Jewish Groups Seek Court Injunction Against Canadian Shechita Limitations

By Matis Glenn

Members of the Canadian Jewish community attending a federal court hearing which called for an injunction against Shechita limitations in Canada, July 10.

Canadian Jewish groups requested in a Wednesday federal court hearing that limitations on Shechitah be suspended until a lawsuit filed in March against the guidelines will be resolved, citing freedom of religion and the inability for kosher slaughterhouses to remain in business.

The limitations, which require either stunning before slaughter, which would render the animal non-kosher, or the performance of lengthy consciousness tests after Shechitah, which would have no impact on the kashrus of the animal, were passed by Canada’s CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) in 2019, but were not rolled out and enforced until last year.

But while having to wait a long period of time between animals slaughtered does not affect the kosher status of the meat, Jewish leaders say that it hinders production to the point where it becomes financially infeasible to sustain a kosher slaughterhouse or to supply enough meat.

Rabbanim and Jewish community leaders appealed the decision and pleaded with the CFIA for several years to reverse the decision, saying that it would effectively outlaw Shechitah, since slaughterhouses would not be able to stay in business if they are required to carry out the prescribed tests, which can take up to three minutes per animal. That sentiment was echoed in the March lawsuit, filed by by the Kashruth Council of Canada (COR), Jewish Community Council of Montreal, and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

Only three kosher slaughterhouses, which already operated on a small scale, were able to stay operational, but they do not come anywhere close to being able to supply the growing Canadian Jewish community with meat, askanim who spoke with Hamodia after the hearing said. The Jewish community has resorted to importing meat from elsewhere, a solution which the lawsuit says is temporary at best. The remaining slaughterhouses only manage to do 17 Shechitos an hour, one askan said.

A call for prayer from the Chasidic Jewish Council of Quebec.

The Chasidic Jewish Council of Quebec (CJHQ) issued a plea this week to worldwide Jewry to pray for the injunction to be successful.

Scientists, neurologists and other doctors, Jewish and non-Jewish, along with Shochtim, testified through affidavits submitted two weeks ago, presenting the case that Shechitah alone is sufficient to desensitize an animal, and that it is no longer capable of feeling pain almost instantaneously. Lawyers who spoke at the hearing asked the judge to maintain the status quo until the lawsuit will be resolved, citing a lack of evidence from the CFIA, irreversible damage to the Jewish community, and religious freedom in their arguments. Rabbis from Montreal Kosher, the COR, and community leaders from CIJA, JCF (Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal) also submitted affidavits and were in attendance.

Reflecting the greater Jewish community’s concern over limits on Shechita and in a display of achdus, U.S.-based groups, including Agudath Israel attended the hearing too. Agudah was represented by National Director of Government Affairs Rabbi A.D. Motzen.

Representatives of Canada’s Department of Justice will present their case Thursday.

One askan said that animal rights groups tried to intervene in the hearing two weeks ago, but the judge refused their request.

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