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The Daily News Letter

May 17, 1935
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

J.D.B. Staff Correspondent


At a meeting of the Chicago Schochtim Union, the chicken slaughterers, President Gorman of the Amalgamated Meat Culers Union, of which the Schochtim Union is a member, announced that all officials of the local union, with the exception of the financial secretary, were deposed from office. Two officials of the Federation of Jewish Unions, M. Siskind of the Writers Union and N. Lerner of the Typographical Union, took over the ###ness affairs, of the Schochtim Union.

Mr. Gorman stated that the af###s of the union were in a chaotic state, with the old officers permitting members who already had positions to take on additional stores, while many shochtim were jobless. He said that the Amalgamated previously had warned the officers of the union to clean up conditions, but that nothing had been done to redeem promises that were made.


As may be expected, President German’s action has provoked a storm in Orthodox circles. The Mctcaz Ha’Rabbonim, the organ of the Orthodox rabbinate, points out that the leaders of the Schochtim Union had been warned before the Passover holidays about unsatisfactory conditions in the union, and had been called to a “Beth Din” to settle the outstanding trouble. Instead of this, the affairs of the Schochtim Union, an organization which is closely bound with the Orthodox religious practices, is now {SPAN}###{/SPAN} all intents and purposes in non-Jewish hands.

At a meeting called by the Mercaz Ha’Rabbonim and attended by 135 of the 150 members of the Schochtim Union, Rabbi Ezriel Epstein, dean of the Chicago Orthodox rabbinate and president of the Mercaz Ha’Rabonnim, denounced as unmitigated falsehoods reports that the rabbis sought to institute a “Korobka,” a tax on meat, through seizing control of the Schochtim Union. At a meeting of the union, held later, an attempt was made by leaders of the Jewish Federation of Unions to paint the rabbis’ efforts as an attempt to seize control of the union.


Commenting on the situation, a well known Jewish leader, who asked that his name be withheld, declared that time and again warnings have been given the Orthodox rabbis of Chicago and those interested in Kashruth not to permit the schochtim to become a labor organization.

“No matter how one may look at it,” he says, “the slaughtering of chickens, according to Jewish law and tradition, has from time immemorial been considered a religious endeavor, a sacred profession. Nowhere in Jewish history can be found a record of schochtim organizing themselves on the same plane as cloak operators, cigar makers, pressers and bricklayers. No one would deny the schochtim the privileges of organization to protect themselves against abuses, but a labor union, that is something different.”


At present, he charges, these schochtim constitute nothing less than a “Korobke”—charging an exorbitant rate for killing chickens. He points out that to charge twelve cents for the killing of a chicken, the highest price in the entire country, is unreasonable as well as unwarranted. If the Orthodox rabbis of Chicago would apply some business methods to this Kosher chicken killing business, he states, organize it on a proper scale, see that it is managed honestly and efficiently, the schochtim would be satisfied; the Chicago community would have a direct income which would enable the Talmud Torahs to function, Hebrew teachers would be paid a living wage, and there would be sufficient money left for many communal needs.

Chicago slaughters an average of 80,000 kosher chickens every week, our informant estimates, the income on which is $9,600, or in round figures $500,000 per year. There are about 150 schochtim in the union. some earning $75 and $100 a week and other members only $10 to $20 a week. This is unfair, he states, and suggests that every one of the chicken slaughterers be employed at the rate of $45 a week. Since the work usually is done in three days of the week, the salary seems sufficient. A commission should be set up to collect the twelve-cent fees, pay the salaries of the slaughterers, and have a fund of $150,000 left over annually to provide adequately for the religious needs of the community.

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