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September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘halal’

Belgian Court Upholds Shechita Laws Despite Challenge by Lawmakers

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

The Constitutional Court of Belgium has rejected a petition by parliamentarians who once again tried to ban shechita — the Jewish ritual slaughter of meat.

The lawmakers tried to neutralize the right of Jews and Muslims to maintain the religious ritual slaughtering customs that are necessary for the proper processing and consumption of meat in both faiths.

Belgian lawmakers had requested the court extend the reach of the nation’s law requiring an animal be stunned prior to slaughter to apply also to Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses as well. Such an act is in direct opposition to religious Jewish kashruth and Muslim halal laws.

Faith representatives turned to the Belgian courts, where it was decided that any extension of the law to the religious communities would be a violation of their freedom to practice their religion.

In December 2014, the Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare, Ben Weyts, reversed his position on the issue of Jewish ritual slaughter in Belgium and instead committed himself to opposing a proposed ban on the practice of Jewish ritual slaughter.

European Jewish Association Rabbi Menachem Margolin emphasized at the time, and has since reiterated that the practice of “shechita” is the most humane method of slaughter, as it ensures the welfare of the animal not only at the time of the slaughter but also concerns itself with “the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter.”

Hana Levi Julian

Right-Wing UK Independence Party Backs Shechita Ban

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Britain’s right-wing UK Independence Party (UKIP) has voted to support a plan to outlaw the ritual slaughter of animals for meat without prior stunning. UKIP is the fourth largest British party in the European Parliament.

Britain’s RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have called on the government to ban ritual slaughter. Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to allow exemptions for religious purposes such as the Jewish practice of “shechita” and the Muslim tradition of “halal.”

Both forbid stunning the animal before slaughter, which in Jewish law must be accomplished with a scrupulously sharpened blade and a single, rapid, surgical cut.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who reversed himself in the vote and backed the ban, has since been accused of driving Jews from Britain with the new policy, the Daily Mail reported.

British Jews are already considering their alternatives in the face of rising anti-Semitism at home and across Europe. Last summer alone there was a 400 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic crimes committed in Britain.

“We respect religious groups to carry out slaughter in the UK according to how they define and read their scriptures. What we do not allow however is for the rights and demands of groups within those religion override the UK’s compassionate traditions of animal welfare.

“Animal and veterinary science has long concluded that cutting the throats of animals whilst they are fully conscious can cause significant distress and pain. We see no reason why religious groups should not take into account the concerns of animal welfare when carrying out slaughter,” the party said in its statement, calling the government’s protection of religious rights “weak, lazy and bordering on spineless.”

Agriculture spokesperson Stuart Agnew told Britain’s Jewish Chronicle newspaper he opposed the policy but was overruled. “This isn’t aimed at you – it’s aimed elsewhere – it’s aimed at others. You’ve been caught in the crossfire; collateral damage. You know what I mean.”

Both Agnew and Farage had previously vowed to oppose the ban.

Hana Levi Julian

Polish Court Rules Ban on Shechitah Unconstitutional

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

A Polish court ruled that the de-facto ban imposed last year on slaughter without stunning of animals, which includes kosher and halal ritual slaughter, is unconstitutional.

A majority of five out of the nine justices who reviewed the ban at the Polish Constitutional Tribunal Wednesday ruled it ran contrary to the country’s constitution, the European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based lobby group that has fought to scrap the ban, said in a statement.

The court’s ruling was on a petition that argued the ban violated the European Convention on Human Rights and led to “discrimination in social and economic life of Jews in Poland,” polska.newsweek.pl reported.

The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland was among several entities that appealed the ban. The union filed its petition with the tribunal over a year ago to review the case.

Ritual slaughter was banned in Poland, effective as of Jan. 1, 2013, after the country’s constitutional court scrapped a government regulation that exempted Jews and Muslims from a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter. Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, as well as Muslim ritual slaughter, or halal, requires that animals be conscious before their necks are cut.

The tribunal asked for the opinion of the Sejm, or Parliament, and the Prosecutor General’s Office in making its decision.

According to the Sejm, ritual slaughter for the needs of the Jewish community in Poland is legal, and the person performing the slaughter cannot be punished. The Prosecutor General’s Office has a different opinion, which says that “the slaughter of animals, provided by religious rites, is not permitted.”

Before the ban, Poland had a $500 million industry of halal and kosher meat for export.

In July 2013 a draft bill aimed at legalizing ritual slaughter failed to pass in Polish parliament.

On March 5, 2014 KRIR, or the National Council of Agricultural Chambers in Poland, filed in Poland’s Sejm a bill on the Law on Slaughter which would legalize ritual slaughter. Parliament will take up this project after the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement the ruling meant that “Shechitah can continue in Poland as it has done for generations.” Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, said the ruling Wednesday was a “relief” because it “prevents a dangerous precedent that would have affected all European Jewry.

“In the last few years, the European Jewish community has been under attack from a series of anti-Jewish laws, that, if passed, would seriously restrict the ability of many Jews who wish to lead a Jewish life,” added Rabbi Margolin.

JTA

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.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

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.

JTA

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.”

JTA

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.

JTA

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/agudah-presses-u-s-military-on-kosher-field-meals/2014/02/04/

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