This Shabbat we read the Torah portion of Noah, where God drowned 99 percent of land animals and people, saving only a small remnant in a wooden ark.
Kid stuff, right?
But Jewish tradition urges us to focus on the two dogs and two cats who were spared, rather than the countless numbers of puppies and kittens who were drowned when God opened the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky. We want to see the flood as half full rather than half empty, and all that.
So the annual return of Parshat Noach is an occasion among a growing number of synagogues to demonstrate our community’s love for animals.
This year, the celebrations began on Sunday at the Glen Rock Jewish Center, which asked members to bring their pets to the synagogue for a special blessing of the pets. (Pictured above.)
On Friday night — too late to make reservations by the time you read this — Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck is having a family dinner followed by an “Outragehiss….Pets” animal show. This will include some less-than-cuddly species, such as tarantulas and snakes. But congregants should leave their own pets safely at home.
And on Shabbat morning, Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne will celebrate animals behind the synagogue at 10 a.m. with a short service to which companion animals — “real or plush!” — are invited. There will be light refreshment for pets (leashed, please) and their people. You don’t even need to bring an animal to attend. But you are asked to bring towels, sheets, dog beds, and lightly used pet toys to donate to a no-kill animal sanctuary There will also be games, crafts, songs, and music.
Everything but a bark mitzvah.