As we were preparing for our Passover seders and celebrations this past Friday- cleaning, cooking, and calling loved ones- the goats of Beit Izim (Boulder’s Jewish Goat Co-op) decided it was time to give birth. Three of the four does that we care for went into labor and each had twin kids. Every year I learn new things about the goats and the people who care for them. Whether it’s co-op members or friends, being around baby goats seems to be a good bonding experience. On Mother’s Day this year we will celebrate with a baby goat open house where you can come enjoy the day with goat mamas and kids. More information about the event below.
In addition to the present day community building opportunities that it supplies, being part of the goat co-op also help connect me to my Jewish practice and Jewish roots. Connecting to agricultural activities is a great way to bring to life traditions in the Torah, whose meaning doesn’t seem obvious to us when we remain the people of the book, somewhat disconnected from the earth, plants, and animals.
Most Jews today don’t include birthing goats as a part of their Passover preparations, but Israelites of the past may have. In fact, some of the ancient rituals of Passover come from times when many of the Israelite people were in fact shepherds and goatherds. In ancient Israel, the country was divided between a different tribes and regions, all Israelite, but with slightly different customs and occupations. Some Israelite tribes grew wheat and barley- plowing and tilling the earth. Other tribes took their animals to graze the countryside. In the agricultural cycle in Israel, barley ripens at Passover and the wheat harvest begins to dry in the field. Simultaneously, the shepherds and goatherds would come in from the lush winter pasture, as it was time for their does to kid. In addition to the connection to the Exodus story, the Passover sacrifice may be related to these new births and the matzo related to the tenuous times of waiting for the most important crop to ripen.
Milk and Honey Farm at the J is opening this summer in order help build connections between each other, the earth, animals, and Judaism. Beit Izim’s goats, which have been living behind Rabbi Marc’s House, next to Bonai Shalom, will move back across the street to the Boulder Jewish Commons. We will also have chickens once again, as well as ample vegetables and fruit trees. Many JCC programs will utilize the farm space, including Cherryvale Day Camp and Specialty Camps.
But, no matter your age, affiliation, or connection to Judaism or the earth, Come Celebrate Mother’s Day with goat mamas and kids. They are guaranteed to jump, frolic and make you giggle. Get snuggly with the little ones, and feed them their favorite veggies. Enjoy goat-a-rific activities, coffee, snacks and general meh-meh-merriment. This open house will be Mothers Day, May 8th, from 10:30-12. Requested donation of $5/person, $10/family. All ages welcome.