Denmark Debates If Kosher Slaughter Is Less Humane

Animal Stunning at Issue After Ban on Shechitah


Published February 26, 2014.
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Danish Agriculture Minister Dan Jorgensen said he was open to reviewing scientific studies that present Muslim or Jewish ritual slaughter as humane.

Jorgensen made the statement during a meeting Friday with representatives of Denmark’s Jewish and Muslim communities following his decision earlier this month to ban ritual slaughter, or shechitah, in Denmark.

Danish Chief Rabbi Bent Dov Lexner wrote in a statement that Jorgensen said he “would let his department evaluate any scientific evidence which could bring more information about the shechitah/halal compared to pre-stunning butchery.”

Ritual slaughter is rarely performed in Denmark and the last known shechitah took place there more than 10 years ago, according to Rabbi Yitzchok Loewenthal of Copenhagen.

Jorgensen also apologized for not having met the communities’ representatives before issuing the ban, which went into effect last week.

The Conference of European Rabbis and the European Jewish Congress said in a joint statement Wednesday that they are launching an international campaign to reverse the ban.

Part of the campaign, the groups said, would see members of Jewish communities contacting Danish embassies in European countries to “express the strength of feeling on this issue across the continent.”

Both groups also will be taking responsibility for compiling the scientific material to present to the Danish government. They have contacted the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss ways in which European communities can work with the Israeli government as part of the response.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said action was necessary because “this ban could have very serious implications for Jews across Europe.”

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