TEL AVIV – 113 sheep said to have biblical ancestry will be flown from Canada to Israel to dwell in the land of their forefather Jacob.
The flock, consisting of eight adult rams, 62 adult ewes, and 43 lambs, is known as Jacob Sheep on account of the animals’ unique spotted and speckled fleece, a characteristic found on the biblical sheep belonging to the patriarch.
Israel’s national airline El Al has agreed to heavily subsidize the cost of flying the heritage sheep to Tel Aviv from Toronto.
The rest of the funds, needed to transport the sheep to Toronto and set up their new home on the Golan Heights, are being raised by the sheep’s owners, Gil and Jenna Lewinsky of British Columbia. The couple claim that their sheep are the only ones in the world to have the biblical markings and, according to the instructions of a Jewish mystic, the sheep must be returned to the land of Israel to fulfill a prophecy of redemption. The Lewinskys believe the flock traveled from Canaan to Egypt and on to North Africa, Spain, England, and eventually North America.
In May, the Canadian government’s Food Inspection Agency and the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development approved the importation of live sheep to Israel as a one-off, provided they undergo a quarantine in both Canada and Israel.
The Lewinskys said they hope to set up an educational farm for the sheep that will be open to visits from the public.
“A lot of things have to go right for the sheep, it’s very daunting, and obviously there will be hiccups, but we are confident it will be successful,” Gil Lewinsky told the Times of Israel.
“[Israelis] think it’s amazing that there’s an animal that is in the Bible, and they’ll be able to see it, it’s something that still exists,” he added.