Agudath Israel Letter to NY Times Regarding Newest PETA Shechita Allegations


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agudah111.jpgLetters to the Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

To the Editor:

Two comments on your news story “Kosher Plant is Accused of Inhumane Slaughter”:

First, your reporter is right that Jewish ritual slaughter is “allowed under exemptions in federal animal cruelty laws,” but only half right. In enacting the humane slaughter law, Congress made an explicit affirmative finding that the Jewish method of ritual slaughter is humane. (7 U.S.C. §1902(b).)

Second, given the headline of the news story, and the content of the first few paragraphs – which describe the claim by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that a videotape one of its representatives surreptitiously took of animal slaughter procedures at the AgriProcessors plant in Postville, Iowa showed inhumane practices – I was surprised (pleasantly so) to discover in the fifth paragraph of the story that Department of Agriculture officials had “determined the violations were ‘not egregious’,” and that “the plant was currently in full compliance with humane slaughter regulations.”

Shouldn’t the headline have been “USDA Rejects Claim of Inhumane Slaughter at Kosher Plant”? (LINK to orgonal story on YWN)


David Zwiebel
Executive Vice President
for Government and Public Affairs
Agudath Israel of America


  1. The question David Zweibel should be asking is wheter the method of a cutting the neck of the animal a second time meets Kashrus standards.

    I saw the video produced by Peta and the one produced by the New York Yankees of Rabbis on their tour of the plant and boy are they different.

  2. As a former New Yorker, I am surprised at how many Orthodox Jews support the New York Times by buying and reading it regularly.

    For a long time, the Times has been owned by the Sulzberger family (whom I jokingly called the Sleaze-bergers). Seriously, they were reform Jews who, by now are all (or nearly all) Geshmad; i.e., assimilated Goyim. They hate Frum Jews and Eretz Yisrael.

    Their newspaper should be boycotted. However, if our Yeitzer HaRa compels us, a brief look at their (free) Web site is the limit. We should definitely not buy their paper.

    Their real motto is: All the “news” that fits (our anti-Jewish, anti-Israel agenda), we print. Or, as the new owner of the Chicago Tribune — a Jewish philanthropist, Sam Zell — said recently in an interview published in his newspaper, when he reads the New York Times he cannot distinguish between the front page and the editorial page.

  3. It is not clear what is going on here. As David Zwiebel points out the law finds that shechitah “and handling in connection with such slaughtering” is humane. Agriprocessors claims that the slaughtering is now under exclusive rabbinic control. It looks like they’re arguing that since this part of the process is under rabbinic control its handling in connection with slaughter and therefore per se humane (regardless of whether halacha requires such a second cut).

    The problem is that really the second cut is meant to protect the quality of the meat. To say it is handling in connection with the slaughter is specious, it seems to me.

    I am very curious as to the basis the government concludes the claim of PETA is ‘not egregious.’ Particularly when it violates commitments the OU and Agriprocessors made a few years ago.

  4. Unfortunately, this shows that the trip and all videos and reports from it were a show. That causes me to wonder what they are hiding and why. It doesn’t give me confidence in their product. How do I know what games they are playing with us?

  5. I too find it quite amazing how many yehudim support the Slimes. The (toilet) paper should be assur altz miyuskeit.

    Rabbi Zweibel is right & you could be assured the Aguda Gedolim signed off on the letter too.

    PETA yemach sh’mom v’zichrom is a server org that wants to stop people from doing anything with creatures that HKBH allows us to eat or use in any manner. PETA needs to be erradicated before we are left with no shchita at all. I for one have no interest in only eating veggies.

  6. Hagtbg, Agri never promised not to do the second cut. It’s completely permitted, both by halacha and the USDA, so why would they agree to such a stupid demand? It’s simply a non-issue. The real issue is that PETA has once again committed criminal trespass, and the video they made should be thrown out and no self-respecting newspaper would publish it.

  7. Milhouse,

    You are right. The commitment came from the OU and it extended to no longer using meat hooks (which the video showed being used) and not using the second cut to open the trachea.

    (i) R’ Menachem Genack, head of kashrut at the OU, said in 2004 that meat hooks would not be used to excise the trachea and windpipe, and that a shochet would do the second cut, if a second cut was necessary.

    (ii) On the tour of the 30 rabbonim a month ago, evidently all the shecitah was done with one cut only (I have not seen the video but I’m told its out there). If the second cut is now standard at Agriprocessors as Menachem Lubinsky implied in his letter to the NY Times, why was it not done when they knew rabbonim were in attendance?

    As to your claim that criminal trespass was committed (when evidently it was paid Agriprocessor employees who videoed the slaughter) it is irrelevant: the video is either accurate or it is not.