Beit Sefer visits Barn Sanctuary

The month of Elul, when we prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe, begins with The New Year for the Animals, where we learn about compassion, care, and openheartedness. The Barn Sanctuary in Chelsea, where over 120 rescued farm animals experience love and care, gave our Beit students and teachers excellent examples of compassionate care.

Aharon Varady writes on OpenSiddur: What a better way to begin a month dedicated to humbling ourselves and repairing our relationships than by reflecting first on our relationship with behemah — the domesticated animals which depend on us for their care and sustenance. The category of behemah includes all animals historically bred by humans as domesticated creatures, both kosher and non-kosher, e.g. cats and cattle, dogs and donkeys, goats, pigs, chicken, and llamas. If we can imagine, empathize, and understand the dependency of behemah in our care, how much better can we realize our relationship with blessed Holy One, and the infinite chain of inter-dependencies uniting all living relationships in reflection of this Oneness.

Students and teachers alike were fascinated by the virtual tour. Aaron, Ava, and Noah Jackson

The mission of the Barn Sanctuary: We rescue and rehabilitate abused and neglected farmed animals by creating a safe haven where these individuals can recover and thrive. We envision a world in which farmed animals are seen as individuals and treated with empathy and compassion. 

We learned that turkeys can change the color of their heads based on their emotions, and that turkeys have “accents” so that Michigan turkeys sound different from turkeys from other places

Our virtual tour guide, Sarah Chouinard, did an outstanding job of introducing us to the animals, and attentively answering our students many questions. Sarah spent a full hour with us as we visited chickens, goats, sheep, donkeys and cows in addition to the pigs and turkeys.

We learned that they have about 32 pigs because last year two of the rescued pigs were pregnant, and now they have their (already 200 lb) babies!
As we met the farm animals, our students introduced their stuffed animals who they snuggled with while touring the Barn Sanctuary.

The Barn Sanctuary is a wonderful local organization that we hope you will support. Visit them at