1545 Bushkill Street
Easton, PA 18042
Phone: (610) 258-5343
Fax: (610) 330-9100
Get directions

Service Schedule

Thursday, 7:25 am
Minyan

Friday, 8:00 pm
Shabbat Evening Services

Saturday, 9:30 am
Shabbat Morning Services

...........................

Donate to Bnai Abraham

Your contribution helps support a wide range of BAS programs and activities that strengthen both our congregation and the larger community.
>> Make a donation

...........................

Celebrate at
Bnai Abraham

Jewish WeddingFrom weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs to business functions and lectures, our facility is a great setting and location for your special occasion.
>> More information

BAS Office Hours

Synagogue office is closed on Mondays and Fridays. Hours open: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Bulletin Distribution

We are going green and
encourage bulletin distribution through email. We will also communicate emer-gencies and special events through email.
If you have not sent your email address to Bnai Abraham office staff, please submit it now.

If you would like family members or others to receive a copy of the bulletin, please send name, address, and $15 payment to Elaine at Bnai Abraham.

Religious School

BAS Religious School welcomes all children ages 1-8th grade to enrolll in 2009-2010 program. Everyone is welcome.
>> More information

Advertise in this Space!

>> More information

 

BAS Rabbi's Message

June-July, 2013

A confession: until recently, I was not a dog person. I justified this to myself by recalling what I once read in Moshe Waldock’s The Big Book of Jewish Humor: “Dogs who bark (and even dogs who don’t) are…[often] stand–ins for anti-Semites. To the people of the shtetl, dogs were not friendly household pets, but part of the enemy forces, guarding the enemy’s estate, for example, or running wild with their peasant masters.” Waldocks gives the following joke as an example: A Jew who has left the faith confides in a friend, “In some ways, I still feel Jewish. Every day I read The New York Times, every Sunday I have a pastrami sandwich, and I am still afraid of dogs.” I, too, was content to lead a life free of dogs until, after an emotionally challenging summer last year, Dena and I decided that we needed a pet. I am terribly allergic to cats, so we settled on a dog; we chose a greyhound because they have short hair, are calm, and don’t smell. Although I loved that our dog’s given name, Coby, sounded Israeli—it is a diminutive for Ya’akov—we really picked him out because he looked like my favorite television dog, Santa’s Little Helper from The Simpsons.

Almost immediately, I was transformed from being apathetic about dogs to being a real dog lover; I came to understand the value of their companionship, loyalty and affection. I also became more sensitive to those in our community who had recently lost a pet. I began to wonder what Judaism could teach me about pet ownership—what do they mean to our lives and how do we cope with their loss?

Interestingly, though post-exilic Judaism (after the fall of the Second Temple in the first century) tended to eschew pet ownership for a variety of reasons, dogs similar to my greyhound were common in the ancient Near East. Salukis and greyhounds are depicted in Egyptian tomb reliefs dating to the 2000 BCE, excavations at Tell Brak in Iraq show evidence of domesticated dogs as early as 2500 BCE. In the land of Israel, evidence of dog burial dating to the around 850-500 BCE has been found throughout the land, but particularly in Ashdod and in Ashkelon.

In all of these ancient communities, the archaeological record indicate not only the presence of domesticated dogs, but also a clear affinity towards them: dogs were often buried in ways that indicated clear intention if not ritual. These facts seem to contradict the prevalent Biblical image of dogs, and support a secondary narrative that understood the usefulness of dogs in a society of shepherds. Dogs were, from antiquity, beloved members of families.

Rabbinic tradition, also, has favorable things to say about animals; perhaps the most famous teaching is that, when the Messiah comes, it will be dogs who lead the other animals in song. The same legend teaches that they are afforded this honor because they remained calm and silent during the plagues in Egypt, even though they were able to sense the divine presence. As a reward for their tranquility during trying times, they will be afforded this great honor.

Given all of this, it is not surprising that Jewish law allows for mourning over the loss of a pet—one is allowed to say the prayer “baruch dayan emet” (blessed be the righteous judgez) over the loss of a pet. This blessing, traditionally reserved for the loss of a human, is allowed over the loss of a beloved pet. Although we don’t sit shiva for a pet, this tradition in Jewish law acknowledges that the relationship we share with our pets is special, unique, and holy. They fill our lives with joy, warmth, and friendship and increase our ability to connect with God’s creations.

In the coming year, we will explore ways to honor our animal friends at Bnai Abraham—look for events to come.

Best wishes for a month of companionship,

Rabbi Stein