JTree is a collaborative campaign by a variety of Jewish organizations that share a commitment to addressing climate change. Planting and protecting forests, and repairing the damage already done to them, is essential to the survival of life in this time of climate crisis. JTree USA joins with partners from all over the world and all walks of Jewish life. Join us!
Thank you to the following organizations which have already joined the effort:
Ansche Chesed Synagogue
Beit Ahavah – the Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton
Boulder Jewish Community
Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
Jewish Climate Action Network-Massachussets (JCAN-MA)
Jewish Climate Action Network-New York (JCAN-NY)
Jewish Theological Seminary
Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope
Ramah in the Rockies
SAJ – Judaism that Stands for All
Temple B’nai Abraham (Beverly, MA)
The Shul of New York
Zion. An Eretz Israeli Community
A Time to Plant — עֵת לָטַעַת
Trees sustain life. They absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. Scientists believe that planting trees is an essential part of the effort to limit climate change.
JTree is a call and an invitation to every Jewish community to play its part in planting.
We can do so by donating, by gifting trees on special occasions, by compensating for unavoidable travel and carbon emissions from our homes, cars and workplaces, and by planting trees with our own hands.
But… the right trees must be planted in the right balance in the right locations and with the correct ongoing care. Sustainable reforesting and rewilding must be done with the support and for the benefit of local communities. We are partnering with the National Forest Foundation to carry out our tree planting because they have a proven track record of doing just that.
(Planting the right trees in the right places with the support of local communities makes an immense contribution to the effort to confront climate change. But it is not a replacement for advocating for massive policy change and rethinking our lifestyle and how we consume. We need to pursue all these responses, and we hope that planting trees will be the beginning of our collective efforts.)
Each community can set its own targets.
Together, across the globe, the Jewish community can make a difference. We can help heal the earth.
A call to Jewish climate action by Rabbi Art Green
Ḥoni the circle-maker once saw a man planting a carob tree. “How long will it take” he asked, “until that tree bears fruit?” “Seventy years,” the planter replied. “And are you sure you will live another seventy years?” asked Ḥoni. “As my forefathers planted for me,” he replied, “so do I plant for my children.” (Talmud Ta‘anit 23a)
This famous tale plants a shudder in the heart of the contemporary reader. What will be happening on this planet seventy years from now? What sort of world will our grandchildren be living in? Will there be trees? Will there be adequate fresh water? Breathable air? Will people be killing each other in terrible wars over scarce resources? And what can we do, looking toward the future, to improve the chances for future generations?
We Jews are planters of many such metaphoric “trees.” We teach Torah, which we call “the Tree of Life.” We pass on cultural traditions, ethical teachings, ways of living in gratitude for the many gifts we have received. In a heightened way, surely because of our past suffering and decimation in the Holocaust, we have a strong sense of the obligation to pass on the legacy we have received from the past. All these are meant to provide sustenance for future generations, “trees” whose fruit they will one day eat.
But today our earth is in need of real trees, not just spiritual or metaphoric ones. The rapid deforestation of our planet is a major contributor to the proliferation of greenhouse gasses and the decline of air quality around the globe. Soil resources as well are diminished, as rain forests and wetlands disappear, often due to human greed and indifference.
In response, it is time for us all to become planters of trees. JTree is a new international Jewish movement, led by rabbis and activists around the world, to encourage Jewish involvement, both communal and individual, in efforts at restoring and protecting forests, as well as new tree-planting, throughout the world.
We Jews have experience in planting trees. A century ago, the Zionist movement took on the task of re-foresting the Land of Israel, which had become barren. This effort mobilized adults and children across the Jewish world. But now we see that the planet itself is in need of such an effort.
JTree calls upon Jewish communities and their leaders to help take the lead in our campaign to plant trees and support forests, wherever they are needed. We can do so by contributing to the responsible environmental organizations listed above. JTree has partnered with the National Forest Foundation to plant trees.