U.S. Rabbis Deepen Roots
Rabbis across the U.S. have partnered with Jewish National Fund-USA to honor over 4,000 congregants through trees planted in Israel
New York, NY: May 22, 2020 – As synagogues and temples remain closed due to health prevention measures, Jewish congregations are finding new ways to deepen their connection to the land and people of Israel.
Over the past month, Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF-USA) has partnered with hundreds of Rabbis to support their tree-planting efforts in Israel. Rabbis from the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements have participated in the tree planting initiative as a way to honor their congregants during this difficult time.
National Chair of JNF-USA’s Rabbis for Israel and Rabbi of Temple Isaiah in Fulton, MD, Rabbi Craig Axler, believes this initiative prepares us for better days to come: “The special gift that has been afforded to myself and my colleagues through the generosity of JNF-USA allows rabbis to bring just a little ray of sunshine and hope into a tremendously challenging and anxious time. As we learn in the midrash (Avot d'Rabbi Natan 31b), ‘If you are holding a sapling in your hand and they come to tell you that the messiah has arrived, finish planting first and then go and greet the Messiah.’ The act of planting is reflective of the immediate clinging to hope and springing to action, and may it lead us to better days ahead!”
Rabbi Rachel Silverman of Temple Israel of Sharon, MA feels it’s important that we show gratitude toward our local community: “It has been a lovely gift to be able to use these [tree] certificates to celebrate worthy people in our community. I always love saying thank you, recognizing deserving people, and making them feel special - but in these times of social distancing, that is harder to do. The gift of trees for us to give to other people was a great success, and I know it was appreciated by the people who received them.”
Jewish National Fund-USA is the leading philanthropic organization for Israel that supports critical environmental and nation-building activities in Israel’s north and south. Through its One Billion Dollar Roadmap for the Next Decade, Jewish National Fund-USA is developing new communities in the Galilee and Negev, connecting the next generation to Israel, and creating infrastructure for ecology, special needs, and heritage preservation.
For more information on how to plant trees in Israel with JNF-USA, visit jnf.org/trees. Congregational rabbis seeking to partner with JNF-USA should contact Executive Director, Israel Advocacy and Education, Joshua Levin at [email protected] or 212.879.9305 x230.
Media inquiries: Stefan Oberman, Jewish National Fund-USA Director of Communications. E: [email protected]. P: 212.879.9305 x222