WELLINGTON, New Zealand (WJC)–Jews in New Zealand have won a temporary exemption from a new legal requirement that animals must first be stunned before being slaughtered. Representatives of the Jewish community last week filed legal proceedings against Agriculture Minister David Carter and on Monday said said a Wellington court had ordered a temporary exemption until the case is decided next year.
Carter had announced in May that he was requiring pre-slaughter stunning for all commercial killing of livestock. About 300 lambs and 2000 chickens were commercially slaughtered according to ‘shechita’ last year. The minister later apologized to the Jewish community for any offense caused when he told veterinarians: “We may have upset a relatively small religious minority, and I do appreciate their strong feelings for this issue, but frankly I don’t think any animal should suffer in the slaughter process.”
More than half New Zealand’s sheep are killed by halal slaughtermen for the Islamic market, by cutting the throats of electrically stunned animals. However, shechita slaughter requires the trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries and jugular veins to be cut using a sharp blade to allow the blood to drain out. The animal cannot be stunned or unconscious.
The New Zealand National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee first recommended a dispensation for the kosher slaughter in 2001, but most recently said it would prefer there were no exemptions from the requirement that all animals slaughtered commercially were first stunned. It said there was evidence calves which simply had their throats cut experienced pain, and it had the “strongly held” view that the cattle, sheep, goats and possibly poultry would experience similar pain.
Wellington Jewish Council Chairman David Zwartz predicted the case would be argued on the grounds that the Bill of Rights allowed for freedom of religious practice, and the requirement for stunning was an infringement of the right of Jews to observe their religion.
Other countries to ban shechita include Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, and the European Parliament earlier this year voted in favor of a new regulation which could lead to kosher meat being labeled as “meat from slaughter without stunning”.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress
Compiled by Garry Fabian
Aid for orphans in Cochin, India
MELBOURNE, 22 April - A year 9 community service project at Bialik College grew into something bigger after a group of students raised more than $3000 for an Indian orphanage. Under the leadership of Jewish Aid Australia, the class was divided up and each group received $10. The challenge was to turn that $10 into a charity windfall for the cause of their choice.
One group of students Joel Rabinov, Joshua Hanegbi, Jessica Worth, Joel Kuperholtz, Nathan Hanegbi and Steven Gringlas developed a strategy for their chosen charity, Emmanuel Children’s Home in Cochin, India.
Using their $10 to purchase lollies, which they sold at school to make $60, the team then used the profits to buy more lollies, successfully making $140 in preparation for their final major fundraiser: a sausage sizzle at the school’s senior sports carnival.
“The sports carnival was a beautiful day. The sun shone, the kids shlepped and organised,
cooperated and cooked . the atmosphere was pure goodwill and fun,” Sharon Kuperholtz, the mother of fundraiser Joel, said. “By the end of the day, the team had managed to turn $10 dollars into $907.”
Meanwhile, Kuperholtz held an event at her home, to raise additional funds for the orphanage, bringing the total to more than $3000.
The Kuperholz family then visited the orphanage on a recent trip to India to personally deliver the cheque. They also took over toys, games, dress-ups, make-up, cricket sets and stationery.
The response from the orphanage director was “full of gratitude and blessings”. The money
enabled the purchase of two computers and a washing machine.
“The children will benefit enormously from these purchases. Our children will benefit just as much from being empowered to do something wonderful for a community that may now enter their thoughts and conscience,” Kuperholz said.
Jewish themes at German film festival
MELBOURNE–Of all of the countries in Europe, it is not surprising that Germany is the one whose filmmakers most consistently attempt to deal with Jewish concepts and themes.
This can be seen again in this year’s Audi Festival of German Films, which opens this week in Australia.
Three of this year’s films have significant Jewish themes and two more include key Jewish characters.
It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and the events that are dramatised in
the film Berlin 36 serve to remind us that stories of Jewish survival are fantastically varied.
This film tells the true story of Gretel Bergmann (played by a very luminous Karoline Herfurth), a champion German-Jewish high jumper during the period of the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Although Bergmann has already migrated to Britain and become a star athlete there, she is coerced by the Nazis to return to Germany to participate in the German Olympic team trials in the lead-up to the 1936 Games.
Under pressure from the International Olympic Committee and a threatened American team boycott, the Germans need to be seen to be including a Jewish athlete, so an extremely reluctant Bergmann participates in the team.
When her sympathetic coach is replaced by a bullying Nazi, her life becomes almost unbearable.
The film also introduces a second fascinating (and true) complicating story: Bergmann ‘s
roommate, fellow high jumper Dora Ratjen, turns out to be a man, recruited by the Nazis.
The film includes a short interview with the real Gretel Bergmann, who survived the war and moved to the US, revealing even a more astonishing sequence of events in the following years.
The Mein Kampf film appearing in this year’s festival is not the 1960 feature documentary with the same name, which was reportedly the first comprehensive documentary on the Nazi era to be widely shown in Germany at the time.
Instead, the film was made in 2009 and is a dark comedy based on a play written by the late
Hungarian Jewish avant-garde playwright, George Tabori.
The bizarre plot of this film – which has had only a limited cinema release outside Europe -
takes place in Vienna in 1910, when a young painter named Adolf Hitler rents a room at a
homeless shelter, finding his roommate to be an older Jewish bookseller named Shlomo Herzl
(surely an intentional reference to Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern political Zionism).
When the young Hitler fails at painting, it is the older Jewish man who recommends that he
enters politics, and assists in the creation of his signature moustache and facial look.
Resonating Charlie Chaplin’s 1941 classic The Great Dictator (one of the few films that
successfully satirised Hitler) and out of the tradition of Life is Beautiful and Train de Vie,
this German-Swiss-Austrian co-production is recommended for those whose tastes run to European fabulism.
An interesting side note is that the “mein kampf” of the film refers not to Hitler’s notorious
anti-Semitic tract, but to the book that Shlomo Herzl wants to write. The satire may be obvious, but no less cutting.
A retrospective screening of the award-winning 1999 Golden Globe-nominated Aimee & Jaguar is also included in the festival.
Again based on a true story, this film tells the story of a German housewife and mother who falls in love with a hidden Jewish woman during the war.
Two other festival entries feature key Jewish characters: the international Emmy Award-winning mini-series The Wolves of Berlin charts six key characters (one of them Jewish) living in Berlin from 1948 to reunification in 1989. This four-and-a-half hour production provides a great history lesson for those fascinated by the trials of that besieged city.
And John Rabe (based on a true story of an Oskar Schindler-like character in Nanking, China) slips in star actor Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) as a German-Jewish diplomat.
There is a great irony in John Rabe as the main character – a nominal Nazi – becomes the saviour of many thousands of Chinese, at one point shielding them from Japanese warplanes under a large Nazi flag.
The Audi Festival of German Films has grown in popularity since it was first launched in
Australia in 2002, with more than 19,000 attending the festival last year.
It runs for two weeks in Melbourne and Sydney, with shorter programs in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.
Israel at last for Aussie marchers
WARSAW, Poland, 22 April – Australia’s March of the Living (MOTL) contingent finally took to the skies on Wednesday (April 21), five days after it was scheduled to arrive in Israel.
Stranded in Poland following the closure of airspace as a result of an ash plume, which was
caused by the eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, the 95-strong year 11 students
and 25 staff missed Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations in the Holy Land.
“They were very low but spirits are now very high. They just want to be in Israel,” MOTL
Australia director Sue Hampel said in a phone interview as the group were on route to Budapest airport. “It has been a roller-coaster ride.”
While the contingent was tentatively booked on a number of flights — one on Friday afternoon
before Shabbat, another on Monday morning, which was later pushed back to the afternoon — all were cancelled as Polish airspace remained closed.
Late on Tuesday night Australian time (April 20), a decision was made to move the group via a 10-hour bus trip to Budapest, where a chartered El Al plane would fly them to Israel.
While slightly delayed, the aircraft finally departed at 4.30am local time on Wednesday, and
was scheduled to arrive in Israel that same morning.
“They were absolutely exuberant and over the moon that the plane was coming,” Hampel, who did not go on the march, said from Australia on April 23.
“We made the right decision because Polish airspace remains closed.”
While all the other MOTL contingents flew out of Poland late last week, the Australian and Turkish groups had their flights cancelled.
However, they awoke to news that airspace over Europe was closed indefinitely due to the ash in the atmosphere.
“They have been beyond exemplary. They accepted the situation and made the most of what they could do,” Anita Baker, whose husband and daughter are on the trip, said. “Sue has been
outstanding; if not for her, nothing would have happened. She has been on the phone day and night to Poland, Israel and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.”
Hampel commended the efforts of MOTL International, saying that board member Aharon
Tamir remained in Poland with the Australian group, while executive director Yossi Kedem “did everything possible” from Israel, including extending accommodation, food and tours.
She also praised the students, their parents, the madrichim and logistics coordinator Sam Rosenberg who accompanied the contingent.
The group will now spend four “action-packed” days in Israel, before flying home as originally scheduled on Saturday night.
Hampel said she was very proud of the efforts and the ultimate outcome.
“It’s been mad and brilliant,” she said.
While not as they had hoped and expected, the group spent Yom Hazikaron with the Polish-Jewish community and celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut at a barbecue with members of the Turkish contingent and the local community.
Meanwhile, the travel chaos also forced the Chief Rabbi of Poland to cancel a six-day trip to
Australia. Rabbi Michael Schudrich had been due to attend various synagogue, school and charity engagements in both Victoria and New South Wales during his visit, including tonight’s (Thursday) launch of Magen David Adom’s 80th anniversary humanitarian aid appeal in Melbourne. The charity said it was hoping to reschedule the event for later in the year.
Fabian is Australia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World. He is based in Melbourne.
A newspaper headline captures the strategic threat, “Huge Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/02/us/politics/02deficit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
At stake is the war on terror, health reform, tax and spending leverages to increase employment, along with prosaic domestic programs that are suffering on account of financial problems among states and localities. There is also a prospect of Chinese influence on American policy due to government bonds they have acquired from selling consumer and industrial goods to Americans, Europeans and others. The same changes in international commerce have also brought about the closing of factories throughout countries where shopping is a favored pastime.
It is too early to write finish to the power of North America and Europe. The Chinese cannot unload their bonds without reducing their value, and hurting themselves along with the United States. America and Europe are wealthy, and may be wise enough to avoid disaster. Yet signs of trouble include the interruption of medical evacuations from Haiti to the United States due to arguments as to which institutions would pay for treatment, and the president’s comments that the country could not afford an endless war in Afghanistan, a country his experts warned was unrepairable.
The dismay over deficits may be more important for the prospect of health reform than the loss of a Massachusetts Senate seat. The country with the best medical facilities in the world may continue to have them unavailable to much of its population. Large numbers will get only emergency treatment in public hospitals, and others who think they have paid for decent care will suffer the stinginess of insurance companies.
While avoiding the temptation of indicating which president or which bloc of Congress has contributed what portion to the deficit, it is useful to identify some traits of the United States that contribute to its problem.
The financial problems of the United States (national, state, and local governments) suffer from taxes that are lower than those of other western democracies, as well as from the costs of its overseas commitments. Americans concerned to deal with their deficits should not focus on their domestic programs, which generally are less generous than those of other democracies.
Wealth may be the single most important factor responsible for American prominence in international conflicts. Resources per capita in the United States are lower than in Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, Ireland, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, and Sweden, suggesting that the average individual in those countries is better off than the average American. However, the American population is larger, and the overall wealth of the United States is greater than those countries. This gives the American government leverage not possessed by others. Military power derives from the total wealth of the United States, as well as its being the greatest surviving western power at the end of World War II, and then one of the two major players in the Cold War.
Being the lone superpower left standing in 1990 invited endless appeals for assistance, and made the United States the most attractive target for those whose targets are capitalism, individualism, the rich, and the non-Muslim. The World Trade Center fell as a result of the second attack on the icon of all that was viewed to be evil. The Gulf War of 1991 was a prelude to major military investments, largely American, in the area from Iraq eastward and southward. Iran’s animosity to the United States dates from intense opposition to the friends of the Shah and the hostage taking of 1979-81. It does not seem to be diminishing under the Obama effort at engagement.
The prominence of the United States, as opposed to that of Britain, France, Germany, or Russia in international politics is not only a product of wealth and military power. The structure of American government also has made its contribution to the role the country has chosen for itself. The separation of power, and the competition between Congress and the presidency adds to the heroic defense of national values not so apparent in the parliamentary regimes of Europe. The unity between executive and legislature may facilitate the willingness to accommodate hostile forces, most apparent in going along with Muslim and Third World demands in the United Nations, or abstaining alongside American nays.
Somewhere in the American mix is the power of the Jewish lobby. One must be careful of exaggerating. It is far from dominant. Insofar as Israel is often a target of Muslim and other Third World countries, however, Jewish influence in Congress and the White House is among the factors responsible for United States vetoes in the Security Council, and votes against resolutions in the General Assembly and other UN organs where European governments are generally not as outspoken.
While on the subject of Jews, it is appropriate to continue with the advantages of a country that is beleaguered, but also small and limited in its responsibilities. Israel devotes three or four times the percentage of its resources to security as the United States, and has suffered perhaps 10 times the casualties on a proportional basis since World War II, but it has advantages that the American giant can envy. While American troops fight from bases on every continent but Australia and Antartica, Israel’s military operations are restricted to a couple of hundred miles from the center of its country, plus the occasional operation further afield. The cultures and languages of America’s enemies are beyond the ken of its intelligence capabilities, while Israel has operated throughout its history with agents in places not so foreign to those who direct and analyze the gathering of intelligence. Israel can get credit for the quick dispatch of a few well trained people, with appropriate equipment to Haiti and other disaster areas. The United States starts slower, but does the heavy lifting of prolonged care and the refurbishing of infrastructure. Israel’s airport and national airline led the world in security, but they deal with a smaller number of flights than those at a sizable American or European airport, and need not bother with inflated demands to treat every passenger as posing the same risk. Israeli security personnel pay less attention to aged Jews than to young Arabs.