"The Kosher Wars"

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"The Kosher Wars"

Postby Daniel Rogov » Sun Oct 12, 2008 4:40 pm

An article in the NYTimes magazine about the ethics, morality and convenience of kosher slaughter. Frankly, I found the article rather boring and disappointing because for all of the reasons it gives for kosher slaughtering methods it omits one important element - the need to demonstrate one's beliefs. Whatever, a few controversial points and perhaps of interest to some of our forumites. The article can be seen at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/12/magaz ... anted=4&hp

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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Charlie Dawg » Mon Oct 13, 2008 9:54 am

Hi, Daniel. You are correct article is boring. But not simply boring it is one sided, serving a certain purpose for certain people. We had this very conversation on the old board. I really do not want to go into bashing those people who have created problems for Rubashkin family, those like so called rabbi Allen, or other so called self hating Jews. Very same allen who'd refused to wait 5-10 minutes for my wife's ant to arrive to the wedding. You see she is handicapped and the handicap transportation was running late that day, but he was too busy, or was it too ethical to start wedding 10 minutes late?
I will tell you one thing; kosher industry was a convenient target for the Peta. They are crazy, and people watching their videos are clueless. How many Americans of today’s have seen an animal butchered, even in the most ethical of the conditions and most ethical of ways (it is a gruesome picture)? 2-3? Maybe 5? Peta's goal is to out law meat period. That is not what they are saying, but then Soviet Propaganda never said that America or Americans, or Israel for that matter, should be completely destroyed. Said propaganda found different ways and means to show how terrible these places were and the only logical conclusion was a complete distraction. Peta is doing the same thing. Yes they have exposed some horrible things happening in some pig farms. But nothing, nothing even remotely closed to abuse were ever happening at Agri. I went there to see what was going on my self. So if there is a reason to bring the people’s attention to the issue at hand it is the issue of Peta’s true goals. And finding means and ways to stop that madness. Or pretty soon we’ll be grazing on the grass just like cows if Peta has its way.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Daniel Rogov » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:38 pm

Charlie, Hi....

A bit of history. My father was in the construction industry, building largely for the meat and dairy industries and because of that I have indeed seen animals - from chickens to cattle - slaughtered. I too am against cruelty towards animals, whether that be in the way we raise or slaughter them. As to PETA, we are agreed - these are largely fanatics who, even more seriously than their false and misleading claims (not to mention their sometimes near-moronic videos and press-releases) is the violence they turn to in attaining their supposed goals.

The problem with Agri is not one of kashrut. Nor is it an issue of excess cruelty. I say excess because there is no way one can avoid the reality that cutting the throad of a cow or chopping off the head of a chicken is cruel. The issue with Agri is largely one of how they hire and then abuse their employees. Some have made an issue of the fact that they hire "illegal immigrants". That is not at all my problem. Even illegal immigrants have to eat and thus have to work. The problem that I have is what seems to be an increasing amount of evidence that the employees are made to work unreasonable hours, at unreasonable rates of pay, without appropriate benefits or safety procedures (and if you've seen a slaughterhouse you know that this can be dangerous work - slippery floors, very sharp knives working at a very rapid pace, and if the tracking system is not firm enough, the threat of a carcass falling onto nearby workers).

I agree with you that PETA is "out to get them". I suspect though that the full truth will be more closely unveiled as the various cases go to court.

My second open invitation this week - should either a representative of Agri or of PETA care to respond here, they would be most welcome. All I would require from them or from us is a civil dialogue and lack of diatribes and unfounded accusations.

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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Leanne S » Fri Oct 17, 2008 12:44 am

I think a "Heksher Tsaddik" would be great, and would help elevate the reputation of Kashrut. I think it's a hilul-HaShem to state that kashrut doesn't care about the wellfare of animals or workers, it only cares about rituals.

Sorry, Charlie. But just as a practical matter, if non-Jews buy kosher meat because they think it's superior from an ethical and quality standpoint, it will be carried by more stores and be easier to get in out-of the-Jewish-way burgs like mine.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Michael P » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:31 am

Leanne S wrote:I think a "Heksher Tsaddik" would be great, and would help elevate the reputation of Kashrut. I think it's a hilul-HaShem to state that kashrut doesn't care about the wellfare of animals or workers, it only cares about rituals.

Sorry, Charlie. But just as a practical matter, if non-Jews buy kosher meat because they think it's superior from an ethical and quality standpoint, it will be carried by more stores and be easier to get in out-of the-Jewish-way burgs like mine.


I find it very funny that the Rabbi's who want most want to institute "Heksher Tsaddik" actually don't really care about the equally important part - KOSHER!!!
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Trevor F » Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:22 pm

Rather like the AWC ( animal welfare council ) who campaign against shechita from time to time in Britain, although they've been quiet recently as any attack, constructive or destructive, is also an attack on halal slaughtering which would offend the Moslem population ( no mention of that in the news article ).

Much of the kosher meat for sale in Britain is killed either in France or in Ireland ---- the Irish offer great tax breaks for setting up abattoirs and creating new jobs.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Leanne S » Sun Oct 19, 2008 5:32 pm

Michael P, can you name names and prove that Rabbis interested in a Heksher Tsaddik are not in favor of Kashrut? That sounds like a general smear to me.

In point of fact, it won't hurt Kashrut to also appeal to people who are making ethical decisions as well as Halachic ones. It will help. Because yes, right now I have to choose between chicken that's raised locally according to my environmental and humanistic beliefs and chicken that's got a Heksher. Wouldn't you like to have lot's more people buying kosher?
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Michael P » Sun Oct 19, 2008 9:10 pm

Leanne S wrote:Michael P, can you name names and prove that Rabbis interested in a Heksher Tsaddik are not in favor of Kashrut? That sounds like a general smear to me.

In point of fact, it won't hurt Kashrut to also appeal to people who are making ethical decisions as well as Halachic ones. It will help. Because yes, right now I have to choose between chicken that's raised locally according to my environmental and humanistic beliefs and chicken that's got a Heksher. Wouldn't you like to have lot's more people buying kosher?


I would suggest you read the UCJ's draft for this "Hekscher" here. You will find no strict kashrut guidelines - just 'kosher': http://www.uscj.org/images/hekhsher_tze ... elines.pdf
Search the jewish week for many articles on the subject.

Sadly the Conservative Rabbi's have been mostly absent from the higher Kashrut scene. In 2007 in New York area, where I live and where there is a large Jewish concentration, The Jewish Week reported that the FIRST conservative Kashrut authority opened (in Dix Hills IIRC).
For me, keeping kosher I want to know that I am eating the highest level of Kashrut, while at the same time complying with local government laws and basic ethics. Until now, with little exception (and lets not argue: no human applied Heksher - Tzedek or Kashrut, or law enforcement agency can be perfect - they cannot) I feel that the prominent organizations have been providing all, with a trend toward improvement.
I am all for a stricter standard of ethics and fair treatment. Most Kashrut organizations are (read some of the comments from the Orthodox OU leader). I, and I imagine all Jews, are for the continued spread and wider availability of Kosher food. However, the focus should be superior Kashrut. The laws of this great country help us achieve the basic level of ethics and many Kashrut organizations are committed to making sure the recent incidents will not occur again. Why don't other religions use a "Hekscher Tzedek" (widely)? It's because they depend on the government and NGO's (e.g. Peta) to oversee laws and ethics. A new organization is just not needed.

I know Rogov does not like political/religious talk here - however, I think this is so important to understand. Rabbi's from all sects have spoken for this project, but look carefully at the comments, some focus purely on the ethics, and others on both kashrut and ethics. Sadly too many Rabbi's forgot to mention the most imporant part. Kashrut!
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Leanne S » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:19 am

Michael, I agree that if there weren't good kashrut standards behind a heksher tsedek it would be deceptive. Also, I wouldn't feel the need for a Heksher Tsedek if kashrut can shake off this stain on its reputation and inspire confidence in the ethics behind it. So if there's something besides a Heksher Tsedek that can bring that about, that would be great.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Daniel Rogov » Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:02 am

Michael, Hi....

I wonder if you are not mis-reading some of the comments of various of those rabbinical authorities. It is clear that in many of these statements these people were speaking specifically to issues of humane methods of slaughtering and the decent treatment of workers and, that kashrut was a subject taken for granted and thus with no need to specifically mention it. In another phrase, the original premise, as here, is that people were speaking of a humane outlook within the bounds of kashrut.

As to the "level" of kashrut ... that is to say, precisely which rabbi put his seal of approval on the meats of a certain facility... well, as you know that is another story completely. For the vast majority of observant Jews the certification of one of many various kashrut authorities is quite adequate. For others, if their own specific rabbi did not approve of the facility or their products, the item is considered undesirable. I know of people in Israel for example who will not drink the mineral water or fruit juice of a particular company because the leader of a particular sect in Jerusalem would not give his approval.

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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Avi Hein » Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:24 pm

I don't want to add to the political or religious bashing, but I am on a few Conservative listservs and know some of the people involved, so let me make a clarification about the Hecksher Tzedek (which, I should point out, is similiar to the Tav Hevrati (Social Seal) of the liberal Orthodox group B'Maglei Tzedek that exists in Jerusalem). The Hechsher Tzedek is NOT a substitute for a kashrut hashgacha, but merely an addition (to certify that the food and processing takes into consideration the numerous Jewish laws governing fair treatment of animals and workers -- that too is halakha, Jewish law, for those who observe Jewish law). In other words, the hechsher tzedek is NOT -- and is not intended to be -- a substitute for the OU, Circle K, B'Datz, or whatever other kashrut certification agency. This is not a defense nor a critique of it (I admit certain misgivings about it, but not the smears and libels that some are making about Rabbi Allen, the Conservative movement, or others, but rather due to my own economic philosophy and involvement in the Conservative movement, which is where this specific program initiates. But that is not for the list, as it's quite off topic.)
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Michael P » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:31 pm

Rogov and Avi

We are agreed - and I understand that the Hechser is seperate from Kashrut. And I think we agree on that most kosher eaters rely on the a Kashrut symbols and not foods only with the Hechser of their local rabbi.

I just dont understand why the conservative movement - which has never taken Kashrut nearly as seriously as the Orthodox (modern, middle and ultra) now wants to stick its head into this world, over one (LARGE) problem. First understand Kashrut -promote it, grasp it, see all its sides, and they will see Kashrut is very humane by nature.

Hecsher Tzedek is great - but it should be a part of the kashrut hechser (K, OU, OK whatever). Maybe these organizations need improvment - but we don't need another authority!

Also having to pay for another Hechser (nothing stays free forever) will convince many producers just not to be kosher and will lead to less kosher food.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Michael P » Thu Oct 23, 2008 12:37 pm

Avi Hein wrote:I don't want to add to the political or religious bashing,


If that was for me - my apologies. I am not bashing anyone. I was saddened by the accusations at what happened at the meat plant and by the response from some of the Rabbi's.

In my business we work very hard but we never do our jobs 100% perfectly, but we keep trying and hope that the government doesnt insist on giving us more and more oversight. I was upset that the Rabbi's overseeing the plant either missed the abuse or turned a blind eye (or who knows! maybe the governement got something wrong for once....!!), but overall they do a great job and are always trying to do better.

Political/Religous re conservative/orthodox/reform (in no particular order) I hope we all get along!
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Charlie Dawg » Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:59 pm

Michael P wrote:
Avi Hein wrote:I don't want to add to the political or religious bashing,


If that was for me - my apologies...


I bet this was for me. Knowing Allen personally I doubt what I was doing should be classified as bashing, rather showing his true face. As far as kashrus goes, like many others he eats in trafe restaurants, “but only fish”. At home he doesn’t eat meat and actively promotes vegetarian life style amongst his congregants, many of whom also have become vegetarian in the last 10-15 years. If only he was that active in promoting kosher life style. As far as H.T. goes it could be a good idea if every single conservative synagogue member would start keeping kosher. When demand will rise by so much, so will the supply and then one can choose whose product to buy. As of right now even the people who supposedly keep kosher at home, eat out freely in non-kosher institutions, so before conservative movement starts cleaning the orthodox world let them clean up their own back yard. As of right now the idea of H.T. seems more pointed to kill kosher production rather than improve it.

Daniel as far as Rubashkin and AGRI so called “abuses” goes. What we have right now are accusations by angry former employees’. I always thought it is innocent until proven guilty. So let’s wait until the trail is over before deciding on the sentence for them. If it is true I will the first one to stop eating their products blee neder.
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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Daniel Rogov » Wed Oct 29, 2008 7:24 pm

A court decision was handed down on Wednesday, that fining Agriprocessors aboout US$10 million for 9,300 misdemeanor offenses, many involving the employment of youngsters between the ages of 16-18 who were handling dangerous equipment. My personal conclusion - kosher they may be but immoral they are as well. See a more detailed report in HaAretz at http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1032625.html

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Re: "The Kosher Wars"

Postby Charlie Dawg » Wed Oct 29, 2008 8:01 pm

wow, that's bad
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