By Leonard COUTIN
On Sunday, families and friends of Glendale’s Temple Sinai congregation, numbering over 150 strong, attended a dedication ceremony to honor the completion of solar panels that were installed in December and January by the Moore Solar Company. The event hosted representatives from the office of Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Senator Carol Liu, Mike Antonovich and Senator Barbara Boxer. Jason Moss, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the San Gabriel and Pomona Valley, and Rabbi Linda Bertenthal, Congressional representative of the Union for Reform Judaism, were also there to join the celebration.
The program started with the song, “Or Zarua” led by Cantor Steve Hummel.
Rabbi Richard Schechter welcomed the audience to the historic occasion. Jan Freed, the member with a vision that brought solar to Temple Sinai, was first to be thanked.
“His vision, his commitment and his hard work is bringing this vision to life,” said the Rabbi who also praised the members of the congregation, the children who donated their weekly tzedakah money, the parents and families that had already contributed to the solar fund, and to Moore Solar and the committee that made the event happen.
Schechter addressed the need for solar. “[This is] true environment sustainability,” he said. “This act will help reduce our energy consumption and lower our carbon omissions. Judaism and Temple Sinai are committed to this primary value of ‘tikkun olamo,’ repairing and improving our world.”
He added a quote from Margaret Mead that further illustrated the power of the Temple Sinai congregation: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens could change the world.”
The 125 solar panels is a 30 KW DC photovoltaic system that will help to defer growing energy costs for the next 30 to 40 years and provide the temple with a stable energy cost that will add to their savings. It is expected to fulfill between 31% to 34% of the electric needs of Temple Sinai of Glendale (TSG). The annual production is about 40,000-45,000 KWh. Last year TSG used approximately 104,320 KWh of electricity.
Freed first considered approaching TSG with the idea of solar panels when he had them installed in his Eagle Rock home.
“To me it was obvious. As almost all experts say, life on Earth (all life) is in deep and serious danger from carbon emissions,” Freed explained. “Instead of just hoping they are wrong we ought to, and can, do something about it. The fact that we would also save a great deal of money doing this made it a no-brainer. So I took the initiative to present some proposals.
“I discovered a great deal of support from fellow members at Temple Sinai of Glendale. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.”
Temple Executive Vice President Eddy Polon commented, “Temple Sinai is the third temple in Southern California to go solar. We are also the third house of worship [to go solar] in the area. When Jan Freed first proposed the solar installation, the temple leadership was very skeptical. It seemed too expensive. We didn’t think we could raise the money. We were not sure of the science. We were concerned about unintended side effects, such as a leaky roof. When we finally made the decision go forward, we took a big risk. We agreed to move forward before we had raised the money. But we were all so enthusiastic. And that enthusiasm has been echoed by most of our congregation, 117 families and counting.”
The solar panels are estimated to save $200,000 not reflecting a rate increase, $500,000 at a 3% rate increase and $900,000 at a 7% rate increase. Aside from the rate saving, there is very little maintenance required and the solar panels help to extend the life of the roof by keeping the roof cooler and decreasing the air conditioning load.