NEW YORK (Mar. 7)
Intervention by American rabbinical groups has staved off for the present a Swedish government ban on the slaughtering of kosher poultry.
Last week, a delegation of leaders of three Orthodox bodies made an emergency visit to the Swedish consul general in New York to gain time for Swedish Jews to continue the practice of shehita of fowl, which Sweden declared inhumane in legislation passed last September.
B’nai B’rith International also has been involved in orchestrating what it called a “world wide protest” of the Swedish ban.
The Swedish government had originally given the Jewish community a moratorium on the ban until March 1, after previous intercession by Jewish groups.
This time, Jewish groups who sanction, service or observe the practice of kashrut in America have interceded as representatives of world Jewry and succeeded in extending the moratorium until June 30.
The groups have also invited a delegation from the Swedish Department of Agriculture to come to America to observe shehita in an attempt to persuade them that the practice is humane.
In Sweden, slaughterhouses stun their prey before killing them. But this practice is contrary to Jewish law.
Because fowl may not legally be imported into Sweden, the ban would leave its Jewish community with no source of kosher poultry.
Obtaining kosher meat is not a new problem in Sweden, which banned kosher slaughter of cows and sheep in 1937. Jewish groups claim the ban stems from the influence of Nazi propaganda at that time.
The extension of the ban to poultry would mark the first time a European government has banned kosher slaughter since the Nazi era.
Rabbi Max Schreier, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, cabled Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson on March 1, saying, “We are deeply distressed by the effort of the Swedish Parliament to ban the import of poultry, slaughtered according to humane biblical laws.”
The telegram was signed by Schreier; Rabbi Binyamin Walfish, executive vice president of the RCA; Rabbi Emanuel Holzer, chairman of the RCA’s kashrut committee; Sidney Kwestel, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; and Rabbi Moshe Sherer, president of Agudath Israel of America.
Schreier and Holzer also met with B.G. Sporrong, the Swedish deputy consul general to New York, who cabled the Swedish Foreign Ministry in Stockholm on the matter. His message apparently did not fall on deaf cars.
There are about 16,000 Jews in Sweden, most of them in Stockholm.