“It is a Tree of Life for them who hold fast to it; and all of its supporters are happy.”
Each week I speak with my nervous B’nai Mitzvah students about our Torah, about why we refer to it as our Tree of Life. Some of their responses include: “....The Torah is our foundation, it represents our family tree-our history, it is a part of Creation- it represents God’s creation and nature, it gives us life, it gives us roots.” ” Pretty awesome kids, right?
Tu’Bishvat, one of our four Jewish New Years and the 'birthday of the' trees is next week. The Kabbalists regarded this time as sacred; one of spiritual transformation and renewal. Modern, cosmopolitan Jews that we are, dedicate this time toward elevating our environmental concerns. We review our recycling and renewal habits, consider our plant-based diets, ready the ground for gardening, and yes… plant trees!
We continue our month-long celebration next week with TE-Talks, as Rabbi Prinz guides us through the world of chocolate. Where would we be without the Cacao Tree? On Shabbat, join us for an environment-themed Friday service, and Renew and Refresh with us on Saturday at our TuBishvat Drive Through. Finally, if you have not already signed up, there is a fabulous Tree Planting event Sunday January 31st with Jewish Green Friends and Tree Atlanta. Check out our website and calendar for details on all of these events.
My favorite objects to photograph or explore are trees- especially old ones. The roots and knots, bows and branches that break through earth and stretch to sky are symbols of wisdom and strength, having witnessed the passing of more years than we will ever exist on this earth. Trees connect all living beings on this planet, providing shelter, clean air, produce and sustenance. They forged their way through urban growth and deforestation, lived through climate change and natural disaster. As earth’s caretakers, it is up to us to ensure they continue as our partners in the cycle of life. Join me as we reflect on what it means honor our Torah as a Tree of Life, to plant and grow for our future.
“As my ancestors planted for me, so too will I plant for my children.” Honi the Circle Maker, Babylonian Talmud Tractate 23a.