Faith In Kashrut After PETA

I received the following letter from a student after PETA released a video of allegedly faulty kosher practices in Iowa. They have filed suit in state court to halt slaughter at the nations largest kosher slaughter facility.

Hi Rabbi,

I wish I had more time to talk to you about ‘happier’ things, but I just came across this [PETA video], and it is really bothering me, especially because part of the reason why I decided to stop eating unkosher meat was because of the strict slaughtering guidelines to ensure minimal suffering to the animal.

Thanks for your time, have a happy Chanukah, and I hope to see you next quarter, when I get back from Israel.

Regards,
M.L.

Dear ML
First of all, thank you for writing. It means a great deal to me that you feel comfortable enough to speak with me about these really important issues. Second of all, I hope we can meet (no pun intended) to speak ASAP in person.

I totally understand your shock and dismay, and I can only say to you a few things. I have gone out and done some research. But before we jump to terrible conclusions we have to look objectively at the information we have been provided. PETA is not a friend of animal slaughter. They believe humans we have no right to eat meat.

I have great faith in men of faith, although all men are fallible. This in no way should distract you from your goal of living a more ethical and Jewish life. Not all people are honest, but we must strive to be honest. Not all people are just, but we must strive to be just. I believe that the people at the OU, from my years of experience with them are hardworking, honest, and sincere, doing what they bee is best for the Jewish community and G-d. I have met and worked with OU Rabbis in Israel, Europe, and the United States, and they adhere to the very high standards. In addition, they are keenly aware that what they do affects the entire Jewish people.

Regarding any doubts about staying the kosher route—please know that keeping kosher is a key “ingredientâ€? to Jewish life. We are what we eat. It elevates our lives, and helps us to in a myriad of ways. But ultimately we do it because that is what G-d wants. The fact that so much kosher supervision happens and that there are not more problems attests to the fact that in 99.9 percent of the cases of kosher supervision, rabbis and shochetim and mashgichim are doing everything they can to ensure a supply of kosher meat.

I was a vegetarian for 13 years, and only five years ago started eating meat again. When I first heard of this “scandalâ€? I immediately jumped to the conclusion that maybe these PETA folks really scored a bomb, and uncovered a problem. However, upon immediate reflection I remembered that this is the organization that defended the use of the phrase “Holocaust on a Plateâ€? to describe eating meat. They made nationwide campaign with that slogan. When I wrote to them about this, I was shocked into silence. Scott Mackey of PETA replied:

“…while it is still taboo in the larger Jewish community to draw comparisons to the Holocaust, many Jews have responded to the lessons of history by reconsidering the propriety of eating meat, acknowledging that animals who are raised and killed for food are also victims of violence.

“The gruesome intensive confinement operations, or factory farms, where billions of animals languish in misery each year—are today’s concentrations camps.”

He went on to quote at length Isaac Bashavis Singer, who reportedly was a vegetarian. While Singer might have been a great writer, he was by no means a paradigm of ethics, as his recent biographers concluded. Yet, Mackey and PETA use Singer’s supposed vegetarianism as proof that good Jews should eat meat.

Their exploitation of the Holocaust for their goals is sickening. We can draw attention to improper treatment of animals in other ways. PETA couldn’t care less, and will do anything to get publicity for their cause. This includes dishonoring the memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Nothing is sacred accept their vision of the world. They worship their own twisted ideology.

In addition, PETA is a disingenuous organization using lies and half-truths to promote their cause. They believe that two wrongs make a right. Because they have demonstrated their willingness to lie, make false accusations, and are callous towards Jewish Holocaust victims, I personally believe that they have sinister agenda. Their lawsuit in Iowa court is a complaint that Kosher slaughter is not being done properly. And since kosher slaughter is only allowed by law when done correctly, Agriprocessors should be shut down until changes are made.

PETA circulated information to some unsuspecting Rabbis, here and in Israel, and misled them as to what was happening in the videos. They did not inform that they were making a public lawsuit against other Jews. They did not tell the Rabbis that their comments would be made public, AND did not divuldge the name of the plant or supervising agencies. These rabbis now know and have stated they were misled as to the entire plot.

Please continue to try to eat kosher, don’t let this scare from your amazing commitment. After the storm settles, no doubt, the duplicitous methods of PETA will be uncovered.

We only have the right to take an animal’s lif

e for eating when we follow laws of schita. This is the most compassionate method known that can be applied. When done in the way as it appears on the video, it is being done in the best possible way, though it seems, it looks the worst. The more blood that comes out of the animal immediately, the better.

As I learn more from my colleague I will be certain to let you know.

Rabbi Yonah

Postscript. ML wrote me back by email that he was still eating kosher, but is avoid the Rbashkins meat for now.