woodstock, best known for lending its name to the Woodstock Festival of 1969, now has another mark of distinction: it’s home to the world’s first solar-powered menorah.
Rabbi AB Itkin of Chabad of Ulster County tapped into the growing trend of using renewable energy by designing the solar-powered menorah from spare parts purchased at a local store.
While not suitable to fulfill the mitzvah of menorah lighting which requires fire as the source of light, the idea of this public menorah is to help raise awareness of Chanukah and inspire pride in the Jewish Festival of Lights.
In many communities, electrically illuminated menorahs are thus used symbolically. But Woodstock’s Village Green, where the menorah is displayed annually, does not have electricity so that until now, the community did not enjoy an illuminated public menorah. Now, with this innovation, the menorah will be illuminated all eight nights of Chanukah.
So far, Rabbi Yitzchok Hecht, Director of Chabad of Ulster County, says local Jews expressed enthusiasm about their “Green Menorah.” The area has a Jewish population of about 5000.
“What is more,” he says, “the concept of taking the energy of the sun and using it to bring light into the darkness of night is a beautiful complement to the miracle and story of Chanukah.”