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November 29, 2004

PETA Goes After Rubashkin

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is taking aim on Kosher slaughter. Who's the target? Rubashkin:

[T]he radical vegetarian group that in an advertising campaign once compared the slaughtering of chickens to the murder of Holocaust victims, is taking aim at one of the world's largest kosher meat processors. AgriProcessors Inc., the Postsville, Iowa-based firm that markets meat under the Rubashkin and Aaron's Best label and is found in America's biggest supermarket chains, is being accused by the group of violating humane slaughter laws and Halacha, or Jewish ritual procedure.

Read it all here.



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Interesting. Not all criticisms of the State of Israel are necassarily attacks on Jews and not all humane society criticisms of Kashruth procedures "on the ground" are based on anti-Semitism.
See Rabbi Dovid Sears recent volume on Animals in Jewish thought published by Orot Press (Rav Bezalel Naor publisher) for a detailed discussion of shechita and zaar baale chaim.This is an excellent volume .
Why not have someone like Rabbi Sears ( a Bratzlover Chasid) check out Rubashkin's plant with a rav and a Christian humane society activist.
The US is not Poland and Germany and Judaism is very concerned about Tsaar Baale chaim.

"The US is not Poland and Germany and Judaism is very concerned about Tsaar Baale Chaim."

True ! Unfortunately , many have made a ikkar , a klal godol batorah of : Holokho - Eysav soyne le Yaakov .
That's the way of establishing the distinction bein Yisroel la Ammim . A non negotiable tenet . That's where we are today !

Its a fine klal to remember like yogato umotzoso but neither is halacha lemaase, in the 613 Mitzvoth. The US is a malchus shel Chesed and most if not all Orthodox Jews in prison probably received a fair trial and are not there because of their Jewishness.
This is a touchy issue because the yemach shmonik was a vegatarian himself. But let"s try not to be paranoid and deal with the issue rationally.

PETA has a video of the scheta on their website (www.peta.org).

I'd always thought that scheta was one stroke of the arm but the schochet used a sawing motion in one cut. Live and learn (so long as I am not the cow)

The video is gruesome not solely because it is bloody (which is a given) but, more importantly, because several cows appear to be alive, conscious and terrified for over a minute after the scheita. One appears to purposefully walk to a far corner where it lays down and dies a few minutes later. Another tries to get up and slips in the blood. A third wheezes for over a minute as it struggles and dies. The OU says these are a reflexive action similar to walking headless chickens but at least in some instances that appears very debateable. And if some have the reflex, why do others fall out of the machine clearly dead? Also, in one instance a member of the plant who appears frum kicks blood in the face of a dying cow, which seems to show a certain lack of kavod habreyot (perhaps due to prolonged exposure to continuous death).

Agudah and the OU so far have both said this is an attack on kosher slaughtering generally. It may be, as such attacks are often masked as humane issues. But, actually, PETA's criticisms for once were more limited. PETA wants a different slaughtering machine used that is used for scheta in other countries.

Anyway, I keep strictly kosher, am Orthodox, eat meat, including from these brands. It was disturbing to see this was how my meat was made and even more disturbing that the initial insitutional reaction was, yet again, to circle the wagons, rather then try to make the process better (something we used to do, such as when glatt came around in the first place).

This is not an attack on kosher slaughter -- it is an attack on inhumane treatment of sentient animals, which in this case is labeled kosher. Many people purchase kosher foods at least in part because we believe it's a more humane choice. There are numerous authorities who don't agree that AgriProcessor's practice is kosher and they call it gruesome. Watch the video for yourself and then decide. Make sure you've digested your dinner first. I find this article far too dismissive, as there are thankfully plenty of slaughterhouses who do use humane shechitah, and those are the only ones whose products I will purchase. Do kosher foods now need to have a humane rating scale on the label just so AgriProcessors can continue to do business as usual? As Jews, we must not be afraid to address this complaint for what it is. It's not just is this method of slaughter certifiably kosher. It's also is it in any sense reasonably humane, and do we as Jews care.

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