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December 20, 2014 / 28 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘halal’

Muslims Want Halal Food in NYC Schools – Kosher Not Option

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Proposed legislation was introduced into New York City Council to require that the city’s public schools provide Islamic-compliant food – halal – as an option in the cafeterias. The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined forces with council member Rafael L. Espinal, Jr. (Brooklyn) to support Resolution 54 at a press conference on the steps of New York City Hall on Wednesday, March 26.

Fourteen other city councilmembers co-sponsored Espinal’s Resolution.

The Resolution goes into explicit detail about what Islamic-observant students are permitted to eat and what they must avoid eating, as well as stating who made those determinations. To wit:

Whereas, The practice of Islam is determined by the Islamic teachings as guided by the holy book Quran and the Hadith, and sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, which includes observing dietary laws; and Whereas, Islamic dietary laws delineate foods that are halal, meaning lawful or permitted, and those that are haram, meaning not permitted; and Whereas, Haram foods include pork and its by-products, meat and poultry not slaughtered according to the Islamic dietary law, alcohol and foods prepared with and containing alcohol, foods containing blood and blood by-products, and foods containing whey prepared with non-microbial enzyme, rennet, animal shortening, monoglycerides and diglycerides from an animal source, sodium stearoyl lactylate, and L-cysteine.

The proposed Resolution concedes that there is no accurate way to determine how many New York City schoolchildren are Muslim, and of those who are Muslim, how many observe strict halal guidelines. The best estimate they have is that approximately 12 percent of the school system’s children are Muslim.

Undeterred by the lack of hard information, the legislators pointed to the Detroit public school system where 35 percent of the students are estimated to be Muslim. In Detroit, the school district began a halal pilot program in 2001 which has expanded to 35 schools in the district.

In addition to pointing to Detroit as a school district where such a program was implemented, the legislators turned to another argument to bolster their demands.

This angle is the one best characterized as “you don’t want school kids going hungry do you?” You see, unless a halal option is offered, the unknown number of New York City’s schoolchildren who can only eat halal food will suffer eating either the vegetarian option that is already offered in the school system, or they will have to bring their own food from home. If the food is brought from home, it probably won’t still be hot by lunch time.

To shore up this argument, the director of operations for CAIR’s New York district, Sadyia Khalique, spoke at Wednesday’s press conference about the hardship she suffered growing up in the New York City school system without a halal food option.

“Growing up in New York City, I, along with many Muslim students, had to struggle during lunch with not having a proper halal meal for the day. The percentage of Muslim children in public schools is growing, and too many children are denied the nutritional benefits lunch would provide because of religious dietary restrictions. As a community, we have to make sure our children receive the best education in environments in which their religious beliefs and practices are respected. No child should leave a lunchroom or enter a classroom hungry.”

Of course, there are other students in the New York City public schools who have religious dietary requirements. That would be Jewish observant children. The New York City public schools don’t offer kosher lunches and to date, no Jewish groups have marched themselves into the New York City council chambers demanding that there be a kosher food option.

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.

New Law Mandates Proper Labeling for Kosher Foods Going to Pantries

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Kosher and halal meals going to food pantries must be tracked and labeled as such under a new federal law.

An amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act enacted last week mandates the tracking and labeling by the Department of Agriculture.

The department currently purchases kosher and halal foods but does not make a deliberate effort to label them as such, making it difficult to ensure that the meals end up in pantries and communities where they are most needed.

“We must take steps to help the neediest observant families and children get access to nutritious food during these difficult times,” U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) initiated the amendment.

Rabbi Abba Cohen, the Agudath Israel of America’s vice president for federal government affairs and the Washington director for the Orthodox group, said in a statement that the legislation is “a vital step forward for addressing the needs of the Jewish poor.”

David Frankel, CEO and executive director of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York, noted, “More than one-half million Jewish New Yorkers struggle with food insecurity each and every day.”

Agudah Presses U.S. Military on Kosher Field Meals

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Agudath Israel of America has asked the Pentagon to restore kosher field meals and charged that the Defense Logistics Agency had solicited a bid in April for kosher and halal “meals ready to eat,” but had recast the solicitation last month to include only halal, which adhere to Muslim religious precepts.

“As things stand now, no kosher MREs are being produced and, as previous stock has become depleted, there is essentially nothing currently available for Jewish members of the Armed Forces that meet their religious dietary needs,” Abba Cohen, Agudah’s Washington director, said in a release. “How long this state of affairs will continue is unknown.”

Cohen said he wrote Maj. Gen. Donald Rutherford, the top military chaplain, expressing his “deep concern” but also confidence “that the department will find a way to address the dietary needs of Jewish service personnel” given that the Pentagon is showing “greater interest in broadening religious accommodation” in the military.

The Pentagon announced last month that U.S. troops may accommodate religious beliefs in their garb or grooming, including kippas and beards for Jewish servicemen, as long as it does not frustrate their mission.

The U.S. military introduced kosher MREs in 1999, a result of complaints from Jewish troops during the 1991 Gulf War that such meals were not available.

Amsterdam Falafel Joint Takes Israelis for a Non-Kosher Ride

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By the time they end up at Baba’s Grillroom in central Amsterdam, Israeli tourists tend to be somewhat distracted.

Situated near the famous Rembrandt Square, this popular and veteran falafel eatery is literally surrounded by pot-selling coffee shops that help make Amsterdam one of the top holiday destinations for Israelis — and especially for the young craving a cheap and top-quality high.

Giggly and thoroughly “mastoolim,” Hebrew slang for baked or stoned, they are likely to experience another dope-related phenomenon: The munchies. And that’s a problem for observant Jews in a city that is not exactly famous for its selection of kosher foods.

How fortunate, then, to chance upon the entrance to Baba’s place, with its promising signs in Hebrew and stars of David. Those sober enough to remain skeptical despite the Jewish symbolism are welcome to see Baba’s kosher certificate — a document signed by three rabbis from the United States.

The only problem is that one of the rabbis is deceased and the other two say they never certified any business in Amsterdam, according to a Jan. 9 report by the NIW Dutch Jewish weekly.

Acting on a tip, the paper sent one of its reporters, Jigal Krant, on an undercover mission that involved dressing up like an Israeli tourist and asking (in English) about the kashrut at Baba’s. Staff showed Krant a certificate signed by three rabbis. But the two living rabbis told NIW they had no idea their name was being used by Baba’s.

When NIW confronted the owners — two Egyptian Christians named Hanna Basta Tawadrous, 48, and Nermin Angali, 34 — they denied ever claiming they had a certificate, which NIW had photographed. Apparently, the new owners bought Baba’s approximately a year ago. To NIW they explained that their meat is kosher because it’s halal. (The NIW report did not investigate whether the meat is, in fact, halal.)

This article was written for JTA by Cnaan Liphshiz.

Quebec to Tighten Regulations on kosher, Halal Meat Production

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Quebec’s agricultural minister is looking to tighten regulations for kosher and halal meat production.

“We want the slaughter to happen in the most complete conditions of hygiene and cleanliness,” Quebec Minister of Agriculture François Gendron said, in comments reported by Montreal radio station CJAD last week.

The minister said he would announce a plan for new regulations sometime this fall. A spokeswoman for the minister confirmed to CJAD that he still intended to release a plan, though she could not specify when.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or CFIA, oversees animal slaughter regulations nationally, so Quebec could only regulate meat that is produced within the province and not exported.

Dovid Russ, COO of major Canadian kosher meat operation Mehadrin, told the Jewish news website Bill613.com that new regulations would be unnecessary.

“The CFIA has one of the highest standards of food processing,” Russ said. “Quebec is trying to get more involved for absolutely no reason whatsoever.”

Quebec’s Halal Meat Association told CJAD they supported the new regulations because it could improve the public image of ritual slaughter, but said it found changes unnecessary.

“I think this misunderstanding is related to Islamophobia,” spokesman Mohamed Ghalem told CJAD.

The ruling party in Quebec, Parti Quebecois, drew flack from Jewish groups when it criticized ritual slaughter last year. In a party statement in spring of 2012, the Parti Quebecois said the slaughter of animals for halal meat production “slams directly against Quebecois values.”

“If you read between the lines there is really ethnic bashing, which in my opinion is odious, unacceptable and reeks of intolerance,” Lawrence Bergman, a Jewish legislator from the Liberal Party, told JTA at the time.

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.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/council-of-europe-says-ritual-circumcision-wont-be-banned/2013/10/10/

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