07 Jul Honoring a Memory by Planting Trees
A man named Honi, who encountered another man planting a carob tree, asked, “How long will it take to bear fruit?” The man replied, “About 70 years.” Honi replied, “So you think you will live long enough to taste its fruit?” The other man explained, “I have found ready-grown carob trees in the world. As my forefathers planted them for me, so I plant them for my children.”
When a loved one is no longer with us, we remember them in different ways. We may use photographs and stories to recall happier times, or we may think of them fondly whenever we catch a hint of perfume or hear a favorite song. In our Jewish faith, we have many ways to celebrate, honor and commemorate the life of our loved ones. One special way is to plant a tree in their memory.
Planting a tree helps us fill the void left after the funeral and Shiva period has ended. Symbolic and heartfelt, this ceremony is a powerful way to remember someone—both now and into future generations. Traditionally, a fruit tree is planted because it represents continual nourishment by the fruit it bears.
Tree planting is also a wonderful way to teach our younger generations about the circle of life and the beliefs we hold regarding life and death in our Jewish faith. The life cycle is not only about raising families and participating in our communities, but it is also about teaching the reasons why we take care of one another and provide for future generations as was done for us.
Choosing the perfect spot to plant a memory tree is a personal decision. You can choose your own yard or plant the tree in a beloved park, synagogue or school. Many invite a rabbi to conduct a small memorial; others choose to keep it intimate with only close family in attendance. You can also choose to donate to a tree-planting organization in a loved one’s name, such as the Jewish National Fund.
No matter how the tree planting memorial is done, however, the end result is the same: our loved ones live on in this living, thriving testament to their life well-lived.