It is written in the Talmud – a central text of Judaism – that ‘just as my parents planted for me, so I will plant for my children.’ Here at USDA, we’re planting trees across the country and in Israel to bring the wide-ranging benefits of trees, both ecological and spiritual, to future generations.
Today, USDA Natural Resources and Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman planted a tree next to the USDA’s Washington DC headquarters in commemoration of Tu B’Shevat, “The New Year of the Trees.” This event brought together the local Jewish community and government leaders alike to share their common bond of conserving our natural resources and leaving a healthier world for the next generation.
Also in attendance were Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Terry Bellamy, Director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. Rabbi Levi Shemtov offered remarks, and students from Washington DC’s Jewish Primary Day School. The local school children were able to partake in the holiday and learn about the importance of urban trees
After planting the dawn redwood, Sherman took the opportunity to highlight the importance of urban trees in both Israel and the United States. Sherman oversees the U.S. Forest Service, an agency that has more than a century of experience in managing America’s national forests and helping to sustain the nation’s forests for the benefit of generations to come. This week, other Obama Administration officials planted trees in Arizona , Colorado, and Israel as part of this commemoration.
USDA has been working with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) on many forest-related issues—for Israel and other parts of the Middle East face many similar challenges in that arena.
Ultimately, we must continue to work together to protect our urban green spaces for future generations. Our partnership with JNF has produced great results, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.
Max Finberg serves as Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.