Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NZ Shechita Ban – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Last week the heads of the Jewish communities in Auckland and Wellington put out a letter calling on people to take action to make sure that the ban on Shechita in New Zealand is defeated when it goes to court next year.

Since then there have been a number of articles in the media.

The Good

  • There is a good summary of what Shechita is and the implications of the ban available here.
  • The New Zealand Herald ran an informative article on Shechita and how the ban may hurt the future of the New Zealand Jewish community.
  • The issue was also covered in J-Wire and The Jewish Journal,
  • And for those on Facebook, there is a group that you can join.

The Bad

Arutz 7 reported that a major English Supplier of Kosher Meat is discontinuing Shechita, lets hope that this isn’t the next stage in a world trend.

The Ugly

The New Zealand Animal Welfare group SAFE has launched a campaign to have the ban on Shechita reinstated in New Zealand.

That isn’t by itself surprising. What is surprising is that they didn’t take the time to do even basic research into what Shechita is, the short article on Shechita is so full of basic errors it is amazing that they put it on the Internet (Errors on The Internet – hard to believe but true).

Following is a short letter that I just sent them asking them to publish a clarification. I’ll let you know if there is a response.


Subject: Kosher Slaughter

Dear Sir / Madam,

Your article on Kosher Slaughter ( completely mis-represents Kosher Slaughter and has several errors.

  • The knives in the pictures are not at all similar to a Shechita knife which is extremely sharp (and sharpened between each animal) to make sure that the animal cannot feel the cut. If the knife was not 100% smooth, there is a chance that the animal would feel pain of the cut and the animal is not kosher.
  • An animal slaughtered through Shechita does not “bleed to death”, as your article claims, rather oxygen is cut off to the brain so that the animal is rendered unconscious immediately. The Animal feels no pain. If there is any indication that the animal did not die instantaneously (for example the cut did not go completely through the wind-pipe) the animal would not be kosher.
  • Your claim that “Another method is a stab to the chest which severs the major arteries and veins.” is completely false, such a method of slaughter would not be kosher.

Many scientific studies have found that Kosher slaughter is in fact more humane than stunning (which does not always render the animal unconscious immediately). The studies carried out by the Animal Welfare Board in New Zealand did not accurately investigate Shechita as the tests were carried out with a different type of knife using a different type of slaughter.

The Jewish religion requires humane treatment of animals before, during, and after slaughter. This includes the way that animals are raised, how they are slaughtered, and symbolically the blood of some animals is buried to show respect for the life that was lost.

Wikipedia has a short article on the treatment of animals in Jewish Law:

The US Humane Society also has an article on the Jewish treatment of animals:

I appreciate that you have animal welfare at heart, but I believe that you owe it to your readers to provide accurate information about Shechita.

I hope that you will consider publishing a correction to the misrepresentations in your article.


Michael Sedley


The only response that I received from SAFE was a short note saying that they would investigate the matter, however upon checking the link above I see that they have completely re-written the article on Shechita. They are still calling for the ban to be enforced, however they have removed the incorrect information about the Shechita process.

1 comment:

Garnel Ironheart said...

There are just some thoughts about this I can't shake:
1) The Nazis, y"sh, banned shechita on exactly the same grounds: either you stun the animals or you can't slaughter them.
2) The ruling used to ban shechita is one of the differences between our way and the Muslim way and allows them to continue their ritual slaughter.