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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on trees.


Cisterns or Trees…?

(reposted from a blog by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, There is a wonderful teaching in the Jerusalem Talmud which reads: "Rabbi Yohanan, speaking on behalf of Rabbi Yossi, says: 'Just as they (the other rabbis) believe that civilization depends on cisterns, so I believe that civilization depends on trees.'" The work of blending civilization and nature has always been a challenge. In this "man vs nature" tug of war, we must ask, who wins? What has precedence over what; what should yield to what? Gray infrastru...

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Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment

Core teachings on 18 topics linking Torah and the environment were released between Tu b'Shevat 5772 and Tu b'Shevat 5773 as part of Jewcology's Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment, in partnership with Canfei Nesharim and a host of other organizations who shared materials across the Jewish community. The materials were shared at least 145 times on the web, in at least 99 social media postings, and reached over 51,000 people during the course of the year, as part of a Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment. The materials comprise the most comprehensive set of ...

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Olives — the fruit of light and metaphor

As today is the first day of Chanukah, I think it a fitting time to reflect on the virtues of olives and olive oil; their benefits, and some of their hidden meanings. The story of Chanukah is the age-old struggle of the Jewish people to remain Jewish in a non-Jewish world. According to the Talmudic legend, when the Hasmoneans recaptured and cleansed the Temple following their victory over the Syrians, they were able to find only a single vessel of oil sufficient for one day's lighting of the Menorah. But, as the story goes, a miracle occurred, and it ...

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The Sacred Trees of Betar

Dear Friends, I love how stories contain so much more than just what they are “about”. Like seeds from an ancient world, they have the ability to surprise and grow in unpredictable ways. Check out this obscure story from the Talmud (Gittin 55a, from Ein Yaakov, 1999 English translation): “Because of a (broken wheel) from a carriage, Betar was destroyed. [How did that happen?] It was the custom in Betar that when a boy was born the parents would plant a cedar tree, and when a girl was born they planted a pine tree. When they got married the ...

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Sit Under a Vine and Fig Tree, and You Shall Not be Afraid!

‘Every one shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for Hashem has spoken.’ Micah 4.4 What is it about growing your own fruits and vegetables that alleviates fear? Why does Micah believe Hashem has spoken through the act of farming or gleaning? Why a grape vine and fig tree? Why not under the string beans or cherry tomatoes? As I sit in my back yard, positioning myself between my grape vine, fig tree, string beans and cherry tomatoes, I begin to understand what Micah might have meant all those years ...

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The Mitzvah of Planting Trees

“Let no one ever cease from planting. Fields filled with trees greeted us at birth, and we should add to their number even in old age.” Midrash: Genesis 2:8 “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Anonymous One of the best things individuals can do to help the environment is to plant a tree. Trees alter the environment in which people live by moderating climate, improving air quality, conserving water and harboring wildlife. Planting trees is also a Jewish imperative. It is one way that we as Jews can ...

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If a tree could grow in Brooklyn

Monday, May 9, 2011 If a tree can grow in Brooklyn If a tree could grow in Brooklyn, certainly a garden could grow in a New York school yard.Returning to the kindergarden, the Green Bubbie was thrilled to see the progress of the seeds she had planted with the children. They were eager and curious how a garden could grow in their playground. We built a "raised bed" a 3x3 foot wooden ' box' used lanscape fabric on the bottom and filled it with gardening soil. We planted the peas and zuchinni which we had grown from seeds ...

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Trees without Bulldozers: Environmental Justice for the Bedouin

NEW YORK (March 17, 2011) — When David Ben-Gurion envisioned making the desert bloom, bulldozing Bedouin villages to make way for new groves of trees is not exactly what he had in mind. But, in the name of environmentalism, that is exactly what Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael / Jewish National Fund did recently, bulldozing the village of al-Araqib for the 21st time since last July as part of its $600-million Blueprint Negev project. It gets worse: In order to plant the new grove of trees, KKL-JNF also bulldozed about 850 olive trees owned by the villagers of ...

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Trees: The Ultimate Environmentalists

15 Shvat, 5771 — Trees just might be the ultimate environmentalists. They provide shelter and food for animals large and small. They nourish the soil with their fallen leaves, and protect it with their strong roots. And trees not only pump oxygen into the atmosphere, allowing every animal on the surface of the planet to breathe, they also filter out greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as precursors to acid rain, such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. How many other environmentalists can claim that? We can only aspire ...

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