WEST CHESTER (February 4, 2019) – State Senator Andy Dinniman recently joined members of Kesher Israel Congregation in West Chester to mark the ceremonial lighting of the solar-powered Ner Tamid.
As part of an ongoing effort to “green” the synagogue and utilize clean energy sources, Kesher Israel members themselves recently took the initiative to install a solar photovoltaic system to power their Ner Tamid – the eternal light that burns perpetually in synagogues before the ark of the Law.
Dinniman, who is a member of the congregation and also serves on the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, said the ceremony was one of the most amazing he has ever attended.
“The eternal light connects all of the generations together and is a faith tradition that we see represented in other religions, including Catholicism,” Dinniman said. “God created the Earth and we have a responsibility to work to ensure that this creation – our home – is safe, clean and sustainable.”
Rabbi Lawrence Troster of Kesher Israel, a nationally-recognized leader in the green faith movement, said the move to solar represented both symbolic and deeply spiritual connections to the congregation’s commitment to protecting the Earth and all of God’s creation.
“This Ner Tamid is one of the basic features of what makes a room a synagogue sanctuary. It represents the constant presence of God. And the sun, in Biblical terms, represents the power and the sustainability of God’s love,” Troster said. “This is also a way for us to say we are committed to this idea. You can see the solar panels when you drive in and I hope one day our roof will be covered with solar panels and we’ll get most of our electrical energy through solar.”
The lighting of the solar Ner Tamid marked the launch of Kesher Israel’s new Green Synagogue Initiative, which, going forward will include the congregation’s utilization of power saving and generation technologies, waste reduction and management, the removal of toxic cleaners, grounds management, and other more environmentally friendly facility improvements.
Troster noted that the religious community across all faith traditions can make in important and contribution to both protecting the environment and spreading the message of the importance of environmental sustainability.
“The goal is not only to green our congregations, but also to have our them be beacons of sustainability that will transform their congregants and have an influence beyond that,” Troster said. “As a result, many people of faith are advocates for sustainability – that we do not see as a partisan issue. This is one area that we can all agree and that unites members of all faiths.”
Dinniman highlighted that Article 1, Section 27 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states, states, “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania’s public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come.”
He said that Kesher Israel is showing that people of faith can be a catalyst for change in protecting the natural world.