President’s September 2023 Column

Have I planted enough trees this year?

As I prepare for the upcoming New Year, I took a walk around the building at Temple Judah. I tried to remember what it looked like before the derecho. There were quite a few very large trees, and the landscaping was adequate. The only trees to survive the derecho are a willow tree, the pear tree directly below the Sanctuary windows, a line of arborvitaes on the border and some ash trees. The use of the willow tree and the pear tree is important during the celebration of Sukkot. The willow for the roof and the pears for decoration. After my walk, I have a newfound appreciation for the job done by the landscape architect who was hired to plan the bioswales.

At the last board meeting two people volunteered to plant trees in memory of loved ones. What a beautiful gesture and a wonderful mitzvah! There is a developed plan to plant more trees and to replace some of the ash trees we have on the property.

I have planted trees every year at our home and, as a Jew, have found this tradition an important one. We have planted a variety of fruit trees, almond, birch, oaks, pines, maples, and walnut trees. When we first moved into our house over 30 years ago, our backlot was just full of weeds and dead poplar trees (which I had to remove because they grow tall, then die). Over the years, the trees are beginning to take over! I still drive by our old house and look at how large the oak tree is we planted in the backyard the year Tobi was born.

Why did I plant trees? Many reasons. I can remember as a child, my mother would always give gifts to relatives of trees in Israel through the Jewish National Fund. When I had my Bar Mitzvah, I received some of the beautiful certificates from the JNF. Maybe it is because the torah is often referred to as the Tree of Life. Maybe it is that we have a holiday for the celebration of trees, Tu B’shevat. I will have to say, the seder the Rabbi leads is wonderful, and I love the fruit and nuts we eat. If you haven’t been to one, I’d make an effort to attend.

I encourage you to take a few minutes to walk the grounds at your Temple Judah and enjoy the beauty of the trees and landscape.

Brian D. Cohen