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.