Deal to Ensure Legal Shechita in Holland Signed
After much diplomatic effort and appeals by members of the Jewish community in the country, an agreement that would solidify the legality of rritual shechita slaughter in the Netherlands is set to come into effect. The agreement, between the government and the NIK, the Organization of Jewish Communities in The Netherlands, the largest group representing Dutch Jews, will ensure that bills effectively banning shechita, such as one that passed the lower house of the Dutch parliament last year, do not come up for legislation.
The deal also brings to an end an ongoing dispute between Jews advocating shechita, and animal rights groups, which had been demanding that animals be stunned in order to make them unconscious before they are slaughtered. The electric shock that is administered to animals in order to render them unconscious damages them internally and makes them trefah, halachically unfit to be eaten, even if the animal is of a type permitted to be eaten under Jewish law, such as a cow or sheep. The agreement requires ritual slaughterers to receive training in methods of slaughter consistent with Jewish law, but that do not pain the animal.
Under the agreement, slaughterers must use a very sharp blade to cut the neck of an animal. The animal must be unconscious within 40 seconds of the slaughter. If not, it must be stunned before further attempts to kill it are made. The agreement also requires that the slaughterer use a single, fluid movement to cut the animal's neck, as opposed to using hacking or thrusting motions.
Besides the government and the NIK, animal rights groups and members of the Dutch meat industry, as well as organizations representing Muslims in the country, signed the agreement.