Oslo (Jun. 21)
The adoption by the Lagthing, Norwegian Upper House of Parliament, of a bill prohibiting the schechita, the traditional Jewish method of slaughtering animals for food, made Norway the second country in Europe to place on its statutes a measure depriving observaut Jews of their privilege to comply with their dietary laws in the consumption of meat.
Switzerland preceded Norway by enacting an amendment to its constitution by popular referendum held in August 1893, according to which the stunning of animals before slaughter was declared compulsory. Jewish religious laws governing the schechita require a swift incision in the animal’s throat. Stunning of the animal prior to the incision is proscribed by Jewish law.
The vote yesterday in the Lagthing was the culmination of a movement inaugurated in 1926 under the auspices of several Norwegian societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, which contend that the schechita method inflicts too great pain. Attempts to enact such legislation were inaugurated in 1926 and renewed in 1927 when, on July 4, it was defeated by an overwhelming majority in parliament.
The bill will now become law unless the “royal veto” vested in the cabinet upon its recommendation to the king is applied.
The Jewish population in the Kingdom numbers approximately 2,000.
The move to prohibit the schechita in Norway has engaged the serious attention of Jewish leaders in the United States, England, France and other European countries. At last Sunday’s session of the Board of Jewish Deputies in London, the matter was taken up and the hope was expressed that the bill which had passed the Norwegian lower house would be vetoed by the upper house.
In 1926 Fridjof Nansen, the famous Arctic explorer, joined Dr. Georg Brandes of Copenhagen and a number of prominent European publicists in a protest against the schechita prohibition movement in Norway. Committees in England and France supported this protest.
Louis Marshall president of the American Jewish Committee, in a communication to the then Secretary of State Kellogg under date of June 4, 1926, requested the United States government “to indicate to the Norwegian Government that legislation of this character would wound the sensibilities and offend the consciences of a large body of American citizens in everyway friendly to the people of Norway, and to express the hope that approval of such legislation be withheld in view of the fact that it would indirectly inflict serious injury upon the adherents of one of the great religions of the world, nearly a fourth of whom dwell in the United States.” What was asked for the Jews of Norway was the exemption of animals slaughtered for kosher food, from the clause making stunning compulsory.
The Secretary of State declared that it was impossible for the United States government to make any official protest concerning a measure which lies entirely within the discrimination of the Norwegian government. The State Department advised Mr. Marshall to write the Norwegian Minister in Washington in explanation of the unfortunate effect of a schechita prohibition.