SYDNEYS, Australian (Jul. 3)
The Jewish community here is squaring off against an animal right group that is trying to outlaw the practice of kosher slaughter.
Australian Jews are outraged at the initiative and the group’s suggestion that kosher slaughter–or shechita, as it is called in Hebrew –is inhuman.
The Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has proposed to the Australian Law Reform Commission that the laws relating to the slaughter of animals for human consumption be made more stringent and without “exemptions.”
The Law Reform Commission is receiving verbal and written comments until Aug. 1 on matters arising from possible clashes between Australian law and the needs and beliefs of citizens of varied racial and religious backgrounds.
According to David Butcher, spokesman for the anti-cruelty society, the Jewish method of killing animals needs to be changed to lessen the pain.
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick of the New South Wales Kashrut Authority said the Jewish method is not only humane but less likely to prolong suffering than the standard Australian slaughter, which uses electronic stunning.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry stated flatly that “shechita is not negotiable.”
It argued that “the right to practice shechita should be allowed to continue, not only as an acknowledgement that it is in accord with the requirements of humanness, but also as a manifestation of religious liberty.”
Doron Ur, president of the Council of Western Australian Jewry, told its annual meeting in Perth that “Australian Jewry is preparing itself to combat a repeat performance of an assault on shechita.
“We have no concession to make even if not all of us practice our traditions,” he said.
This issue repeats item for item a scenario that has been played in recent years in several Europeans countries.
Jews in Sweden, who lost their bid for kosher meat but won a battle to continue the practice of kosher slaughter of fowl, went to the mat with the support of Jewish groups in the United States and elsewhere in Europe.
In Britain, the practice of shechita was retained after a drawn-out battle over the kind and position of pens in which animals are slaughtered under kosher laws.