The Jewish community is finally speaking up on the unfairness of the ban on shechita

lifted from Aftenposten.no (apologies for inaccurate translation, pressed for time and google translate only so-so)

An unfair ban

The debate in the 1920s that led to the ban on Jewish slaughter method is one of the most shameful in Norwegian history.

Ervin Kohn leader, the Jewish community, Leif Knutsen writer
Published: 24.okt. 2012 11:03 Updated: 24.okt. 2012 11:03

Shechita – slaughter of warm-blooded animal according to Jewish food rules – have again come under the spotlight after the OSCE sounded their alarm regarding anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim attitudes in Norway, and there are several points that we think require thoughtful attention.

Historical settling of accounts

First, there is the need for a historic settling of accounts with regards to the original ban from 1930, where animal welfare was mixed with anti-Jewish  attitudes to such an extent that Parliament could barely know what grounds the ban was passed on. Among other things, this charming contribution from the Farmers Party leader (later on, the Center party, partner in today’s coalition government. M.McG), later prime minister, Jens Hundseid: “We have no obligation to subjectour livestock to the Jewish atrocities, we have not invited the Jews to the country, and we have no obligation to provide the Jews with animals for their religious orgies. ”

Animal Welfare
Second, the fact that Jewish religion and culture for thousands of years has put special emphasis on animal welfare, and long before it even became an issue in Europe. For example, for at least three thousand years the Jewish farmers have been required to feed their animals before themselves, provide working animals the same rest as people and to not subject them abuse, not to slaughter young animals in the presence of their mothers, etc. Animal welfare is a recurrent theme in all Jewish writings from the Torah through Talmud to our own days.

In Judaism animal welfare relates not only to animals but also how our relationship with our fellow creatures affects our humanity. Many rabbis deem shechita as a compromise between the ideal but unattainable, namely that all humans are vegetarians, and the realistic, that people are given to eating meat.

A humane method
To slaughter according to shechita requires that the animals are in good health when they are slaughtered, that slaughter can not be done by a machine, and that the killing is fast, painless, and is irrevocable and can only be performed by a specially trained butcher with carefully checked equipment. After observing the slaughter of 3,000 cattle in three kosher abattoirs, the distinguished animal welfare expert Temple Grandin concluded that shechita -carried out according to Jewish law and general good practice – is a perfectly humane method.

Consequence
Thirdly, in addition to the ban on shechita being based on an uninformed and somewhat prejudiced misconceptions, it is also inconsistent in relation to accepted slaughtering methods. Bleeding is the  killing method in all methods in question here, but the “anesthetic” in advance means that the animal is knocked unconscious before it is bled. The methods vary, but may involve electric shock, curved blade, captive bolt pistol, and CO2 gas, carried out on industrial assembly lines. Even an “acceptable” failure rate has disastrous consequences for the animal that is not completely knocked out, but the meat is anyway butchered and made commercially available. In contrast: In shechita, an animal that has not been slaughtered according to the rules, cannot be sold, a fact which provides a strong economic incentive to do it right.

Carcasses of reindeer
In addition, we accept that the Sami in Norway, based on their cultural heritage butcher their reindeer privately, away from public abattoirs, as we also accept that the welfare of wild animals are subordinate to the cultural interest hunting represents. In contrast: Judaism forbids hunting because it argues that it can not be done without any suffering for the animals.

Shechita stems from a time when the butcher lived in the community and where the conditions were transparent  and people were familiar with the animals they  ate later on. It is based on an understanding that we have a special responsibility for life we bring to the world so that they can be for our benefit, either as food, for work, or as companionship.

Alienated
In our times, however, we alienated from the reality it is to kill in order to eat. A review and debate about slaughter methods and what they say about our civilization is entirely appropriate and even necessary. But then we demand that shechita is evaluated and compared to the alternative methods in a serious manner. And we reject the premise that shechita is based on the indifference or cruelty to animals.

Jewish food rules are for us a constant reminder of our relationship to food, especially the food we may enjoy at our tables by that animals must die.

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