Congregation Netivot Shalom will honor State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg Saturday for her successful efforts to protect a centuries-old red oak tree on the synagogue’s property.
Once facing threats of being chopped down, the historic oak tree at Cedar Lane and Palisade Avenue was granted a conservation easement in April 2011. Weinberg, along with resident Wally Cowan, championed efforts to save the massive oak, and the Puffin Foundation donated money for the easement.
“We are extremely grateful to Senator Weinberg for her leadership role in saving the historic tree, and ultimately ensuring that our congregation could remain in its current location,” Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Netivot Shalom, said in a news release.
Weinberg’s late husband, Irwin, also successfully battled to prevent the tree from being turned to woodchips in the 1970s. In May, Teaneck residents gathered to dedicate the tree in Irwin Weinberg’s honor.
“I’m so delighted that the synagogue has been able to preserve one of nature’s and G-d’s wonders,” Weinberg said in a statement. “It’s a wonderful gesture on the part of the congregation. The tree has always been important to my family—my children call it ‘Dad’s tree’—and it is an important part of town history.”
A decision in early 2010 by the former property, the Union for Traditional Judaism, to cut down the tree sparked controversy. Tree experts brought in by the township contended the tree could be saved with proper care, while the UTJ cited safety concerns.
After protests, the UTJ decided to put its plan to remove the tree on hold until after the land was sold. Netivot Shalom later purchased the property through a bankruptcy auction and vowed to preserve the more than 250-year-old tree.
The congregation will present Weinberg with a Special Tribute Award at its annual dinner Saturday night at Congregation Beth Shalom in Teaneck.
For more information about the event, contact Sam or Shonnie Heller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-836- 2771.