Sunday, July 26, 2015, a Climate Ribbon Tree was created at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. The weekend of July 25-26 marked the Jewish holiday of Tisha b’Av, the day when Jews remember the destruction of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, a day for grief and mourning. It seemed fitting on this day to grieve the massive loss of life to climate chaos that is happening in our modern world daily. 

The ritual was led by Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute cofounder Rabbi Jill Hammer, and Climate Ribbon co-creator Rae Abileah, who guided people through writing on ribbons what they love and hope to never lose to climate change, or are already losing. While chanting, we walked meditatively into the forest and read our ribbons out loud to each other, pledging to support each other in protecting what we hold dear. 

We tied the ribbons to a young tree that will become a living memorial, and shared stories on the history of prayer trees from cultures around the world (read more about this in an article by Rabbi Jill Hammer at Small kids and elders joined in the tying on of ribbons, and the little ones’ playful laughter mingled with the older ones tearful reflections … how do we hold all our emotions, as the world burns? The Climate Ribbon Tree will become a sacred site at Isabella Freedman, welcoming participation of all who visit and dwell there. The Adamah farming fellows who live at Isabella Freedman have already held a second ribbon ritual there, led by Simcha Schwartz, and so the project grows. 

Big hearted thanks to Adam Segulah Sher, Margot Siegle, Shamu Sadeh, and the rest of the staff at Isabella Freedman for supporting this art ritual to come to life, maintaining the sacred tree site, and teaching future retreatants and youth groups about the climate ribbon project and how to take action for climate justice.