The Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam, Aryeh Ralbag has slammed an agreement recently reached between the Dutch government and Jewish communities to preserve the Jewish practice of Shechita or ritual slaughter, claiming the compromise was “not in accordance with our wishes, views and liking”.
The Chief Rabbi issued a letter condemning the agreement in conjunction with two prominent Dayanim (religious judges) of Amsterdam’s Orthodox rabbinical court, in which Ralbag also sits as its head.
Ralbag objected the deal, which was signed to salvage the religious practice in the Netherlands, after Dutch parliament last year passed a law banning ritual slaughter.
The agreement, signed by the Organisation of Jewish Communities in the Netherlands (NIK), the Dutch umbrella group of Dutch Jewry which comprises the Amsterdam Orthodox Jewish Community which in turn employs Ralbag, stipulates the size of the slaughter knife and includes an innovative clause that the animals should be stunned with a captive bolt stun gun immediately following the Shechita cut.
Whilst this procedure is considered Halachically compliant and is currently employed in the US, where Ralbag is predominantly based, the Rabbi feels that in allowing civil lawmakers to govern over the practical application of Shechita, many of which relate to the idea of the practice causing the animal pain, it could eventually be paving the way for an outright ban on ritual slaughter.
Ron Eisenmann, president of the Amsterdam Orthodox Jewish Community, responded to Ralbag’s criticism of the agreement, by insisting he had been fully consulted over the Halachic (Jewish legal) implications of its stipulations, adding that “without his consent, there would have been no agreement”.
He did, however, concede his opinion was not sought on the legitimacy of such an agreement in principle. Einsenmann went on to admit that that role was awarded instead to Rabbi Binyomin Jacobs, chief rabbi of the inter-Provincial Chief Rabbinate of Holland, whose “enormous network of contacts” helped to facilitate the agreement between civil and religious authorities.