"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


A Kosher Slaughterhouse Out in Fontana

I'm a big fan of the show Two and a Half Men. I was cracking up a few weeks ago when I saw an episode in which Daisy (Berta's sister) said the following to Charlie about her ex:
Larry was nothing when I met him. He was working at some kosher slaughterhouse out in Fontana before they fired him for being mean to the cattle. The Jewish laws dictate that the animals have to be treated kindly before they get whacked. Larry would taunt them: "Hey, hamburger, guess what's going to happen to you—haha!"

The episode, titled "A Kosher Slaughterhouse Out in Fontana," originally aired November 8, 2004—just a few weeks before PETA went public with its first investigation of AgriProcessors.

Of course, Jewish mandates do call for Jews to avoid causing animals unnecessary suffering (tza'ar ba'alei chayim). Unfortunately, AgriProcessors has been more concerned with the letter of the law than the spirit of it, choosing to focus specifically on the first cut of shechita rather than what happens to the animals "before they get whacked" (or afterward). As recently as a few weeks ago, Rabbi Menachem Weissmandl, who is reportedly the head rabbi at AgriProcessors, said that his focus is "strictly kosher supervision" and that he will not remove his hechsher—despite everything that's gone wrong at AgriProcessors—"as long as the strict guidelines of Kosher Shichitah [are] followed in this plant."

Daisy got it right when she said that Judaism requires animals to be treated kindly. But all too often, the kosher meat industry overlooks that if it doesn't apply to the shechita itself.


  • At 9/28/2008 8:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Too creepy, Croland-- I am an occaisonal closet watcher of this show myself (owing to my high school uber-crush on Duckie Dale, of course) and I actually saw this episode the other day.

    Lemme guess... you have never seen "Pretty in Pink", right?

  • At 10/20/2008 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can you direct me to any info about whether kosher factory farms are the same/more or less compassionate towards the animals(I mean as far as the weeks and months previous to shechita).
    Thank you

  • At 10/22/2008 12:45 PM, Blogger heebnvegan said…

    Lagoff, thanks for your question. In almost all cases, the animals killed for kosher meat come from the same cruel factory farms as other animals. There are a few cases where animals killed for kosher meat are from small-scale farms that supposedly treat the animals humanely; I don't really endorse animal agriculture period (see http://heebnvegan.blogspot.com/2007/07/guest-post-my-experience-as-farmer-and.html for an account of what it's like on one such farm), but I can refer you to the organization Hazon for more information about that.

    Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote about this for New Voices magazine in 2007:

    By and large, these are the same animals--except the pigs, of course--that are sold as kosher meat. According to the Web site of the Orthodox Union (OU), the country's leading kosher certification agency, "The animals used for kosher meat come from the same 'feed lots' that non-Kosher [sic] meat comes from. As far as we know today, at this time, there are no cows or sheep being raised by a Kosher Meat processor."

    A rabbinic coordinator for the OU, Rabbi Yonatan Kaganoff, confirmed that most kosher meat in the U.S. does not come from farms that follow Jewish teachings with regard to animal welfare or anything else. Kaganoff could identify only one commercial "Jewish farm" in the entire country--a small-scale poultry farm in upscale New York that could not be reached for comment, and the OU does not have official ties to the facility. The key difference between kosher and non-kosher meat is not how animals are raised but rather how they are slaughtered.

  • At 10/22/2008 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the information. It's worse than I thought. I heard that China is handling alot of the kosher stuff. Do you know about this? Can you send me your article that you did for New Vision magazine in 2007 that you mentioned? The link just says "oops, not available".
    I became curious about this when our vegetarian group had a guest speaker who is an Orthodox vegan rabbi; and when he said that the way kosher animals are treated is "infinitely preferable" to what happens to non-kosher ones, I felt something was wrong with his statement. Apparently, it seems the only difference is the throat cut versus the stun. Ironically, I would rather be stunned to death than cut to death; so here the "goyim" are more humane!


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