Is Keeping Kosher Cruel?

By Deborah Weitzmann
June 24, 2011

Animal rights activists argue that suffering and pain is much greater for animals in Jewish slaughterhouses as they are not stunned before being slit. There has been a lot of negative publicity about the Jewish community's defense over the religious regulations of kosher production systems, which if banned would quash the civil liberties of Jews. Kosher meat- derived from animals with split hooves and that chew the cud- must comply with certain rules: Shechita is a method whereby the animal's throat is slit whilst in a fully conscious state. However, the incision takes just over one second and, according to one rabbi interviewed on Channel 4, the knife is 'of more than surgical sharpness', causing the animal no pain at all, as scientifically proven. The sharpness is carefully tested directly before and after the slaughter to ensure that the animal was killed in the most compassionate and humane way. So what is all the uproar for?

In 1933, the first law that the Nazis passed was a Welfare of Animal's Law, which took several measures to ensure the protection of animals including forbidding the practice of Shechita. Yet, ironically the government employed the systematic state-sponsored extermination of approximately 6 million Jews. Even today it can be said that many people who have an antagonism towards the Jewish community espouse animal welfare principles to give vent to their anti-Semitic feelings.

Any democratic society must be based on principles of freedom of religious practice. Therefore we should seek to protect every community and their dietary rules from a social and religious point of view. Keeping Kosher is a way of life for many Jews, it is something both personal and spiritual. It is very important to the Jewish faith as the laws of Kashrut were set in stone for us to follow, passed down from generation to generation.

Kosher meat should be celebrated since we live in a very multicultural society. Jewish food and Kashrut comes from a tradition and custom of what Jewish people have to abide by and taking this away would be taking away their soul and what they believe in. It is wrong to condemn this ritual. However, many Jews are becoming more and more aware of cruelty to animals, disapproving of slaughtering animals even if the process is painless. As a result, vegetarianism is a fast growing trend within the community, as many Jews believe that this is the kindest way to treat and have animals within their life.



Fri, 06/24/2011 - 13:32

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I'm curious to know how many anti-kosher slaughtering activists have no problem with abortion. Maybe the anti-kosher people care less about homo sapiens than other species.


Fri, 06/24/2011 - 14:48

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Since next Tuesday will see a voting in parliament in the Netherlands on a law prohibiting kosher and halal slaughter, this is a very hot issue out here ( I live in Amsterdam).
The animal rights defenders who are suddenly standing up and howl,do not even try to prohibit "ordinary"slaughter, neither the massive bio-industry, nor wearing leather shoes- now that we are at it.Obviously,the few (about 10.000 as against 2 millions) big animals that are slaughtered ritually, bother them.The others don't.

There is a next proposition lying on the shelf to forbid import of kosher meat, too.

Many reactions were on the lines of "well, you Jews can easily go vegetarian", avoiding the real issue: the suppression of a minority.

The same animal right-defenders decline the govt to contribute to Jewish security, btw.

Antisemitism has acquired a cloak of humanitarianism this time : it is "humane" to have an issue with kosher/halal slaughter and it is "humane" to be against Israel- and , by extension, to Jews.

Anna Slater

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 14:49

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Well said! Good point about abortion, seems very hypocritical.


Fri, 06/24/2011 - 16:47

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(Non-Jewish perspective, if welcome...)

Given the horrific way livestock is treated in factory farms in this country and abroad, with little complaint, I would agree with Deborah - I don't think this has anything to do with animal rights but lots to do with denying Jewish rights.


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