The Dayton Jewish Observer — Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano, the ducklings have come back to Dayton, Ohio’s Temple Israel, at least for the past five years.
Every spring, a mama duck flies into the courtyard of the temple, which she can only access by aerial landing. There, she builds a nest and lays her eggs behind some bushes. With help from the temple staff, when her hatchlings arrive, she parades them through the building, out the back door, and down to the banks of the Miami River.
This year was no exception. On Saturday, April 22, the mama duck led a record 14 ducklings through the temple to the river. Temple Israel’s Senior Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz captured the annual rite on a video.
“The mama lets us know once they’re ready to go after they hatch,” said Bodney-Halasz, who has been present each year for the big event.
“She marches back and forth in front of the courtyard windows. Friday night, she clearly wanted to go out, but there were too many people there for our Shabbat service, so we waited until Saturday, when it was a smaller crowd. The kids were so excited on Friday night. They kept staring out the windows into the courtyard,” said Bodney-Halasz.
On Saturday, instead of marching her ducklings straight out of the building and down to the river as always, the mama duck decided to take a detour, the rabbi said.
“At first, she led them to the coat room,” Bodney-Halasz said. “She’s never done that before.”