Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David LauFlash 90

Israeli officials reacted on Thursday evening to Denmark’s decision to ban kosher slaughter as of next week.

Rabbi David Lau, Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi, said that kosher slaughter remains the only humane way to prevent animal suffering.

"I will speak to the Danish ambassador to Israel and other Danish government officials, and if indeed this serious decision has been made, we will demand that it be reversed,” said Rabbi Lau.

The decision to ban kosher slaughter, he added, “seriously hurts the Jewish religion and Jews in Denmark.”

Religious Affairs Minister and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett also took action against the ban in Denmark, speaking about the issue with Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi of Denmark Rabbi Bent Lexner, and the Chabad emissary to Denmark.

"We will stand behind the Jewish community and look at ways to assist them immediately. This decision is not beneficial to animals, to Jewish tradition and to human rights,” said Bennett in a statement.

He offered any possible assistance to the community in Denmark and instructed his office to monitor the issue and prepare solutions as soon as possible.

In justifying the ban, Denmark’s Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen said that “animal rights come before religious rights. I am in favor of religious slaughter, but it must be done in a way that does not bring pain to the animal. This can be accomplished only by stunning.”

According to Jewish law, stunning an animal before slaughtering renders it not kosher. Stunning damages various body parts and causes the animal to hemorrhage, making removal of the blood via cutting the arteries and veins impossible.

The ban is largely symbolic, because there are currently no kosher slaughterhouses in Denmark. Nearly all meat for the country's small Jewish community is imported. Despite this, the country's 6,000 Jews inundated government offices with protests over the ban.

With the ban, Denmark joined a slew of other countries in Europe that have already banned kosher slaughter, including Poland, Holland, Switzerland and others.