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Why Jewish ritual slaughter bans are pointless — and dangerous to Jewish life

(RNS) — Yet one more nation has enacted a legislation that may significantly burden its Jewish residents.

Following a choice final December by the European Court docket of Justice that European Union member nations will not be precluded “from imposing an obligation to stun animals previous to killing,” Greece has banned shechita, the Jewish ritual methodology of slaughtering animals and poultry for meals.

Shechita entails the swift severing of the trachea, esophagus and main blood vessels within the neck, and should be achieved to a dwell, bodily uncompromised animal. Pre-slaughter “beautiful,” presupposed to be a humane apply, entails both gassing, administering a powerful electrical shock or capturing an iron bolt into an animal’s cranium — meant to render the animal mindless.

When carried out earlier than shechita (or, in line with some Muslim authorities, earlier than dhabīḥah, the primarily similar Islamic counterpart of shechita), such beautiful renders the animal nonkosher (or nonhalal). 

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Paradoxically, the EU court docket’s transfer got here on the heels of the political union’s launch of a document titled “EU Technique on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life (2021-2030).” The 46-page paper, amid different measures, reiterated the union’s advice of the Worldwide Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in schooling and instructor coaching.

Considerably, although, regardless of its purpose of “fostering Jewish life,” the doc made no point out in any respect of shechita bans, one of the vital essential bars to permitting Jewish communities to exist, a lot much less thrive. 

A number of EU nations — Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Slovenia — and a few Belgian areas require beautiful animals earlier than slaughter. (The Netherlands and Poland had imposed such bans however reversed them on the grounds of spiritual freedom; Poland retains its ban for meat meant for export). 

And now, Greece has joined the membership.

There are just a few thousand Jews dwelling in Greece immediately, however depriving them of kosher meat has the potential to decimate even that small inhabitants. And it’ll actually dishearten these Jews and make them really feel that their spiritual wants are unimportant to their authorities.

Which is arguably true. Western European nations, regardless of their sensitivity to animal welfare, have had no restrictions on shechita for the reason that finish of World Warfare II. (Throughout the warfare, Germany and all of the nations beneath Nazi occupation banned shechita fully.) They acknowledge the significance of “ritual slaughter” to their Jewish and Muslim communities and worth spiritual rights.

As does america, which not solely permits shechita however has truly codified the very fact of its humane nature in federal legislation. The Humane Strategies of Livestock Slaughter Act of 1978 not solely permits shechita but in addition states explicitly that it’s a humane methodology of slaughter.

And humane it’s. Judaism forbids inflicting animals gratuitous ache. 

Shechita instantly deprives the mind of blood, successfully rendering the animal unconscious. An article, “Physiological Insights into Shechita,” revealed within the British peer-reviewed journal Veterinary File on June 12, 2004, concludes that “after a overview of the physiological points concerned and the experimental information, it’s submitted that shechita is a painless and efficient methodology by which to … dispatch an animal in a single fast act.”

The famed animal dealing with professional Temple Grandin wrote of shechita that “the animals don’t even really feel the super-sharp blade because it touches their pores and skin. They made no try to drag away.”

And so, the enactment of pre-stunning necessities is just not solely onerous to Jews who observe kosher legal guidelines, it’s scientifically unwarranted. 

Within the wake of the latest Greek Supreme Court docket ruling, the chairman of the European Jewish Affiliation, a Brussels-based group representing a whole bunch of communities throughout Europe, famous how a few of the similar nations which have pledged to guard their Jewish communities from antisemitism haven’t any drawback depriving these communities of kosher meat. Legal guidelines and selections just like the Greek one, he mentioned, represent “rank hypocrisy.”

Pascale Falek, a European Fee official who was concerned in selling the EU’s combating antisemitism technique paper, mentioned that she will be able to “perceive” Jewish considerations and that “the European Fee and the European Union as an entire must discover a steadiness between freedom of worship” and different considerations, together with animal welfare.

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That steadiness, although, is just not a troublesome one to strike, because the legal guidelines of England, Spain, Germany, Canada, Mexico and different nations, amongst them america, proof. As a result of there’s merely no problem to animal welfare posed by the apply of shechita.

What’s undeniably challenged, although, is Jewish life, by the imposition of guidelines which are pointless and that inevitably end in stopping law-abiding residents, by easy advantage of their apply of their religion, from dwelling regular lives. 

And being prejudicially and unjustifiably portrayed as much less involved than their fellow residents with animal struggling.

(Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America, a nationwide Orthodox Jewish group. He blogs at The views expressed right here don’t essentially replicate these of Faith Information Service.)

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