My Little Jewish Puppy
Dear Rabbi, I have a question about making a dog Jewish. Actually, it’s about how to explain to my young daughter that although we are Jewish, our dog can’t be considered Jewish. I didn’t know how to explain it so she asked me to ask a Rabbi so I’m asking you! Thank you for your help.
It’s wonderful that your daughter loves Judaism and loves her dog. And it’s wonderful that she understands that asking a Rabbi questions about Judaism is a good way to learn more about her Jewish heritage.
The first thing I would do is to assure her that although the dog is not Jewish it is still loved by God. A verse that is part of daily prayers states, “God is good to all, and His mercies are on all His works” (Psalms 145:9). This clearly refers to all animals as well as people, teaching that God is merciful to all creatures that are part of His Creation.
What would be the best way to explain to her why a dog can’t be Jewish? Here’s what I suggest: begin with what the Torah teaches about “In the beginning.” God created the world and all the creatures in it. On the sixth day of the Creation, God created the animals “each according to its own kind” and “God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:24-25) “Each according to its own kind” means that God gave each individual type of animal its own individual and unique nature.
Every one of God’s creations has a reason for its existence. To “make a dog Jewish” is removing the real identity that God wants it to have, just as if the dog tried to turn a little girl into a dog!
By the way, a person once sent me a question about Judaism, and added the following joke:
Why did the dog bite the rabbi?
Because he had no “mazel” (means “luck” but sounds like “muzzle”).