Urgent Message about "Kosher" Slaughter at AgriProcessors, Inc:
(please click on above image to see short segment from the footage)
Following a seven-week undercover investigation conducted between July 22
and September 12, 2004, PETA has released shocking video footage of
horribly mistreated cows at Postville, Iowa-based AgriProcessors, Inc., the
largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse in the world. PETA has filed a formal
complaint with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), calling on the
agency to prosecute the plant for violations of the federal Humane Methods
of Livestock Slaughter Act (HMLSA).
A number of rabbis, including Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, Ashkenazic Chief
Rabbi of Haifa and Rabbi David Rosen, former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, have
viewed the videos and expressed shock and disbelief at the conditions
shown. The rabbis stated their beliefs that Jewish law was violated and
that meat from the animals is not kosher.
Temple Grandin, an internationally recognized expert on kosher slaughtering
has also made a statement, indicating the conditions were "atrocious" and
There is a big push to suppress this story---an article that was supposed
to run last week at the New York Times has already been postponed twice.
The excuse is that it will cause an increase in anti-Semitism and could be
very harmful to Jews and Judaism. Please do whatever you can to help us get
this story out by forwarding this email.
The videos can be viewed at:
40 minute version:
5 minute version:
Information and recipes on Jewish vegetarianism are available at
JewishVeg.com. Statements about this situation of the rabbis and others:
Rabbi Shear-Yashuv cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel:
I must stress that I find it very difficult to offer an opinion without
knowing the identity of the slaughterhouse involved and especially the name
Rabbi, if any, that gives it the Kosher certification. Judging by the Video
film that you have shown me, the procedure of this Shekhita is definitely
unacceptable by Halakhic standards. I was surprised to see that immediately
after the Shochet makes the cut, a worker who is probably not Jewish jumps
to the animal and tears away its entire throat. Also, I was surprised to
see that even after that brutal act, the animal seems to still be alive and
walked a few steps, and then it took about four minutes until it fell down
This procedure is not only cruel and therefore unacceptable by Jewish
religious law. It also cannot be certified as Kosher, as the animal must
die as the direct result of the ritual cut. And a shokhet (= ritual
slaughterer) has to check it to ascertain that this is indeed what has
Rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen
Chief Rabbi of Haifa, Israel
Rabbi David Rosen, Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland:
The manner of the slaughtering of animals as well of animal treatment
generally as shown in this video, involves flagrant violation of Jewish
halachic (religious legal) requirements. I join my greatly respected
colleague ChiefRabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen in declaring that such behaviour
desecrates Jewish teaching and values and the meat of the animals abused in
this way is
rendered totally non-kosher as a result.
Rabbi David Rosen
Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland.
International Director of Interreligious Affairs
The American Jewish Committee
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
So much for avoiding tza'ar ba'alei chayim, "causing pain to living
creatures," as mandated in Jewish law. The abuses in this ostensibly
"kosher" slaughterhouse are sickening, but perhaps not altogether
surprising; the Postville butchers are perhaps different in degree, but not
in kind, from their colleagues throughout today's kosher industry.
Kashrut is a system designed to certify the spiritual, moral, and legal
"acceptability" of our food. But that system breaks down in the face of
high demand, ready supply, and the profit motive, and factory farming of
livestock. The shechita (ritual slaughterer) of a less affluent and less
populous era -- when animals were infrequently killed, singly, with
sensitivity -- has nothing to do with today's kosher marketplace.
What may have once made sense, now can no longer be justified. We know too
much about what "kosher" animal commerce (to say nothing of the larger
industry) does to the animals, to the bodies and souls and consciences of
those who eat them, and to the earth. Let us stop defending a system which
normalizes the criminal abuse of animals, and criminal waste of resources.
And let those who consume its tortured products stop being complicit in
Let us realize that today, in the vast majority of cases, "kosher meat" is
-- Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb
Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation, Bethesda, MD
Rabbi Barry Schwartz:
Shame on those who would hide behind the kosher label while abusing
animals. They violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Jewish law and
ethics. The suffering of these animals during slaughter is sickening. Death is
neither quick nor merciful. If this is kosher, then we have a big problem.
Rabbi Barry L. Schwartz
M'kor Shalom Congregation, Cherry Hill, NY
Task Force on Kashrut of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi John Crane:
To so-call slaughter animals and immediately rip out their trachea while
they are still conscious is murderous twice over. Once, for the animals
whose unnecessary suffering is obvious in this video. Twice, for the system of
kashrut which bases itself on transparency and, more importantly,
Rabbi Jonathan Crane
University of Toronto
Orthodox Union Position Papers:
"The Kosher Advantage," Orthodox Union Web site:
In addition a specially trained expert must slaughter meat and fowl in a
painless ritual fashion in order to render it acceptable.
"The Kosher Primer," Orthodox Union Web site:
The Torah requires that meat and poultry be slaughtered in a prescribed
manner known as shechita. The trachea and esophagus of the animal are
severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade, causing
instantaneous death with no pain to the animal.
Nathan Lewin, Esq., letter to PETA, August 26, 2003:
You may rest assured that neither Jewish law nor "common decency" is being
violated in the AgriProcessors plant. Kosher slaughtering is being
conducted in accordance with the letter and spirit of Jewish law, which
prescribe the most humane treatment of animals that has been known
throughout human history.
The PETA Press Release
For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2004
Bruce Friedrich 757-622-7382, ext. 8342; 757-943-7450
PETA CALLS FOR PROSECUTION OF WORLD'S LARGEST GLATT KOSHER MEAT PLANT
Undercover Investigation Reveals Atrocities at Iowa Slaughterhouse
Postville, Iowa Following a seven-week undercover investigation conducted
between July 22 and September 12, 2004, PETA has released shocking video
footage of fully conscious cows writhing in agony as they are mutilated at
Postville, Iowa-based AgriProcessors, Inc., the largest glatt kosher
slaughterhouse in the world. PETA has filed a formal complaint with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), calling on the agency to prosecute
the plant for violations of the federal Humane Methods of Livestock
Slaughter Act (HMLSA).
PETA?'s video shows workers at AgriProcessors shocking cows in the face
with electric prods, ripping their tracheas out of their throats while the
cows are still conscious, then dumping the animals onto a concrete floor,
where they stumble and try to get up as blood pours from their throats.
Many are still conscious, as evidenced by their cries, when they are
hoisted by one leg and moved to another chamber to be decapitated.
The HMLSA requires that cattle be "rendered insensible to pain" before they
are shackled, hoisted, or cut but recognizes properly performed kosher
slaughter as humane. Kosher law requires that the "trachea and esophagus of
the animal are severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade,
causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal" (The Orthodox
PETA first contacted AgriProcessors in 2003. AgriProcessors attorney wrote
back that at AgriProcessors, "Kosher slaughter is being conducted in
accordance with the letter and spirit of Jewish law, which prescribes the
most humane treatment of animals that has been known throughout human
The eminent chief rabbi of Haifa (Israel), Shear-Yashuv Cohen, condemned
the actions as "definitely unacceptable by halachic standards." Rabbi David
Rosen, a director at the American Jewish Committee and the former Chief
Rabbi of Ireland, called the abuse a "flagrant violation of Jewish halachic
(religious legal) requirements." Rabbi Barry Schwartz, who sits on the
Central Conference of American Rabbis' Task Force on Kashrut, asserts, "The
suffering of these animals during slaughter is sickening. Death is neither
quick nor merciful. If this is kosher, then we have a big problem."
Although Agriprocessors is the world's largest glatt kosher plant, it and
all kosher slaughterhouses also produce and sell nonkosher meat.
"Again and again, when we pull back the curtain on slaughterhouses and
factory farms, we find a level of abuse that would make most people lose
their lunch," says PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk, "It appears that if
you're eating meat, you're supporting cruelty to animals no matter what
assurances you have been given by the government, the meat industry, or
12/02/04 Article in the Jerusalem Post:
Update 2008/2009: Please see latest info on AgriProcessors and "If this is Kosher ..."