Hanukkah, the Standing Rock Sioux and Fossil Fuel Independence

Hanukkah, the Standing Rock Sioux and Fossil Fuel Independence

By Rabbi Barry Silver  Published in the Jewish Journal   December 14, 2016


Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish victory for religious freedom over tyranny.  Hanukkah means “dedication” and demonstrates the truth of Margaret Meade’s adage “Never doubt that a small group of dedicated people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”   Many renowned historians have seen the Jewish people as that small group of dedicated people that outlasted physically superior empires that sought to destroy us, who enlightened the world with eternal values of justice, harmony and peace.


The Standing Rock Sioux are modern-day Maccabees, standing rock solid against the most powerful empire on Earth and ready to sue or face water cannons to protect their way of life, and the lives of all living things by leading the fight against global warming.  The Standing Rock Sioux show us what it takes to fight back against the dark forces which will soon control Washington, demonstrating Maccabean zeal in their spiritual struggle.  The word “Dakota” means friend, and they have united in friendship and solidarity with all other tribes and like-minded people throughout the world who share their love for the planet and who are inspired by their courage.


The land of North Dakota is every bit as sacred to the Lakota Sioux as the Temple in Jerusalem is to the Jewish people.  Both peoples fought against the most powerful empire on Earth to try to preserve their way of life and protect their holy sites from desecration by dark souls who could no longer see the sacred.


Originally, Hanukkah was an Independence Day festival, similar to today’s 4th of July, celebrating the independence of the Jewish people from foreign domination and their victory in their fight for religious freedom.  Under Roman rule, it was dangerous to celebrate a Jewish victory over foreign occupation, so Jewish sages resurrected an ancient miracle about oil lasting a long time, and claimed this as the reason for the holiday.


Today, we need a real miracle regarding oil, we need to conserve energy through conservation to stretch our oil supply, quickly develop alternative energy, and drill no new pipelines.  Fortunately, such alternatives are currently in the “pipeline”, and could soon be developed if we adopted a “Manhattan project” for energy independence.


Our nation’s founding fathers stated that America’s revolutionary spirit must be constantly renewed to keep freedom alive.  They fell short of the ideals they professed when they stated that “all men are created equal” but only granted “equality” to white, male property owners and subjected the original inhabitants of this land to genocide.


In the spirit of Jewish heroes from Abraham, the iconoclast, to Moses the liberator, to revolutionary thinkers such as Freud, Einstein and countless others, to Lakota leaders like Sitting Bull, Red Cloud and Crazy Horse, and consistent with the revolutionary fervor that launched this nation and inspires those at Standing Rock, I offer the following:




Declaration of Fossil Fuel Independence


When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one species to dissolve the bonds which have connected it with fossil fuels and to assume among all living things on Earth a more harmonious station, a decent respect for the grandeur of all life requires that we declare the reasons which impel this separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all species are endowed through natural selection over billions of years, with exquisite adaptations that aid their survival and render them integral to the survival of all living things on Earth; and are endowed with certain inalienable rights, including the right to live in a sustainable environment.   That to secure this right, governments derive their just power from stewardship of the planet; that whenever any government ignores this goal, whether through deliberate acts, greed or indifference, it is incumbent upon the people to protest and end the political careers of those responsible and to replace them with leaders who will protect us from ourselves.


Prudence will dictate that destructive policies long established, will not easily be changed due to the corrupting influence of money, power and greed, but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject us to domination by profit driven forces, who seek to destroy life on Earth as we know it, then it is the right and the sacred duty of all people to defy such policies, to throw out such “polluticians” and to replace them with wise and thoughtful leaders.


Such has been the patient suffering of all life on Earth, and such is now the necessity that constrains us to challenge our leaders, oppose the nomination of climate deniers to run the EPA, and to institute new policies to protect our nation, and the future of all life on Earth.  The history of government is a history of assaults upon the planet and crimes against nature, all having the object of the establishment of an absolute tyranny of fossil fuel interests and environmentally destructive corporations over our economy, political institutions and our ecosystems.  To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.


  1. We have allowed science and technology to outstrip our wisdom;
  2. Humans have become the most dangerous species ever to inhabit Earth and now pose unprecedented risk to ourselves and all living things;
  3. We treat mother Earth as a sewer and garbage heap rather than as sacred ground;
  4. We treat other living beings with whom we share the planet as commodities;
  5. Our addiction to fossil fuels have made us “fuelish” and has caused significant, rapid and unnatural climate change which threatens us and posterity;
  6. Our addiction to fossil fuels enriches terrorist regimes that seek our destruction and cripples our economy.


We therefore solemnly declare our goal to use 2020 foresight to seek to be on our way towards fossil fuel independence by the year 2020.   With firm reliance upon our species’ survival instinct, the courage of the Maccabees, the valor of the Standing Rock Sioux, and American ingenuity, we place our sacred trust, guided by the wisdom of indigenous people who teach us, “The Earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the Earth.”