A shochet is a ritual slaughterer who skillfully practices shechitah, slitting the throat of the animal as per Torah tradition. He does so using a chalef, a perfectly sharp and smooth knife with which he can swiftly and cleanly cut through the trachea and esophagus in an uninterrupted sweeping motion.

Before beginning his work, the shochet says the traditional blessing, “Blessed are you … Who has commanded us regarding shechitah [slaughter].”

A shochet must be learned in the laws of kosher slaughter and adept at sharpening and polishing his knives, known as shtellen ah chalef in Yiddish. He also trains under an experienced shochet to learn how to hold the animal firmly, to slaughter it quickly and smoothly.

Often, but not always, the shochet is also trained to be a bodek (checker), who examines the inner organs of the animal to ensure that it was healthy at the time of death. In the modern factory set up, these tasks are often divided.

After a rabbi examines a shochet’s knife and is satisfied with his skill and knowledge, he issues him a certificate of kabbalah, attesting to his worthiness.

In the traditional Jewish communal set-up, the shochet is among the most respected members of the congregation. Since the difference between kosher slaughter and non kosher slaughter are often impossible for the observer to detect, the community relies upon the faith and integrity of the shochet, trusting that their meat is indeed kosher.

Schochet Names

A certified shochet may sign his name in Hebrew followed by the letters שו"ב, an acronym for shochet u-bodek (slaughterer and checker). This gave rise to the Jewish last-name, Shub.

Other common family names that point to shochet in your ancestry include Shochet, Schechter (Schachter), and Resnick (Russian for "cutter").