By LINDA M. LINONIS
Friday eve- ning’s Shabbat observed by Congregation Rodef Sholom attracted some new faces.
They included Dickens, a Bedlington terrier; Precious, a Shih Tzu-Lhasa Apso mix; Bentley, a brindle boxer; and Buddy and Samantha, yellow Labrador retrievers.
They attended an outdoor service in Wick Park, across from the temple at 1119 Elm St. Rabbi Franklin Muller said the congregation has a few outdoor sabbath services during the summer, but this pet blessing was the “first ever” for the temple.
The rabbi admitted he thought the religious occasion might turn into more like a “bark in the park,” but the pets were very well-behaved.
The blessing had an added element because of the social-action committee at Rodef Sholom. Angels for Animals’ mobile adoption unit was there with cats and kittens and one of the many dogs looking for a new forever home. The congregation also contributed donations of food, treats and money to the animal-rescue organization.
“It’s nice to get support from the community. And this gives exposure to the animals,” said Kate McDormott, Angels general manager.
Rabbi Muller said the social-action aspect of the service meant “reaching out to the community in need, and that reaching-out extends to the animal world.” It’s part of Jewish tradition to care for animals, he added.
A service and resource packet included a verse from Psalm 104:24, “How many things You have made, O God; You have made them wisely, the earth is filled with your creations.”
Another nod to social action featured suggestions on how to be kind to animals including: not buying products tested on animals, not supporting the fur industry, obtaining your next pet from a rescue group or pound, preventing the killing of animals for sport, not attending events that abuse animals, limiting consumption of meat and feeding your pets before you eat.
The quote of “God has compassion on all who have compassion for their fellow creatures,” cited in the service, ties in with these practices.
Rhoda and Marv Mostav brought Dickens to be blessed. The lamblike- looking dog may have been the most unusual breed there.
Kathy Weinberg and her mother, Gert Levy, had Precious, who dressed for temple by wearing a pink and purple outfit and bow. “Those are her colors,” Weinberg said. Precious also had sunglasses on and didn’t seem to mind.
“We wanted to have her blessed so that she is happy and healthy the rest of her life,” Weinberg said of the 101/2-year-old pet.
Mindi Einzig attended with Bentley. “I love my dog,” she said, adding that she wanted to experience what the rabbi had in store for pet owners. When Rabbi Muller invited pet owners to describe their pets and their quirks, Einzig told the group that Bentley likes oranges.
Jodie and Dale Damioli attended with Buddy, 11, and Samantha, 11/2. “We had to leave Ozzie, the barker, at home,” Jodie Damioli said. “Our dogs are special to us,” she said. “They are like our children ... and a part of our lives. They give us love and support, so we wanted to have them blessed.”
Caryl Lubow came with her 7-year-old pet, Shana Maidal, a Shih Tzu. “The blessing was important to me ... like my dog is,” Lubow said.
Beverly Shapiro attended the service but left her cat, Tiger Moses, at home because he doesn’t like being in a carrier. He was blessed by proxy.