By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
“And the flocks conceived at the sight of the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted.” Genesis 30:39
The first Jacob’s lamb was born early, arriving in Ramot Naftali on Thursday morning, just in time to celebrate its birthday along with Israel. Jenna Lewinsky, the amazing woman who accomplished the seemingly impossible task of reuniting the sheep with the Jewish people, gave the little ewe a fitting name: Golda Meir.
“It’s an ewe lamb and we thought of the first lady prime minister,” Lewinsky told Breaking Israel News. “The name seems to fit since she is already bossing around the much larger adult sheep.”
The birth on Thursday caught Lewinsky off guard. “None of the sheep were supposed to give birth for a couple of weeks, so I just left in the evening without separating any of them,” Lewinsky said. She carefully tracks the pregnancies and normally separates the pregnant ewes from the flock one week before they give birth”I was shocked when I showed up in the morning on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and found a little sheep suckling from its mother.”
The story of the Lewinsky’s flock is truly remarkable. With no background in farming or animal husbandry, Jenna first adopted the flock of 119 sheep in Western Canada in 2013 with the intention of reuniting the sheep with the Nation of Israel. The sheep are a rare breed experts believe originated in Israel and their unique spotted appearance conforms to the Biblical account of the herd Jacob received from Laban. “And the flocks conceived at the sight of the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, speckled, and spotted.” Genesis 30:39
Though they are indigenous to the Middle East, none of the breed remain in the region. The sheep most commonly seen in Israel are from the Awassi breed and originated in Syria.
Lewinsky recreated the difficult Exodus of the Jews from Egypt when she brought the flock of 119 sheep from Western Canada to Israel in November 2016. The first stage required trucking the flock 2,100 miles overland to Eastern Canada. It took 11 flights to bring them to Israel, after which they sat in quarantine on a farm in the south of Israel. After several temporary homes, Jenna and her sheep arrived in Ramot Naftali near the Lebanese border.
But just as the trials of the Jews were not over when they arrived in Israel, neither did the sheep’s arrival end their difficulties. Last summer, many of the sheep contracted Bluetongue Disease. Mortality from the disease can run as high as 90 percent in imported breeds. 60 sheep died. Remarkably, the young lambs born the month before, normally the most susceptible to the disease, were all spared.
Contained within the sorrow was a blessing. A unique trait of the Jacob’s sheep is that each ram has four horns. Lewinsky had the horns of the dead rams turned into shofarot, horns used in Jewish ritual and for the first time in 2,000 years, the sound of the Jacob’s sheep shofar was heard in Israel.
“40 ewes are pregnant and many of them are much larger than usual,” Lewinsky said. “I am hoping that just like their ancestors who were more prolific than Laban’s regular sheep, these sheep can do the same.”
“But with the feebler animals he would not place them there. Thus the feeble ones went to Laban and the sturdy to Jacob. So the man grew, and came to own large flocks, maidservants and menservants, camels and asses.” Genesis 30:42-43
Lewinsky’s will probably not become “exceedingly prosperous” from her not-for-profit endeavor but it is clear that all of Israel is being blessed by the fruits of her labor.