An Oklahoma City teen's bat mitzvah project has gone to the dogs — literally.
Rachel Rose, a member of Emanuel Synagogue, raised $1,400 by baking and selling dog biscuits. Rachel, 13, has donated the money to the Central Oklahoma Humane Society as part of her bat mitzvah's required tzedakah (charity) project.
The term “bat mitzvah” has two meanings. When a girl becomes 12 she becomes a “bat mitzvah,” is recognized by Jewish tradition as having the same rights as an adult and is. “Bat” means daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. “Bat Mitzvah” also refers to a religious ceremony that accompanies a girl becoming a bat mitzvah. (Many people may be more familiar with the term “bar mitzvah” which refers to the religious ceremony that accompanies a boy becoming a bar mitzvah. “Bar” means son in Aramaic.)
Rachel's bat mitzvah ceremony is set for Oct. 20 at the Oklahoma City synagogue.
The teenager said she has been reading the portion of the Torah that tells the story of Noah and the ark he built at God's command. In the Book of Genesis, Noah leads animals two-by-two onto the ark and they, along with his family, survive the great flood that God sends upon the Earth.
Rachel said the Torah reading is part of the religious service required for bat mitzvah. She said the timing of the Torah reading to include Noah's story was great because she and her family have a love of animals. With all of that in mind, she chose to dedicate her required tzedakah project to animals.
Rachel's mother, Sara Jane Rose, said the project has been perfect for her daughter.
She said the family has three dogs and Rachel has two pet birds. Sara Jane Rose said her older daughter volunteered with the Central Oklahoma Humane Society so the family has been a supporter of the nonprofit organization for some time.
She said she and Rachel found several recipes for dog biscuits on the Internet. The next step was seeing if family and friends were interested in buying the treats.
Rose said the dog treats seemed like a win-win idea in many ways because Rachel was required to complete a tzedakah project to raise money for the charity of her choice.
Plus, she and Rachel said their family members and friends have responded enthusiastically to the project and dogs seem to love the treats.
“Even the pickiest dogs like our biscuits,” Rachel said.
Rachel said she started baking the biscuits in June with flavors like sweet potato molasses, mint parsley, carrot-garlic, apple and peanut butter-banana. Most of the treats were made in a family friend's large restaurant kitchen where the mother-daughter baking team could use larger mixers and ovens.
“We're keeping Whole Foods in business,” her mother said, laughing.
“Every biscuit is made with love.”
Amy Shrodes, manager of development for the Central Oklahoma Humane Society, said her organization is pleased to be on the receiving end of Rachel's compassion for animals and her tzedakah project.
“Rachel's generation is really the one that will be the next one to lead our community in treating animals respectfully and maintaining our no-kill status once we get there,” Shrodes said.
“We really value people in her age range who want to work with us, whether they want to volunteer or raise money or do something else. There's a lot of different ways for young people to get involved.”
Meanwhile, Rachel is not sure if she will make more treats but she thinks she might.
Her mother said they are now busy getting ready for her bat mitzvah ceremony.
However, she said they have amassed quite a collection of cookie cutters so they might make dog treats to sell to friends looking for gifts for Hanukkah and other special occasions.