July 10, 2008
A Chabad rabbi in Reno, Nevada, has a suggestion for beating the high price of gas: Observe Shabbat, when tradition says no to driving motor vehicles once a week.
“Imagine the effect this would have by cutting down gas consumption by 14 percent,” Rabbi Mendel Cunin told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “This could be the start of a solution to the gas problem and a betterment to American family life.”
Cunin’s plan is not the only way conservation and energy awareness jibe with a Jewish agenda. The gas crisis has awakened the country to the need to ease our dependence on Mideast oil, whose profits help finance terrorism and the never-ending war on Israel. It has jump-started efforts to find cleaner alternative fuels, and to boost fuel efficiency standards, both of which contribute to a more responsible stewardship of the earth. The energy crisis is also encouraging people to make lifestyle changes that foster community and check the materialism that marked the era of the gas-guzzler and the McMansion.
This isn’t to understate the real pain being felt by strapped commuters and businesses. But the gas crunch is an opportunity to reshape public policy and individual behavior, and reclaim an opportunity that was squandered after the last energy crisis.
Rethinking our energy policies must be one of our nation’s highest priorities, and must be on the Jewish agenda come election day. We must demand of the candidates that they present policies that address the obvious link between energy and the classic “Jewish issues.”
As Rabbi Cunin suggests, they are really one and the same.