Jewish groups seek court injunction against restrictions on Shechita in Canada
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Jewish groups seek court injunction against restrictions on Shechita in Canada

By Matis Glenn

A call to prayer from the Hasidic Jewish Council of Quebec.

Canadian Jewish groups, joined by their American counterparts, asked in a federal court hearing Wednesday that the restrictions on Shechitah be suspended until a lawsuit filed in March against the guidelines is resolved, citing religious freedom and the inability of kosher slaughterhouses to remain in business.

The restrictions, which require either stunning before slaughter, which would render the animal non-kosher, or lengthy consciousness tests after the Shechitah, were adopted by Canada’s CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) in 2019 but were only rolled out and enforced last year.

Rabbis and Jewish community leaders have appealed the decision and pleaded with the CFIA to reverse the decision for years, arguing that it would effectively ban Shechitah because slaughterhouses would be unable to continue operating if they were required to perform the mandated tests, which can take up to three minutes per animal. That sentiment was echoed in the lawsuit filed in March by the Kashrut Council of Canada (COR), the Jewish Community Council of Montreal and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).

Only three kosher slaughterhouses, which were already operating on a small scale, have been able to remain operational, but they are far from being able to supply meat to Canada’s growing Jewish community. To be asked who spoke with Hamodia The Jewish community has had to resort to importing meat from elsewhere, a solution that Jewish organizations consider temporary. The remaining slaughterhouses can only produce 17 Shechitos per hour, a ask said.

The Quebec Hasidic Jewish Council (QJHC) this week launched an appeal to Jews around the world to pray for the injunction to be successful.

A ask Witnesses who participated in the hearing said that scientists, neurologists and other doctors, both Jewish and non-Jewish, as well as Shochtim, testified before the judge, explaining that Shechitah alone is enough to desensitize an animal, and that it is no longer able to feel pain almost instantly. They asked the judge to maintain the status quo until the trial is resolved, citing in their arguments the lack of evidence from the CFIA, the irreversible damage done to the Jewish community and religious freedom. Rabbis from Montreal Kosher, COR and community leaders from CIJA, JCF (Jewish Community Foundation of Montreal) also spoke.

U.S.-based groups, including Agudath Israel, represented by National Director of Government Affairs Rabbi A.D. Motzen, presented arguments in support of the injunction.

Representatives from the Canadian Department of Justice will present their case on Thursday.

A ask He said animal rights groups tried to intervene during the hearing, but the judge rejected their request.

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