Jewish Journal


July 30, 1998

Celebration of Animals at B’nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester


When the rabbi's wife is a vet, it should come as little surprise when the four-legged critters are accorded special attention at the rabbi's synagogue. So, on the heels of the High Holidays, a Celebration of the Animals at B'nai Tikvah Congregation in Westchester will take place this Sunday at 2 p.m. Although animals don't have their own day in Jewish tradition, Rabbi Michael Beals, whose wife, Elissa, is the veterinarian in question, thinks they probably should.

"The purpose of the event is to celebrate one's animal at the time Parashat Noah is read," the rabbi said. "It's the first story in the Bible where Noah is commanded to treat the animals kindly." The Torah is full of passages that illustrate humanity toward the beasts, the rabbi added. The best known, of course, is the commandment not to boil the calf in the milk of its mother -- a prohibition that led to the restriction against mixing milk and meat.

"A lot of people see the animals in their homes like family members, and we haven't paid attention to that," Beals said. "The idea behind this is that if we treat animals kindly, it will inspire us to treat humans kindly."

This is the second annual Celebration of the Animals at the Conservative shul. The first proved so popular that the temple decided to make it an annual event. The public is invited to bring their dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits and other beasties to the synagogue courtyard on leashes, in cages or in photos if they're non-portable or likely to bite somebody. Beals will read biblical passages on animals, and pet owners will swap a few tails of their own.

For details, call (310) 645-6262. Or just stop by 5820 W. Manchester Blvd. And don't forget that pooper scooper. -- Ruth Stroud, Staff Writer

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