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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘animal rights’

Danish Jewish Leader Disputes Report of Ban on Kosher Slaughter

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

The president of Denmark’s Jewish community has disputed a government minister’s claims that new regulations would outlaw all kosher slaughter in the country.

“We find this an odd statement,” Finn Schwarz, the community’s president, told JTA on Thursday about statements made earlier in the week by Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen to the Ritzau news agency.

Jorgensen was speaking about slaughter without prior stunning — a requirement for kosher certification of meat in Jewish Orthodox law and for halal certification of meat for observant Muslims. Jorgensen said, “I am in favor of religious slaughter, but it must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.”

Danish Jews already agreed in 1998 to the certification as kosher of meat from cattle that were stunned with non-penetrative captive bolt pistols, Schwarz said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with the British Chief Rabbi’s office. The new regulation will not ban the slaughter of animals after stunning with non-penetrative captive bolts, he added.

The new regulations, regardless of how they are interpreted, do not directly affect Denmark’s 6,000 Jews because there are not kosher slaughterhouses in the country. All kosher meat is imported.

The European Jewish Press reported Thursday that European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy Tonio Borg told a Jewish leader during a meeting in Brussels that the new Danish legislation regulating ritual slaughter in the country contradicts European laws that ensure the right of religious groups to perform ritual slaughtering.

Jewish Orthodox law and Muslim law require animals be intact and conscious when they are killed. Non-penetrative captive bolts were permitted because they do not wound the animal, which is slaughtered immediately after being knocked on the head.

Rabbi Yitzi Loewenthal of Copenhagen said the agreement on the use of captive-bolt, non-penetrating pistols may have applied to post-cut stunning, a procedure in which the animal’s head is knocked immediately after its neck is cut. Some rabbis have allowed the procedure elsewhere in the world. However, because shechitah is not regularly performed in Denmark, some issues regarding the procedure are not immediately clear, Loewenthal said.

Lithuania’s Support of Ritual Slaughter May Turn the Tide

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The Lithuanian parliament has taken the first steps to legal ritual slaughter in what could be move that turns the tide against the wave of initiatives in Europe to defend the “rights of animals” as a higher priority that freedom of religious practices.

“The fact that Lithuania currently holds the Presidency of the European Union means that this law will have an extremely strong symbolic significance for the rest of Europe,” said Jewish Congress president Dr. Moshe Kantor.

The bill passed its first reading in the parliament by a lopsided margin of 51-2.

Religious slaughter was banned in Poland on January 1 after its Constitutional Court deemed it incompatible with animal rights legislation, and there have been other attempts in Europe to ban religious traditions like circumcision.

“We face significant opposition to our traditions in Europe, but we are glad to be winning some significant victories for freedom of religion on our continent,” Kantor said. “Freedom of religion is one of the EU’s founding pillars and those who fight against it are compromising the principles of tolerance and mutual respect which the new Europe is supposed to be built upon.”

Council of Europe Says Ritual Circumcision Won’t Be Banned

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Council of Europe has assured President Shimon Peres that Europe will not ban religious circumcision despite last week’s non-binding resolution of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly that cited circumcision of males as a violation of human rights and equated it with female genital mutilation.

President Peres wrote on Monday to Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to protest the resolution. Although it has no legal significance, the Council is very influential on decisions by the European Union.

Jangland said male circumcision did not violate human rights, and Daniel Holtgen, the Director of Communications at the Council of Europe, sent a tweet quoting Jagland as saying, “Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”

The resolution angered Muslims as well as Jews. It called for European states to “promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures,” which the assembly lists as the circumcision of boys, early childhood interventions in the case of intersexual children and the coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Marlene Rupprecht, the rapporteur behind the resolution, claimed the text did not aim to “stigmatize any religious community or its practices” but simply called for public debate “aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity.”

While Jagland’s statements were good news for Jews and also for Muslims, it is scary that we are so susceptible to the threat of a ban on circumcision that we have to be grateful to someone deciding to suspend what would be a death sentence to Judaism.

Jews have died rather than accept decrees against circumcision, but today’s trend to use “human rights”  and “animal rights” to disguise campaigns that deprive Jewish rights is more subtle and devious than the open anti-Semitism of the past.

A judge in a German province earlier this year banned circumcision, leading to an uproar that prompted the national parliament to make it clear that ritual circumcision is legal.

The anti-circumcision movement is increasingly popular in Scandinavia, where the influx of Muslims also is a factor behind the campaign to prohibit the religious rite.

Jews and Muslims are constantly threatened with a ban on local slaughtering of animals according to Jewish and Muslim laws, which prohibit the method of stunning before using the knife. There are some leniencies in Muslim law.

The most recent controversy is in Poland, which banned ritual slaughter this year but where Jews now have to be thankful to the Catholic Church for supporting the rights of Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to religious laws.

The Polish parliament in July rejected a bill, sponsored by the government, to legalize kosher slaughter, but Pope Francis recently has voiced concern over the ban.

“Animal rights” supporters have successfully campaigned in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to outlaw kosher slaughter.

The European Union’s official policy states, “European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter” generally requires stunning before slaughter, but allows member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter.”

Holland two years nearly outlawed kosher slaughter after the Animal Rights Party managed to convince the Lower House of parliament to pass a bill, which was rejected by the Upper House, to ban the practice.

Israel is the only country that comes to mind where Jewish rights still are unquestionably more important than “animals’ rights.”

As for circumcision, the only argument might be over “Metzitzah b’peh.”

Haredi Leader: Wearing a Shtreimel Is Chilul Hashem

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim, chairman of Ha’edah Hacharedit, an anti-Zionist faction in the Haredi public in Israel, estimated at between 50 and 100 thousand followers, surprised many on Tuesday when he called on Chassidim to give up their animal-fur traditional shtreimel hats and switch to synthetic fur.

In a conference of animal rights activists, Rabbi Pappenheim, a Yeke (German Jew) who is well respected within the Haredi world, said that the shtreimels are made with disregard to the law prohibiting the causing of needless pain to animals (tza’ar ba’alei chayim).

The shtreimel is a fur hat worn on Shabbat and holidays by Haredi men, especially Chassidim, after they get married. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by “Yerushalmi Jews,” members of the original Ashkenazi community of Jerusalem—from their bar-mitzvah on.

The shtreimel is made from the tips of the tail of sable, mink, marten (weasels), or fox, costing anywhere from one to five thousand dollars–since it takes about 30 animals to make one shtreimel. The synthetic fur shtreimel is more common in Israel than elsewhere.

According to the website RespectForAnimals.com, the fur animals are raised in rows of small cages (2 ft. long by 1 ft. wide and 1 ft. high) and are fed with dollops of paste placed on the top of the cage. Water is supplied by hose and nipple.

Slaughter methods of these animals include gassing (using vehicle exhaust), neck breaking, lethal injection and electrocution (using electrodes clamped in the mouth and inserted in the rectum).

Rabbi Pappenheim said that because of the wide public discussion of the need to stop needless pain to animals, wearing a shtreimel today constitutes Chilul Hashem – desecration of God’s name.

“We live in an era in which people are more stringent and they make a lot of noise about tza’ar ba’alei chayim. So we must stop this custom of hurting animals,” he sais, according to Ma’ariv.

“Some would say that the synthetic shtreimel is not as beautiful,” Rabbi Pappenheim argued, “but I say, do we need to be more chassidish than [mythic founder of the Chassidic movement] the Ba’al Shem Tov? I don’t believe the shtreimels worn by the students of the Ba’al Shem Tov were more beautiful [than the synthetic shtreimels].”

He told his listeners that when his own children wanted to buy him a new shtreimel, he insisted: “I told them, only synthetic.”

Other participants in the animal rights conference included Rabbi Pappenheim’s grandson, Shmuel Pappenheim, and Yehuda Schein of Beit Shemesh, founder of the organization Chemla – an acronym for Haredim volunteering to help animals (the word also means “pity”).

Attorney Yossi Wolfson of the NGO Let Animals Live, and one of the founders of Anonymous for Anila Rights, and Dr. Yael Shemesh of the Bible Studies Dept. at Bar Ilan University.

Despite his support for the synthetic shtreimel, Rabbi Shlomo Pappenheim objected to the idea of legislation to promote its use. “I believe in evolution, not revolution,” he said. we should get to a point where people would be ashamed to wear anything but a synthetic shtreimel.”

Schein said Haredi Jews should be at the forefront of animal rights issues, together with secular Israelis.

Israeli Haredi journalist Israel Gelis, who has written extensively on the shtreimel (it began as an attempt by the gentiles to humiliate Jews, which we turned into a badge of honor) told The Jewish Press that the only driving force that could cause a Haredi man to opt for a synthetic shtreimel is its cost: they sell in Israel for about $600.

Poland Rejects ‘Shechitah’ Kosher Slaughter

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The Polish Parliament rejected a draft law that would have legalized Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, in Poland.

The bill, defeated 222-178 on Friday, would have allowed shechitah provided it is done in a slaughterhouse. It also excluded certain forms of immobilizing the animal.

Until this year, Poland allowed shechitah, making about $650 million annually by exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim-majority countries like Egypt and Iran. But the business practically ground to a halt in January after a constitutional court ruled that the country has no right to allow religious slaughter. The ruling was made after a petition filed by animals’ rights groups.

Dozens of Polish farmers marched in Warsaw on Wednesday in a rally in support of allowing shechitah.

On Friday, Jewish groups bemoaned the failure to pass a law allowing ritual slaughter.

“The majority of Polish MPs gave the Polish Jewish community three choices: don’t practice your religion, don’t eat meat, or don’t live among us,” said Abraham H. Foxman, Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

“For a country still struggling to come to terms with its past treatment of Jews, it is outrageous to strike such a blow to the future of Jews in Poland. This vote was a clear violation of religious freedom, supported by the ignorance of some and the bigotry of others.

“The debate demonstrated acceptance of the false premise that kosher slaughter, which involves a single cut with a razor-sharp knife to minimize pain, is less humane than slaughter with pre-stunning by electrocution, gassing or a bolt shot to the animal’s forehead.”

“Populism, superstition and political interests won out,” said Piotr Kadlcik, President of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland. “It looks like we’ve made a full circle and are heading back to what happened in Poland and Germany in the 1930s.”

“Jewish communities across Europe will be incredibly distressed that the Polish Parliament has voted not to protect the religious freedom of its Jewish and Muslim citizens,” Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in statement.

“The result of today’s vote in the Sejm is extremely disappointing,” a spokesperson for Shechitah UK, a non-profit working to repeal efforts to ban the practice, told JTA. “It represents the lowest point in the campaign to protect shechitah in Europe.”

The group said that it will work with Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich and the Conference of European Rabbis to offer assistance in the campaign to overcome this setback.

The Conference of European Rabbis also said it was “alarmed by the level of disinformation that has characterized the parliamentary debates” on the issue.

“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Polish prime minister,” the conference said. “We will also be exploring what our legal options at E.U. level might be at this stage. This is very sad day for the Polish Jewish community and indeed for all of European Jewry.”

In a joint statement, Schudrich and Kadlcik said the result of the vote was “a shock.” The de-facto ban infringes on freedom of religion, they added. Noting that hunting for sport is legal in Poland, they said the vote against shechitah reflects “sinister hypocrisy which usually masks the discrimination against a part of the citizenry.”

Polish Court asks Tribunal to Rule on Ritual Slaughter Ban

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

A Bialystok court has asked the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to rule on whether the country’s ban on ritual slaughter is compliant with the constitutional freedom of religion.

The case is connected to the ritual slaughter of one cow which took place in March in Tykocin.

Poland on January 1 banned slaughter without stunning, a requirement for kosher slaughter. In March, one cow was slaughtered in northeastern town of Tykocin.

Urszula Sienczylo, the chief prosecutor of Bialystok, said at the time that it did not violate Polish law because the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community.

The decision of the Bialystok prosecutor was appealed by animal rights activists and the local veterinary inspector. The case then came to the court in Bialystok which last week turned to the Constitutional Tribunal. The case is on hold pending the ruling of the tribunal.

This month the Polish Parliament is scheduled to vote on the legalization of ritual slaughter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/polish-court-asks-tribunal-to-rule-on-ritual-slaughter-ban/2013/07/04/

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