Determination will beat threat to rituals

By Shimon Cohen, December 27, 2012

In 2012 both shechita and milah came under attack across Europe.

We faced a serious attack on shechita in Poland and worked very hard with the exceptional Chief Rabbi Schudrich, to protect it. Here, Shechita UK has been vigilant as the Government prepares to replace existing legislation with EU Regulation 1099 on the Protection of Animals at the Time of Killing.

We are confident of success in maintaining the humane slaughter of animals in accordance with Jewish law will remain.

We know that in 2013 there will be three EU projects affecting shechita. A report on stunning methods for poultry will have a significant bearing on our assertion that shechita incorporates an integral stun, according to the EU’s own definition.

There will be a study on “animal welfare education” for which we have campaigned regarding the rights of consumers to know not only about the method of slaughter but also whether animals have been gassed, electrocuted, drowned or clubbed before slaughter.

In 2012, we faced the clearest threat to Milah in a generation, when a German district court ruled that Milah was an unlawful assault on a child. The German government quickly clarified the law resulting in Milah remaining legal. However, the challenge for all communities is to ensure that our regulation and standards of Milah are beyond reproach. Austria and Switzerland, already feeling the effect of the German decision, must show that they take this issue seriously to avoid constant public and legal challenges to Milah. We also await the outcome of a legal battle in New York which seeks to legislate on informed consent for circumcision.

For Shechita and Milah, the biggest challenge we face is communal apathy. We have to overcome the instinct to trust that, whatever happens, somebody somewhere will sort it out.

Shechita UK and Milah UK will be vigilant over the next year but we need the community’s support for our work to be successful.

Shimon Cohen is founder and chairman of The PR Office, a public relations company with expertise in communal affairs

Last updated: 10:45pm, December 27 2012