Will Kiwis Kill Kosher?

Will Kiwis Kill Kosher?

by R.C. Berman - Canterbury, NZ

August 11, 2010

(lubavitch.com) Now that a New Zealand court has granted a temporary stay on the country’s kosher slaughter ban, chicken soup might return to Rabbi Shmuel and Henna Kopel’s Shabbat table at Chabad of Otago.

Rabbi Kopel regards the whiff of reprieve cautiously.  “It’s only right to do shechita until the matter is fought in court. There will be no sigh of relief until the question mark is resolved.”

In May, New Zealand’s Minister of Agriculture changed the Commercial Slaughter Code to require stunning prior to slaughtering animals. Stunning is out of bounds for shechita, kosher ritual slaughter. Prior versions of the code exempted shechita to protect New Zealanders’ religious rights. The Jewish community of New Zealand, (population 7000), brought the matter to court in July.

Since the ban has been in effect, chicken has been hard to come by at Chabad of Otago, which  serves up Shabbat meals for a sizable number of the 20,000 Israelis and other Jewish travelers who backpack through the lush New Zealand countryside each year. New Zealand bans the import of chicken so the Kopels have relied upon beans, fish and pricey frozen Australian beef for their protein needs. Their last stash of frozen chicken bones for flavoring soup stock was used up months ago.

Concern about the ban goes deeper than a craving for roasted chicken. New Zealand’s ban follows those in several other northern European countries.  Some feel that giving governments the freedom to ban religious practices is just not kosher.

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