The Intolerance of Demanding that Meat Slaughtered According to Jewish Ritual Be Specially Labelled

November 27, 2017

By Rabbi Menachem Margolin (05/02/2014)
Recent months have seen revived attempts by politicians, both in the European Parliament and as domestic level in various EU member states, to legislate on the sacred ritual tradition of Jewish animal slaughter. A September draft written declaration in the European Parliament called on the Commission to instigate special labelling for the meat of ritually slaughtered animals, to eliminate “misleading omissions liable to distort the transactional decisions of consumers”, whilst claiming that consumers should have the right to ensure the meat they are purchasing comes from animals that have been slaughtered with proper regard to animal welfare.
The Polish parliament dismissed a government-sponsored bill to protect the religious slaughter of animals, whilst their Lithuanian counterparts voted in legislation aimed at protecting the practice.
The ability to eat kosher meat is a fundamental right for all people. The fact is that many people prefer to eat kosher meat simply for health reasons, regardless of religious beliefs or considerations.
Of course, everyone must respect the public’s right to know; there is no question that it is fair and correct to require listing a food’s ingredients on the label. Nevertheless, it is clear that the calls of a number EU member states to label meat slaughtered according to religious ritual as such, sets off many alarms – history has shown that such demands have led to large-scale bloodshed (human, not animal blood).
Did these pluralistic liberals, before attempting to isolate their neighbours who subscribe to different lifestyle choices, ascertain whether or not traditional kosher slaughter causes more harm or abuse to animals, G-d forbid, than other methods of slaughter? Had they conducted that research, they would have discovered that countless objective authorities agree that religious slaughter – both by Jewish and Muslim doctrine – is the least painful method of animal slaughter. In fact, the Jewish kosher slaughter code requires that no less than thirteen steps be taken before an animal may be slaughtered. One of these requirements is to verify that the animal is not hungry or thirsty when it is slaughtered.
If those “enlightened” individuals were truly concerned about animal rights, they would declare war on all forms of slaughter. Animal rights are not guaranteed by disparaging one particular method of killing animals, whilst allowing others to continue unabated, including hunting or factory slaughter?
And if allowances must be made, considering most people consume meat top some degree, and our decision-makers choose instead to legislate on the most humane method of slaughter (is it humane to put a living thing to death in any manner?), they ought to worry about the conditions in which animals are raised before their slaughter. They should be concerned about ensuring
sufficient living space, quality and quantity of food, medications, comfort level during  transportation for slaughter, quality and wattage of the electric shocks administered for slaughter, the number of shots needed to kill an animal, and more.
The number of animals slaughtered each year according to kosher standards is less than 1 percent of those slaughtered by other methods. If the issue in question here is the public’s right to know, what logic is there in demanding that kosher meat be labelled, without addressing the 99.9 percent of the slaughtered animals in the country?
For the past 3,000 years, the Jewish people have had to deal constantly with innumerable attempts to infringe upon their freedom of religion – a liberty that has long been established as a basic human right.
As well as being illogical and inconsistent from the perspectiveof animal rights, labelling kosher meat will give ammunition to anti-Semites to attack Jewish tradition. It is very disturbing to note that people who claim to be enlightened liberals are advancing this motion. These people who present themselves as pluralists are, perhaps unwittingly, waging an all-out war against anyone who chooses to live differently from them.
In the 1930s, things began with the burning of books and ended with the burning of human beings. I shudder to think how this new discrimination, beginning with methods of animal slaughter, will end.

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New President for the Jewish State of Israel

Israel has a new President, Mr Isaac Herzog. The Herzog’s have a fine tradition of important positions in Israel: his grandfather was a Chief Rabbi of Israel, and his father, Chaim, a former President of Israel too.

We wish the 11th President of Israel lots of Mazal, lots of strength and lots of courage. Qualities that we know from our many contacts with Mr Herzog, are not in short supply where he is concerned.

BRUSSELS PARLIAMENT WON’T BAN KOSHER SLAUGHTER – EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION CHAIRMAN APPLAUDS DECISION

“Where Brussels has led, others must follow”, says EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, adds “thank goodness for 3 Parliaments in Belgium.”

 

(Brussels 17 June). In a closely contested vote (42 against, 38 for) the Brussels Parliament has just voted not to ban Kosher slaughter in the Capital Region.

 

The move represents a victory for Jews in the Belgian Capital and stands in contrast to both Flanders and Wallonia (Belgium’s other regions) where bans on Kosher slaughter are in place.

 

Welcoming the vote, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, the Chairman of the European Jewish Association that represents hundreds of communities across the Continent, and whose offices are headquartered in Brussels said in a statement:

 

“After a steady stream of bans across Europe that has left many communities bereft of local Kosher meat and having to shoulder the increased expenses of importing meat, we applaud this vote by Belgium’s Capital Parliament.

 

“The expense of course is of secondary concern to the overwhelming feeling from communities across the continent that their faith and traditions are constantly under threat by ill-though out , or malign legislation. 

 

“It is not said too often, but thank goodness for 3 parliaments in Belgium. There are few bastions left where Freedom of Religion is still considered a fundamental right. As a citizen of Brussels, I am proud that the capital is such a bastion. Where Brussels has led, others must now follow”.

Simcha Shel Mitzvah, Words by Rabbi Margolin

This week I spent a lot of time going to events marking the Shoah in Brussels. They were, rightly and fittingly, solemn occasions. But here’s the thing: at every event, I found my fellow Jews talking together, smiling, sharing stories and there was even the odd joke or two.
Even at this darkest of commemorations, there was life and a celebration of the deep bond between us that transcends the shared pain and history. And it stood in stark contrast to the others present who were sombre faced and bore the weight of history in a very different way.
It seemed to me that the reminder to stay positive and rejoice in your Judaism that I tried to leave you with last week needn’t have been said, as it was clearly and demonstrably in evidence.
Because when you think of it, and you delve a bit deeper into our faith, the reason becomes clear: Joy (Simcha), is our central artery, feeding our heart and mind and driving us forward.
Moses after leading us through trying times, through hardship, rebellion and our complaining, understood us well when he said that it is our capacity for joy that gives the Jewish People the strength to endure.
Explaining to a non-Jew our holidays often ends with the cliché “they tried to kill us, let’s eat”, but this throwaway comment masks a more fundamental truth.
Let’s pick a holiday out at random…Sukkot for instance.
On Sukkot we leave the security and comfort of our houses and live in a shack exposed to the wind, the cold and the rain. Yet we call it zeman simchatenu, “our season of joy”.
Try another: Purim.
On the face of it a deeply depressing story, and yet we overcame, and boy, do we celebrate!
Time and time again, throughout our texts, we are enjoined to celebrate life, to rejoice.
Now either we are a bunch of deeply weird people who seem to thrive on adversity, orsomething deeper is going on here. You don’t need to guess what side I’m going to lean on. But let’s dwell on the ‘weird’ idea for a minute.
The founder of the Chassidic movement was once asked: “Why is it that Chassidim burst into song and dance at the slightest provocation? Is this the behaviour of a healthy, sane individual?”
The Baal Shem Tov responded with a story about a deaf man coming across a group of townspeople dancing to a musician that he hadn’t seen, and he thought they had gone mad.
The point is, without the context, such expressions of joy can appear disconcerting or perplexing.
Our context runs deep. We are commanded to Love the Lord our G-d with all our heart and all our soul and all our might. Moses as we touched upon earlier put Joy at the heart of Judaism (even as he was reading out the curses), and our Mitzvot? Well, the concept of simcha shel mitzvah, the “joy of a mitzvah,” has always been part and parcel of Jewish teachings.
Rabbi Lord Sachs, as eloquent as always, once told a story that toward the end of his life, having been deaf for twenty years, Beethoven composed one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, his Ninth Symphony. It became the West’s first choral symphony. The words he set to music were Schiller’s Ode to Joy.
Now, Ode to Joy, as any Europhiles reading this will know, is the anthem for the European Union. And Rabbi Sachs story came to mind as I was looking at the European flag at one of the events.
Because looking around the room, looking at my fellow Jews smiling, living, rejoicing in their Judaism at this tragic commemoration, and contrasting it with the others present, underlined to me not only the context I was just talking about, but how each of us, each Jew, has, as Rabbi Sachs alluded to, their own ‘ode to Joy’ within them, an ode that to those who are deaf to it might indeed appear odd, but to us comes not as second nature, but instead as the primary essence of our being.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch wrote that “The Baal Shem Tov wiped away tears from the Jewish people. He worked hard to ensure that every Jew would be happy simply because he is a Jew.”
There’s still a lot more work to be done on this by all of us, but looking around the room at those various events, it was clear to me that the joy of being a Jew remains the ‘perfect defeat’ of the Holocaust, and a reminder, if one were needed, of what a beautiful thing it is to be Jewish.
We must always continue to go out with Joy.

The New Antisemitism In Europe.

The L’obs had interviewed European Jewish Association Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, as part of L’Obs comprehensive report on the subject of New Anti-Semitism in Europe.
You can find the entire report here:

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