The story of the rebirth of metasequoia is amazing. We find symbolism in planting these trees at the Holocaust killing sites. Their resilience, their ability to adjust to different climates, their longevity and strength is analogous to Jewish people and Jewish history.
Metasequoias first were discovered in fossils in the early 1940s. The trees were thought to be extinct. However, around 1948 trees found in a plantation in China that were originally thought to be sequoias proved to be a different species. Scientists called this relative of the sequoia “metasequoia.”
Following its discovery, arborists cultivated and sent the metasequoia to botanical gardens and parks all over the world. The tree has proven to be a real survivor. It can withstand harsh weather, fires and lightning. The oldest known living metasequoia is over 600 years old and like its closed sequoia relative is expected to live for more than a 1000 years.
The Jewish people are like the metasequoia. During the 1940s, the Jewish population was drastically reduced. In the years followed the war, Jewish people planted their roots all over the world, adapted and learned how to excel in education, industry, and the arts and sciences and so enriched local cultures.
We first planted four metasequoias at four different killing sites at the Drobitsky Yar Holocaust Memorial in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Later we added more trees, organizing them in Star of David formation.
We planted 12 metasequoais next the monument to murdered children in Babin Yar, Kyiv.
So far, we have planted metasequoia trees in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Mirhorod, Lubny, Kremenchyk, Fastiv, Izyaslav, Bila Tserkva, Khorol and Vinnitsa. We will continue planting. These beautiful trees hopefully will live hundreds of years creating living memorials to victims of Shoah.