Yeshiva University Students Create Wind-Powered Menorah


wind-menorahJames Barron of the New York Times reports: Someone, somewhere, will probably chuckle to hear about Raffi Holzer and Mark Stauber’s three-part invention for Hanukkah, which begins at sundown on¬†Friday: A wind-powered menorah.

Mr. Holzer and Mr. Stauber, two physics students at Yeshiva University, are serious. And, really, all they did was figure out was how to apply – on a very small scale – concepts that could be applied to large chunks of the power grid.

Their menorah is four feet wide and four feet tall, made of plastic and spray-painted gold. The lights are nine compact fluorescent bulbs. A cable connects them to a car battery. Another cable connects the battery to a wind turbine with a two-foot propeller.

The next part, the how-it-works explanation, sounds like “The Music Goes Round and Round,” except that what comes out is not sound but light. The propeller turns a generator that generates current to charge the batteries. They provide a constant current and voltage to the compact fluorescent bulbs, which give more light on less power than incandescent bulbs.

Mr. Holzer said he had been casting about for a project with “some kind of practical engineering experience.” Mr. Stauber found the inspiration right there on Yeshiva’s men’s campus in Washington Heights. “Going back and forth from my dorm every day, there are wind tunnels between the buildings,” he said. “Really annoying, but could be useful. I thought, build a wind turbine, but what should we power?”

They realized they had to find the right spot for the wind turbine. “Couldn’t have it too gusty, couldn’t have too little,” Mr. Stauber said. “We tried out different locations until we found one that’s working.” It is in front of Morgenstern Hall, a dormitory. “And we had to find the right bulbs,” he said. “It would have been easier if we only had to light one.”

That is because the amount of power the system generates depends on wind speed. “We have the battery so the voltage doesn’t vary, because as the generator spins at different speeds, the output varies,” Mr. Holzer said. “So we collect the power in the battery, and it powers the menorah when we decide to turn it on.”

Mr. Stauber said he saw symbolism in the project. “In the miracle of the menorah, they got back to the temple and there was only enough oil for one night, but they made it last eight days,” he said. “I see an analogy with the world’s fight for sustainable energy, to take that and make it last as long as we’re going to need it.”

{NY Times/ Newscenter}


  1. I believe that you can’t be yotzeh with it because of the flourescent bulbs which are not fire. The other issue may be the power source – you need to have enough power to last 1/2 hour.
    But it’s a great project!

  2. Bad Moshol.

    The chashmonaim had nothing to do with quests for energy.

    Just when I was starting to have a more favorable image of(parts of) YU’s beis medrash…comes this liberal nonsense(which of course, is not a real menorah anyway)

    I think this menorah is an apt moshol in itself.

    It looks like a meorah and lights up like a menorah, but it’s still not a menorah, and if you say a bracha on it, you’d say abracha levatalah cv’s.

    And so too, liberal judaism; it looks like judaism from the outside, keeping shabbos and kashrus, claiming allegiance to torah, etc…, but it just is not judaism!

  3. i see more of an analogy with a hamster running aroiund on a wheel than the miracle of chanuka, but if this is what people do to stave off boredom, thats fine with me.

  4. on second thought, i would argue that the belief that man can control how much energy the world has or doesn’t have is probably closer to the belifs of the Syrian-Greeks than that of the Hasmoneans. “THEY made it last eight days”?!?! and how, pray tell, did “they” accomplish that? With wind powered car batteries, no doubt.