Eleven dogs, six cats, four butterflies, two hamsters, two rabbits and a bearded dragon were in attendance for Havdalah at the end of Shabbat on Aug. 15. These non-two-legged members of Congregation Etz Hayim in Arlington Zoomed in for the Paws and Claws Havdalah, one of several themed Havdalahs held this summer. On other Saturday evenings, congregants shared book recommendations, dressed as superheroes and sang campfire songs, according to Laura Naide, the synagogue’s director of religious education.
Why bring the pets to smell the spices, drink the wine and enjoy the candlelight?
“The Jewish value tza’ar ba’alei chayim teaches us to care for our animals and prevent them from suffering,” Naide said. “In addition to owning pets, many congregants volunteer at local animal shelters.”
Luckily, she added, “none of the animals knocked over the wine or lit any fires with the Havdalah candles.”
The Havdalah series ends on Aug. 29 with a scavenger hunt.