government and the Organization of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands
reached an agreement regarding the continuation of ritual animal slaughter,
known in Hebrew as shechita, in the hopes of closing a chapter on a
long-running legislative battle to outlaw the practice.
‘historic covenant’ by the Jewish organization, which goes by the acronym NIK,
the agreement allows for ritual slaughter as well as for a veterinarian to
anesthetize an animal if it is not unconscious within 40 seconds after its
slaughter. In such cases, which Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the
Inter-Provinicial Chief Rabbinate, said are rare within the framework of properly-executed
Jewish ritual slaughter, the meat of the animal would not be certified as
requirements of the agreement, which dovetail with Jewish law but are intended
to be embraced by Muslim communities in the Netherlands as well, include that
the knife used must be sharp and without blemish and that the ritual
slaughterer be a qualified professional. According to Jacobs, a
Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, the provisions were designed to both satisfy the
concerns of those who wanted to limit possible animal suffering and the
requirements of Jewish law, which deems the stunning of animals prior to
slaughter as rendering the meat not kosher.
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Chief Rabbinate gave its approval to the Jewish legal aspects of the agreement.
“We wanted to
show that we care about the well-being of animals,” explained Jacobs. “And we
also wanted to show that freedom of religion has to be kept.”
comes more than a year after a bill was proposed in the Dutch Parliament
prohibiting the slaughter of animals that were not stunned prior to killing.
The bill was debated once it reached the Upper House in December. Last Tuesday,
it was brought up again, and a vote on it is expected this Tuesday. The NIK
believes the bill will not garner a two-thirds majority.
agreement was signed by Dutch Minister of Agriculture Henk Bleker, NIK
president Jacob Hartog, and representatives of the kosher slaughter industry
and the Muslim community. (Last year’s proposed ban of ritual animal slaughter
also threatened the continuation of traditional Muslim ritual slaughtering
method known as halal).
“We have always
fought against the perception that the Jewish community did not care about
animal welfare,” said Hartog. “This agreement is further proof that this
criticism on the part of the authors of the bill that demanded a stop to shechita
violates the truth.”