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Jewish Groups to Hold Emergency Session on Court Suit Challenging Ritual Slaughter of Livestock

January 5, 1972
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Representatives of 12 national and 91 local Jewish organizations will hold an “emergency meeting” next Monday afternoon to decide how to “defend the constitutionality… of Jewish ritual slaughter of livestock” against a suit filed yesterday in Federal Court here. The suit was filed by Henry Mark Holzer, a local lawyer who contends that the “special” laws for Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita) violate the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. Holzer is a Jewish-born atheist.

The Jewish organizations planning to oppose the suit are members of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council and the Synagogue Council of America. Holzer’s suit names the United States Secretary of Agriculture the New York State Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets, and the latter’s chief of kosher-law enforcement. It opposes the use of taxes to enforce what Holzer calls an unconstitutional law.

Leo Pfeffer, special counsel to the American Jewish Congress and drafter–on behalf of NJCRAC and the SCA–of the section of the law under challenge, said in a statement that there was “no doubt” about its constitutionality. It is “universally acknowledged,” he said, that shechita is “as humane as, if not more humane than, any other method.” Rabbi Moshe Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel (Orthodox). predicted from Washington that Holzer’s suit would meet with “instant defeat” because of the “proven humaneness” of shechita and the concept of “religious freedom.”

Rabbi Sherer declared: “It is shameful that one who claims to be a Jew is attempting to accomplish that which professional anti-Semites have been unable to do for decades. His efforts will be as futile as theirs.” He added that according to Congressional sources, Holzer’s suit is an “extremist” measure.

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