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When ‘Easter Bunnies’ Undergo a Religious Conversion

Call them the "Passover Bunnies." After all, the word rabbit is rabbi with a T.

by
Julia Szabo

Bio

March 31, 2010 - 12:00 am
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So how do bunnies fit into Pesach? “They’re a natural fit,” Wolfe explains. “The popular conception is that bunnies are cute to look at but that they don’t have much personality. In fact, they have incredible personalities, and the more you spend time with them and interact with them, the more their personalities come out.”

“Passover is the celebration of the Jewish people’s release from slavery,” Wolfe adds, “and in many ways rabbits have been enslaved, or encaged, by that ‘dumb bunny’ misconception.”

Angel and Nickels had both suffered abandonment, but lived to find a happy new home. As survivors, the pet pair are made to feel right at home at Passover. “Typically at the Seder, parsley is one of the symbolic foods — and parsley happens to be one of my rabbits’ favorite snacks!” Wolfe explains. “They eat bunches of it.” But she draws the line at sharing Matzoh. “It’s really not good for rabbits,” Wolfe explains. “They’re vegan herbivores, with very sensitive stomachs.”

Wolfe also has finger puppets that represent the ten plagues described in the Haggadah. She originally purchased these puppets as gifts for her young niece and nephew, and when they outgrew them, she started using them to play with Angel and Nickels at holiday time.

“When we adopt animals, it’s important to give them the things they like, the foods and toys that are good for them, but it also behooves us to introduce some of our traditions to them as well, as long as we do it safely,” says Wolfe, who recently gave birth to twins and looks forward to many Seder celebrations with her two- and four-legged kids.

And so, the animal that became synonymous with the Christian holiday of Easter can now help kids have fun learning about Judaism too, and in the process, drive home the non-denominational lesson of having compassion for all living things. As Wolfe says, “The rabbits will be a nice way of explaining our religious culture and traditions to our children.”

Notice that the word rabbit is rabbi with a T — and this is significant, Wolfe explains. “Rabbis are the teachers of the Jewish community, and I think rabbits have a lot to teach us about community, survival, and relationships.” Social creatures, rabbits don’t thrive by themselves, and prefer to live in bonded pairs. “Rabbits remind us that our interactions with other beings form the tapestry of life,” Wolfe concludes. “Sure, we can do the survival thing alone, but our relationships — with other people and with animals — are what make people live instead of just survive.”

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Journalist and author Julia Szabo wrote the Pets column for the Sunday New York Post, for 11 years and now pens the "Living With Dogs" column for Dogster.com. Follow her on Twitter @PetReporter1. Photo credit: Daniel Reichert
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