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German Jews Suffering from Kashruth Ban

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Herr Heinrich Stern, president of the Federation of Liberal Jews in Germany, writing in the Juedischliberale Zeitung, urges that even according to the strictest religious law, there is no higher mitzvah blessing than the preservation of human life.

“For a year now,” he proceeds, “ritual shechita is prohibited in Germany by the law of the State. It was long foreseen that ultimately there would come the prohibition of shechita without previous stunning, which was demanded by the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It might, therefore, have been expected that Orthodox Judaism, and particularly the Orthodox Rabbis, would have tried to find ways and means of overcoming the difficulty. Now Jews have for a year been deprived of the opportunity of eating kosher meat-and a good many Liberal Jews also observe the ritual food laws-and the German Jews are waiting in vain for the liberating decisions of the Rabbis, particularly the Orthodox Rabbis.

“It is true that the Liberal Rabbis in April, 1933, issued a call that each Jew should act in accordance with his conscience, declaring that it need not be regarded as a sin if, under the existing circumstances, Jews eat meat which comes from animals that have first been stunned.

“But even Liberal Congregations do not act in accordance with this call, and Orthodoxy, especially Orthodox Rabbis of Bavaria, are unyielding.

“It is not as if there were no way out. The methods of electrical stunning are said to have gone so far that even Conservative people can without scruple eat meat that has been slaughtered in this manner. I am not an expert, and I must leave it to the experts to say how far such methods of shechita have advanced.

“But this is a secondary matter to me. What is primary is the discussion of the fundamental question for every religious Jew, whether ritual law is more important than the great ethnic norm.

“The health and the work capacity of our youth are at stake. If the Rabbis have learnt nothing from the history of the last 150 yeas, they are themselves to blame if they have been superseded as leaders; for the Communities will not permit it, that because the dot is missing from the I, tens of thousands of good, observant German Jews should be torn between hunger and conscience. If the Conservatives will not do their duty. Liberal Jewry must intervene.”

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