New Haven Synagogue Hosts Dedication of Solar Array

Bar mitzvah project benefits congregation and environment

September 18, 2007 – The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel and Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. today hosted a dedication ceremony for a 10.5-kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic (PV) system that has been installed on the roof of the synagogue Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI) in New Haven, Conn. The installation was made possible, in part, by a rebate of $48,768 from CCEF through its Solar PV Rebate Program, which is available to Connecticut residents, nonprofits and governmental organizations. The balance of funding for the project was provided by over 150 individual donors.

The solar array, installed by Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. (SSE) of Milford, Conn., consists of 48 solar panels. The panels will generate approximately 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which represents about 10% of the electricity requirements of the synagogue. As a result, the array reduces the amount of electricity that the synagogue draws from the grid. Additionally, when the array is producing more electricity than the synagogue demands, it pumps electricity into the grid.

This solar installation project was the brainchild of Tsvi Benson-Tilsen, son of BEKI’s Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen. Benson-Tilsen launched the planning process for the solar installation when in seventh grade, as a bar mitzvah project. He wished to pursue a project that would promote good citizenship and assist the congregation in complying with the Biblical law bal tashhit, which prohibits destruction of the natural environment and wasting of resources.

At the event, State Representative Patricia Dillon and representatives from CCEF, BEKI and Sunlight Solar Energy were on hand to make remarks.

Governor M. Jodi Rell commented, “An important goal of our state energy policy is for Connecticut to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and promote clean, sustainable energy sources. The solar installation at BEKI moves our state closer to achieving this goal and demonstrates that communities of all types around the state can make a real difference.”

Lise Dondy, president of CCEF, stated, “This is an excellent example of a religious community coming together to support clean energy and protect our environment.” Dondy continued, “BEKI has been exceptionally proactive in raising awareness about the importance of clean, renewable energy – through not only its successful fund raising efforts but also through the educational activities it has implemented with support from the Legacy Heritage Fund.”

“This solar project is the expression of a confluence of values,” said Rabbi Jon-Jay Tilsen. “We have a religious duty to protect the environment, a civic duty to reduce the stress on our local grid, a patriotic duty to lesson our reliance on imported energy, and a financial duty to cut our expenses.” He added, “This project has generated a great deal of interest in our community. I am certain that our positive experience will give our neighbors and congregation members the confidence to develop their own solar projects.”

Paul Israel, president of SSE, commented, “It is wonderful to see the next generation taking such proactive steps to address our nation’s environmental and energy concerns. Tsvi’s efforts have truly been exemplary. He and his peers will be the leaders of the future, advancing our clean energy efforts today to new levels and serving as the environmental stewards of the future.”

About the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) 
CCEF was created by the Connecticut General Assembly and is administered by Connecticut Innovations, a quasi-public organization. CCEF promotes the development and commercialization of clean energy technologies; the creation of clean energy supply; and the demand for electricity from clean, renewable sources in Connecticut in order to strengthen Connecticut’s economy, protect community health, improve the environment, and promote a secure energy supply for the state. CCEF’s funding comes from a surcharge on electric ratepayers’ utility bills. For more information on CCEF, please visit

About Connecticut Innovations, Inc. 
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public organization dedicated to driving a vibrant, entrepreneurial, technology-based economy in Connecticut. CI stimulates high-tech growth by investing in: early-stage Connecticut technology companies; university/industry research collaborations; technology transfer; and, clean energy initiatives through the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. CI also fosters collaboration among government, business, non-profit and academic organizations to advance technology growth and promotes public policies consistent with CI’s mission. For more information on CI, please visit

About Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel 
Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel (BEKI) is a traditional egalitarian participatory Conservative synagogue community in the City of New Haven. The successor of the Rose Street Shul founded in 1892 and of Keser Israel from the same era, BEKI is the spiritual home for several hundred adults and children from New Haven and twenty-one surrounding communities. Located within the New Haven Eruv on bustling Whalley Avenue in the Westville neighborhood since 1959, BEKI offers an extensive program of educational, worship and social services for adults and children. BEKI is in the Connecticut Valley region of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism with which it is affiliated.

About Sunlight Solar Energy Inc. (SSE) 
Founded in 1988 by Paul Israel, Sunlight Solar Energy, Inc. (SSE) is proud to be one of the leading photovoltaic design and installation corporations in the United States. With full-time professional installation teams in-house, the Milford-based company is the leading residential PV solar installation company in Connecticut. The company has also installed many commercial systems in Connecticut including Yale University’s 40,000 watt solar array at the Yale Divinity School. A staunch supporter of the environment, SSE even utilizes fuel-efficient, bio-diesel driven sales and installation vehicles. For more information on SSE, please visit

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