No stray dog was condemned to death, or stoned by a rabbinical court in Jerusalem, the Beth Din have insisted.
Israeli’s newspaper Maariv reported that a stray dog has wandered into a Beth Din financial court in the strictly Orthodox area of Mea Shearim and refused to be moved, which a judge decreed was a reincarnation of a secular lawyer who died 20 years ago.
Reports said the judges then "decreed" that local children stone the dog to death. But the secretariat of the court released a statement calling the reports “bitter humour” and said all that had happened was that the city dog catcher had been called to remove the stray.
The story made headlines around the world, and was the “Most Read” story on the BBC – despite a correction and apology being printed in Maariv.
A statement from the court said: “There is no basis for stoning dogs or any other animal in the Jewish religion, not since the days of the Temple or Abraham.
“The female dog found a seat in the corner of the court. And the children were delighted by it; there were hundreds outside the court. They are used to seeing stray cats but most have never seen a dog before. The only action we took was to dial the number of the Jerusalem Municipality to get the people in charge to take it away.
“There was no talk of reincarnation, a lawyer has never been mentioned, either now or 20 years ago, and there was no stoning. Such inventions are a kind of blood libel, and we wonder why the inventor of the story did not continue to describe how we collected the blood of the dog to make our matzah.”
The story, when circulated on Yahoo, attracted more than 1,800 comments, most expressing violent anger. One wrote “the more I see of Israelis, the more I like my dog.”