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A Tree of Life

A Story in Word, Image, and Text

A Tree of Life: A Story in Word, Image and Text is a meditation on our universal journey through trauma toward healing. A series of about 60 double-page spreads unfolds a story from innocence to despair to understanding through a combination of poetic moments, quotes from Jewish tradition, and black-and-white photographs of trees. The book provides a tender yet powerful experience as a tool for coping, for learning, and for growing during the challenging times we face in our lives. For the reader, the journey is personal as well as universal as you engage visually, through ancient and modern words, and multidimensionally through the integration of all three media.

Book launch celebration

Watch the launch of A Tree of Life celebration.

Praise for A Tree of Life: A Story in Word, Image, and Text

A Tree of Life is a gift to the world from a daughter and mother whose own roots are entwined in love, trauma, and healing. Take your time with its haunting images. Let your own roots meander into its depths of ancient wisdom, soak in the nourishment, and stretch your branches into the healing light of new possibilities. 

Rev. Betsy Sowers, Minister for Earth Justice, Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Cambridge, MA

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Rabbi Katy Z. Allen’s book of exercises and photographs weaves evocative images of trees with scraps of sacred text, creating a sacred inner journey. This impressionistic voyage invites a slowing down of consciousness so that sensation, texture, and feeling may emerge.  Allen’s work offers us a multisensory meditative experience, an exploration of the heart, a spur to imagination and an antidote to denial and despair in these difficult times.

Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, author of Undertorah: An Earth-Based Kabbalah of Dreams

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A moving conversation between stunning photographs, sacred text, and our own souls. 

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder & CEO, Dayenu, A. Jewish Call to Climate Action


I found the book extremely refreshing and moving, just what I needed when I read it over the weekend, during a time when I was, personally, feeling like too much had shaken my trust in humanity and my hopes for the future. The poetic nature, the images, the sequential prompts and the spaciousness of the whole you had woven together allowed me an opportunity to gently move through this grief to a more hope-filled place. Thank you for that!

Rev. Cindy Davidson, Executive Director, Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light




This book is exquisite. The black and white photos of nature, trees primarily, taken by Mary North Allen, Katy Allen's mother, bring a level of depth and clarity. They remind me of Ansel Adams and they nearly jump off the page. They are enriched by the Biblical quotes in Hebrew and English that Katy Allen curated to bring texture to the photos. Coupled with the short Hebrew phrases, they cause us to look deeply and savor this spiritual awakening as if we are on a walk in the forest--in any season. Reb Nachman of Bratslav encouraged us to go outside every day and pour out our souls. Henry David Thoreau once said in his essay "Walking", “The outline which would bound my walks would be, not a circle, but a parabola, or rather like one of those cometary orbits which have been thought to be non-returning curves, in this case opening westward, in which my house occupies the place of the sun.” You don't return to the same place. Allen's careful use of questions to open each chapter helps the reader dive even deeper into the forest and find meaning in their lives. Read this book. But savor it over time. You won't be disappointed.

Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein, rabbi of Congregation Kneseth Israel, Elign IL

In this unusual work of poetic expression, Rabbi Katy honors the delicacy and brutality of the world, its beauty and strangeness, its capacity both to wound and to heal. Readers shaken by personal, social, and/or ecological trauma will find in the words and images of these pages a trustworthy companion as we embark on a contemplative journey to wholeness.

  Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, co-editor, Rooted and Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis; Missioner for Creation Care (Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts & Southern New England Conference, United Church of Christ) 


I’ve been slowly going through your book, usually finding a quiet break during some days and sitting outside by the trees near my deck, looking at the photos and reading the words, thinking about what they mean to me. It’s very relaxing and meaningful. The book is truly a  gift.


Take a look inside A Tree of Life!