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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shechitah’

The Giraffe Mezuzah

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Here’s an interesting question. In Denmark they banned Shechitah – the humanitarian method of slaughtering kosher animals for food, while simultaneouslyslaughtering two perfectly healthy, beautiful giraffes – because the giraffes were “unsuitable for breeding”.

As JewishPress.com readers probably already know, the giraffe is actually a kosher animal, and the myth that we don’t know where to cut it along the neck, is just that, a myth (anywhere is fine).

Here’s the question: Would Denmark have permitted the kosher slaughter of the giraffes which they brutally and pointlessly murdered because they were inconvenient?

I ask the question because Professor Zohar Amar of Bar Ilan University managed to recover and restore the ancient method of processing giraffe hide to turn it into kosher parchment, according to a report in Makor Rishon, a method that was lost to all Jews, except those from Yemen (those guys remember everything).

Giraffe hide is particularly thick, making it perfect for transforming it into parchment and writing Mezuzot (plural of Mezuza) and Torah scrolls.

According to the Rambam and Rabeinu Tam, the kosher animal does not even need to be slaughtered by Shechitah in order to be used as a kosher parchment, so the researchers at Bar Ilan used a giraffe from the Ramat Gan safari that had died for the purpose of their research.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Suspends Aide over Kosher Slaughter Controversy

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Amid reports that kosher slaughter is continuing in Poland in the face of a law prohibiting it, the country’s chief rabbi suspended an aide who appears to have misrepresented the practice to government inspectors.

The aide, Michael Alper, wrote a letter to Polish veterinarians in which he asked for permission to slaughter 250 cows after stunning them with electricity, in accordance with Polish law. The November 2013 letter, which was obtained by JTA, carried Alper’s title of “Rabbinate coordinator for Kosher production in Poland.”

But if the animals had undergone kosher slaughter, or shechitah, then they could not have been stunned, because Jewish law requires animals be conscious when they are killed, Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, told JTA Tuesday.

“Stunning cannot be used in shechitah, and saying it was used is a very serious mistake,” Schudrich said.

“What he [Alper] has written is completely unacceptable and he has been suspended from his position pending an investigation,” Schudrich added.

Alper’s letter was leaked to media amid claims that kosher slaughter has continued in Poland despite a 2012 court ruling that went into effect in January 2013 and effectively prohibited Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. The court ruling nullified a 2004 government directive that had exempted Muslims and Jews from the Polish legal requirement of stunning before slaughter.

Poland’s Channel 1 last month ran promotional videos for a program reporting that kosher slaughter was allegedly continuing in Polish slaughterhouses. The show was supposed to air Feb. 4 but has been postponed.

A source involved in the show’s production told JTA on condition of anonymity that the program involved three slaughterhouses where animals underwent kosher slaughter without stunning but whose slaughter was reported to authorities as having been performed after stunning. Alper did the reporting of the supposed stunning, the source said.

Before his suspension, Alper was Schudrich’s representative to slaughterhouses and the Polish agriculture ministry.

“I am writing to request to carry out the slaughter of 250 heads of cattle on Nov. 23, 2013, with use of electric current to render the animals unconscious,” Alper wrote in the letter obtained by JTA.

Contacted by JTA, Alper declined to answer questions.

Schudrich would neither confirm nor deny claims that commercial kosher slaughter had taken place in Poland after January 2013. But he said that “the court’s ruling in 2012 is not a ban. It is a case of conflicting rulings that is being reviewed by the Constitutional Court.”

JTA has obtained pictures of meat labeled as kosher and produced in Poland after January 2013. One package appeared to carry certification from Rabbi Yehuda Osher Steiner of the Manchester Beth Din in Britain.

The Manchester Beth Din did not answer inquiries from JTA about that certification in time for publication.

Authority, Shmothority, Is Hebrew National Meat Kosher?

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

A Minnesota court is hearing an appeal of a lawsuit arguing that Hebrew National is falsely labeling its products as “100 percent kosher.”

The original lawsuit, filed in May 2012 by 11 plaintiffs claiming fraud and breach of contract, was dismissed in January by U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank on the grounds that the issue is religious in nature and therefore not for the courts to decide.

The appeal of the case, Wallace et al v. ConAgra Foods Inc., was heard in St. Paul on Dec. 19 before a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

According to the plaintiffs’ brief, ex-employees of AER Services, which did the slaughtering for Hebrew National, testified that they were pressured to certify as kosher at least 70 percent of the beef they slaughtered, according to the American Jewish World, the Minnesota newspaper that broke the original story.

The plaintiffs contend that the U.S. court does not have to resolve any Judaic religious issue, because ConAgra employed a production quota system, where a predetermined percentage of cows would be labeled as kosher.

Anne Regan, attorney for the plaintiffs, told the panel of judges that ConAgra was well aware of the problems with AER, and with Triangle K, the firm that provided the hechsher, or kosher certification, for the meat. She reiterated the argument that the quota undermined ConAgra’s claim that it was producing kosher meat to the highest standards.

Judge James B. Loken pressed his question about what makes meat kosher or not, and suggested that if an animal “wasn’t well enough” to meet a “rabbi’s standard, you can’t go there.” In other words, the U.S. court can’t sort out what constitutes a kosher product.

Regan said that if the case was sent back to the district court, attorneys for the plaintiffs could file discovery motions and try to prove that ConAgra was defrauding consumers. The plaintiffs’ brief noted that consumers view kosher food as the “new organic.”

Judge William Jay Riley, chief judge of the 8th Circuit court, also expressed skepticism about how meat could be considered kosher, if the employees of the kosher slaughtering firm “just passed on the cows.”

AER Services, ConAgra and Triangle K have denied the allegations and blamed disgruntled former employees for trying to sully Hebrew National’s reputation. Their attorneys reiterated their argument that a U.S. court cannot constitute what qualifies as kosher, the American Jewish World reported.

“A secular court simply cannot second guess a religious determination by a religious authority,” said Corey Gordon, representing the defendants.

The judges said they would rule on the appeal “as soon as possible,” the paper said.

JTA and AJWNews content was used in this report.

Belgian ‘Holocaust Ad’ Against Ritual Slaughter Riles Jews, Muslims

Friday, October 18th, 2013

A Belgian radio ad that is accused of drawing on Holocaust themes to promote a ban on ritual slaughter has drawn sharp criticism from Jewish and Muslim representatives.

The ad, which the Antwerp-based animal welfare group Gaia produced for airing on national radio and sent Monday via email to 200 politicians, delivers a mock testimony told from the perspective of a lamb waiting for the slaughter.

“We were asleep when they came for us,” the voice-over for the lamb says. “I couldn’t understand a word of their foreign language. They hurled us in the truck and took us to a building with blood on the floor. I know what will happen to me but I can only wait.”

An announcer then says: “Without stunning, animals are very aware of what goes on in the slaughterhouse. Politicians, change the law and forbid ritual slaughter.”

Jewish and Muslim religious laws require animals to be conscious at the time of their slaughter — a practice that some animal rights activists deem cruel.

In a strongly worded condemnation of the ad, Nicolas Zomersztajn of Brussels’ Jewish Secular Community Center told the Belgian news agency Belga that the ad was “a new example of the trivialization of the crime of genocide by Gaia activists.”

The Executive Committee of Belgian Muslims said the campaign “bordered on racism.”

A Gaia spokesperson denied the ad contained references to the Holocaust.

“This is an attempt to describe what animals experience now without any religious or historic connotations,” the spokesperson told JTA on Thursday. Asked about the “foreign language” element, she replied: “Yes, animals don’t understand people.”

The PETA animal rights group apologized to the Jewish community for its “Holocaust on Your Plate” campaign in 2005, two years after the Anti-Defamation League termed it “a project for trivializing the murder of six million Jews.”

Will Israeli Embassies in Europe Expand Services to Include Brit Mila and Shechitah?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

In response to the latest European ban on Brit Mila (circumcision), MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) has put forward the proposal to utilize the diplomatic immunity and extraterritorial status of Israel’s embassies, and allow Jewish families in Europe to perform their Brit Mila ceremonies within the Israeli embassy’s walls.

Jewish Home Knesset Member Nisan Slomiansky

Jewish Home Knesset Member Nissan Slomiansky

Slomiansky wrote to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin stating, “We are witnessing the winds of Antisemitism again blowing through Europe, this time under the guise of humanism and health. It started with the ban on Shechitah (kosher slaughter of animals) that began in a few countries such as Sweden and Poland and it is now expanding throughout Europe. Throughout Jewish history, since the time of Abraham, Jews have given everything to fulfill Brit Mila, and we will continue, with Israel, to do so.”

Slomiansky said that Israel must let European Jews know that in every European country where Brit Mila is banned, Israel will open the embassies to them, where, on Israeli soil, they can perform Brit Mila without breaking the (local) laws.

One wonders if the Israeli embassies will soon be building Shechitah facilities too.

Maybe its just time for European Jewry to return home to Israel.

French Senator Receives Death Threats over Anti-Shechitah Stance

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

A French senator said she will complain to police over death threats she received after proposing special labels for halal and kosher meat.

Sylvie Goy-Chavent of the centrist UDI party will lodge a complaint with police over the threats and online “calls for civil war and a call for the Israeli government to attack France,” she told the France Info radio station over the weekend.

She did not say where the threats appeared, but reader comments in an article by the Jewish French news site JSSNews about Goy-Chavent featured a call to “slash her neck and see how long it takes her to bleed.”

The threats followed a non-binding proposal that Goy-Chavent submitted last month in her capacity as senatorial rapporteur on the meat industry. In a report published last month, she recommended that producers of meat originating from animals that were not stunned before slaughter be legally required to apply “special labeling, to be applied in a non-stigmatizing manner.”

Last year, Goy-Chavent signed a full-page ad in Le Parisian urging the French president to outlaw ritual slaughter in France. She also has expressed support for labeling products from areas that came under Israeli control after 1967, according to the online news magazine Mediapart.

Reacting to Goy-Chavent’s proposal, Joel Mergui of the Consistoire — the French Jewish community’s body responsible for religious services — said “it risks reaffirming preconceptions that Jews are cruel.”

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Threatens to Quit over Kosher Slaughter Ban

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Poland’s chief rabbi said he will resign if a definitive ban on kosher slaughter is imposed in the country.

“I cannot imagine serving as chief rabbi in a country in which the rights of the Jewish religion are curtailed, as I would not be able then to serve properly my coreligionists,” Rabbi Michael Schudrich wrote on his Facebook page. “This obviously is not a threat, for whom would I threaten, but a statement of an obvious fact. If the legality of ritual slaughter will not be reinstituted in a legitimate way, I will be obliged to resign from my function.”

The American-born Schudrich, who has worked in Poland for more than two decades, has served as Poland’s chief rabbi since 2004. Before that he was rabbi to the Warsaw Jewish community and director of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland.

The lower house of Poland’s parliament last Friday rejected a government-sponsored draft law that would have legalized Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, in Poland, by a 222-178 vote.

Poland had allowed shechitah until earlier this year, making about $650 million annually by exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim-majority countries. But in January, acting on a petition filed by animal rights groups, a constitutional court ruled that the country has no right to allow religious slaughter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/polands-chief-rabbi-threatens-to-quit-over-kosher-slaughter-ban/2013/07/15/

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