Yom Rishon, 23 AdarI 5781
Sunday, 7 March 2021
Southgate service for pets

Southgate Progressive Synagogue (SPS) held an innovative Shabbat morning service open to ALL of God’s creatures – a pet service.

A busy morning saw the congregation – including three generations of families – come with their dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs. The service was held outdoors in the sunshine and included guitar and flute accompaniment.

Introduced as a service to recognise the role that we play in animals' lives, and they in ours, the service explored how interconnected we truly are.

Stacey Shurlin, who led the special service, explained in her sermon how God appointed humans as caretakers for the animals, giving dominion over them, and in Jewish liturgy, animals often carried out Divine missions (Balaam’s donkey, Jonah’s whale, Daniel’s Lion, even snakes).

Stacey continued by telling the congregation that now, in our days, animals continue to carry out Divine missions in helping humanity. Dogs are trained as guide dogs, hearing dogs, assistance dogs, PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs as well as search and rescue dogs. Even more importantly, dogs can be trained to detect cancers or predict epileptic fits.

The pet service served as a small way to thank God for creating animal companions.