HOME  DISINFORMATION  CHRC  60 MINUTES  PEOPLE  ABELLA  COTLER  DUNN  FARBER  MARTIN  MORGAN  RAMBAM  RONEN  KOSHER TAX  LVIV MASSACRE  LA JUSTICE
Moshe Ronen  Letter 02  22-Mar-2000  Is Jewish ritual slaughter inhumane?
"We are united against the slaughter of conscious animals, consider it a horror in itself, and an abomination when coupled with the vicious devices used to restrain conscious livestock.  We have nothing to gain, neither on earth nor in heaven, by slaughtering God's creatures while they are conscious." Rabbi Dr. Eugen Kullman
A video showing cattle undergoing Jewish ritual slaughter in Postville Iowa during the Summer of 2004 can be viewed as well as downloaded at A very much longer version of the same video, but without explanatory text, is available at Relevant to the PETA video is the Lubomyr Prytulak 24-Aug-2005 letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin titled Sometimes a complaint of cruelty to animals is occasioned by cruelty to animals at Also relevant to the PETA video are the documents at

March 22, 2000
Moshe Ronen
National President
Canadian Jewish Congress
100 Sparks Street Suite 650
Ottawa, Ontario
K1P 5B7

Telephone: (613) 233-8703
Fax: (613) 233-8748


Moshe Ronen:

In advancing our discussion of kosher accreditation, I bring to your attention an advertisement placed in the New York Times of 17Mar67, p. 29, titled "THIS IS SLAUGHTER OF CONSCIOUS ANIMALS."

Who placed this advertisement?


The New York Times advertisement, "THIS IS SLAUGHTER OF CONSCIOUS ANIMALS," is credited to the

COMMITTEE FOR HUMANE LEGISLATION, INC.
17 West 60 St.,
New York, N.Y. 10023

Listed underneath this committee's banner are the following members:

H.R.H. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor

Alice Herrington
Executive Director, and
President, Friends of Animals, Inc.

Dr. John Boland
Chief of Radiotherapy
Mt. Sinai Hospital

Dr. Irving Graef
Consultant Physician
Lenox Hill Hospital

Dr. David Gurevitch
Clinical Professor of Rehabilitation
Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and
Medical Director of Blythdale Children's Hospital,
Valhalla, N.Y.

Dr. Maria Morgenstern
Psychiatrist

Dr. Juan Negrin
Attending Neuro-Surgeon
Lenox Hill Hospital
New York Metropolitan Medical Center

Dr. Saul K. Padover
Chairman, Department of Political Science
Graduate School
New School for Social Research

Dr. Henry Schwab
Senior Assistant Physician
Metabolic Division
St. Clare's Hospital
Instructor in Medicine
New York Medical College

A box of text within this advertisement, which will be reproduced farther below, is signed by

Rabbi Dr. Eugen Kullman
Department of Religion and Philosophy
New School for Social Research
Vice-President, Friends of Animals, Inc.

Other names that are listed without specification of affiliation appear in what is labelled as a "partial listing":

Elmer and Ruth Berger, Irene Balletta, Gordon and Isabel Brooks, Shepard Coleman, John Cram, Rosita Diaz, Constance Fisher, Regina Frankenberg, Alan Goldberg, Rabbi David Goldberg, John T. Gorman, Dr. and Mrs. L. Gottesman, Gretchen Graef, Fannie Hurst, Mrs. W. E. Josten, Helen Lehman, Alexander and Ellsabeth Lewy, Jacques and Vera Lindon, James A. MacIntosh, Marjorie Mitchell, Juliet Pitt, Theodor Primack, Gene and Helen Rayburn, Wells Richardson, Remi Saunder, Frank Shoenborn, Dorothy Stein, Carole Tauber, Lawrence and Trudy Wilkinson, Gretchen Wyler, and John Zanetti.



What does the advertisement advocate?


(1) The advertisement advocates the signing of a petition

The advertisement asks the reader to sign a petition advocating the humane slaughter of animals and advocating the passage of the Hudson-Adams-Lis-Emery bill:

GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER, State Capitol, Albany, New York

I insist that all the animals be humanely rendered unconscious and insensible to pain before being shackled, hoisted, cast, thrown, or cut.  I request that you apply the full power of your high office to ensure that A5425-S2333 is passed into law.  I want the meat I buy to come from this modern slaughter.



signature



address

(2) The advertisement advocates support for the Hudson-Adams-Lis-Emery bill

The Hudson-Adams-Lis-Emery bill sounds innocuous enough, merely advocating that kosher-slaughtered meat be labelled as kosher, and non-kosher be labelled as non-kosher.  One would imagine all might find such a bill harmless and inoffensive, which however proves to be very far from the case, as we shall learn below.  The bill reads as follows:

Sale of meat.  To ensure the right of each citizen to purchase meat slaughtered in accordance with his belief, all meat sold for human consumption, designated as kosher, shall be the product of a ritual method of slaughtering, and all meat sold for human consumption, not designated as kosher, shall be the product of modern slaughter.  Each slaughterer, packer and stockyard operator shall certify to the commissioner that his method of slaughter conforms with the provisions of this act and shall sell his product for human consumption, in whole or in part, only in accordance with this act.



What occasioned the placing of such an advertisement?


There appear to be two reasons why this advertisement was placed:

(1) The advertisement was placed because Jewish ritual slaughter tends to be inhumane

It would appear that Jewish ritual slaughter tends to be inhumane, as demonstrated in the following excerpt from the advertisement.  (All ellipses and all insertions within square brackets in this passage appeared in the original advertisement with one exception the material shown between square brackets in a blue font had been deleted from the New York Times advertisement, and has been put back in by myself.  I found the deleted material in Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 43.)

U.S.A. 1961

"A number of years ago the Federal inspectors ruled that no animal is to be slaughtered with its head resting on the floor probably for sanitary reasons.  Therefore the animal is slaughtered while hanging in the air suspended by its hind legs with the head at the right height for the shochet [Jewish slaughterer] to reach it.  In order to do this properly it must be forced to remain perfectly still during the time of slaughter.  To render it incapable of movement, a rope is attached to one of its front legs, then tied securely to the wall by means of pulley and hooks while the head is made secure and immobile....  A plier with an iron hook at either end is inserted in the animal's nostril [and] tightened....  The plier is then pulled by a rope and secured to the opposite wall so that the front leg is pulled to one wall while the head with the help of the hooks is pulled to the other wall, thus subjecting it to the most excruciating pain imaginable....  The animal generally screams and bellows with agonizing pain until the shochet cuts its throat thus putting it out of its misery."  Excerpts from a shochet's report, Jewish Press.  Jan. 13, 1961.

U.S.A. 1967

"In a Kosher plant I recently visited, the hoist was operated until the steer was hanging suspended by the leg with its face partly on the floor.  The slaughterhouse worker then turned the hose on the animal's face and neck so that the animal got the full force of the water[, and then I witnessed something I had read about as occurring in Kosher plants, that I could scarcely believe when I read it.  The packing-house employee deliberately plunged both his hands into the steer's eyes until the eyes were displaced by being pushed back into the head.]  He then grasped the sides of the eye sockets and held the animal that way while the shochet, the man who performs the kosher slaughter, stepped forward to cut the steer's throat.  The hoist was then operated again until the animal's head was several feet from the floor and the animal was moved along the motor driven line, hanging head downward, its full body weight suspended by the shackled hind leg, ... every part of the body quivering....  While the struggling was going on, the shackle was released and the steer was dumped on the floor, still ... moving convulsively.  These, in my judgment, were not post-mortem reflexes.  They were too violent.  This entire procedure ... was routinely and systematically carried out on all of the animals I watched being slaughtered."  Excerpts from a statement by the president of a national humane society at a public meeting of Friends of Animals, Inc., Feb. 5, 1967.

Two photographs accompany the New York Times advertisement, which given that my copy of the advertisement was made from microfilm, I have only extremely poor copies of nevertheless, I reproduce a small version of one of these photographs which shows a cow hanging by one hind leg, with its neck and head resting on the floor who knows for what reason?  Maybe this cow is already dead; but maybe it is alive and conscious, and ready to have an assistant hold its head from within its eye sockets so as to prevent its struggling to escape during the work of the Jewish ritual slaughterer.

Immobilization of cow in one variation of the process of Jewish ritual slaughter

In connection with the shackling and hoisting depicted above, a source other than the New York Times advertisement that we are discussing offers the following observation:

For while the act of shechita [ritual slaughter] itself is humane, the method of restraining the animal prior to the slaughter (as has been practiced in the past and even today) is generally recognized as far from perfect.  The shochet [ritual slaughterer] is the first to admit this.  The method (known as "shackling and hoisting") currently employed in most abattoirs consists of shackling the back feet of the animal with chains, and then hoisting it off the floor so that its head hangs down awaiting the shochet's knife.  It is presumed (with some justification) that hanging an animal of eight to fifteen hundred pounds from the ceiling by its hind legs is a painful, frightening experience for the animal.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 33.

To Freedman's statment, we might feel an obligation to add several qualifications: (1) that the act of shechita (ritual slaughter) itself is humane is capable of being doubted, as will be discussed below; (2) shackling and hoisting alone do not produce the degree of immobilization that the Jewish ritual slaughterer requires, which may call for some further measure to be taken prior to throat slitting, such as an assistant thrusting his fingers into the animal's eye sockets, as described above; (3) if shackling and hoisting a cow by both hind legs can be assumed to be painful, then shackling and hoisting the cow by one hind leg, as pictured above, must be assumed to be even more painful.

(2) The advertisement was placed because the non-kosher public unwittingly eats meat that comes from Jewish ritual slaughter

KOSHER OR NON-KOSHER THE MEAT YOU NOW BUY IS RITUALLY SLAUGHTERED.  About 90% of all ritual slaughter is sold without the kosher designation.  The cruelty, then, continues largely because the non-kosher consumer unknowingly pays for it through his meat purchases.

We understand, of course, that 90% of ritual-slaughtered meat being purchased by non-kosher consumers is not at all the same as 90% of meat purchased by non-kosher consumers coming from ritual slaughtering.

The goal of the New York Times advertisement, then, can be re-formulated as (1) to halt inhumane slaughter, and (2) to propose the means by which this halt can be achieved which is by identifying for consumers meat that originates from ritual slaughter, which will cause them to avoid it, and which in turn will bring economic pressure to halt the practice:

The kosher consumer has already obtained the full protection of the state: When he buys kosher meat the law assures him that it is the product of ritual slaughter.  The state owes the non-kosher consumer equal protection in the law: You have a right to know that the meat you buy has been slaughtered by modern methods.  The section of the bill reprinted below protects you and the animals as well, because this law will force the slaughterhouses, through economic necessity, to modernize the ritual.



The New York Times advertisement further instructs us that humane slaughtering methods are available, and that there is nothing in Jewish religious law that stands in the way of Jews adopting such methods


THE COMPASSIONATE CIVILIZATION

One cannot claim to be a civilized people while maltreating animals, by killing them without first making them insensible to pain.  Methods used in modern slaughter render animals unconscious rapidly and effectively, after which they can be shackled, hoisted, cut and bled.

In New York, Friends of Animals, Inc., has asked the legislature to pass into law a measure to alleviate the extremes of fear and pain to which animals are subjected.  Please help pass this law you owe it to the animals and to your conscience.

This is slaughter of conscious animals.  Several European countries have banned it.  In America it continues with the full approval of the religious officials who work in the slaughterhouses.

CRUELTY KNOWS NO RELIGION AND RELIGION MUST KNOW NO CRUELTY

There is, in fact, no sentence in the Bible, and no injunction in the Talmudical treatise on slaughtering (Chullin) against making the animal unconscious.

We are united against the slaughter of conscious animals, consider it a horror in itself, and an abomination when coupled with the vicious devices used to restrain conscious livestock.  We have nothing to gain, neither on earth nor in heaven, by slaughtering God's creatures while they are conscious.


        [signature]

        Rabbi Dr. Eugen Kullman
        Department of Religion and Philosophy
        New School for Social Research
        Vice-President, Friends of Animals, Inc.



So, what's the problem?


Given that the above information in the New York Times advertisement is more than three decades old, and from another country, it may be expected that it has no application to Canada today, where humane methods of slaughter may be expected to have been adopted long ago.  However, this is far from a certainty, and deserves investigation.

(1) One problem is that Jewish ritual slaughter has historically been allied with inhumane methods of immobilization:

Jewish ritual slaughter has employed several procedures for immobilizing the animal prior to its having its throat slit by the Jewish ritual slaughterer, all of the procedures being cruel.  Above, we have already seen two of these procedures:

(1) the animal is hung by a hind leg, then has one of its forelegs pulled toward one wall, and by means of an iron hook inserted into its nostril, has its nose pulled toward the opposite wall;

(2) an assistant immobilizes the animal's head by forcing his fingers into the animal's eye sockets.  And below, we see a third variation which is

(3) ramming a long, heavy stick into the animal's rectum, and pressing upward against the spine:

Even for Kosher slaughtering, shackling and hoisting is a major correction over previously employed methods of positioning the animal for slaughter.  One shochet, whose soul could not be at peace until he rid his abattoir of its "practical brutalities," described his shock at the inhumaneness he witnessed.  [...]  When a cattle driver has difficulties with a steer, he pushes the rod against its hind part, including the rectum if necessary, and opens the switch, thus giving the steer a painful electric shock.  The steer was then made to face the wall.  Since normally an animal wouldn't stand in this position, another very painful device was used to make him obey.  A long heavy stick was forced into its rectum by one of the employees and pressed upward.  This immobilized the animal to the spot.  His entire spine arched and his body quivered with pain.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 34.


(2) A second problem is that Jewish ritual slaughter may remain inhumane even if humane methods of immobilization were adopted

We saw above testimony that the animal appeared to retain consciousness even after its throat had been slit and it had been dumped on the floor.  Do we have reason to believe that throat slitting produces instantaneous death such that we should disbelieve this testimony of prolonged suffering?  In an attempt to answer this question, I consulted a description of the throat slitting employed in Jewish ritual slaughter:

Shehitah (Heb.), the Jewish method of slaughtering [of] permitted animals or birds for food.  Spotlessly clean sharp knife is drawn quickly and uninterruptedly across throat, severing windpipe, esophagus, jugular veins, and carotid arteries, causing immediate unconsciousness and death.
Geoffrey Wigoder (editor), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Judaica, Leon Amiel Publisher, New York-Paris, and Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1974, p. 548.  A diacritic dot underneath the middle "h" in shehitah was present in the original, but was not reproduced above.

However, the above description fell short of dispelling my doubts.  For one thing, the severing of the windpipe, perhaps, does not lead to death, as air might continue to be inhaled into the lungs whether it entered through the mouth or through the opened throat at the level of the severed windpipe.  Death might more plausibly come from the severing of throat arteries which supply oxygen to the brain.  However, such a severing possibly does not cause an instantaneous loss of consciousness either, as consciousness continues for some moments even after the flow of fresh blood to the brain has been halted, and in any case, vertebral arteries which are not mentioned as being severed by throat slitting might continue to supply some oxygen to the brain.

Therefore, it may be hypothesized that Jewish ritual slaughter produces loss of consciousness more slowly than does the shooting of a prong gun, otherwise known as a bolt gun, into the animal's brain, such that it is possible that Jewish ritual slaughter must always be less humane than modern methods, no matter what improved immobilization technique it adopts.

(3) A third remaining problem is that Jewish groups have reliably, and often successfully, opposed the introduction of humane methods to Jewish ritual slaughter

Jews regularly resist the imposition of methods which render the animal insensitive to pain, under the rabbinical objection that stunning the animal prior to shackling and hoisting renders it trayfe, or unfit for consumption.

Worth noting in the following passage is that Jewish religious leaders reject every method of rendering the animal unconscious which injures the brain, and yet do not propose any alternative method of rendering the animal unconscious, which reduces to Jewish opposition to rendering the animal unconscious:


In September 1893, Switzerland became the first government to introduce humane slaughter legislation.  It passed a law requiring that the animal be stunned and made insensible to pain before being slaughtered.  The stunning device used was a hammer with which the animal was hit over the head.  Later on, a bolt pistol was employed, which had the same effect of stunning the animal, but refined the procedure somewhat.

The Swiss move to insure humane slaughter was first introduced in the Canton of Aragon, in Switzerland.  The Jewish Community accepted the humane intent of the proposed legislation, but not the procedure of stunning the animal.  In most instances the inaccuracy of the stunning procedure broke the skull of the animal and pierced the membrane protecting the brain.  This damage to the brain was sufficient to make the animal trayfe, as would any fatal accident.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 35.

Immediately below, one might wonder what religious principle dictates that damage to the animal's brain during slaughter renders it unfit for consumption, but damage to the animal's throat, windpipe, esophagus, jugular veins, carotid arteries, and neck musculature does not render the animal unfit for consumption:

In Norway, in June 1929, a law was effected which required stunning before shechita, but which, as in the Swiss instance, rendered the animal trayfe because of damage to the brain, and thus in effect outlawed shechita.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 38.

The following two passages suggest a widespread and long-standing effort to win Jewish ritual slaughter exemption from humane-slaughtering laws:

Humane-slaughter legislation first appeared in the United States in 1958 in a federal bill which outlawed the shackling-and-hoisting preparations of conscious animals.  The intent of this legislation was to reduce the potential of suffering for the animal.  The animal was to be stunned by a hammer or bolt pistol prior to being hoisted.  Senators Jacob Javits and Clifford P. Case introduced an amendment to this bill which limited its power to non-Kosher killing.  Kosher-slaughtered animals were to be shackled and hoisted as before.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 40.

Other legislation introduced into state legislatures has followed this pattern of exempting Kosher slaughtering from any limitations or controls.  In 1967, for example, bills were introduced in the New York State Legislature which aroused strong emotion and debate in the Jewish communities throughout the state.  One such bill, sponsored by The Friends of Animals, Inc., [...] required that non-Kosher slaughter be performed on animals that were rendered insensible to pain because this is humane.  The wording of the bill, while conceding to shechita the privilege of continuing its method without change, implied that shechita is not humane slaughter because it does not permit stunning the animal prior to slaughter.

The Mason bill added further consternation by requiring the meat packer to label meats either "Kosher" or "humane," creating an obvious division between the Kosher and non-Kosher slaughtered animals which was uncomplimentary to Jews.
Seymour E. Freedman, The Book of Kashruth: A Treasury of Kosher Facts & Frauds, Bloch Publishing Company, New York, 1970, p. 41.

In summary, given that cruelty has been involved in several immobilization techniques employed in Jewish ritual slaughter in the past, and given that even if humane immobilization were adopted, throat-slitting may leave an animal conscious for some unacceptable interval, and given that Jews have often opposed, and won exemption from, humane-slaughter laws in the past, and on top of that given the disproportionate influence Jews have over the Canadian government and the Canadian press given all that, the Canadian consumer or animal-rights sympathizer may be excused for questioning the degree to which Jewish ritual slaughter in Canada today has met contemporary standards for the humane treatment of animals, and may be excused for thinking it prudent to ask for evidence that Jewish ritual slaughter has abandoned its historical cruelty, rather than merely assuming that it has.


Do we see Jewish resistance to humane slaughter continuing to more recent times?


The Jewish Telegraph Agency report of July 1992 below leaves the impression that instead of defending Jewish ritual slaughter by demonstrating that it has become humane, the Jewish response is to continue to deny consumers information that they are eating Jewish-ritual-slaughtered meat.  But if Jewish ritual slaughter has become humane, then there should be no loss to Jewish income from allowing the consumer to know whether the meat he is about to purchase originates from Jewish ritual slaughter or not.  Surely the Jewish practice of denying the consumer information concerning the origin of his meat invites the hypothesis that Jewish ritual slaughter does continue to be inhumane.  ("Are currently said" below should probably read "are currently sold.")

FROM THE
JTA
NEWSWIRE

Decision by European Parliament could raise cost of kosher food

The European Parliament has backed a move that, if implemented, could send the cost of kosher meat in Britain skyrocketing.  Members of the European Parliament, the legislative branch of the European Community, declared that consumers must be told if they are buying meat produced by religious slaughter.

But despite the politician's vote, an official at the European Commission, the E.C.'s administrative body, said the proposal was unlikely to become European law.  David Massel, executive director at the Board of Deputies of British Jews, described the vote as an "unwelcome development."

The proposed labeling of religiously slaughtered meat "stigmatizes shechitah as something which is cruel," he said, using the Hebrew word for ritual slaughter.  "The Ministry of Agriculture has rejected such a move in Britain, and we hope that view will prevail."  Dayan Berel Berkovits of the Federation of Synagogues Beth Din said he was "extremely perturbed."

Labeling implies shechitah is less humane than other slaughter methods, he said, and there would be serious economic repercussions for the kosher trade.  The back parts of animals killed by shechitah are currently said to the non-Jewish market because they are not kosher.  But if shops were to start turning down labeled meat, the cost would have to be passed on to the kosher consumer.

"If the man in the street reads a label saying that the meat has been produced by ritual slaughter, his automatic reaction would be there is something wrong with it, therefore it should be avoided," Berkovits said.  "The hindquarters, which are now sold to the general market, would no longer be acceptable, and therefore the price of kosher meat would double or treble."

The proposal, put forward by David Morris, a British member of the European Parliament, still must be approved by the E.C. Council of Ministers.  But since Britain, which is opposed to the labeling, holds the presidency of the council, there are strong hopes here it will ultimately be rejected.  But Berkovits warned that until the right to shechitah is guaranteed in European law, "there will always be a danger of amendments to interfere with or ban it."
The Midwest Jewish Week, 17Jul92, p. 4.

I trust that you will agree that Dayan Berel Berkovits's statement in the final sentence above irrationally confuses two things: (1) the right of the consumer to know the origin of his meat, his right to boycott meat products that involve needless cruelty, and his right to terminate his hidden subsidizing of needless cruelty; (2) the banning of Jewish ritual slaughter through legislation.  Only the first was proposed by the European Parliament legislation, not the second.  According to the proposed legislation, Jews would enjoy the freedom to continue Jewish ritual slaughter employing any degree of cruelty that they chose, and the general public would enjoy the freedom to terminate their hidden subsidy of cruel slaughter if they so chose.  In Berkovits's egocentric and garbled logic, if the public were to choose not to subsidize cruel slaughter, then this would constitute an infringement on his right to practice his religion.


Does cruelty in Jewish ritual slaughter encourage the blood libel?



The above illustration and caption accompany the "Blood Libel" entry in Geoffrey Wigoder (editor), Encyclopedic Dictionary of Judaica, Leon Amiel Publisher, New York-Paris, and Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1974, p. 95.  The entry itself is:

Blood Libel, allegation that Jews murder non-Jews, esp. Christians, in order to obtain blood for Passover or other rituals.  Led to many trials and massacres of Jews in the Middle Ages and early Moslem times.  Tiszaeszlar (1881) and Beilis trial (1911) among most notorious accusations.  Revived by Nazis.

A table titled "NOTED BLOOD LIBELS" lists 21 incidents, starting from the year

1144, Norwich, England, Canonization of "martyr child": first recorded blood libel in Europe;

continuing through the instance illustrated above

1475, Trent, Italy, Canonization of "martyr child"; 9 Jews died;

and ending with

1911-1913, Kiev, Russia, Beilis case evoked worldwide reaction.

The final entry above, of course, refers to the trial of Mendel Beilis in Kyiv Ukraine, on which Bernard Malamud loosely based his novel, The Fixer.  In the Beilis trial, the Ukrainian jury concluded that a ritual murder had indeed taken place, but that insufficient evidence had been brought forward to prove that the accused Beilis had been involved an outcome that you will get no inkling of from The Fixer, in which, if I remember correctly, the accused "fixer" is not only convicted, but is executed as well, thus demonstrating for us how Jewish art is able to improve upon Ukrainian reality.

Summing the total number executed or killed in these 21 incidents gives 307 Jews, plus 2 conversos.  That the harm to the Jews greatly exceeded the number of their fatalities is evidenced by such entries as, "Jews expelled," "Led to large-scale emigration," "Ruin of the Jewish community," and "Anti-Jewish riots."

In addition to the interpretation offered in the accusation itself that the victim was killed by Jews for ritualistic purposes one can imagine many other possible interpretations of such incidents.  For example, the victim may have been murdered for reasons unrelated to Jews or Judaism, and then the murder interpreted by authorities as a Jewish ritual murder for political purposes.  Or, perhaps the murderer recognized that by giving his victim the appearance of having been killed in a Jewish ritual murder, he could throw investigators off the track.  Or, one can imagine that the victim was murdered by non-Jews in a simulation of Jewish ritual murder in order to incite animosity toward Jews.  Such a simulation by non-Jews could be made by established non-Jewish leaders, or it could be the deranged act of some lone crackpot who wished to incite hostility against Jews for personal reasons, or perhaps wished to implement some scheme by which the blood libel would raise him to leadership.  Or, one can imagine that the victim was murdered by Jewish leaders in a simulation of Jewish ritual murder in order to increase Jewish cohesion and control of these Jewish leaders over their coreligionists.  Here too, such a simulation of a Jewish ritual murder could be a political decision on the part of established Jewish leaders, or it could be the act of a lone, crackpot Jew in some desperate attempt to augment his power.  A large number of scenarios can be imagined along these lines, the plausibility of each depending upon the particulars of any given case.

In illustrating the breadth of viable hypotheses as to what may be the truth underlying any particular instance of a blood libel must be the recognition that whatever the loss to Jews as a whole, there comes also the understandable and inevitable incitement of Jewish fear and hatred against non-Jews, and a resulting heightened group cohesion among Jews, and a resulting heightened submission of Jews to their Jewish leadership.  Thus, for some Jewish leaders, the occurrence of a blood libel will be welcomed because of the increase it brings to their power.

But if the blood libel is of occasional use to Jewish leaders, then the question arises of whether these leaders might not encourage it, and how.  Under normal circumstances, the accusation of ritual murder carries low plausibility, and is rarely brought forward.  The best defense that Jews would be able to make against such an accusation is that their religion eschews all cruelty.  Perhaps such a defense would give the accusation a prima facie implausibility, and the attempt to win backers for the accusation would miscarry.  In fact, against almost every group that readily comes to mind, the accusation appears to never have been made with the same prominence that it has repeatedly been made against Jews.  Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Zoroastrians, Presbyterians none of these, as far as I know, have been prominently accused of ritual murder.  Ukrainians, the favorite whipping boys of the Jews, are accused of many things, but never of ritual murder.  So, why are other groups exempt from the charge of ritual murder?  Why is it only Jews who are the targets of this accusation?  Why do Jewish encyclopedias carry tables of blood libels against Jews, but Ukrainian encyclopedias do not carry tables of blood libels against Ukrainians?

And the answer one of the answers might be that Jews alone out of all the major groups one can imagine are the ones who practice cruelty in their religion.  The existence of cruelty in Jewish ritual slaughter does not permit Jews the defense that their religion eschews all cruelty.  The existence of cruelty in Jewish ritual slaughter does not permit Jews the defense that among them there is none capable of a deed as sanguinary as ritual murder.  Quite the opposite the existence of cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter builds within non-Jews an image of Judaism as a religion that harbors a sadistic streak and thus lends some plausibility to any particular accusation of ritual murder.  To consider an extreme contrast where Hindus refuse to kill a cow no matter how humane such a killing would be, Jews insist on killing cows only after subjecting them to extreme pain which quite simply demonstrates why Hindus are exempt from the charge of ritual murder and Jews are not.  Even if no instance of Jewish ritual murder had ever taken place in the whole history of the earth, suspicions that it had would be encouraged and strengthened by the existence of Jewish ritual slaughter.  In short, the fact that Jews regularly practice Jewish ritual slaughter makes more plausible in the public mind the possibility that Jews also may occasionally practice Jewish ritual murder.

I propose such hypotheses in order to explain a colossal incongruity that even while some Jewish religious leaders and scholars argue that nothing in Jewish religious law prevents Jews from adopting humane methods of slaughter, and that even while the world looks upon the cruelty of Jewish ritual slaughter with repugnance, and that even while Jews are threatened with economic losses for continuing to practice cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter even with all these forces pressing toward the abandonment of cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter, Jews still cling to this cruelty.  How to explain such a vast incongruity, unless cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter brings with it some concealed benefit?  And what might this concealed benefit of cruelty be?  In its extreme, episodic manifestation, the benefit of cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter might be the outbreak of the blood libel.  And in its more moderate, chronic manifestation, the benefit might be a strengthening of the aversion to Jews and to the Jewish religion which Jewish leaders can interpret for their followers as the psychiatric disorder of gratuitous anti-Semitism.

To summarize it is a viable hypothesis that cries out for confirmation or disconfirmation by the historical record that Jewish leaders value the cruelty of Jewish ritual slaughter because it helps incite the chronic antagonism toward Jews which goes under the name of "anti-Semitism," and helps particularly to incite the episodic antagonism toward Jews which goes under the name of the "blood libel," and in either case helps strengthen Jewish cohesion and support for the Jewish leadership.  Indeed, a variation of this interpretation might hold that whereas it is only a chronic, low-level "anti-Semitism" that is of use to the Jewish leadership, this leadership is not always able to apply exactly enough heat to keep this "anti-Semitism" only at a simmer, such that periodically too much heat is applied and an unwanted and unlooked-for boiling-over occurs the boiling-over of the blood libel.  Or, the cutting-point between desirable and undesirable outcomes might lie a notch higher that is, perhaps it is the case that a blood libel leading to "Evoked worldwide reaction" as in Kyiv Ukraine in 1913 is desirable, whereas a blood libel leading to "Ruin of the Jewish community" as in Xanten Germany in 1892 is undesirable and Jewish leaders sometimes apply too much heat to accomplish the former while avoiding the latter.


Some questions for you


(1) How do Jewish ritual slaughterers in Canada conduct themselves today?

How humane is Jewish ritual slaughter in Canada today?  Has Jewish ritual slaughter in Canada won exemption from humane-slaughtering legislation the way that it has won exemption in jurisdictions outside Canada?  Has any Jewish ritual slaughtering in Canada today taken steps in the direction of adopting humane practices?

(2) Should Jews be allowed to continue strangling the flow of information?

Do Jews have the right to deny the consumer information as to whether his meat has been slaughtered using inhumane methods?  Surely you will have to answer, No, Jews do not have that right.  Rather, it is the public which has a right to know the origin of the meat that it consumes.  Given that 90% of all kosher-slaughtered meat goes to the non-kosher public, it follows that this public has a right to demand labels informing it when meat has been kosher-slaughtered, and when humane-slaughtered.  Or in the alternative, if some kosher slaughtering conducted in Canada today is humane, then the public has a right to the humane vs. inhumane information, with some meat being labelled "humane-slaughtered" and the rest labelled "inhumane-slaughtered."  Optimally, of course, the consumer should not be denied any information at all his meat should be fully categorized as kosher-humane, kosher-inhumane, or non-kosher, assuming that all non-kosher meat must be humane by law, and so does not require further sub-categorization.

(3) Shouldn't Jewish ritual slaughterhouses open themselves up to inspection?

If any effort is made by Jewish groups to win acceptance for the proposition that their slaughtering today has become humane, would you issue an invitation to all interested parties to inspect and to photograph any kosher-slaughtering facility at any time and without prior notice?  Nothing short of this will win relief from the suspicion that even in the twenty-first century, Jewish ritual slaughter has refused to divorce itself from its atavistic cruelty.

(4) Does Jewish ritual slaughter create monsters of depravity?

Is not one of the effects of cruel methods of slaughter the degradation of those who engage in it?  Can a man spend his day stretching suspended animals by dragging their forelimbs in one direction, and dragging a hook through their nostrils in the other direction; or plunging his fingers into their eye sockets; or jabbing their spines by means of sticks rammed into their rectums; or slitting their throats with a knife all with the animals struggling and bellowing and screaming can such a man long retain his humanity?  In the knowledge that this suffering was avoidable, who but a brute would continue in such an occupation?  Or what normal man could long continue in such an occupation without becoming brutalized?  Who would associate with such a man, knowing that the screams of tortured animals still echo in his ears, and that the images of torn nostrils or crushed eyeballs still float before his vision, and that the spurting of hot blood still tingles on his skin?  Surely any modern religion must view the creation of such a human monster as intolerable.

One wonders if there have not been studies of the incidence of psychiatric disorders among individuals put to such work.  One wonders if there have not been studies of outbreaks of sadism and killing among them, not only directed at the animals around them, but also at the people.  One wonders if such individuals were not the first to be recruited into the services of the Cheka-GPU-NKVD to exercise upon humans the skills which they had become inured to exercising upon animals.  One wonders if in today's litigious world, whether such a slaughterer or slaughterer's assistant could not sue his synagogue for the devastation to his mental well-being that years of being forced to practice gratuitous cruelty had wrought.

(5) Have monsters of depravity proven useful to Jewish leaders?

Again we are confronted with an enormous incongruity that it obviously is the case that only some unfortunate Jew denied other opportunities will take the job of slaughterer, or of slaughterer's assistant; and it is obvious as well that the effect of such work on such an unfortunate Jew will be degrading and brutalizing and dehumanizing.  Why then would Jewish leaders permit any Jew to be subjected to such degradation?  How could they give up one of their congregation to the hell of making animals bellow and scream with pain all day long, day in and day out?  Would any respectable Jew allow his son or daughter to witness such a horror even once, let alone to witness it from a distance of a few inches for hours, for days, for years with the probability of emotional twisting increasing with the duration of exposure?  And if these scenes of horror are ones that one protects one's family from, then how to justify sacrificing any coreligionist to being immersed in them?

I can imagine only one answer to this question, which is that the product of the corrupting experience was not without his utility.  That is, in the Eastern Europe of old, in Ukraine perhaps, Jewish leaders found it useful to be able to call upon the services of a torturer, or an executioner, or an assassin, and that the only Jew who could be counted upon to torture a human, or to take a human life, competently and coolly is one who tortured and took the lives of animals on a daily basis competently and coolly, who was used to being covered with spurting blood, who was at home with the sensations coming from a knife severing windpipe and throat muscles, and who more importantly had grown unresponsive to the struggle of the victims to live, and to their bellowing and screaming, and to the pain that they needlessly endured, who had grown used, in short, to inflicting suffering and death in the service of his religion.

If you can think of any other explanation for this incongruity of a religion that creates monsters, that defends its right to create monsters, I will be most interested to hear it.

(6) Doesn't the cruelty of Jewish ritual slaughter enhance Jewish cohesion?

Given that humane methods of slaughter have long been available, and given that some Jewish scholars have long argued that nothing in Jewish religious law opposes the adoption of such humane methods, and given that the world looks upon cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter with repugnance, and given that Jews are threatened with economic losses for continuing cruelty within Jewish ritual slaughter, how are we to explain the widespread use of inhumane methods, and the widespread resistance to abandoning them?  I can think of only one other answer that can be added to the utility of creating a Jewish torturer-killer discussed immediately above.  The only other explanation that I can imagine for this incongruity, and I think a much more important explanation, is that the essence of Judaism lies in the incitement of anti-Semitism by Jewish leaders so as to increase group cohesion among Jews, and thus to tighten the control of Jewish leaders over Jews.  Among the victims of Jewish ritual slaughter, then, may be the Jewish people themselves, collectively, both those who favor ritual slaughter and those who oppose it.

And here we arrive at a possible explanation for both of the two outstanding characteristic of Judaism endless persecution together with resistance to assimilation that is, Jews are endlessly persecuted because their leaders engineer endless persecution, and Jews resist assimilation because of the fear and hatred of non-Jews that their leaders have inculcated in them.  The Jewish people, in short, are the victims of their leaders.

If you have an explanation better than this one for the colossal incongruity of Jewish leaders clinging to gratuitous and barbaric practices, I invite you to share it with me.

(7) Isn't Jewish ritual slaughter a method by which Jewish leaders invite the blood libel?

Most typically, the blood libel is discussed from the point of view of the mental pathology of the people who bring the accusation of ritual murder.  However, it is also possible to discuss the blood libel from the point of view of the utility to the Jewish leaders who may benefit from the accusation of ritual murder, as has been outlined above.  The blood libel, then, may be only in part perhaps in insubstantial part the responsibility of the non-Jews who utter it; and may also be in part perhaps in large part the responsibility of the Jewish leaders who engineer it.



Lubomyr Prytulak


HOME  DISINFORMATION  CHRC  60 MINUTES  PEOPLE  ABELLA  COTLER  DUNN  FARBER  MARTIN  MORGAN  RAMBAM  RONEN  KOSHER TAX  LVIV MASSACRE  LA JUSTICE