The blogosphere loved our story about the San Diego synagogue holding its annual blessing of the animals this Sunday.
As the San Diego Union-Tribune originally reported:
Pets of all shapes and sizes — from goldfish and turtles to cats and dogs — should arrive by noon to be blessed by Rabbi Yael Ridburg.
Congregation Dor Chadash organizes the day in honor of Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year of the trees, which has been expanded in some communities to include appreciation for all the earth’s bounty, including its living creatures.
Here’s a scene from last year’s ceremony, pictured above in Howard Lipin’s photo for the Union-Tribune:
A rabbi’s reading from the blessing included the quip: “May their feathers always be preened and smooth and sleek.” Members responded: “May they never suffer from ick, and may their fins and scales always sparkle in the light of your sunshine.”
Nothing weird about giving a turtle a bracha, writes Rabbi Brad Hirschfield in Beliefnet:
Before people start scratching their heads, wondering where this came from, let’s be clear: this custom is not some recently-concocted attempt to be relevant… In fact, the Blessing of the Animals is a centuries-old tradition dating back to the time of St. Francis of Assisi, animal-loving Saint in the Catholic Church.
The blessing of the waves, however, an interfaith event held annually in Huntington Beach, Calif., may be totally contemporary, with no roots in medieval Church tradition.
Just another case of rabbis, priests and ministers standing together in awe of divine creation.