Jewish Federation's Family Fun Day gives kids up-close experience with animals


HANCOCK -- Five-year-old Simma Krantz climbed a fence to reach out to an imposing yet kind ox. The brave soul pet the stout animal and safely returned to the arms of her mother.

It was all part of Family Fun Day at Hancock Shaker Village, an event put on by the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.

One of the beliefs of Judaism is to make the world a better place. That includes taking good care of animals, as prescribed in the Torah.

In honor of that tenet, the federation organized the event for children to witness how animals are taken care of.

Jewish children and their families were shown how the village takes care of their oxen, sheep, goats, cows and chickens on a cold but sunny autumn day.

Sunday's event was also about helping Jewish families make friends and to "come together as a community," said Dara Kaufman, the federation's executive director.

Robin Seeley brought her daughter Samantha, 8, and 10-year-old son Harrison, of Richmond, to Shaker Village.

"It's a fantastic event on a beautiful sunny day in the Berkshires," Seeley said.

Her daughter, Samantha, was holding up one of the village's many chickens. "I like it," she said. "It's soft, nice and has cool feathers."

Jennifer Sacon brought her family along, including her 11-year-old daughter Alexandra and 9-year-old son Ely. "It's great to get everybody outside and connecting with the animals," she said. She remarked on how big some of the animals had gotten since her family saw the village's baby animal exhibit this past spring.

The event also served as a kickoff for the federation's second annual pajama collection drive for the holiday season. It is collecting new pajamas to donate to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Collections will take place at Congregation Knesset Israel in Pittsfield, the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires in Pittsfield, Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams and Hevreh of Southern Berkshire in Great Barrington. The collection drive runs through Dec. 8.

The federation is also involved in supporting PJ Library, a program which delivers free books to Jewish children. Founded by Springfield philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, more than 3 million books have been donated to children. The children's books have Jewish-related themes or connections related to Jewish history and holidays.

The term PJ library refers to the idea of parents reading to their pajama-clad children at night.

The program, Kaufman said, helps "Jewish families integrate Jewish values to their children's lives," Kaufman said.

Susan Frisch Lehrer, the library coordinator for the federation who also helped organize the first pajama collection, said families can sign up to receive the free books by going to

To reach Nathan Mayberg:
or (413) 496-6243


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