rabbi sacks UK 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Jewish religious slaughtering in Europe is at risk if the upcoming vote to ban
shechita in the Netherlands passes, UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks warned on
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“Shechita is under great risk at the moment,” he said on the
sidelines of the President’s Conference in Jerusalem.
Sacks, who is also
a member of the House of Lords, was flown to the Netherlands last Thursday to
speak with Dutch parliamentarians on behalf of the right of Jews to continue
Still, he said “there is a parliamentary majority now
against religious slaughter. I hope we can avert this legislation.”
Dutch parliament is set to vote this Tuesday on a bill prohibiting slaughtering
animals in the Netherlands that have not been prestunned, which would include
Jewish shechita and the Muslim halal methods.
Not only the small Dutch
Jewish community would face repercussions if such a law passed.
worried that it could spread,” Sacks said of such a ban. “There has been a
nonstop campaign by animal welfare activists to have all forms of ritual
slaughter banned. They fought for it in the 1990s and it comes up from time to
time. It has to be fought everywhere because if it’s lost anywhere it has a
potential domino effect.”
“I don’t think it’s going to be resolved that
quickly,” Sacks said. “If we lose,” and shechita is banned, “we lose quickly. If
we win, we'll win slowly.”
He continued, “We have established with [the
Dutch minister in charge of the issue] some possible line of compromise. We
would hope for much stricter regime of licensing and inspecting,” the lack of
which was the official reason behind the Dutch initiative.
there is very tight regulation,” he said.
I chair the body that licenses
all Jewish ritual slaughterers in Britain. They are licenses valid only for one
year, so they have to be regularly reexamined and the government is satisfied
that we regulate and inspect in a way that is sufficiently vigorous and
transparent. And they trust us.”
Sacks said he made the strongest
possible argument to members of the Lower House, Upper House and the minister
that pre-stunning fails in the minimum of 3 percent of the cases, and up to
“Prestunning that fails causes great suffering and distress to the
animal, therefore, I do not see pre-stunning as an advance for animal welfare at
all,” he said.
“We are convinced, as the latest research studies show,
that shechita, when done properly, is the most painless method. So I have argued
to all the parliamentarians that pre-stunning may well be much more harmful to
animal welfare than shechita.”
The European Parliament decided last week
to remove a clause from an upcoming vote that would have determined that meat
slaughtered without stunning, i.e. kosher and halal products, would have to be
banned as such.