October 18, 2010

New Zealand Jewish Community Reaches Out to World Jewry for Help

Auckland…For the 6500 Jews who live in New Zealand, the proposed ban on schechita (kosher slaughter) is a “dagger that would leave deep wounds,” sources told Kosher Today. For the moment, the ban is enjoying a reprieve as the Jewish community through the Auckland and Wellington Jewish communities is preparing to submit briefs to the courts next month. While the majority of Jews may not eat kosher, they see the proposed ban as a violation of their religious rights cloaked in humane slaughter. Norman Kabak, who was always passionate about kosher food, is reaching out to Jews everywhere to intercede on behalf of New Zealand Jewry. During a visit to the US in August, he met with such organizations as Agudath Israel of America, the Orthodox Union and the ADL to brief them on the pending ban. “We now realize that the cost of defending our religious rights will be far greater than we thought,” which is why the community will reach across continents for help. For practicing Jews, the loss of local kosher slaughtered meat will create enormous hardships, especially since imported fowl is also banned unless fully processed. New Zealand rabbis and others have forcefully argued about the humaneness of schechita, but the Ministry of Agriculture proceeded anyway especially since Muslims caved in, allowing pre-slaughter stunning of animals. Kabak is hoping pressure from abroad will force the New Zealand government to rescind a ban that will be devastating to this tiny community. Many Jews here feel that the government is less than sensitive to the needs of the Jewish community. In fact, Agriculture Minister David Carter said last June: “we may have upset a relatively small religious minority, and I do appreciate their strong feelings for this issue, but frankly I don’t think any animal should suffer in the slaughter process.” Mr. Carter subsequently apologized but has still not backed down from his demand to impose a total ban on schechita.