The Name Game: Goat Style

Goat goat ba-boat, banana fana fa-foat….

IMGP2865This past Sunday over 50 people came to see and name the newest kids on the block, eight beautiful baby goats at Beit Izim, Boulder’s Jewish Goat Co-op.  The crowd was multi-generational, often young kids with their parents and grandparents stopped by.  The eight baby goat-kids had a special affinity for the human-kids and they all played together quite nicely.  Eight community members had the opportunity to name a goat, after donating to the goat co-op and putting their name in for a drawing.  Names included: Zehava, Shlomo, Kochav, Ozzi, Hilda, John McKaela Rastenberg, Harvey Milk, and Slurpee.  If you’d like to get involved, there are still shifts available in the co-op!  Please email if you are interested.

Rabbi Ruth Gelfarb
Rabbi Ruth Gelfarb

Rabbi Ruthie Gelfarb, of Congregation Har Hashem, gave a wonderful drash and blessing for the occasion:

“We have more than a dozen words for goat. Two words for he-goats: Azmaveth and tsaphir. One word for a holy goat: Gaddiel. One word for a young goat: Gedi. Two words for young she goats: Jaala and seirah. One word for a she goat: Ez. Uzzah, a strong goat. Five words for mountain and desert goats: Zibiah and aqqo, zemer, dishon and yael.  One word for a butting goat: Tayish.

“At the Co-op, we are not simply raising goats and producing milk. We are also literally reclaiming our ancient heritage and inter-species relationship which our ancestors nurtured and which shaped their lives.

“The ancient Israelites depended on goat milk for food.  They slept in goat-hair tents. Our closeness created empathy. Jews were revolted by the thought of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, and so, today, we can’t eat cheeseburgers. A Hebrew word for hell, azazel, (familiar to us from Yom Kippur) translates literally as “lost goat.” Hell, for ancient Israelites, was when you lost your goat.

IMGP2841“We Jews are a lot like goats. Or perhaps, goats are a lot like us. Goats are deeply communal, bonded to one another. Goats stand their ground. Goats are stubborn and willful. Goats break fences and, thus, rules. Sheep are grazers, content to munch the grass at their feet. Goats are browsers — they refuse the grass and strive to eat the trees and bushes just beyond their reach. Goats are picky and discerning. The word capricious (meaning picky and discerning) comes from the Latin capro, for goat.

“Goats have been an inspiration for great works of Jewish art, from stories by the Ba’al Shem Tov to paintings by the Russian Communist Artist, El Lissitsky.

photo 1“Goats are not only a favorite of Jews but also of Northern European. Thor, the Nordic patron of common man (as well as the father/stud of our kids) favored goats and offered them an annual blessing. I borrow heavily from the Nordic blessing for goats and offer one today:

           M’kor Ha’Hayyim (Source of life) protect thy horns,

           Tsor Yisrael (Rock of Israel) protect thy hooves,

           Rabbenu shel Ha’Olam (Master of the Universe) protect thy bones,

           Adonai (Eternal One) make thee sound and hale each day.

“Let us Say, “Amen!”


About Becca Gan Levy

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One comment

  1. the goats were just adorable and huggable and kissable; afterall they are just KIDS