Two goats—one sacrificed “unto God” and the other “unto Azazel”—were a central symbol in the High Holiday season in the times of the Temples.
A mother in the United Kingdom alleges that a very different sort of caprine incident has led an Orthodox Jewish camp to scapegoat her 12-year-old son for allegedly terrorizing a goat.
The teen was expelled from the camp in Shropshire, some 50 miles south of Liverpool. His mother, Sophie Behar, is asking Bnei Akiva to refund part of the camp fees and denies that her son was cruel in any way to the animal.
Camp insiders had reported mistreatment of the goat that was too distressing to detail, The Jewish Chronicle reported. The allegations remain unverified. Behar told the paper that her son was one of several kids implicated in the incident.
“He ended up being the only child out of five from Manchester who was sent home from camp,” she said. She called her son an “animal lover” and said he “even attempted to stop another child from hurting them.”
The mom added that the email from camp authorities left her confused about who was involved and how the allegations were made. She also said that she has been unable to reach Bnei Akiva, despite calling an emergency line. (Bnei Akiva did not respond to a query from JNS.)
After Behar asked for an investigation, she said a staff member emailed her: “After speaking to leaders and site staff, it is apparent that [her son], together with other boys, harmed the goats.”
An on-site caretaker said “baa” to that though.
“I never saw any children near the goats,” the caretaker said. (The caretaker did note damage to recently installed fencing.)
Behar noted that her son has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and claimed that the camp failed to administer her son’s daily medication. She said three other boys “escaped the punishment of expulsion, and one child chose to leave voluntarily.”
“My son was, and still is, deeply distressed and unable to comprehend why he was sent home,” she said. “He feels unfairly treated, and I have no recourse but to pursue legal action after the dismissive treatment we received from camp leaders.”