Congregation B’Nai Tikvah Beth Israel synagogue in Washington Township, Gloucester County, held a Blessing of the Animals Sunday to assist have a good time the finish of Passover.
Rabbi Rachel Dvash Schoenfeld led the blessing for about two dozen canine and one cat.
“Animals are incredibly important to Judaism,” stated Schoenfeld. “There is a mitzvah, a commandment to be nice to animals, and actually we’re supposed to feed animals before we feed ourselves. We’re supposed to take care of animals.”
Two years in the past, the congregation had deliberate an in-person Blessing of the Animals, however then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So as an alternative of canceling the event altogether, it was held just about by way of Zoom.
“We had more than 60 screens and well over 100 people on the call,” stated congregation member Eric Goldstein. “(The rabbi) said a few prayers for all of the animals, including dogs, cats, lizards, snakes, bunnies, birds, and hamsters. And then she called on certain students and members of the congregation to talk about their pets.”
This yr’s blessing was the first in-person event held to incorporate the whole membership in addition to the neighborhood since the pandemic hit. It was held at the conclusion of the day’s Hebrew School to incorporate youngsters and households in recognition of how vital animals have been to individuals throughout the pandemic.
Those in attendance have been requested to convey objects to donate to the Animal Welfare Association.
The blessing, written by Schoenfeld’s colleague Rabbi Josh Snyder, conveyed the message that “as God created the world, the creation of the animals was important and beautiful, and may they be blessed to always reflect the love of people and love of God,” stated Schoenfeld.
But maybe the spotlight of the day for Rabbi Rachel Dvash Schoenfeld: “I got to pet all the dogs.”
Click on the Animal Blessing picture gallery above for extra images.
Freelance photographer Joe Warner contributed to this story.
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