12/27/04 Newsletter

Shalom everyone,

     This special Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Online
Newsletter is the eighth follow-up to the JVNA newsletter on the Postville
slaughterhouse issue sent out on December 1. It includes much material from various
perspectives to give you an idea of some of the latest developments. For additional
information, please do an Internet search for recent articles and/or check web
sites of PETA, the OU, and other involved groups (also, please see item #1

     This newsletter has the following items:


1. Postville-related Blog

2. My Postville-related article is now on the Internet

3. Article by Agudath Israel Spokesperson/My Comments Interspersed

4. PETA’s Response to the Above Agudath Israel Article

5. Articles by Agriprocessors Lawyer Challenges PETA/My Comments Interspersed

6. More Letters to the Editor in the Jerusalem Post

7. Postville Issue Discussed on National Public Radio

8. Example of Responses To Videotapes of Postville Procedures

    Some material has been deferred to a later update/newsletter to keep this
one from being even longer.

     [Materials in brackets like this [     ] within an article or forwarded
message are my editorial notes/comments.]

      Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the JVNA,
unless otherwise indicated, but may be presented to increase awareness and/or
to encourage respectful dialogue. Also, information re conferences, retreats,
forums, trips, and other events does not necessarily imply endorsements by
JVNA, but may be presented for informational purposes. Please use e-mail
addresses, telephone numbers, and web sites to get further information about any event
that you are interested in.
     As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.

* I am planning to send out a year end JVNA newsletter this week, summarizing
why I think the Postville slaughterhouse situation is so important and
outlining a future strategy for the JVNA.

* Please note that previous recent newsletters in an easier to read format
can be found at the JVNA web site at

    We plan to post this one soon. It may already be there by the time you
read this.

1. Postville-related Blog

    Much valuable material and interesting commentary re the Postville glatt
kosher slaughterhouse controversy can be found at
Failedmessiah.com. I do not know the source of the material and I do not
endorse all the material at the site, but I have found important documents and
significant commentary there re Postville. As indicated above, for additional
information, please do an Internet search for recent articles and/or check web
sites of the OU, PETA, and other involved groups.

     I also have posted some messages at the blog.

2. My Postville-related article is now on the Internet
at www.aquarianonline.com (a few headlines down).


This article, which also appeared in previous JVNA newsletters, attempts to
use the Postville slaughterhouse situation as a means of showing that
animal-based diets and modern intensive "livestock" agriculture violate at least six
basic Jewish mandates.

3. Article by Agudath Israel Spokesperson/My Comments Interspersed


Rabbi Avi Shafran
Now that the blood has settled, a clearer perspective might be had about the
recent brouhaha over shechita, or Jewish ritual slaughter, at a
meat-processing plant in Iowa.

[*** My respectful comments are interspersed below. I am aware of the many
positive activities that the Agudath Israel (and the OU) carry out for the
benefit of klal Yisrael (the Jewish people), but I feel that Rabbi Shafran’s
thoughtful article deserves a response. My comments will be in brackets and preceded
with ***. Rabbi Shafran will be given an opportunity to respond in a future

Yes, the beginning of that sentence was meant to jar.  Blood and attendant
unpleasantness are part and parcel of the process of turning livestock into
meat, and most people are content to interact only with the final product.

[*** A point that is generally overlooked is that the blood and
unpleasantness produce a product that is not needed for proper nutrition, and, indeed, has
very negative effects on human health and that of our imperiled planet.]

Some, though, choose not to do even that.  They include people who are
repulsed by the thought of eating what was once alive, and others who feel
that meat consumption is a wasteful use of natural resources.  Yet others shun
meat for health or religious reasons.

[*** Yes, as the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) have often
pointed out, the production and consumption of meat and other animal products
violate at least six basic Jewish mandates. So, it is not surprising that some Jews
have decided to be vegetarians.]

And then there are the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
or PETA, who object to all killing of animals because, as Ingrid Newkirk, the
group’s co-founder and president, famously put it, "a rat is a pig is a dog is
a boy" – because of their belief, in other words, that animals are no
different from humans.

[*** The complete statement is that when it comes to feeling pain, "a rat is
a pig is a dog is a boy." Since Rabbi Shafran’s columns often properly point
out distortions in media coverage, I think that it is important to give the
context for quotations that he gives.]

The Jewish religious tradition forbids causing animals unnecessary pain.

[*** Absolutely, as JVNA often points out. But, why then do Jewish leaders
fail to speak out against the many abuses of animals on factory farms? For
example, the killing almost immediately after birth of 250 million male chicks in
the U.S. alone at egg-laying hatcheries because they can’t lay eggs and they
are not of the breed (broilers) that have been genetically programmed to provide
much meat; taking calves from their mothers after one day to raise them as
veal; the force feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras; raising hens in
spaces so small that they can’t raise even one wing, and then debeaking them
to prevent them from pecking other hens in their very crowded, unnatural
conditions; and much more.]

And there are observant Jews who are vegetarians; our tradition even teaches
that the first man and woman – indeed all of humanity until Noah – were
divinely forbidden to eat meat.  But the Jewish faith expressly permits the killing
of animals for human needs, including food.  Which animals may be eaten and
how to dispatch them are topics dealt with at considerable length in Jewish
legal literature.

[*** Today, with our knowledge of scientific nutrition and with nutritional
experts indicating that one can be properly nourished and even healthier
without animal products in the diet, where is the "human need" met by slaughtering
animals for food?]

Indeed, the "PETA Principle," the moral equating of animals and humans, is an
affront to the very essence of Jewish belief, which exalts the human
being, alone among G-d’s creations, as, among other things, the possessor of
free will, a being capable of choosing to do good or bad.  That distinction is
introduced in Genesis, where the first man is commanded to "rule over" the
animal world.

[*** Yes, but "dominion" is interpreted by our sages as "responsible
stewardship or guardianship," and that humans are uniquely created in
G-d’s image should obligate us to imitate G-d’s attributes of mercy and
justice, not to unnecessarily slaughter 50 billion animals annually worldwide to
produce products that are having such negative effects.]

The notion that humans are mere animals can lead to ethical obscenities,
like PETA’s appeal to the director of the federal penitentiary where Timothy
McVeigh was awaiting execution, that the mass murderer not be served meat so
that he "not be allowed to take even one more life."  Or the group’s lodging of
a protest with Yasir Arafat over a terrorist attack because the donkey
carrying the explosives detonated in the attack was killed.  Or its "Holocaust on
Your Plate" campaign, comparing the killing of chickens and cows to the murder
of Jewish men, women and children.  Or solemn declarations like Ms. Newkirk’s
that  "Six million Jews died in
concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in

[*** JVNA disagrees with many of PETA’s positions and actions and we have
urged changes. We should strive to end the mistreatment of animals, not because
of PETA, but because of basic Jewish teachings. We should not use the beliefs
and actions of our critics to excuse us from doing what Jewish values demand.]
[*** Also, PETA, to its credit, has asserted on its web site and in public
statements that shechita is a superior method of slaughter when it is properly
carried out. They have focussed on the Postville plant and they gave the
operators a chance to improve conditions, before secretly videotaping at the
Postville slaughterhouse.]

And so when PETA launched a media blitz several weeks ago, sending scores of
journalists and others copies of surreptitiously filmed and carefully edited
videotapes of animals being slaughtered at the AgriProcessors plant in
Postville, Iowa – the largest producer of "glatt" – or highest-standard –kosher meat
in the nation – the immediate reaction on the part of some Jewish
organizations and many of those in the kosher food industry was understandably negative.

The video, to be sure, was disturbing.  Although the PETA "mole" who
secretly recorded the film likely witnessed thousands of unremarkable
slaughters during his months on the job, the edited film showed a number of
animals that seemed conscious after the act of shechita.  In one case, an
animal even righted itself and took several steps before collapsing.

Every method of animal slaughter yields a small percentage of such
unfortunate results, when some degree of consciousness persists longer than
it should.   What PETA claims, though, is that what was depicted on its edited
video of operations at the Iowa plant represents fully a quarter of the
animals slaughtered over the seven-week period during which the video was made.

There is reason to be skeptical about this claim.  A subsequent visit to the
plant by Dr. I.M. Levinger, a veterinary surgeon and physiologist, yielded his
testimony that, of the as many as 150 animals he saw slaughtered over the
course of his two-day visit, only a single cow exhibited any conscious activity
after shechita.

[*** This shows that the slaughterhouse operators have the ability to carry
out the slaughtering process in a much more effective method than was revealed
on the videotapes. An important word in the above paragraph is "subsequent," a
word that sharply reduces the importance of the observations.]

What is more, USDA inspectors are typically present on the killing floor
during animal slaughter, to ensure that the process complies with federal
standards.  The inspectors present at the Postville plant during the period
PETA compiled the images in its video presumably saw the entire picture, and
never complained about any inordinately high number of post-slaughter displays
of consciousness.  A high-level USDA official, for that matter, visited the
plant after PETA released its video to personally observe the allegedly inhumane
 practices and take appropriate action; what he saw apparently persuaded him
that there was no need to shut down the plant or alter its basic practices.

[*** One would think that inspectors would be around during the slaughtering
process, but several sources indicate that this is not generally true. They
are generally further down the production line, checking for diseases. Even the
OU has indicated that conditions at the plant will be changed. And long time
animal welfare experts, including Temple Grandin, and experienced veterinarians
and some rabbis have indicated their horror at what the video revealed and
expressed their strong belief that conditions be changed.]

Likewise, top officials from the kashrut organizations that certify
AgriProcessors’ meat visited the plant to monitor the shechita process and
found that signs of post-slaughter consciousness were extremely rare. Indeed,
Iowa’s Secretary of Agriculture, Patty Judge, who had initially expressed her
deep chagrin after watching PETA’s video – even calling for a federal
investigation – concluded, after a personal visit to the plant, that the shechita there
"…was humane… and there was absolutely no problem with the way they [the
animals] were handled."

[*** Can planned inspections after the PETA videos were distributed be used
to show that the conditions before the appearance of the videos were

Those personal observations confirm what scientific theory would have
predicted: that the incidence of displays of post-slaughter consciousness is
more rare in cases of shechita than when non-kosher methods of slaughter are
employed.  That is because, as Dr. S.D. Rosen, MA, MD, Faculty of Medicine,
Imperial College, London, noted earlier this year in a monograph in the
Veterinary Record, studies have shown that after the cutting of the trachea, esophagus
and carotid arteries – the shechita process in essence – an animal’s
consciousness is lost within approximately two seconds, and irreversibly.

[*** Yes, as the JVNA has argued when opposing efforts to single out shechita
for criticism, shechita when properly carried out is a superior method of
slaughter. Also, in the study cited, the method of slaughter involved a different
type of holding pen]

The evidence would appear to suggest, therefore, that PETA is grossly
exaggerating the frequency of post-shechita signs of consciousness at the
Iowa plant.  Perhaps it should not be surprising that PETA’s 25% figure differs
so dramatically from what others have seen.  Because, while the group’s concern
that animals not be caused unnecessary pain is commendable, PETA also has an
ultimate, and openly declared, goal: to stop people from eating meat.  And so,
if a bit of dissembling is necessary to move in that direction, well…
wouldn’t you stretch the truth to save Jews from Nazis?

[*** PETA has not tried to stop people from eating meat; they have tried to
convince people that it would be better for them, for our threatened
environment, for the conservation of resources, for a more humane, less violent world,
and, yes, for animals, if they shifted to well-balanced, nutritious diets free
of animal products. Since the production and consumption of animal products
violate so many Jewish teachings, the wonder is that it is a secular group, and
not Agudath Israel, the OU, and most other Jewish groups that is doing this.]

Precision, though, is not the only thing PETA seems prepared to sacrifice in
order  to achieve its goal.  Our nation’s commitment to religious liberty,
in PETA’s eyes, is eminently expendable as well.

[*** Can any proof be produced to show that PETA has ever attacked the
concept of shechita, called for the consumption of meat to be outlawed, or, in any
other way, tried to curtail religious liberty?]

Even though the Iowa plant has discontinued a bleeding-facilitating arterial
cut that PETA deemed a "dismemberment" of live animals, the animal rights
group is now demanding, among other things, that U.S. government regulations
regarding animal slaughter be changed in fundamental ways and that the type of
restraining pen required by some decisors of Jewish law be outlawed.

These are not minor points; they touch, and not gently, upon the issue of
rabbinic authority and religious autonomy.  And that game is zero-sum: What
constitutes proper animal-slaughter methods for observant American Jews will
necessarily be determined in the future either by rabbis or by advocates for

[*** Once again, PETA is not calling for the abolition of shechita. Quite the
contrary – in the Postville case they are defending it at a time when  some
have caused shechita to be associated with horrible mistreatment of animals.]

Shechita was attacked and outlawed by the Nazis when they came to power in.
Germany.  Today, animal rights activists have succeeded in banning it in
several European and Scandinavian countries.  If PETA’s misleading campaign is not
seen for the partisan salvo it is, our own country may be next.

[*** Once again, PETA has defended shechita and publicly called it a superior
method. But, if the horrible scenes revealed on the PETA videotapes become
associated with shechita, this has the potential of harming shechita, Judaism,
and possibly Jews. As one JVNA member stated, "By continuing to defend what
happened in the Postville meat-processing plant in Iowa, you are doing more
damage to our image than anything PETA might inadvertently do."]

[Rabbi Avi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of

Am Echad Resources material may be reproduced without charge,
provided Am Echad Resources is duly credited.

4. PETA’s Reply to Rabbi Shafran’s Article (Above)

[JVNA has been critical of PETA’s statements and activities, most recently
for their very ill-considered "Holocaust On Your Plate" exhibition, and we will
again if necessary. But, PETA has acted responsibly and sensitively in the
Postville controversy, focusing on the Postville facility, and reaffirming their
belief that shechita, when properly carried out is a superior method of
slaughter. I plan to discuss PETA more in my year end statement due out later this

In his recent article titled "The PETA Principle," Rabbi Avi Shafran,
director of public affairs for Agudath Israel, offers his thoughts on
PETA's campaign for improved animal welfare standards at AgriProcessors. We
appreciate Rabbi Shafran's clear concern for animal welfare, and would like to
address the issues he raises.

In the wake of the slaughterhouse scandal, AgriProcessors has not been
able to find a single scientist, animal welfare expert, or veterinarian
who is willing to defend the shoddy slaughter practices we documented.

PETA, on the other hand, has received an outpouring of support from
leaders in the veterinary, animal welfare, and even meat industries, as
well as in the Jewish community, who were shocked by the brazenly cruel
treatment of animals that has, for years, been the norm at

Dr. Temple Grandin, consultant to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA) and the American Meat Institute, did not mince words after
viewing the tapes, stating, "I thought it was the most disgusting thing
I'd ever seen." Dr. Lester Friedlander, a former USDA kosher slaughter
inspector, echoed these sentiments, writing, "The footage captured by
PETA represents the most egregious violation of the USDA Humane Methods of
Slaughter Act (HMSA) I have ever witnessed."

Our investigator witnessed the slaughter of 278 cattle; one-fourth were
clearly and unarguably (according to scientists) still conscious after
they were dumped onto the concrete floor, roughly a minute after
shechita. Because of a Clinton-era USDA program, no USDA inspectors are
assigned to the kill floor, and indeed, there were none there during the
five hours that our investigator was there, on six occasions over about
seven weeks.

The fact that three weeks later AgriProcessors killed animals properly
for Dr. Levinger is encouraging, but this only further validates our
position, proving that AgriProcessors could have slaughtered animals
humanely all along but choose not to-this is why their actions were

AgriProcessors recent willingness to invite government inspectors to its
plant is like a serial killer calling the police over to his house to
watch him not kill people: "See, I'm not killing anyone." Criminals may
sometimes act in accordance with the law, but that does not exonerate
them for their crimes.

The humane community is not asking much AgriProcessors; we're asking
only that they adopt the widely-accepted regulatory standards for
religious slaughter developed by the Food Marketing Institute. These
guidelines, which can be read at GoVeg.com or FMI.org, will ensure that
AgriProcessors' handling and slaughter practices are in keeping with
Judaism's long-standing tradition of kindness to animals.

Striking animals in the face with electric prods, ripping their tracheas
and esophagi out while they're fully conscious, slaughtering them in a
haphazard way-these things were happening at AgriProcessors, in what can only
be seen as a complete denial of Judaism's firm commitment to
compassion. All Jews will surely agree that the standards that PETA,
along with the Rabbinic Assembly of the Conservative movement and a
swelling number of Jews from across the spectrum of Judaism, recommends will
ensure that kosher slaughter is consistently quick and humane, as provided for
in the Torah.

It is simply true, physiologically, that "where pain is concerned, a rat
is a pig is a dog is a boy." This does not mean moral equivalency; it
simply states that God designed us out of the same stuff (flesh, blood,
bone) and with the same capacity to feel pain: No scientist will deny
this, because it's true. And watching as they struggle to stand and flee
while their windpipes hang from their bloody throats, one cannot deny
that the animals at AgriProcessors felt immeasurable agony and fear as
they fought against death.

Indeed, our respect for the uniquely human ability to make complex moral
calculations is central to our mission. As human beings, as stated in
the Torah, we have an obligation to make compassionate choices when
confronted with the suffering of others. We both agree with and embrace
this understanding as central to our mission. As Rabbi Shafran notes,
for many, this calculation leads them to vegetarianism. For all,
however, it should lead to profound moral outrage at the horrific and
consistent cruelty to animals perpetrated by AgriProcessors for so many

In closing, please consider that PETA supplied our video and all
relevant documentation and factual support to three government agencies.

Any exaggeration on our part would be criminal in nature and would
subject us to forfeiture of our nonprofit status and thus would, most
likely, lead to our demise. As the world's largest animal rights
organization, with more than 800,000 members and supporters and 25-year
history, this is not something we would ever do-both because dishonesty is the
opposite of what we stand for and because our mission would be irreparably

After reviewing the video documentation and reading additional expert
and rabbinical testimony at GoVeg.com, readers will surely agree with
Rabbi Barry Schwartz of the Central Conference of American Rabbis' Task
Force on Kashrut, who said, "The suffering of these animals during
slaughter is sickening. Death is neither quick nor merciful. If this is
kosher, then we have a big problem."

For information on Judaism and vegetarianism, please visit the Web site
run by the Jewish Vegetarians of North America, at www.JewishVeg.com.

Benjamin Goldsmith is a campaign coordinator for People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Comments by JVNA reader, Maida:
Here was my comment to the Aish Hatorah web site (URL at the top of the
article above):
As far as I can tell PETA's primary concern is the most humane
conditions for animals, which should also be the primary concern of
shechita.  Jews have often been their own worst enemies and I think this
is the case here.  By continuing to defend what happened in the
Postville meat-processing plant in Iowa, you are doing more damage to
our image than anything PETA might inadvertently do.  I am sure that
PETA has absolutely no interest in provoking anti-Semitism. They only
want to have Jews react to flaws in what is supposed to be a better
5. Articles by Agriprocessors Lawyer Challenges PETA/My Comments Interspersed

Some Questions For PETA

Nathan Lewin

[*** As in the above article by Rabbi Shafran, my respectful comments are
interspersed below, preceded by ***.]

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently released a video
bearing the incendiary title "PETA Undercover: Terrified Cows Stagger to
Their Feet After Workers Rip Out Their Throats." Visitors to the PETA Web
site are told to watch the video and see "AgriProcessors workers ignore the
suffering of cows that are still sensible to pain after having their throats slit
by the ritual slaughterer. The animals stagger and slip in blood while their
tracheas dangle from their necks. Watch now."

The attack on shechita, kosher ritual slaughter, follows the line almost in
precise words that has been taken for centuries by anti-Semites, culminating
in Hitler’s laws enacted in April 1933 to protect Germany’s animals against
the savagery of the Jewish ritual. (Der Stuermer’s 1938 description of "How
Jews Torture Animals" described two German boys watching the animal after
shechita "struggle to get up and then collapse" and, after a second cut by the Jew,
"the blood spurts, and again the animal struggles to get up.")

[*** There are certainly major differences here. First, PETA gave
AgriProcessors, the slaughterhouse operators, a chance to correct things before they sent
a volunteer to videotape conditions at the slaughterhouse. Second, PETA is
focussing on the one plant and is seeking improvements that will reduce the
suffering of animals. Third, PETA has made it clear through its web site and
public statements that it regards shechita as a superior form of slaughter, when it
is properly done. JVNA has been critical of some of PETA’s beliefs and
actions, and plans to continue to do so, but the use of misleading statements about
PETA  does not do credit to shechita and other Jewish teachings.]

No matter that mounds of scientific evidence establish that an animal that
loses blood to the brain loses any sense of pain. No matter that the
shechita cut results in anemia of the brain within 2 seconds. No matter that
the U.S. Congress held extensive hearings in 1957 and concluded that the
Jewish ritual method of slaughter is at least as humane as any other method that
modern science has devised. PETA’s "food specialists" and Ph.Ds know the cow
that has its throat slit "suffers" and is "still sensible."

[Mr. Lewin’s statements in this paragraph ignore the statements of many
animal welfare experts, including the world renowned Temple Grandin, experienced
veterinarians, and some rabbis.]

PETA made no such claim when it sent two accusatory letters to
AgriProcessors last year, in June and November. I replied to PETA’s first
letter that had said it would keep "entirely confidential" its allegation
that "Jewish law is being violated" if AgriProcessors would agree to hire
Dr. Temple Grandin, which PETA on its Web site calls "the country’s leading
slaughter expert," to institute "humane improvements." (I noted that this
sounded like extortion.) I asked PETA to provide "detailed descriptions of specific
conduct to support your conclusions."

Did PETA claim then that terrified cows were staggering to their feet after
workers ripped out their throats? No way. Here is the substance of PETA’s list:

1. Repair your unloading ramps.

2. Restrict the use of electric prods.

3. Ensure that no more than 5 percent of cows vocalize.

4. Ensure that each chicken is held one at a time, by one person, for

5. Provide fresh, clean water for all animals at unloading.

6. Ensure that all animals are calm at all stages of processing.

7. Engage in self-audits on a regular basis.

[*** These seven points seem to show that PETA was concerned with minimizing
the suffering of animals.]

PETA added in the letter that listed its seven demands (none of which
involved violations of Jewish law) that it "would prefer it if
AgriProcessors stopped killing animals." But it did not dare repeat the old
anti-Semitic canard that cows with their throats slit by the ritual
slaughterer were staggering or struggling.

[*** Jewish law is violated if animals suffer unnecessarily, and this is what
PETA’s seven steps are aimed at preventing.]

Only after its investigator took "undercover" videos that would rouse
emotions in people who have never seen a slaughtering plant in operation did
PETA turn from complaining about "unloading ramps" to its publicized
allegation that the throat slitting and what followed was brutal and
contrary to Jewish law.

[*** It is not just their allegations, but, as indicated above, the
considered opinions of experts on animal treatment and slaughter procedures, and a
number of rabbis. Many of their statements, and much more re the Postville
situation can be found at GoVeg.com.]

Every respected Orthodox authority on Jewish law has concluded that what was
shown on the video was not contrary to Jewish law and that the shechita was
100 percent kosher. Some Orthodox rabbis urged that in order to avoid a public
misperception of cruelty, one step in the process — a second cut and removal of
the trachea — not be done.

[*** Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland feels that Jewish law
was violated. And the Orthodox rabbis of the OU have requested changes in the
procedures at the Postville slaughterhouse.]

It is legitimate, however, to ask PETA a few questions:
*   How do you know that the animal that has its throat cut and loses blood
flow to the brain is "still sensible?"

[*** Again, PETA;’s view is backed up by many experts on animal welfare and
veterinary science.]

Three Cambridge University professors (Wood, Barcroft and Newman) authored a
report in 1924 on the "Jewish Method of Slaughtering Animals for Food." They
said of the post-shechita movements shown on the video: "Such movements are
quite unconnected with sensation. Nevertheless they may appear so purposeful as
to convince the lay observer that sensation continues and that the movements
are evidence of pain or consciousness."

Professor William Bayliss of University College in London said in a 1930
study that convulsions "may come on at a stage long after consciousness has
ceased" and they "may include raising of the head."

[*** These studies are many decades old, and they refer to different
slaughtering procedures.]

˙ Do you have comparable "undercover" video of a non-kosher slaughtering
plant or of another kosher plant?

[*** They do at their web site. Over many years, PETA has taken on a wide
variety of animal abuses.]

What transpires in any slaughtering plant is gruesome to watch. Animals are
being put to death in order to be eaten.

[*** Why carry out this gruesome process and kill animals to create a product
that is not needed for proper nutrition and, indeed, is harmful to human
health and environmental sustainability.]

Before condemning any one plant, one in fairness must see what goes on in
others. The process in non-kosher plants is less bloody because throat slitting
is not the means of killing the animal, but other steps are probably as painful
to watch and possibly more painful to the animal.

[*** Is this going to be our defense – that others are just as bad, or worse,
especially when some veteran experts indicate that they have never seen such
horrendous conditions?]

*   Why are you less concerned about the treatment of live animals than about
the final minutes of life of animals that are legitimately put to death for 
human consumption?

I wrote in my letter to PETA that "long before the rest of the world showed
any ‘common decency’ to animals or had the slightest concern for the treatment
of animals, the laws of the Torah and rabbinic teachings commanded the Jewish
people to treat all living creatures humanely. Secular society — including
your organization — has still not caught up with the precepts of Jewish law in
this regard."

[*** JVNA agrees re Judaism’s powerful teachings on compassion to animals.
But, in view of these teachings, why is Mr. Lewin and many other Jewish leaders
ignoring the many abuses on factory farms to 50 billion farmed animas
worldwide every year?]

*   Why is PETA not concerned, as the Torah is, about animals being

[*** They are concerned about all types of mistreatment of animals. Because
of modern technology, far fewer animals are overworked today than in the past.]

PETA doesn’t demand a Sabbath for living animals or condemn pairing weak and
strong animals or muzzling them in the presence of food. The morality of Torah
law apparently is not a model for headline-hungry hypocrites who take cheap
shots at targets they think cannot fight back.

[*** Again, in view of powerful Jewish teachings on compassion to animals,
why isn’t the Jewish community actively involved in ending the horrors occurring
daily due to modern, intensive "livestock" agriculture?

*   Why has PETA not taken on horse racing or dog racing, or rodeos or
hunting, where live animals are abused for the sport of humans?

[*** They have, and much more.]

Observant Jews are more inviting targets, particularly since they are ready
to confess sins even where there are none.

Nathan Lewin, a constitutional lawyer who has represented many Orthodox
clients, is counsel for AgriProcessors in Postville, Iowa.

6. More Letters to the Editor in the Jerusalem Post
Letters to the Editor

No mitzvah, this
Sir, - Saul Singer did a marvelous job of describing the irony of large
animals being tortured at a (glatt!) kosher slaughterhouse in the US ("Cutting-edge
kashrut," UpFront, December 17).
Judaism negates a mitzvah that comes as the result of a transgression.
Surely, any mitzvah that results from kosher slaughter is nullified if the animal
experiences agony in the process, the more so if that suffering is driven by
monetary concerns.
MARK FEFFER  [Mark is a JVNA advisor.]
Sir, - Most animals raised in modern-day agriculture suffer immensely even
before slaughter. They are subjected to de-beaking, castration and dehorning,
all without painkillers, and spend their stress-filled lives in barren
warehouses, never setting foot outside.
Radnor, Pennsylvania
Sir, - Kudos for the articles on ethical shehita by Temple Grandin ("Kosher
slaughter done right," Upfront, December 17) and Saul Singer. It would be a
long-overdue step for the rabbinical establishment to declare treif all food that
follows suffering by living creatures.
Gastonomic "delights" such as pate de fois gras or veal, achieved through
unspeakably cruel methods, or meat produced by subjecting helpless creatures to
inhumane conditions during raising or slaughtering, have no place on a kosher
Sir, - When I ask: "Is it kosher?" (meaning vegan, sustainably produced and
fairly traded) I couldn't be more serious.
For me, a diet that does the least unavoidable harm and the most possible
good is daily balm to a conscience that almost always has something weighing upon
SYD BAUMEL   [Syd is also a JVNA advisor who recently made a generous
donation to JVNA.]
Founder, Eatkind.net
...Grandin's labor of love
Sir, - Familiar with Temple Grandin's work in autism, which has helped
thousands - parents, children, researchers, and simple therapists like myself - I
wrote an article about her for Mishpacha magazine. Grandin herself is autistic
and a walking resource on the subject.
She asked me, an Orthodox Jew, to approach the OU in America about the
disturbing practices during shehita in South America. No one returned my calls.
I asked a rabbi who knew the OU's head to show him my article on Grandin's
method of handling animals during shehita. The response came back: "She's a
The accusation that Grandin has a vested interest is falacious. Yes, she
designs very expensive equipment. But her goal is more than monetary; it is to
change the way people mistreat animals. It is a labor of love.
The issue is not PETA vs. the rabbis. Grandin is a leading researcher in
animal science as it relates to slaughter - Jewish, Muslim, and secular.
While highly articulate, she is not capable of understanding concepts as
abstract as anti-Semitism. To suggest even a hint of it is ludicrous.
Read Labeled Autistic or Thinking in Pictures and you will clearly see her
views on shehita and those who perform it.
New York
Sir, - The letter by Benjamin Goldsmith, PETA campaign coordinator (December
15), failed to reveal the real agenda of the animal rights movement. [letters]
The video scenes illegally obtained by a PETA representative at
AgriProcessors may not have looked pretty to the untrained eye - but all leading rabbis in
the US and Israel have subsequently ruled that the shehita was kosher, and
that the animals' actions were reflexive, not conscious.
Shehita remains the most humane form of slaughter, a fact protected by US
law. A veterinarian and four inspectors of the United States Department of
Agriculture observe the kosher slaughter at AgriProcessors at all times, as do nine
PETA is against all animal slaughter, which it has grotesquely equated with
the Holocaust. It is hardly qualified to tell a 3,000-year-old religion what is
Editor, 'Kosher Today'
New York
This article [letters] can also be read at
[Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995-2004 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost.com/

7. Postville Issue Discussed on National Public Radio

Forwarded message from Karen Dawn <news@dawnwatch.com>
DawnWatch: Excellent NPR coverage of PETA's horrifying undercover kosher
slaughterhouse footage 12/20/04

    On Monday, December 20, the National Public Radio show "All Things
Considered" gave strong even-handed coverage to the story regarding PETA's
undercover footage taken at the AgriProcessors plant, which the story described
"the world's largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse," and  "the only one in the
US certified by Israeli rabbinic authorities."

You can hear the whole five minute story on line at:
I will summarize it, briefly, below:
     The reporter, Greg Allen, describes what one can see on the PETA tape:
"A shochet, a ritual slaughterer, uses a sharp knife to cut a steer's
throat, and as the blood begins to flow, a second man steps forward and
pulls out the animal's trachea. In case after case, the animal struggles to
its feet while its windpipe dangles from its open throat."
     Arguments on both sides as to whether the practices involve horrendous
cruelty or just involuntary post-conscious movements are presented. The story
mentions that the footage has been posted to PETA's website. It is PETA's
www.GoVeg.com website that has the story front and central; unfortunately that is
not noted but hopefully listeners will go to PETA's main site and find their
way easily to the footage. Nobody seeing it, who is not strongly invested in
believing there to be no cruelty, could watch the footage and interpret  the
bellowing and staggering, sometimes for minutes, of cows who have risen to their
feet, as involuntary movement.
     Temple Grandin, who is described as "a veterinarian at Colorado State
University," and an "expert on humane slaughtering processes" is not a PETA
person. She is a meat-eater who helps design slaughterhouses with the intention
of making them more humane. We hear her say:
"My reaction was I just about fell off my chair when I saw this procedure of
yanking out the trachea."
Greg Allen reports:
"Grandin, an expert on humane slaughtering practices, has worked closely
with dozens of kosher slaughterhouses. Kosher slaughter, she says, can be
extremely humane if done well. One sign, Grandin says, that AgriProcessors was
not doing things correctly was how many animals tried to get up after having
their throats cut. PETA says one-quarter of the 276 animals the group documented
showed signs of consciousness after being released from the holding chamber.
AgriProcessors disputes that, however, along with most of PETA's other charges.
Spokesman Mike Thomas says plant workers don't deliberately remove the
animals' tracheas. He says it's sometimes done accidentally. And despite evidence on
the tape, Thomas says the vast majority of animals die within seconds."

 (Note: "Despite evidence on the tape.")
The story includes strong quotes from PETA's Bruce Friedrich:
"Many of the animals actually struggle and stand for up to three minutes
after their throats have been slit open, which are unarguably, according to
physiologists, signs of consciousness. What is happening on that slaughter
plant line is clear and absolute cruelty to animals."
And to the suggestion that anti Semitism is motivating the campaign,
Friedrich responds:
"We've been pretty flummoxed by the fact that anyone would defend the
egregious cruelty to animals that is happening in this plant. Judaism
actually has more vegetarians than any other faith, except Hinduism, and
that's because of the fine Jewish tradition of compassion for animals."
You might like to listen on line, at the link above, to the whole piece.
Most importantly, please let "All Things Considered" know its attention to
this matter is appreciated. Positive feedback will encourage similar stories
in the future. All Things Considered takes comments at:
Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in
the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets.
You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at
To unsubscribe, go to www.DawnWatch.com/unsubscribe.php. If you forward or
reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title
and include this tag line.)

8. Example of Responses To Videotapes of Postville Procedures

Below is just one of many letters that I have received expressing outrage at
scenes on the videotape. I believe that it indicates why it is so important
that it be made clear that the procedures at Postville are not typical of
shechita and that they will very soon be changed, and that proper regulations and
inspection procedures will also soon be established to insure that shechita is
properly carried out.
Dear Richard,

After viewing footage of so-called kosher slaughter, I am horrified beyond
description.  To call such brutality acceptable is beyond justification.

Such cruelty must not exist in a civilized society, and especially must not
be condoned by a religious community who theoretically stands for ethical and
humane behavior.  What I saw is not humane and not ethical. It is barbarism of
the worst kind, and your tacit approval of it is totally unacceptable.

I would appreciate your comments to my concerns.

Lu Haner
9 Sherman Rd.
Millis, MA 02054
** Fair Use Notice**
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Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
2800 Victory Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10314
Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and
Mathematics and Global Survival
President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
Phone: (718) 761-5876    Fax: (718) 982-3631   E-mail: rschw12345@aol.com



12/21/04 Newsletter