A Chevy, a BMW, a Toyota, and a new sports car called the Tesla stood side by side in front of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston on March 20 as signs that Americans can relieve their dependency on Arab oil.
All of the cars are powered — at least partially — by rechargeable batteries that can be plugged into household electric current, much like cellphones.
“We are moving in that direction,” said Douglas Stansfield of Wantagh, NY, who founded the Electric Auto Association of New Jersey in 2008 and traveled 54 miles to the synagogue in a Toyota plug-in hybrid.
“I drove the first 15 miles on electric power, then automatically switched over to gasoline. The beauty of this is I am getting 87 miles per gallon,” he told NJ Jewish News as he stood in the parking lot.
The show and tell by Stansfield and other electric car enthusiasts was part of an evening devoted to the subject cosponsored by the American Jewish Committee, the synagogue, and a host of other organizations.
At the meeting that followed, AJC members and guests viewed Revenge of the Electric Car, a documentary about the technology.
AJC has been promoting electric cars as a Jewish communal issue in recent years.
“From a political perspective, we believe that America needs to wean itself from Middle Eastern oil,” AJC’s Metro NJ region president, Louis “Buzz” Warren, told the audience. “Too often the dollars we spend at the pump bankroll nations that seek to harm us.”
And, he added, “it is a deeply rooted Jewish idea that we are all partners in creation, and we are therefore responsible for sustaining the natural gifts that surround us.”
The event included a number of electric car and alternative energy advocates, including Chuck Feinberg of Rockaway, president of New Jersey Clean Cities.
“We support anything that reduces petroleum,” said Feinberg, whose organization promotes alternative energy in the transportation sector.
Feinberg called owning an electric car “the right thing to do. It is not a Jewish thing, in my opinion; it is an American thing, because there are American solutions to these problems and we should be taking advantage of them.”
Earlier, Feinberg and Stansfield conceded there are still practical problems to be solved before some drivers switch to electric cars, including the limited availability of charging stations.
Stansfield said that all-electric cars may not be practical for long-distance driving. But, he noted, “most people commute 40 miles or less.”
“All we ask for is a level playing field,” Feinberg told NJJN. “The oil industry has been subsidized by the government for 100 years. Now we want to take the subsidies away from them and put them into new technology.”
Joining the AJC in sponsoring the meeting were Summit Jewish Community Center, Christ Church, The Unitarian Church, Temple Sinai, and Congregation Beth Hatikvah — all in Summit — Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church in Maplewood, Saint George’s Episcopal Church in Montclair, Temple Beth Shalom in Livingston, Faith Lutheran Church in New Providence, New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition, GreenFaith, and Environment New Jersey.