From the Desk of the Federation Executive Director: With Gratitude 12/29/23

By Shelley Hubal

I recently read a short article by Jacklin Kwan on the web magazine Live Science. The article details the findings of researchers studying the sprouts that Redwood trees grew after a devastating 2020 fire swept through the Big Basin Redwood State Park in California.

The trees, with charred trunks and burned canopies, were assumed to be dead, but surprisingly, just a few months after the fire, sprouts began to poke through. The researchers determined some of the buds that sprouted were up to 1,000 years old. Redwoods create “budlike tissue” under their bark. These ancient reserves combined with decades-old stores of carbon and the process of photosynthesis created new life. 

What I love most about this story is its description of renewal after devastation. Sometimes we are faced with circumstances that require us to dig down to the very depths of our strength and the very core of our being in order to begin again: To renew. To choose life. Perhaps, even over time, to thrive. Our Jewish traditions offer study of Torah and acts of chesed and tzedakah as just some of the ways we can act to create a better world.

I pray for an end to the storm of war and hate and antisemitism. I sincerely hope that we find in the charred remains of our shared humanity the strength and reserves we will need to begin a new course: to learn to respect one another, to share this planet in peace and to trust in the innate goodness that God has given each and every one of us. A tall order, I know, but if some of the tallest trees on our planet can begin anew, perhaps we can, too. 

Kwan’s article can be found here.