Expats: Return Jacob’s sheep

  • Israel Sheep small home
When Jews were exiled from the Land of Israel, their sheep followed. Now two Canadians are trying to get some of the biblical sheep back to Israel.
by ANT KATZ | Sep 25, 2015

A recent story: ‘’Couple wants to bring back biblical sheep breed to Israel’’ by Tamar Auber and published on JSpaceNews.com caught the eye of a regular Jewish Report reader who submitted it for publication.

When the Jewish people were exiled from the Land of Israel two millennia ago, whom they obviously took the livestock into exile with them.

Now two expatriate South Africans in Canada are determined to see the biblical sheep resettled in the long-lost homeland, something that has found them at odds with Israel's ministry of agriculture. The particular breed of sheep is commonly known as Jacob sheep. Jenna and Gil Lewinsky are the directors of Friends of the Jacob Sheep.

Israel Sheep small homeNaturally, the exiles and the livestock became separated over time and today, it seems, “after the Jewish exiles, the sheep lost contact with their Jewish owners and have endured their own exile over the ages until the present day”, the Lewinskys wrote in a recent Jerusalem Post op-ed.

RIGHT:the elusive Jacob sheep haven't been seen in Israel for some 2 000 years.

The sheep are said to be the descendants of Jacob’s original flock which he split according to Genesis with Laban, creating a lineage of sheep that always produced speckled offspring. The Lewinskys are on a mission to get the sheep returned to their original lands.

Now only seen in Canada

As a result, the Friends of the Jacob Sheep say the animals, which are now found in Canada, belong to the Jewish people and should be in Israel.

“While other sheep breeds exist in Israel, only one was given to the Jewish people specifically; Jacob earned them as wages from Laban,” the Lewinskys contend, and their Friends of the Jacob Sheep are hoping to import the sheep from Abbottsford, British Columbia, in Canada, to the Golan Heights, where they say they want to open up a heritage park so that the biblical animals can once again roam in Israeli pastures, writes Auber.

So far, however, they have been unable to convince Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel that importing the sheep is a good idea.

The Canadian couple is not willing to give up their fight to help the sheep make "aliyah" anytime soon, however.

According to the Lewinskys, importing the sheep is not only about having them back on the land, it is also about conserving the biblical breed. They wrote on J-Post: “The Jacob sheep have a very sad story because their numbers are dwindling in Canada,” and “Israel currently only has Awassi sheep, which originated in the Syrian-Arabian desert.

“The Jacob sheep are an artefact of ancient Israel and proves that the story of Jacob and Laban took place,” say the Lewinskys.


  1. 2 Denis Solomons 25 Sep
    Some of those sheep definitely look like goats.
  2. 1 ilana 06 Oct
    How did the sheep get to Canada???


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