A gorgeous baby — canine hora
Call the florists, send the chocolates, maybe knit a small jumper. Mazal tovs are in order this week because Maison Oberman has a new little addition to its numbers. And he is gorgeous. He has his father's black soulful eyes, his mothers thick luxurious hair and a cute teddy-bear button nose like his sister.
I'm shepping naches and already acting like a kvelling Jewish mother. I think he's more intelligent, better looking and much more adorable than any other eight-week-old on the planet. As his doting grandmother and I watched him play in the garden yesterday, after he'd learnt to respond to his name and wee in the ivy patch in just two days, we decided this little Schnauzer puppy was clever enough to go to Oxford University.
If you'd have told me a few years ago that I would be living in a house full of animals, I would have laughed in your face. I'm not an animal person. I don't like the touch or smell of them. I don't like the feeling of being beholden, or trapped by the considerations that come with owning a domestic creature.
I am a busy working actress and writer - I don't have the time for pets. Plus, we are a spontaneous threesome; Mr O, Mini O and me. Like a rolling stone we gather no moss. However, Judaism has taught me that adaptability and reassessment is crucial to wisdom and survival. So, I have caved into family demands and reassessed that having a crazy rescue cat - Bambi, as named by the six-year-old - and now a tiny dependent puppy, has brought only good things to our family.
My daughter asked if Scruffy was Jewish. I tried persuading her that Scruffy wasn't the most Jewish of names. Maybe we should opt for Bagel or Latke or Herring. She insisted on Scruffy. "He'll like being Jewish. It's fun. You get to do all the nice festivals and eat loads of food and be part of a family." It made me wonder where pets and Jews stand, both traditionally and halachicaly
A little research has unearthed that Judaism was one of the first religions to forbid cruelty to animals. Most civilised nations didn't make this a principle until the 19th century. Jewish law does not allow the unnecessary suffering of any living creature and understood early on that a psychological link could be made between how a person treats an animal and how he or she treats a human being.
Some of the greatest biblical characters were animal lovers. David, Jacob and Moses were all shepherds who tended their herd with patience and love. I guess the Almighty knew that a person who could keep an animal herd together would be a good leader for a human herd needing guidance. Pets are even given the right to Shabbat rest, with owners being told not to make animals do any duties.
Don't worry. Scruffy will not be doing his homework at the weekends. His bar finals can wait a few years. I won't be hothousing him into a doggy prep school and he can wear his hair how he likes. But I do want him loyal and faithful and respectful of his family and traditions. Like any nice Jewish boy.