The Conservative movement has a constituency of more than one million members, 750 affiliated congregations, 70 Solomon Schechter day schools, and more than 10 summer camps servicing thousands of children and staff. The movement has ordaining seminaries on both the East and West coasts and a rabbinical union with more than 1,400 members.
Representing nearly one-third of affiliated American Jewry, the Conservative movement is influential enough not to compromise its high standard for the ethical treatment of animals in conjunction with its commitment to kashrut.
It is time for the movement to set standards for kosher processing plants that ensure that the kosher slaughter process meets its full ethical potential and mandate. As part of this process, Conservative institutions would buy kosher meat only from suppliers that meet these standards.
… Jewish law demands that the kosher meat industry reform. This reform should take place as the result of Jewish teachings and not as the result of public outcry. Should the reform occur as a result of shame and embarrassment, then Judaism will have lost the opportunity to blaze the path of justice and righteousness that is its mission. This lapse is particularly egregious given that Judaism is characterized by many laws that give humanity dominion over animals while, at the same time, protecting defenseless living creatures from needless cruelty at the hands of people. It would be ironic if kashrut, which historically represented a breathtaking ethical advance in the relationship between people and animals, were to be seen as indifferent to calls to become as ethical as it can and must be. The Conservative movement holds that Jewish law, properly implemented, does not allow this indifference.
If this is done, and if the Reform Movement endorses it (as it surely will), Rubashkin, Alle Processing and their rabbis – especially the OU – may finally be forced to take tzaar baalei hayyim issues seriously.
But the non-Orthodox movements need to act soon if they want to have any real impact.
The kosher meat industry and its rabbis are working to circumvent both the Food Marketing Institute and USDA standards for humane slaughter.
If they succeed, the only way for a Conservative Jew to keep kosher will be to go vegetarian.
Read it all here.