Whenever I think America has reached the outermost limits of exaggeration, it hops (or staggers) over the perimeter fence and takes its exaggerations into a new, ever-more-hyperbolic realm of hyper-reality.
This time I learn that some species of American Jews make BARK Mitzvahs for their dogs.
Surely someone around here’s barking the wrong tree? Surely no-one can be that barking mad?
Apparently, a friend of a friend who’s a rabbi living in the city of silliness that is Las Vegas gets asked to do Bark Mitzvahs by congregants particularly fond of their canine chums.
Has the whole world got stark raving barking mad? It seems not, because this is America where people take their pets very very seriously.
So anyway, I decided to do a quick sniffle and snuffle around on the Internet and look what tasty bones I unearthed:
First of all, the demographics:
Some people do Bark Mitzvahs for Purim entertainment, some do it to raise money, and others do it simply for the fun of it. Those celebrating Bark Mitzvahs today are mostly Reform and Conservative Jews.
(all quoted passages in this post are from judaism.about.com/od/americanjewry/a/bark_mitzvah.htm)
Now for the juicy tidbits:
Bark Mitzvahs celebrated in private homes tend to be personal and fun. Guests, who sometimes bring their own dogs along, greet the hosts with “Mazal Tov” and bring doggie presents for the Bark Mitzvah dog. The dog of honor generally feasts on bone-shaped doggy cake, while the human guests feast on gourmet food.
Not forgetting of course the handy Bark Mitzvah packages put together by your local Bark Mitzvah party planner, making sure you and your canine love get the most out of your special day (for a buck or tw0):
For $50, Places Everyone offers a seating kit for your Bark Mitzvah celebration, as well as a free Bark Mitzvah certificate for your dog.
If you really want to go all out, then you can get the $95 Bark Mitzvah package from CleosBarkery. It includes: all meat canine Bark Mitzvah cake, happy Bark Mitzvah Hat, Doggie Treat Bag filled with draydel and menorah biscuits, Star Bark Mitzvah collar, and a ribbon balloon cake topper.
You can make sure your guests will remember the event by sending them home with a pet candy bar wrapped by wrapsodydesigns.com. The wrapper commemorates the Bark Mitzvah celebration and even provides personal information about the Bark Mitzvah dog.
Some people send their guests home with satin yarmulkes with the dog’s name and Bark Mitzvah date printed inside.
And of course, this being the land of silliness, is it just the humans who get to wear the yarmulkes? Don’t be silly:
Yarmulkes just for the guests? Some Bark Mitzvah dogs get all dressed up for the special occasion. There’s been unprecedented demand for doggie-sized tallit and yarmulkes tailored to fit over dog ears.
Finally, here’s what happens when dog and owner get serious and decide to hold their festivities in shul:
Bark Mitzvahs celebrated at synagogues have a bit more of an “official” flavor to them. Often Bark Mitzvahs performed by rabbis begin with the rabbi reciting a prayer or blessing the dogs. The prayer said when seeing beautiful animals is an ideal opener. The rabbi generally ends the ceremony by awarding a Bark Mitzvah certificate to the dog’s owner. One California Reform shul promotes it Bark Mitzvah ceremony with “All participating pets will receive blessings, treats and a special pet kippah/yarmulke.”