Israel News

Jacob’s Sheep Return to Israel

After a long journey across continents and millennia they are back in their ancestral homeland.

The Jacob sheep is a rare breed of small, white sheep with colored spots. They also have from two to six horns, but most commonly have four. The most common color is black and white. Jacobs are usually raised for their wool, meat, and hides. They are also kept as pets and ornamental animals, and have been used as guard animals to protect farm property from theft or vandalism and defend other livestock against predators. They originated in Syria and Jacob brought them to Israel when he came. After the destruction of the first temple they were mostly taken to Babylonia and ceased to exist in Israel.They crossed Europe over two and a half millennia and also ended up in Nothern America.

It was time to bring them home!

In 2015, Israelis Gil and Jenna Lewinsky petitioned the Israeli Agricultural Ministry to send a flock of 130 Jacob Sheep to the land of Israel from a farm in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Initially, the petition was not granted. However, after a public relations campaign by the Lewinsky’s and intervention of diplomats of the Israeli Embassy in Ottawa the Agricultural Ministry allowed the sheep to come if the flock would pass medical tests arranged between the Canadian and Israeli Governments.

The organization Friends of the Jacob Sheep, hopes to establish a Heritage Park in Israel for the breed's future conservation and aims to make it the “national animal” of the Jewish people due to its prominence in the Torah.

In August 2016, the Jacob Sheep flock was moved from the Vancouver area to an area near Toronto's Pearson International Airport, a journey of over 4000 km, in giant 18 wheelers in order to pass their medical tests for export.

On November 30, 2016 the first Jacob Sheep landed in Israel. Gil and Jenna Lewinsky were happy that the first sheep arrived during the week leading up to the reading of the Torah portion of Vayetzei, where the Torah mentions the uniquely speckled Jacob’s sheep in Genesis.
19 planes brought all 119 sheep to Israel. They are now in a farm in Nes Harim where the Lewinsky’s hope to establish.

On January 1st  kabbalist Rabbi Amram Vakhnin came to visit the new home of Jacob’s Sheep in Nes Harim ,blessing  the flock in a deeply moving ceremony. Rabbi Vakhnin made a large canopy like a “Chuppa” and blessed the sheep that they multiply and fill the land of Israel in merit of our patriarch Jacob who originally brought these sheep to Israel.

Gil Lewinsky explains “when the Torah tells us to bring sheep for a sacrifice in the Temple, these are the [very animals] it is speaking about.”

The Lewinsky’s nearly gave up on battling bureaucracy, and struggling for years to return the sheep . But during a trip to Israel last year, while searching for a home for their flock they met with Rabbi Vakhnin, a noted kabbalist. The rabbi blessed them to be successful in their mission and told them the sheep were very dear to him. Gil and Jenna Lewinsky’s dream of returning to their ancestral homeland, reuniting Israel with the ancestral flock, finally came true in early December, and they attribute their improbable success to the kabbalist’s blessing.


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