NJA urges Reform Movement to retract Shechitah report

It is mindboggling that at a time when members of various European Parliaments across the continent are looking for an opportunity to ban Shechitah, the Reform Movement of Great Britain have suggested that “pre-stunning” should be permitted before kosher slaughter.

They argue that these days, pre-stunning before the slaughter of animals has become more acceptable and that “most British imams” allow it for halal meat, and it shows “religious flexibility.”

Who cares how other religions or nations choose to observe their rules and regulations? We have a tradition of more than 3000 years dating back to Mount Sinai and each person has a choice to observe or not.

A campaign on behalf of the Jewish community advocating pre-stunning, because some Jews wrongly believe the animal suffers or they are uncomfortable that “Muslims accept change and are accommodating but Jews will not,” is reckless and potentially dangerous to all of us.

Jewish organisations recently met in Budapest for the European Jewish Association conference. We heard that in some countries, legislators in Europe are looking to ban Shechitah. Some have already tabled motions. This latest move by the Reform will give these MP’s new impetus and much energy, they so desperately seek.

Jewish slaughter of an animal is carried out by a qualified trained expert, known as a Shochet. He uses a razor-sharp knife on the throat when a huge loss of blood occurs. This results in an almost immediate loss of consciousness for the animal and immediate death, despite muscle spasm that sometimes occur.

However, in order for the meat to be kosher, it now has to be cut up in slices and salted on both sides. The stunning method would simply congeal the blood which would make it impossible for the blood to be completely removed.

In addition, the stun-gun on many occasions misses its target and causes great pain, stress and harm to the animal before it has even been slaughtered.

A reform rabbi was quoted by the Jewish News to have said that the “Shechita practise had adjusted throughout the years” and therefore it was now time for pre-stunning. But this “adjustment” is only with regard to the position of the animal when it came to the slaughter and not the method of slaughter itself.

He also said, “Jewish authorities had given way on this and that it was time to reconsider pre-stunning.” But the reform clergy failed to name any “Jewish authority.”

We do not believe that any Shomer Torah Mitzvot authority has “given way” on this subject.

The report further said that the “vast majority of scientific opinion has no doubt that animals suffer less if they are pre-stunned.”

While it is true that there is a huge amount of complex and conflicting scientific evidence on this subject, we should point out that just over 120 years ago, some scientists believed the world was flat. Since then, they have argued, disagreed and changed their minds on a variety of subjects including how the world came into being.

The reform movement should have made a meaningful effort to engage with experts on the subject of Shechitah and studied the science in order to understand these complex issues.

Once stunning is accepted by governments and legislation is introduced, it will undoubtedly lead us onto a dangerous path – an eventual ban on the complete kosher slaughter of animals. This is unacceptable and we urge the reform movement to retract their report.

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