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U.S. Jewish Groups Laungh Study of Humane Methods of Shechita

A two year study by independent scientific research agencies is being launched to ascertain the most humane practical methods of preparing animals for slaughter in accordance with Jewish religious law, it was announced here today.

Sponsoring the study are nine major national Jewish religious and community relations organizations and 47 Jewish community relations agencies in cities through out the United States. All are constituents of the Synagogue Council of America or the National Community Relations Advisory Council, or both.

A statement issued today by the sponsoring organizations said: “In keeping with Jewish law requiring humane treatment of animals, we consider ourselves morally and ethically bound to use only the most humane methods of handling of animals preparatory to slaughter which can be supported by scientific evidence as well as by our religious laws.”

The study accordingly is designed “to ascertain the most humane practical methods of preparing animals for Jewish religious slaughter and to develop the equipment and process necessary for such purposes.” Present methods of handling animals for slaughter in the prescribed Jewish manner involve shackling and hoisting.

“Should this scientific research and study disclose more humane mechanical methods of handling, we will recommend the alteration or modification of any present methods,” the statement declared. “If, however, such scientific research should indicate that any of the present methods of handling is humane, then there would be no reason for changes.

“When present methods of handling are found to be humane of more humane methods are devised, we will then urge, as in the case of the act of Jewish religious slaughter itself, that such methods of handling also be recognized as humane,” the statement emphasized.

LAW ENACTED BY CONGRESS RECOGNIZED SHECHITA AS HUMANE

The act of slaughter itself in accord with Jewish religious law is incontrovertibly humane and has been so declared by many eminent scientific authorities. Rabbi Emanuel Holzer, chairman of the Religious Observances Committee of the Synagogue Council of America, who is coordinating the research undertaking, observed that this had been given recognition by Congress, which included the Jewish religious method of slaughter among those to be deemed humane under a law enacted in the last session.

Bills introduced in a number of state legislatures during the current sessions have tended to follow the federal example in finding Shechita humane. However, both the federal law and many state bills contain provisions regarding methods of handling that may conflict with current practices in connection with Jewish religious slaughter “The practice of Shechita may be impaired,” Rabbi Holzer commented, “if the law should require methods of handling which violate Jewish religious principles or which are not feasible or practical.”

The federal law adopted last year created an Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Agriculture, who is charged with its administration. The Advisory Committee has the duty, among others, of making recommendations with regard to research into methods of handling animals in connection with slaughter which are “practicable” and “humane.”

The section creating the twelve-member Advisory Committee requires that one member “shall be a person familiar with the requirements of religious faiths with respect to slaughter.” That member is Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik of Boston, eminent Orthodox rabbi and authority on Jewish law, who was appointed to the national committee at the suggestion of the constituent organizations of the Synagogue Council of America.

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