When Yeshiva University student Mark Stauber would walk down Amsterdam Avenue daily to go to class, his yarmulke would continuously fly off. Although annoying, Mark thought that perhaps this wind tunnel could be put to good use. He turned to his friends Benjamin Recca and Raffi Holzer who put their heads and hands together to create a wind-powered, eco-friendly menorah. Both The New York Times and NBC News took notice of this innovative collaboration which merged religious and environmental values.
MJL:Â How did you come up with the idea to create this wind powered menorah?
Mark Stauber and Raffi Holzer: We are in Washington Heights, and there are all of these wind tunnels.Â We thought–hey we could make something out of this. We thought we should definitely power something with this annoying wind and then we decided on the menorah.
MJL: Whatâ€™s the relationship between sustainability and Judaism?
MS & RH: It goes deeper than that, because we thought of the Maccabees as they had to struggle to keep the oil burning for eight nights, so we saw a connection between the story and our civilization’s race for sustainability. So we wanted to look at the world through this prism of Torah and Mada (science), How can we use what we have been given, the resources we have been given, and make them last for as long as we need them?
MJL: What has been the feedback on the Yeshiva University campus?
MS & RH: Most people walk by and say “what the heck is that?” Students are really surprised that fellow students could create something like this. It’s a lesson for other students–the resources are out there and on our off time we dedicated time to set this up. Suddenly people are asking questions such as “what is a wind turbine?”Â And we are really getting that conversation started.
MJL:Â Do you see the press youâ€™ve gotten as a sanctification of Godâ€™s name (Kiddush Hashem)?
MS & RH: Yes, definitely because we get to do pirsumei nis, publicizing the miracle of Hanukkah and simultaneously, get to spread the idea of sustainable energy.
MJL: So whatâ€™s your next project?
MS & RH: We are actually going to work to create a program at Yeshiva University where undergrads can get together to undertake these type of hands-on projects
Thanks for your time Mark and Raffi! May you have a sustainable and Happy Hanukkah!
Pronounced: KHAH-nuh-kah, also ha-new-KAH, an eight-day festival commemorating the Maccabees’ victory over the Greeks and subsequent rededication of the temple. Falls in the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually corresponds with December.