Jewish Leaders Attack ‘friends of Animals’ Statement on Shechitah
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Jewish Leaders Attack ‘friends of Animals’ Statement on Shechitah

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Prominent Jewish lay and rabbinical leaders today criticized sharply a paid advertisement that appeared in today’s New York Times, dealing with so-called humane slaughter. The advertisement, placed by an organization called Friends of Animals, Inc., was called by the Jewish leaders “misleading,” intemperate,” “destructive” and “divisive.”

The advertisement urged all readers to call on their representatives in the New York State Legislature, which is to convene next month, to support a bill prefiled by Assemblyman Albert J. Hausbeck, of Buffalo, which, it was stated, “sets a humane standard for non-kosher slaughterers.” The advertisement stated: “The Hausbeck bill eliminates shackling and hoisting in kosher slaughter without placing Jewish Orthodox statutes under civil law” and claimed: “This inspiration comes from Israel’s ban on the import of ‘U. S. kosher meat processed by the shakling and hoisting method.'”

Among the signers of the advertisement, in addition to Mrs. Alice Herrington Schmid, president of the Friends of Animals, Inc., were the honorary chairman of the organization, the famous French actress, Brigitte Bardot; a number of other artists prominent in various areas of show business; and two rabbis–Rabbi Max Hausen, of Temple Beth El, Great Neck, L. I.; and Rabbi Edward Shapiro, of the Norwich Jewish Center at Norwich, N. Y.

The statements opposing the advertisement were issued today, among others, by Mortimer Brenner and Rabbi Max D. Davidson, co-chairmen of the Joint Advisory Committee of the Synagogue Council of America and the National Community Relations Advisory Council. Included among the members on the committee are representatives of the principal national associations of rabbis and congregational bodies of Conservative, Orthodox and Reform Jewry in the United States, as well as major national Jewish civic organizations and Jewish community councils throughout the United States.

Among the opponents of the Friends of Animals was also Agudath Israel of America, an ultra-Orthodox organization. Agudath Israel charged that Friends of Animals “besmirched Jewish religious practice by widely circulating its portrayal of Jewish ritual slaughter in such a derogatory manner that it reflects on the humaneness of the laws of Judaism, which are deeply rooted in mercy and kindness.”


The Jewish organizations attacking the Friends of Animals for their advertisement against Shechitah charged that the advertisement could only mislead readers by creating the impression that its proposals for legislation to control slaughtering methods are the only ones currently being put forward. They pointed out that, in fact, the New York State Humane Association has agreed to sponsor in the next session of the New York State Legislature a humane slaughter bill that has been found acceptable by major Jewish religious groups in the state. They declared that Mrs. Schmid was the sole dissenter from a stand taken by the New York State Humane Association, at its statewide convention last October, when an entirely different type of legislation was advocated.

Mr. Brenner and Rabbi Davidson, in a joint statement, said: “The advertisement in The New York Times, sponsored by the so-called Friends of Animals, Inc., which its president, Mrs. Alice H. Schmid circulated widely in advance of its publication, can only serve to confuse public understanding of a complex and sensitive problem which virtually all of the humane societies of this state are seeking to resolve by legislation that is acceptable to the major Jewish organizations. Mrs. Schmid’s efforts can only foment religious divisiveness.”

Rabbi Harry I. Halpern, chairman of the Joint Commission on Social Action of the Conservative movement in Judaism stated: “The difficult and delicate process of formulating state legislation for humane slaughter that would offer no threat to the religiously prescribed Jewish method of kosher slaughter has occupied legislators and humane societies in New York State for many months. Just when that process is about to produce a bill endorsed by virtually the entire humane movement in the state, and acceptable to Jewish groups, the Friends of Animals advertisement, by avoiding any reference to that bill, can only lead the uninformed reader to believe that its proposals are the only ones that are concerned for the humane treatment of animals being slaughtered. The effect can only be needlessly divisive.”

Rabbi Israel Miller, president of the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox) declared: “The Jewish practice of Shechita–ritual slaughter of food animals–has been universally recognized as a humane method, and has so been affirmed in legislation enacted in the U. S. Congress and a number of states. The large preponderance of the Jewish community in New York State is on record accepting humane slaughter legislation proposed last year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and which will be reintroduced in slightly revised form in the coming session of the New York State Legislature by the New York State Humane Association. That legislation was approved by a convention of the New York State Humane Association last October with only a single dissenting vote–that of the main sponsor of The New York Times advertisement. That sole dissenter and her small following are outside the mainstream of the humane movement. Her ad and the legislation suggested in it are misleading and destructive of the best interests of the humane treatment of animals.”

Rabbi Jacob J. Weinstein, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform), said that the advertisement “can only have the effect of impairing a painstakingly built harmonious relationship among groups seeking genuine humane slaughter legislation in New York State and cordial relations among religious groups. Mrs. Schmid gives the impression that no effort to assure humane treatment of animals is being considered, and that all who do not endorse her own totally impractical proposals are cruelly indifferent. It is regrettable that she should have so intemperately chosen to publicize her mistaken judgment. The Jewish community will remain committed by its religious precepts to the humane treatment of animals as it always has been.”


The bill being sponsored by the New York State Humane Association is similar in all essential respects to one sponsored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in the last session of the New York State Legislature. It declares the Jewish ritual method of slaughter–shechita–to be humane. It stipulates that, in the preparation of beef animals, only humane methods shall be employed, specifically excluding the use of a manually operated hammer, sledge or pole axe as a means of slaughtering or render any animals unconscious, or shackling and hoisting of conscious animals.

The bill is applicable only to beef animals for which there is a restraining pen, acceptable to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, all of the major humane societies of the country, and leading rabbinic authorities. The ASPCA acquired the patent rights to the large animal restraining pen and to all similar devices. Among the patent rights it holds are those acquired by the Joint Advisory Committee as a result of its own research, which were assigned to the ASPCA gratis.

The ASPCA has made the “pen” available to all packing houses without royalty charges or license fees of any kind. The ASPCA is also continuing to sponsor research and experimentation at the Agricultural School of the University of Ohio on a similar device for smaller animals, calves and sheep. When such a device is perfected the law would be made applicable to small animals as well. In making these facts known, the Jewish spokesmen pointed out today that Mrs. Schmid’s bill fails completely to take account of these very important developments, so carefully worked out.”

(In Rochester, N. Y., today, C. Raymond Naramore, president of the New York State Humane Association, confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the last convention of his organization, held last October at Bath, N. Y., approved a proposed humane slaughter bill which has the backing of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and of the organized Jewish community. He said that the only dissenter on that action was Mrs. Schmid, who is a member of the Humane Association as an individual.)

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