‘Biblical’ Sheep Shipped To Holy Land — But Are They Really From Israel? by the Forward

‘Biblical’ Sheep Shipped To Holy Land — But Are They Really From Israel?

Image by Wikipedia

Gil and Jenna Lewinsky, a Canadian Jewish farming couple, had a different sort of aliyah in mind when they loaded more than 100 sheep on a cargo plane for Israel, animals they said hail from Biblical times.

“You know that Israel is built on Jewish people returning. Now you have a case of an animal from the Old Testament also returning,” Gil Lewinsky told National Public Radio this month as a group of the animal were offloaded at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv.

The British Columbia-based couple says that based on their research, a breed known as Jacob Sheep trace their origins to the Holy Land, despite their current range in Europe and North America. Jacob Sheep got their name in the 19th century, due to their spots, said to resemble ones found on the sheep described in Genesis.

But while the Lewinskys raised money from Jews and Christians to “repatriate” the animals, and eventually got a permit from the Israeli government to fly them in, not everyone agrees with their genealogical work.

“Jacob Sheep are related to Jacob the same as the American Indians are related to India,” Elisha Gootwine, a researcher at Israel’s Agriculture Ministry, told the news service, recounting the breed’s history on the British Isles.

But he was sanguine about the whole issue.

“Anyway, it’s a nice breed and people will be happy to see it,” Gootwine said. “It is a good story. For journalists, not for scientists,” he said.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon


Daniel J. Solomon

Daniel J. Solomon is the former Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.

Are ‘Biblical’ Sheep Really From Israel? Not Everyone Agrees.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

‘Biblical’ Sheep Shipped To Holy Land — But Are They Really From Israel?

Thank you!

This article has been sent!