Friday, June 18, 2010

History of Opposition to Shechita in New Zealand

Sorry to beat a dead horse (or at least a stunned chicken), but I found this brief history very interesting.

Opposition to Shechita in New Zealand is nothing new, according to the History of Jews in New Zealand, proposals to make stunning of animals mandatory date back to 1908:

As far back as 1908, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals attempted to ban Shehitah. It tried to introduce a Bill in Parliament requiring the stunning of animals before slaughter. When it realized its absurdity as far as the Jewish ritual was concerned, it dropped the proposals. Another campaign undertaken all over New Zealand about 1950 by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to prevent Shehitah, seemed to introduce an element of anti-semitism. Most of the previous objections to Shehitah concerned the manner of casting the animals in preparation for slaughter. When the Jewish communities bought casting pens which overcame this objection, the Society began to object to Shehitah itself, although it had incontrovertible evidence given by the greatest scientists in the world of the humaneness of the Shehitah method. Without notifying Rabbi Astor, the Society removed his name as vice-president, but it retained the name of Sir Ernest Davis as a patron.

Even earlier there was a bill before parliament in 1894 which was amended to explicitly allow Shechita:

Besides the problem of compulsory religious education in schools, another question which concerned all the New Zealand Jewish communities came before Parliament in 1894. The Government introduced a Bill which had as its purpose the improvement of conditions in the matter of the slaughter of animals. Fearful that the Bill would affect the Jewish method of Shehitah, the committee of the Dunedin Synagogue, its minister and the mayor of the city, telegraphed the mover of the motion, D. Pinkerton, to insert a clause allowing Jews to continue with their method of Kosher slaughtering. To their relief, Parliament agreed.

So for over a hundred years New Zealand parliament has backed the right of the Jewish Community to eat kosher meat in the face of opposition from various animal welfare organizations. Lets hope that the government gets itself back into track

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