United Synagogue lays down roots in Norfolk

The organisation has planted the first trees in its inaugural forest


The United Synagogue has planted its first tree in its inaugural forest, in Norfolk (Photo: WorkWild)

The United Synagogue has planted the first of thousands of trees in what is the first US-sponsored forest in the UK.

The US has partnered with the Woodland Trust to establish a Norfolk forest, which can be visited by Jewish schools and communities in order to learn about the environment. The first few trees, which were due to be planted by the Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis, were instead put in the ground on Tuesday by US head of environmental policy Naomi Verber and Rabbi Ben Kurzer, who is soon to take up the pulpit at Golders Green Synagogue.

Rabbi Mirvis was unable to attend the first planting because he had to fly to Israel to attend a funeral.

Verber said: “I’m incredibly proud to be able to do this. I think it shows how, as a community, we are not willing to be bystanders to the environmental issues around us. We are really showing each other and others our commitment to these issues.”

The initiative’s goal is to plant a tree for each of the organisation’s 37,000 adult members over the next three years.

Trees will cost £20 and can be purchased in any number from the US website. The Woodland Trust will be responsible for planting and maintenance.
Congregations which collectively buy more than 750 trees will have theirs planted together in a dedicated grove.

The United Synagogue’s first grove will be planted in honour of His Majesty the King’s coronation and the second grove will be dedicated to the memory of the victims of October 7.

Rabbi Ben Kurzer said: "It was an honour to plant the first trees as part of this project. This forest, planted in memory of the victims of the  October 7th, is a beautiful symbol of rebirth and life, as well as investing in future generations.

"It is wonderful to think of Jews coming to visit this forest in decades to come as it grows and becomes part of an environmental revival."

The pioneering project is part of Dorot (the Hebrew for “generations”), the environmental initiative launched by the Chief Rabbi and the United Synagogue.

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