Tag Archives: Amsterdam

A Green Light on Kosher Slaughtering in the Land of the Red Light District

by Rebecca Borison

Who doesn’t love a kosher deli? Well, apparently not the Dutch Animal Rights Party. Last December, the Dutch party, “whose highest priority is animal welfare and the respectful treatment of animals,” set out to enhance Dutch slaughtering laws to protect the welfare of animals. For them, this translated into forcing slaughtering houses to stun every animal before slaughter, a practice that is banned in both Muslim and Jewish slaughtering.

Coming to the rescue of kosher- and halal-observant residents of Holland, Dutch Agriculture Minister Hans Bleker signed an agreement last week with Jewish and Muslim leaders that will make an exception for ritual slaughtering, which does not require pre-slaughter stunning provided the animal is unconscious within 40 seconds of the start of the slaughtering.

Let’s take a step back for a minute.  Since when is shechita, kosher slaughtering, bad for animals? Maybe it’s just me, but I remember learning that it was actually the opposite and that shechita was extremely careful in terms of the welfare of animals. Why was this even an issue to begin with?

And it’s not just the Netherlands we’re dealing with. Shechita is outright banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Why the uproar?

According to Shechita UK, it comes down to misperception and lack of understanding. Yes, shechita is different than typical slaughtering, but in reality it is even more humane.

Warning: Those who get queasy at the mention of blood might want to skip this next paragraph.

The idea behind stunning an animal is to render it unconscious before the slaughtering, ensuring that the animal feels no pain. In conventional slaughtering, the animal is shot in the head, rendering it unconscious; the throat is then cut and the animal bleeds out. In actuality, the animal sometimes regains consciousness between the stunning and the slaughtering, totally defeating the purpose of stunning. In shechita, on the other hand, the incision itself renders the animal unconscious, allowing the stunning and slaughtering to occur at the same time, and preventing the animal from regaining consciousness. So in reality, shechita is more humane than conventional slaughtering.

For those who skipped the last paragraph, all you need to know is that you can continue to eat your kosher meat worry-free. And if any of the members of the Dutch Animal Rights Party happen to be reading this, listen up: shechita is actually better for the welfare of animals.

Nobody’s perfect, of course–the AgriProcessors scandal taught us that much–but if kosher slaughterhouses actually stick to the rules of kashrut, there’s no reason to be worried about animal welfare. Dr. Stuart Rosen of Imperial College, London, wrote in his paper “Physiological Instincts Into Shechita” that “shechita is a painless and humane method of animal slaughter.”

So if you are one of us remaining few non-vegetarians, rest assured that, if all is as it should be, your kosher meat was acquired in an entirely humane process.

The Lost Diary of Margot Frank

By Kayla Green

Every day, countless tourists flock to the Anne Frank House to visit the hiding place of young Anne, her family and acquaintances. The widespread popularity of her diary, which is one of the world’s most widely read books and the basis for several plays and films, has made Anne Frank one of the most well-known Jewish victims of the Holocaust. While the Diary of Anne Frank is an undeniable historical gem, as well as an extraordinary source of first hand emotion, one story remains relatively overlooked: that of her sister Margot, The Other Frank. Though a temporary exhibit running at the Anne Frank House is dedicated to shining some light on Margot, its title, “Anne’s Sister,” still casts her as a secondary character.

Notwithstanding, Margot is referenced many times in the diary. Through Anne’s narrative, one is able to get a general sense of Margot’s personality, background, and living conditions. We learn that Margot spoke Dutch, made friends and continued to do her Latin homework, even when in hiding. We know that she was born in 1926 and aspired to be a maternity nurse in Palestine. She played sports such as tennis and skating and participated in rowing races until 1941, when she was forced to leave the rowing club because she was Jewish. Along with the rest of the family, Margot spent the months between July 1942 and August 1944 hiding in the secret annex. In March, 1945, she died in the concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, just weeks before its liberation.

Of, course, her sister’s diary cannot provide a very profound and sensitive understanding of Margot’s thoughts and emotions. Margot also kept a diary, however, unlike her sister’s, it was never found. The world will never know what kind of effect her words might have had.  The girls’ father, Otto Franks, the sole survivor of the family, expressed his astonishment that Anne’s diary that became renowned; the depth Anne displayed in her diary was a quality he usually attributed to Margot.

The exhibit also includes insight from Margot’s best friend who resents the lack of attention paid to Margot’s story. “After the war Otto Frank was so busy with Anne Frank’s diary. He was very impressed with what readers of the diary had written to him. I told him then. ‘I think it’s wonderful what you are doing for Anne, but I think it’s a pity that nothing is mentioned anymore about Margot. She is also worthy of being mentioned.’”

One of the many reasons The Diary of Anne Frank is so popular is that readers can relate to it.  The personal journey of a young girl allows readers to empathize with Anne, reminding them that every Holocaust victim was a real person, just like them. Furthermore, the relatable nature of the book allows Anne to speak for countless young victims whose words were lost and voices were silenced.  It is all too easy to forget that Margot Frank was among those silenced voices.