Jewish Groups Protest OU's 'Halachic Seudah'
The 100-person dinner in Beverly Hills, Calif., was met by protesters from Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), Jews for Animal Rights, and Concern for Helping Animals in Israel. While the size of the protest was not gargantuan, sometimes in Judaism, all you need is 10 people in order to have a meaningful gathering, and the Los Angeles Jewish Journal reports that JVNA President Richard Schwartz was joined by nine other protesters. It's quite significant that the event was protested not by secular groups on the grounds of animal rights or animal welfare but rather by Jewish groups (which worked together to organize a demonstration) irate over the OU's disregard for Jewish values. Schwartz said in a JVNA news release:
This OU event, involving the eating of so many of God's creatures, completely contradicts our mandate to be 'rachmanim b'nei rachmanim' (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors) and to imitate God, whose mercies are over all of His creatures,” (Psalms 145:9) Even if ritual slaughter is performed flawlessly, consistent with halacha, we should not ignore the severe violations of Jewish law occurring daily on factory farms. We should fulfill our charge to be 'a light unto the nations' by helping to lead the world away from a diet that is so harmful to people, the environment, and animals, to one that is far more consistent with basic religious values, especially at a time when animal-based diets are causing an epidemic of disease in the Jewish community and other communities and when animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming and many other environmental threats to all of humanity.The Jewish Journal reporter who attended the event noted her discomfort eating fleishig eggs, which are unhatched eggs taken from inside the bodies of slaughtered chickens. I can't blame her for being appalled based on her description:
Getting intimate with the animal I was about to digest wasn't something I was used to. It's easy to distance yourself from what you're cooking when chicken comes skinned and deboned, cushioned in foam and wrapped in cellophane. It's harder to do that when, as you are eating fleishig (meat) eggs, you see a slide of a sliced-open chicken with unlaid eggs still covered in a web of blood vessels (that's what makes them meat rather than pareve).The Jewish Journal article talks about not only the animals that were consumed but also the discussions surrounding the dinner:
Objection to the concept of eating as many of G-d's creatures as possible isn't so much an animal welfare issue as a religious issue of respecting His creation. I'm reminded of a passage in Dominion by Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush. A Christian and a conservative, Scully talks about a disturbing Safari Club International convention that praises hunters who kill large numbers of exotic species. He refers to chapter 1 in Genesis; you can't help but wonder how someone could read G-d's saying, "Let the earth bring forth every kind of living creature: cattle, creeping things, and wild beast of every kind," and think, "Let's kill 'em all!" Writes Scully:
A "zemer" is listed in the Torah as kosher, and most scholars translate zemer as giraffe -- an animal that has never been eaten in the kosher world, though it has all the kosher features, as well as several feet worth of neck where it can be properly shechted.
While the [organizers] are ready to serve up giraffe, we didn't get any ... because a giraffe costs about $25,000.
[S]omething has gone horribly wrong, something involving our own human dignity every bit as much as the animals'. ... Why could [someone] possibly want to kill [a] giraffe, a beautiful and graceful creature who did her no harm, isn't overpopulated, [and] isn't causing environmental damage anywhere ...? Why?