The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Of The Kosher Trade

Here’s a view from England:

Last year, young Orthodox Jews in New York formed Uri L’Tzedek, an advocacy group on issues such as immigration and labour rights. Leaders of the group, whose name means Awaken to Justice, collected about 2,000 signatures in support of a boycott of Agriprocessors (a call now suspended).

"The younger generations of modern Orthodox Jews are seeking new meaning to their religious expression, going beyond survival and anti-assimilation and just text study," said Shmuly Yanklowitz, a rabbinical student and co-founder of Uri L’Tzedek. "There have been countless individuals who have felt estranged from the Orthodox community who have been in touch with us. We’re getting hundreds of e-mails saying that this has filled a gap."

He said any system wide change in kosher production will have to come from within the Orthodox world because of its "overwhelming commitment" to following Jewish dietary law and the buying power that brings.

The majority of certifiers are Orthodox, and they drive the multibillion-dollar market in the USA and the Diaspora, built on the captive Jewish consumer.

The rules of the market shrivel in the face of the inelastic demand the devout Jewish shopper represents; they have no choice but to buy kosher meat – or go vegetarian.

Indeed, and I speak as a meat addict, not about to give up his chopped liver, shwarma or salt beef, but it has always struck me that vegetarianism is the only genuinely ethical and moral position when it come to food.

Defenders of kosher ritual slaughter claim it’s more humane and abrogates unnecessary cruelty, but it’s really a dirty business dressed up with poetic symbolism.

Really, all abattoirs and slaughterhouses – kosher, halal, whatever – are vile places, and its just denial not to admit that the animals sent to die within the blood-splattered walls, experience a levels of fear and terror.

Shouldn’t such suffering be deemed ‘treif’? Meanwhile, the consumption of meat is bad for the environment and health-wise not great either.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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