Congregation Beth Shalom’s service to appreciate, bless dogs


By Heather Collins

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold its annual Shabbark Erev Shabbat Service at 6:30 p.m. July 14.

Rabbi Stanley Halpern with two of his four dogs, Maria and Dulcea. Halpern launched the special service for dogs 15 years ago and said he believes it is the only service of its kind throughout the Jewish congregation. (Submitted photo)

The event allows congregants and the public to bring their dogs for a special service and blessing.

Rabbi Stanley Halpern started the Shabbark Erev Shabbat Service 15 years ago in Gary and has been putting on the special service for the Congregation Beth Shalom for the last five years.

“Judaism has always had special obligations to animals,” Halpern said. “We are obligated to properly take care of those that we share the Earth with.”

Halpern said there is something striking about how all of the dogs behave and participate in the service.

“There is something special about that, almost like they glow,” Halpern said. “I think they understand that we are reaching out to them and saying how important they are in our lives.”

The 40-minute service will feature special guest speaker Fred Coraz, who works with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. K-9 unit.

During the service, Halpern said he will discuss how animals teach unconditional love and human obligations to animals. The service will conclude with a blessing of the animals.

“Animals teach us unconditional love,” Halpern said. “Those are the types of things that we need to understand and return not just to other animals, but to people also.”

The service will be held outdoors on the north patio of University High School’s Andrews Hall, 2825 W. 116th St.

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