Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

First Sheep Airlift to Israel

May 29, 1985
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

This predominantly Christian town in Texas, is showing that it can make a difference to a community in Israel. Friends of the Jewish National Fund in Texas are sending 27 Rambouillet sheep tomorrow to Moshav Beit Yatir, a small agricultural community in dire need of an economic base.

The sheep left the Clinton Hodges ranch near San Angelo by truck on May 26 and are scheduled to arrive at JFK Airport in New York tomorrow. After inspection by U.S.D.A. veterinarians, the sheep will be loaded onto an El Al cargo plane for Israel. Thanks to the joint efforts of Mary Linthicum, a Christian rancher, along with the community of San Angelo, Texas, generous Christian and Jewish volunteers and the JNF, a seven-year dream will become a reality.

Much of the philosophy behind Linthicum’s efforts is based on Biblical passages, such as the following from Jeremiah, … “There shall again be a habitation of shepherds causing their flocks to lie down.”

Meetings were held at sheep ranches in West Texas to discuss the selection of animals, veterinarian fees, and transportation problems. In addition, six San Angelo clergymen offered support through their churches. Drives for funds were held at restaurants and malls throughout the area.

The project’s major stumbling block was the enormous air/land transportation costs. San Angelo philanthropists Nathan Donsky, Monte Nolen and John Pearson, along with prominent leaders in Dallas lent support. In addition, Israeli Consul General Naphtalie Lavie and some friends in New York raised funds for transportation.

Moshav Beit Yatir, the town selected to be the recipient of the Texans’ gift is located 20 miles south of Jerusalem. The community was founded two and a half years ago, and the land on which it is located was prepared for development by JNF.

The moshav desperately needs a firm economic base to ensure survival. It is hoped that the Rambouillet sheep, known for their high quality wool and meat, will create economic security for the 25 young families. Though there is a Mediterranean strain of sheep in Israel, at present there are no Rambouillet sheep.

Recommended from JTA