President’s November 2017 Column

The leaves are falling, the end of the harvest is being gathered, and the trees are giving us one last hurrah of color before the cold of winter begins to creep in. As we enjoy this grand finale, spend a little time enjoying the flora outside Temple Judah.

I met with one of our long-time members, Marilyn Sippy, who told me stories about something I had only recently heard about:  the Temple Judah Bible Garden. Not long after the current building on Lindsay Lane had been dedicated in 1964, there were just a few sparse trees and vegetation growing. Although no funds had been set aside for landscaping, money was offered for the purchase of trees. The board at the time suggested the Sunday School use it, and so each class chose plants that grew in Israel, or were relatives of such plants hardy enough for the harsh Iowa winters. Some of the plants chosen included willow, olives, arborvitae, grapes, chicory, hawthorn, and burning bushes.  Every Sunday during recess, the kids would plant the trees or care for the ones already planted by their class. Led by Mrs. Sippy, some of these young folks included Steve Ginsberg, Lena Gilbert, Robert Becker, Scott Gasway, Toni Katz Neta, Diane Lucore, Marc Maikon (z”l), Howard Ohsman, Dan Rogers, Randy Schaffer, as well as many others, and their teachers.

Although most of the plants have since perished due to pests, disease, weather, or natural causes, there are still a few standing today. These vestiges of the Garden include the noble line of arborvitae lining the property just east of the main parking lot, the proud white poplar in the Silber Outdoor Sanctuary, and the stout burning bush near the outdoor kitchen entrance. As you enjoy the natural beauty of these plants, you can think of their connection to Israel, growing and thriving in our little plot in Iowa.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!