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Traif Is Going Out of Style

A Guest Post By E. Fink

Original post on my blog: Reform Judaism is Reforming Its Approach to Kashrus

Ask most Orthodox Jews about Kashrus and Reform Judaism, you’ll most likely hear a snicker from the uninformed or a reference to the “Treyfe Banquet” (see: New National Museum of American Jewish History In Philadelphia Apparently Misses the Mark)from the more informed. As far as I know, Reform Judaism has never officially sanctioned Kashrus observance.

I remember reading an article 3 years ago about young Reform Jews pining to add more ritual observance to their summer camp experience. They wanted to add tefillin, kashrus and a more traditional Shabbos. At the time, I thought that was really cool. (read about it here: The Jewish Week).

Today, I saw another step in this direction referenced on Twitter (HT @schnit). A new book has been published for Reform Jews that want to observe some level of Kashrus. Apparently, this is a first. The book tackles broader issues than simple dietary restrictions such as animal cruelty and treatment / paying laborers.

I think it’s great. I would only hope that just as Reform Jews are learning from the ideals of Orthodox Jews as far as Kashrus is concerned, Orthodox Jews can learn from the concern the Reform Jews express for animal cruelty and treatment / paying laborers.

(link: JTA)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • MCR

    Bravo! Your last line summed up exactly what I was thinking when I read this. Indeed, especially after the Agriprocessors fiasco, greater sensitivity to animal cruelty and treatment of laborers should be shown by the Kashrut establishment. Uri L’Tzedek is doing an excellent job of sensitizing the Orthodox world in these matters.

  • A good friend of mine is a shochet in the Catskills (The most machmir folks eat his schechita and drink his cows milk) and I asked him if it’s possible to have large scale meat plants and treat the animals humanely and he said that it was very hard to do.

    • A. Nuran

      He’s right. The current style of factory farming is uniformly cruel and dirty. Other ways are possible. They would mean a redesign of the way we do things.

      • He runs a small scale organic farm

        • A. Nuran

          Good on him for doing that. It’s a lot of very hard rewarding work.

  • Yoreh K’chetz (aka Phil)

    You want humane, trap and shecht your own game. Check local hunting/fishing regulations first, you don’t want to get busted for poaching.

    Or you can pay 3 times the price for “organic” free range chickens, if you actually believe that they are treated any better.

    • Yid Vicious

      Or you could take Rav Kook and others to heart and go vegetarian.

      • Yoreh K’chetz (aka Phil)

        Yid Vicious,

        Don’t get me started on vegetarians again. I follow the catch it, kill it, grill it motto when it comes to fish. Too bad trapping game isn’t legal here, or I wouldn’t be buying meat either.

        I just don’t have the heart to uproot and kill those poor tomatoes and cucumbers. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Dave

          Depends on where you get your chickens.

          When I buy free range chicken, I know exactly how well treated it is (hint, I see them running around the farm).

          But I live in farm country.

          • Yankel

            Aren’t there health issues involved?
            Like, don’t the chickens need vaccinations and stuff?

            • Dave

              No, small flocks generally do not require vaccinations.

            • A. Nuran

              Vaccinations are permitted under organic certification laws. Antibiotics are prohibited, particularly in the absence of disease.

              Many medicines are more of an issue in the crowded, stressful conditions of intensive farming.

          • Chris_B

            What you dont see is the other 18 hours a day the chickens are sewing fashionable sneakers for pennies per hour. Organic farms are known to be fronts for sweatshops.

      • Rav Kook ate chicken on shabbos

        • Yeah, it seems vegetarians only focus on 6 days of the week when they bring Rav Kook “and others” into the discussion. Though I doubt Yid Vicious has ever read a book by Rav Kook.

  • Yid Vicious

    Agreed, agreed, agreed. Great post by Fink and great comments by MCR and Nuran.

  • kreindy

    When the comment portion of the blog stops being serviced by the blogmaster, and is back up, check out the scandalous comments against Yiddishkeit being made by a kofer on http://seforim.blogspot.com/2010/10/marc-b-shapiro-new-writings-from-r-kook.html

  • Lord G

    “I would only hope that just as Reform Jews are learning from the ideals of Orthodox Jews as far as Kashrus is concerned, Orthodox Jews can learn from the concern the Reform Jews express for animal cruelty and treatment / paying laborers.”

    Take a hike lamebrain. What a damper on a positive story about reform jews cleaning up their act!

    • Yid Vicious

      Yes, it is such a damper when someone points out that humane treatment of animals and workers are also mitzvos, just like kashrus is. Come on, man. Clearly, Reform Jews are not the only people who need to clean up their act.

      • What was lamebrained here?

        • Yankel

          Nothing was lamebrained.

          People who are bothered by something, often see their problem in everyone and everything.

          He obviously sympathizes with Reform Jews, and feels they don’t get enough credit for their remarkable observance and honesty.

          • Lord G

            Yeah sorry for the offence guys – none intended.

            What I meant to point out was this: putting in a comment about Rubashkin/PETA at the end was like saying that in the same way that Refrom Jews don’t keep kashrut (ever, and on principle) Orthos aren’t ethical people.

            A logical fallacy of secundum quid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasty_generalization)

            • Yankel

              Don’t get me wrong, I actually agree with your comment. But your name calling suggests that you have a chip on your shoulder regarding the matter.

          • A. Nuran

            And Lord G. sympathizes with Orthodox Jews for their good, kind treatment of animals.

            • Yankel


              If you’re trying to somehow point out that OJ’s mistreat animals, then my response is your favorite one: Halacha determines the guidelines of Tzar Baalei Chaim, and not our personal observations and feelings.

              The Gemara in Sanhedrin states that after a Jewish king dies, his horse is lamed, out of respect for the king.

              The Noda B’Yehuda was asked about hunting as a sport. His reply was that although it is permitted according to the raw letter of the law, such a practice is “Midas Esav” and should ideally not be done.

              The guidelines seem to be, that mistreatment of animals is prohibited only when there is no rational gain to man.

              Like I stated in another post, when one’s compassion on animals causes him to serve G-d less (Meaning studying Torah and observing Mitzvos) it is a form of evil, as they are no more than a means to keep the Mitzvos.

  • Yankel

    “Orthodox Jews can learn from the concern the Reform Jews express for animal cruelty”

    I hate to sound unkind here, but the Torah tells us how to treat animals. What’s allowed, what’s not allowed, and what’s very nice and commendable – yet not mandatory, and what’s permitted on paper – but not in the spirit of the law.

    If a families needs x amount to live decently for a year, and buying food at cheaper prices will give them a substantial break, it is not considered noble, and there is certainly no sensible obligation, to make these options unavailable – solely for the sake of treating animals better.

    Humans have an important mission to accomplish here on earth, and the earth and it’s beings are here to assist us in every and any way possible.

    Cutting back on your observance of Torah (namely, studying Torah as much as possible, and raising truly observant children – both which can cost time and money) in order to ‘service’ the resources we were given to observe the Torah to the fullest extent, is non-sensical, as it defeats the very purpose of the existance of these resources.

  • Frumsatire Fan

    There are some great people out there who are raising ethycally-treated kosher meat – but it’s very expensive, and you need to order well in advance. Soon after I started thinking about these things I decided to become vegetarian. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to supply the volume of meat that we’re eating at the price most people are willing to pay: in this scenario there’s a collateral damage, namely the health and well-being of the animals. (Plus other side effects, like the pollution caused by the meat industry, and our health, obesity, etc.) The way I see it, there are two ways of keeping kosher in a way that respects animals and the environment: 1) become a vegetarian, or 2) get used to the idea that you’ll eat much less meat than you’re eating now and you’ll pay much more for it. (Maybe third option – become a fisher-poacher.)

  • Rob

    Can’t agree with the “hope” in your final paragraph. Orthodoxy does concern itself with animal cruelty and paying laborers properly. Because one individual frum guy might have failed to do so not indict Orthodoxy as a whole.

    On the other hand, the Reform movement as a whole has rejected Torah MiSinai, mitzvot including kashrut, halakha, etc. as well, despite the fact that a tiny number of Reform Jews do keep kosher to some degree.

    • Yankel

      You never know where things like this might lead.
      In general, it pays to be hopeful. Especially of your fellow Jews.

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