Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Only in Israel: a public sheḥiṭah demonstration

Jewish date:  30 ’Av 5771 (Parashath Shofeṭim).

Today’s holidays:  Ro’sh Ḥodhesh ’Elul (Judaism), Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week of Ordinary Time (Roman Catholicism), Chaand Raat (Islam), Feast Day of St. Thor (Church of the SubGenius).

Greetings.

Yesterday, thanks to a friend, I attended a demonstration of sheḥiṭah (AKA kasher ritual slaughter) in Petaḥ Tiqwah (the next town east of here).  Two chickens and a sheep were killed, and a few tens of people got to see what the inside of a sheep looks like.  This was very educational for anyone who wants to know about sheḥiṭah and related ritual phenomena, such as what fat counts as ḥelev (which is forbidden for consumption) and shumman (which is permitted), what portions should be given to a kohen (priest), and gidh hannasheh (the sciatic nerve, which is forbidden for consumption).  I did not take pictures, and if I did, I probably would not post them anyway.  The demonstration was worthwhile attending, but it was only for people with strong stomachs.

What I found very interesting was not so much the demonstration itself, but the circumstances:
  • Attending were not just men, but also women and children, neither of which normally perform sheḥiṭah.
  • No one fainted or vomited.  My friend told me that some children cried, though I did not notice them at all.  In fact, many children stood close to better see the sheep cut up.
  • The demonstration was performed in the front yard of a synagogue, in easy view of the street.
  • There were no protesters, despite the demonstration being publicly advertised in advance.
Now, try to imagine what would have happened had anyone tried holding such a demonstration in the United States.  In the United States, animal slaughter in public is practically taboo and almost never heard of.  I have heard of Santeríans being harassed, in violation of the US Constitution, for performing animal sacrifice.  Had this demonstration been done in the United States, I would have expected People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to complain bitterly.  Here in Israel, it was an inoffensive curiosity. I am not clear why this cultural difference exists.  I have to remember to start asking about attitudes to animal slaughter in Israel and how common public animal slaughter is over here.

While I am posting, a few other items of interest:
Peace.

’Aharon/Aaron