the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York
My mother used to say, "A lebedike velt."  (Things  are happening.  It's a lively world.)

Lately there's been so much written about the family pet, our "ibergegebn hunt" (devoted dog).

In 2007, Weiner & Davilman wrote a book titled, "How To Raise a Jewish Dog."  That same year, I published a book titled, "Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers," and Shari Cohen published, "Alfie's Bark Mitzvah."

A Google search for "bark mitzvah" will result in 584,000 listings.  Joan Rivers threw a "Bark Mitzvah" for her dog, Spike, and I assume she served her guests  "barkscotti," a doggie biscotti.

In 2009, Lyne Dorsey of Boynton Beach, FL, held a "bark mitzvah" ceremony at Camp Canine in Boca Raton.  More than 20 dogs "kleyn un groys" (small and large) attended the event.  Rabbi Loring Frank of Miami Beach, started doing bark mitzvahs "tongue in cheek" 20 years before.

Yes, some people feel that such a ceremony is a desecration of a cherished Jewish tradition.  One company in New Jersey even produces a pooch party planner and a bark mitzvah certificate with the dog's name.

Eric A. Stern, who lives in Helena, Montana, wrote "The Beliefs" column in The New York Times on Dec. 5, 2009.  The article was titled, "Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in Montana."  The article states that Montana is "A state with few Jews, but three rabbis and an Israeli dog."

Miky is a dog who sat at attention during the lighting of the menorah at the State Capitol in Montana in 2008.   The prayers were chanted while Officer John Fosket watched from the distance with his "hunt," Miky.  About 20 or so Jewish Montanans filed into the Capitol.  The Yiddish expression, "Vos klener der oylem, alts greser di simkhe" applies here.  It means, "The smaller the crowd, the greater the joy."

Miky was no "geveyntlekh" (ordinary) dog. He was born in an animal shelter in Holland and shipped as a puppy to Israel.  There he was trained by the Israeli Defense Forces to sniff out explosives.  From there he was sent to the Helena (Montana) Police Department.  But, there was a problem: Miky has been trained entirely in Hebrew.

When Officer John Fosket (a non-Jew) got Miky, he couldn't pronounce the Hebrew words properly.  The policeman needed a rabbi.

Rabbi Chaim Bruk taught Officer Fosket the Israeli "ch"/"kh" sound (think:  chutzpah/ "khutspe," kheyder, khazeray, khupe, and khaloshesdik").

Now, as we approach Hanukkah 2009,  the pooch is feeling more at "heym" (home), hearing his native tongue.

According to Rabbi Binyomin Friedman, dogs do not "bow wow" or "arf arf."  They "hav hav."

Hebrew speaking dogs are used by U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Much to my surprise, there are several websites which teach the dog commands in Hebrew.  For example:

English                     Hebrew

Heel                         Ragly
Sit                            Shev
Down                       Artza
Come/Here             Bo
Stand                       Amod
Retrieve/Fetch        Ta'vi
Jump                        Ke'fotz
Guard                      Shmor
Bite                          Ne'shoch
Speak/Bark             Da'ber/Ne'vach
Narcotics/Dope      Samim
Find narcotics         Ha'pes Samim
Good dog                Kelev tov

I wonder if OfficerJohn Fosket has heard the story of the four-legged davener?  If not, I'd like to share it with him.

It's Saturday morning and Shabbat services are about to begin, but everyone is distracted by a man who has brought with him a St. Bernard dog.  "What chutzpah!' an elderly woman whispers aloud.

Services begin, and everyone is fascinated by how well the dog behaves.  Even odder, the dog is wearing his own little tallit and yarmulke, and appears to be shuckling back and forth as the chazzan intones the prayers.  The congregation is amazed.

A week goes by and Shabbat arrives again. The worship service begins.  The man and his "hunt" are back, and this time, just as the chazzan is about to begin the prayers, the dog stands up on its hind legs and howls, "Ba-Roooooooch!"

After the service, everyone is clamoring to meet this man and his remarkable dog. Finally, the rabbi comes up to him and  says, "That's one talented pooch you have there.  You know, you should really consider sending your dog to rabbinical school."

The man shakes his head, throws up his hands in disgust and says, "You talk to him! He wants to be a doctor!" -------------------------------------------

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe finds it quite amusing that of the three rabbis employed in Montana, two are in Bozeman and one-- appropriately--works in Whitefish.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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