My corgi Daisy recently turned 12. To mark this momentous occasion and celebrate all the wonderful years I’ve had with her (so far!) I decided to throw her a “Bark Mitzvah.” It seemed fitting, considering Jewish culture has been as much a part of her life as it has been mine. The first trick she learned was “dreidel,” where she spins around in a circle, and as the youngest “furbaby” in our family, she searches for the afikomen at Passover (having a canine sense of smell certainly helps).
So what exactly does a Bark Mitzvah entail? Will she be barking the arftarah? Will we be dancing to hava corgilah? And more importantly, will there be pupcakes? I consulted Rabbi Joey Felsen of the Jewish Study Network for advice. While Rabbi Felsen he had never heard of the custom, he did suggest a special grooming, festive meal (seudah) and blessings (brachot).
Smelling fresh as a daisy after a bath, tooth cleaning and pawdicure, Daisy greeted guests at the door. Family and friends trickled in and after a bit of kibitzing in the foyer, everyone gathered outside.
My husband started out the blessings with one that seemed to be fairly custom at other Bark Mitzvahs. It is a Jewish blessing said when one encounters beauty in nature:
We praise You, Eternal God, Sovereign of the universe, that such as these are in Your world.
Other guests followed with their sentiments, “May you live a long and healthy life,” “May your teeth always be strong,” and a quote from a Jewish proverb, “Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure.”
After the blessings, guests shouted “muzzle tov” and threw treats at her. We rejoiced with “beagles” and lox, a family-kept secret egg dish called “spot” and pupcakes (for humans as well as doggies). The reception included some of Daisy’s favorite things: friends and family, fetch and gifts. We gave her a bark mitzvah fountain pen that squeaks, and a yarmulke and tallit (which stayed on just long enough for photos).
If you are considering throwing a Bark Mitzvah or Meow Mitzvah, check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration.