A Time to Plant — עֵת לָטַעַת
JTree is a call to every Jewish community to play its part.
As my forebears planted for me, so do I plant for my children.”Babylonian Talmud, Ta‘anit 23a
Trees sustain life. They inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.
Sustainable reforesting and rewilding depend on projects that are ecologically and ethically sound. JTree USA partners with the National Forest Foundation because they have a proven track record of doing just that.
Spread the word about JTree
Raise awareness about climate change and the value of tree planting as a way to recapture carbon from the atmosphere.
- Sign-up to be a JTree Promotional Partner
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A meaningful tribute gift
A donation to JTree is a touching gesture in celebration of a special milestone such as a birth, bar/bat mitzvah, or wedding anniversary.
The gift of a tree planting is a touching gesture in memory of someone dear.
Join Team JTree!
Create a custom page for your synagogue, organization, or community, and track your progress as part of the larger JTree effort.
On the JTree donation page, click JOIN TEAM.
Thank you to these organizations which have joined the effort!
- Abundance Farm (MA)
- Ahavath Achim Synagogue
- Am Yisrael Congregation (IL)
- Ansche Chesed Synagogue (NYC)
- Austin Jews for Justice
- Beit Ahavah – the Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton (MA)
- Beit Rabban Day School (NYC)
- Beth Ami – Colorado Congregation for Humanistic Judaism
- Beth El Temple (Harrisburg, PA)
- Beth Israel Congregation
- Beth Or
- Boulder (CO)
- Central Synagogue (NYC)
- Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
- Congregation B’nai Israel’s Tikkun Olam Committee
- Congregation Kol Emeth (CA)
- Congregation Shir Hadash (CA)
- Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action
- Ekar Farm
- Germantown Jewish Centre
- Jewish Climate Action Network-Massachussets (JCAN-MA)
- Jewish Climate Action Network-New York (JCAN-NY)
- Jewish Theological Seminary
- Kavana Cooperative
- Kehillath Shalom Synagogue (NY)
- Lab/Shul (NYC)
- Living Tree Alliance
- Ma’yan Tikvah – A Wellspring of Hope
- Ramah in the Rockies (CO)
- SAJ – Judaism that Stands for All (NYC)
- Shalom Institute
- Shir Tikvah
- Sinai Temple (Springfield, MA)
- Sisters in Spirit
- Solomon Schechter – Newton, MA
- Speakers World
- The Rabbinical Assembly
- Temple B’nai Abraham (Beverly, MA)
- Temple Beth Zion (TBZ Brookline)
- Temple Sinai of Massapequa (NY)
- The Shul of New York
- Town & Village Synagogue
- Western Massachusetts Dayenu Circle
- Zion. An Eretz Israeli Community
Why Trees are So Important
JTree Benefits of Planting Trees
Jewish Tradition and Trees
JTree Mitzvah Project
JTree Global Impact
The world needs trillions of trees. JTree mobilizes collective Jewish community response across the globe.
Our partners in the UK select projects known for integrity and effectiveness in sustainable tree planting. JTree also operates as a partnership project to EcoSynagogue.
The Torah of the Trees
By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Excerpted from The London Times, 8 February 2020
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg is co-founder of Eco Synagogue and JTree.global
From the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden to the dancing saplings of the Psalmist, the Bible shows a loving respect for trees. Living close to the land, the rabbis of the early centuries similarly appreciated the vital interconnectedness of creation: all the earth was ‘full of God’s glory.’ They understood both the ecological and the spiritual significance of trees:
The spirit that lives in the trees used to conversed with humankind, for all nature was created for mutual companionship with people.
We know now that trees do communicate, protecting and healing each other, interacting with microbial life through their roots. I believe they speak to us too, though probably not with conscious intention. I love to listen, especially at night, when the city falls quiet. I can’t explain what trees say. Their vocabulary is untranslatable, rich in bark and boughs, catkins and leaves. Their syntax flows in seasons, with the wind, frost and rain. They silence the discord in my head; they console the heart.
The love between people and trees begins in childhood, with climbing branches, kicking the autumn leaves and daring the allure of the forest. Later, trees are mystery and beauty, like Keats’s ‘beechen greens and shadows numberless’ where the hidden bird sings. They embody hope and resilience, the capacity for new life to grow from old roots.
Trees bring comfort in trouble. ‘Every day I visit my favourite tree,’ said a friend who had cancer. ‘They cut it down,’ she told us sadly some weeks later. Soon afterwards, she died.
Later, the mystics transformed the day [of Tu BiShevat] into a meditation on the Tree of Life. With its roots in heaven, its branches reaching down to the earth and its sap nourishing all creation, it symbolised the vital interdependence of all life. We may or may not believe that God is their gardener, but we know that trees, absorbing carbon, exhaling oxygen, retaining soil, restraining floods and providing food and refuge for people and animals, are essential to life on earth.
With striking relevance, the mystics defined sin as ‘cutting off the shoots,’ severing ourselves from the sacred Tree of Life which, in our presumed superiority, we consider ourselves entitled to rob and tear. …
Today Tu Bishevat is an urgent call to join the worldwide effort to reforest, rewild and protect what ancient woods and tree species remain. ‘There’s a time to plant,’ taught Ecclesiastes two millennia ago. Even if you hear the Messiah coming, don’t abandon your spade, the rabbis insisted. First finish planting, then greet the redeemer. They understood that there could be no world-to-come, no future, without trees.
In a seminal report last summer, Professor Crowther highlighted the world’s need for trillions more trees and showed, by means of complex satellite photography, where they could and should be planted. The Jewish community is eager to respond. Its new project, JTree.global, just taking root in the UK, The States and elsewhere, is a channel for planting locally and internationally through sustainable and ethical environmental organisation. Like the Church’s Lambeth forest, planned for this year, it signifies the commitment by all faiths to respond to the climate emergency.
Trees are no panacea against global warming. If we truly respect the tree of life, we must consume less, waste less and share the world with greater equality and humility. But celebrating trees is something positive and essential which all of us can do. It brings joy, strengthening us communally, ecologically and spiritually.
When a tree is cut down, a cry traverses the world, yet nobody hears, the rabbis noted sadly. Perhaps we have finally begun to listen.