Columns - 2011

    One Goat, Many Scapegoats

    by Doug Brook
    Southern Jewish Life columnist

    (The Jewnion) The Metropolitan Police Department has officially confirmed that the spate of unusual events which rocked suburbia in recent weeks, while seemingly unrelated at first, were all part of a single string of extraordinary occurrences.

    As initially reported at the end of the Seder on the first night of Passover, these numerous and sometimes bizarre events were carried out by a series of perpetrators that reportedly lead all the way to the top.

    Authorities at first treated these as individual cases, but started to put the pieces together when a local veterinarian reported a patient showing symptoms of over-ingestion of goat meat.

    "I still can't believe my cat could eat a whole goat, no matter how small it was," said local pet owner Freeman Friedman. "But why did Goldberg's dog have to bite my poor little tabby? Did that mangy mutt know the goat personally?"

    "My dog doesn't know any goats," insisted the dog's owner, Goldie Goldberg, who had filed a complaint accusing Friedman of seeking revenge by hitting her dog with a stick. Friedman denied any wrongdoing, though the dog had clearly received a striking blow from a long wooden object, possibly a piece of wood.

    Forensic experts have yet to determine who held the stick, Friedman or otherwise, because all they discovered in Goldberg's yard were a few stray dog hairs next to the burned remains of a stick.

    Also unclear to officials is who put out the fire. The stick was found on the back of the Goldberg property, adjacent to a large puddle. No rainfall or outdoor sprinklers could account for this accumulation of water.

    According to the police, the accumulation of water that allegedly doused the fire must have been administered intentionally, and likely prevented a brush fire that could have engulfed the Goldberg property.

    Investigators thought the trail went cold there, but after putting on sweaters they observed a stray dog drinking from the remaining water. Closer investigation of the water and surrounding area revealed dried ox hoofprints left just after the fire was extinguished.

    Following the ox's trail led investigators to the Lowenstein farm. There, Lowell Lowenstein confirmed that one of his oxen had escaped the day before and was still missing. "He's missing," said Lowenstein.

    Metropolitan Animal Control was called in to assist in searching for the missing ox. It was unclear what investigators hoped to learn from the ox when found, but with livestock, Lowenstein explained, "you never know."

    After a four-hour search, Lowenstein's ox was found. The coroner reported that it had been slaughtered, less than an hour after the ox drank the water.

    Authorities began an exhaustive search for the slaughterer. After three days, a body was discovered a few hundred yards from the dead ox, the body so disfigured that it will be days before identification is possible.

    Investigators considered this to be the likely slaughterer due to his proximity to the ox, and the large knife whose blade matched the ox's wounds clutched in what once might have been his hand.

    Upon seeing the unrecognizable body, Lowenstein, who had been nearby mourning his ox, said, "whoever did that, the devil was in 'im."

    Lowenstein was closer to the truth than he knew. The next morning, over a mile away in secluded woods, police discovered the remains of the Angel of Death, who was easily identified by his scythe and hooded black cloak.

    According to the coroner's office, "it is too early to be certain, but indications are that the Angel of Death was not merely killed, but smote."

    There's only one who could have smote the Angel of Death. As of this writing, authorities have surrounded Congregation Beth Israel seeking an audience with the Holy One Blessed Be He, to learn His whereabouts at the time.

    Goldberg was surprised at the revelations, but relieved. "Whatever all this means, at least the Angel of Death is smote. That's got to be good, right?"

    But what of the little goat that innocently started it all? It belonged to young Constantine Cohen, whose father had just bought him the goat for two zuzim. Calls to several financial institutions have not yielded any explanation of how much two zuzim are worth.

    When told of the extensive string of events, Friedman opined, "it goes to show, in today's society, just how much trouble can be caused by one little kid."

    Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who wants to know how many zuzim are in a mezuzah. For more information, past columns, other writings, and more, visit For exclusive online content, become a fan at

    Copyright Doug Brook. All rights reserved.