COPENHAGEN — Rabbi Bent Dexner, the Chief Rabbi of Denmark’s 7,000 Jews is once again defending an age-old Jewish practice, this time of kosher slaughter. The rabbi was at the center of a storm over the ban on circumcision in Denmark. Unlike the circumcision controversy where the rabbi himself carried out more than 1,000 circumcisions, there is no kosher slaughter in Denmark. All kosher meat is imported from such places as Ireland, France and Israel.
The new ban by the Danish government is part of a growing chorus in Europe that now includes Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland. Despite a furious debate in the UK, kosher slaughter continues there and the European Union continues to resist attempts to adopt a pan- European ban on kosher slaughter. While many voices have dubbed the anti-schechita movement as a modern-day version of anti-Semitism, observers point out that Denmark has far many Muslims than Jews who presumably are also affected by the new ban. Be it as it may, the expanding ban in Europe is extremely disconcerting to European Jews who view the bans as a new attempt to restrict their religious freedom despite the European’s vow to preserve religious rights. While largely symbolic in Denmark, the new ban has perhaps caused many Jews pause as many contemplate making aliya to Israel.Photo courtesy of the Jewish Daily Forward.