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N.Z. official apologizes for remarks on shechitah ban

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – A New Zealand government minister reportedly apologized for offending the Jewish community over comments about his decision to ban the kosher slaughter of animals.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman said last Friday that he had received an apology from Agriculture Minister David Carter for “any offense caused” by remarks he made last week in relation to his decision to outlaw shechitah. Carter said in a June 14 speech to the Association of Rural Veterinary Practices: “We may have upset a relatively small religious minority, and I do appreciate their strong feelings for this issue. But frankly I don’t think any animal should suffer in the slaughter process.”

Goodman added that he met last Friday afternoon with Prime Minister John Key – whose mother, Ruth Lazar, escaped Austria on the eve of the Holocaust – to express the Jewish community’s concerns. “He was very well informed on the issue,” Goodman said. “We are working on what is the appropriate course of action.”

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee recommended an exemption for shechitah be made to the new code. But Carter overruled it saying “there are no exemptions” in the new code, which became effective on May 28.

Now all commercially killed animals must be stunned before slaughter to “ensure that the animals are treated humanely and in accordance with good practice and scientific knowledge.”

New Zealand’s Jews can import kosher meat from Australia but chickens – kosher or not – cannot be imported, according to law.

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