Matthew Wagner of the Jerusalem Post reports in today’s JPost.com ePaper:
The head of the Chief Rabbinate’s international ritual slaughter
division said he would permit the import of meat from AgriProcessors
Inc. of Postville, Iowa, despite a US Agriculture Department report that
found the slaughterhouse in violation of animal cruelty laws.
Rabbi Ezra Raful said, "In the case of AgriProcessors, there is no
"For some people, what happens in a slaughterhouse looks pretty
gruesome. But that does not make it non-kosher," he said.
Raful said AgriProcessors, the only US slaughterhouse authorized to
export to Israel, halted exports to Israel several years ago for
commercial reasons. He said renewing export to Israel might not even
require a routine investigation to verify that slaughter methods met
"Rabbi Shimon Zeidof is head of the slaughter team at AgriProcessors
Inc., said Raful. "He is known and respected by us. We have worked with
him in the past."
Conditions at AgriProcessors triggered a controversy in late 2004,
when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) placed on its
Internet site video footage taken clandestinely inside the plant.
The gruesome footage showed workers using metal hooks to pull out
the slaughtered, but still conscious, animals’ tracheas and esophagus,
in an attempt to sever their carotid arteries.
Normally the severing of these arteries, which cuts off blood to the
brain and causes the animal to lose consciousness almost immediately,
takes place during the shehita [ritual slaughtering]. Cutting the
arteries also facilitates the removal of blood, prohibited for
consumption according to Jewish law, and prevents discoloring of the
The US Humane Slaughter Act of 1978 requires stunning in all
American slaughterhouses, but makes an exception for religious
slaughter, as long as the animal’s neck is cut swiftly and no "carcass
dressing" is performed before the animal is insensible, according to The
New York Times, which reported on the Agriculture Department’s findings
Friday. The use of hooks violated this US law.
After a six-month investigation, the Agriculture Department
suspended one of its own inspectors for 14 days and issued warning
letters to two others, a department spokesman told the Times. The
investigation ended last April, but the report was only released to PETA
after months of requests under the US Freedom of Information Act.
The department’s Inspector-General’s Office forwarded its report to
federal prosecutors, but "based on the information presented to us, we
decided there was not a prosecutable case," said Robert Teig, a deputy
US attorney for the Northern District of Iowa.
Raful said Jewish law permitted a non-Jew to use a hook to sever an
animal’s carotid arteries, as long as most of the trachea and esophagus
were severed by the shochet [ritual slaughterer].
He said that if a Jew used the hook, the slaughter was not kosher
because of the halachic principle of marit ayin – the mistaken
impression that the ripping of the arteries with a hook was part of the
Jewish slaughtering process.
This issue would not arise if a non-Jew ripped out the artery, since
a non-Jew is disqualified from performing shehita (ritual slaughter).
Raful said he had been informed by sources in AgriProcessors that only
non-Jews performed the ripping.
Raful said it was unfair to apply subjective criteria of cruelty to
"For me it is terribly cruel to boil a lobster live or to fry a live
shrimp or freeze a fish live. It depends on what you are used to. It’s
all very subjective.
"But the Torah is not subjective and the same Torah that prohibits
cruelty to animals allows shehita," he said.…
Every claim of the humaneness of shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter) made by Orthodox rabbis in the last 100 years has been based on the schochet (ritual slaughterer) swiftly and painlessly severing the carotids and jugular vein. And every one of those claims are false. The halakha (Jewish law) that allows shechita to be kosher if only the greater parts of the trachea and esophogus are severed is based on a faulty understanding of large animal biology dating to medieval times. Yet Orthodox rabbis – who have lied about shechita for more than 100 years, including during sworn testimony before government bodies and courts – are more than willing to allow this animal torture, even though the science of the issue – and the law – are both clear.
Rubashkin’s rabbis allowed and endorsed the intentional violation of Humane Slaughter law. How can they be trusted with kashrut?