House Passes Humane Slaughter Bill; Recognizes Shechitah Methods

The House of Representatives today passed by voice vote a humane slaughter bill including an amendment recognizing the Jewish method of animal slaughter as humane.

But Rep. Leonard Farbstein, New York Democrat, speaking on behalf of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, opposed both the bill and the amendment. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Victor L. Anfuso, New York Democrat, was described by Rep. Anfuso as “acceptable to the vast majority of the Jewish community and its religious leaders.”

Rep. Farbstein, on the House floor, pointed out differing views held by the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform factions of Jewry. He voiced opposition to the bill, H. R. 8308, “regardless of any amendment.” He read a telegram from the Orthodox rabbinical body stating that “all rumors of acquiescence in any amendment by any Orthodox organization are false and groundless.”

Rep. Farbstein on the House the Orthodox rabbis asked him to emphasize that “from an historical viewpoint, the American Jewish community has cause for deep concern over such legislation for experience demonstrates that it leads in time to agitation against shechitah itself. Moreover, except shechitah, the methods prescribed in the bill as humane are highly dubious. This demonstrates that further study and research are necessary before any legislation is proposed.” He added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was itself opposed to the legislation in connection with an existing question about the definition of the word “humane. “

The Anfuso amendment, incorporated into the bill by a voice vote before the bill was passed by the House today, referred specifically to Jewish ritual slaughtering. The amendment said that slaughtering is humane if it is in accordance “with the ritual requirements of the Jewish faith or any other religious faith that prescribes a method of slaughter whereby the animal suffers loss of consciousness by anemia of the brain caused by the simultaneous and instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries with a sharp instrument.”

According to Rep. Anfuso, Major Jewish organizations and Jewish religious leaders in this country expressed concern that, unless the Jewish method of religious slaughtering was given such recognition, it would interfere with the religious practices of the Jewish community by stopping the supply of Kosher meat. Rep. Anfuso said that adoption of the bill without his amendment would have opened the way “to an attack upon Jewish religious practices.” and would have made Jewish religious slaughtering impossible.

The bill was introduced by Rep. W. R. Poage, Texas Democrat, a member of the House Agriculture Committee. Rep. Clare Hoffman, Michigan Republican who has a record of extreme expressions on issues involving Jews, spoke against the Anfuso amendment. The bill now goes to the Senate.

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