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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My review of the Emmys

Well, not really.

But I did see that there were many awards given to the HBO movie, "Temple Grandin," about an autistic woman who is a world-class expert on animal behavior and humane slaughtering methods.

I had heard of Grandin before. She has worked tirelessly to improve Jewish ritual slaughter (shechita,) and she is in fact an expert on the halachot (Jewish laws) of shechita. (It is said that she read the entire Talmudic tractate of Chullin in English translation to learn all of the halachot.)

She had found that kosher slaughterhouses were doing a horrendous job, abusing and scaring the animals. She spoke to rabbis worldwide and designed far more effective systems. As she writes,

When shechitah was performed on each steer, I was amazed that the animal did not move. To find out if shechitah was really painless, I started holding the head of each animal with less and less pressure to see if it would move during shechitah. Even big bulls stayed still when the head holder was so loose they could have easily pulled their heads out.

I also observed that some shochets were better than others in their ability to cause rapid unconsciousness. All of the cuts were correct from a religious standpoint, but some shochets were more biologically effective. A swift cut was more effective than a slower one. In the hands of the best shochets, the animal does not make a sound or flinch, and drops unconscious in eight to 10 seconds.
She is also an expert on Halal slaughter, and notes that Muslims use shorter knives that are generally much more painful for the animals.

Grandin's research and inventions have revolutionized the entire kosher slaughter industry, something that everyone can agree is a great accomplishment. She took what had become an inhumane method of slaughter and improved it so that it is orders of magnitude better for everyone involved.

That, by itself, is no small accomplishment. And she has done much, much more. She deserves lots of congratulations and thanks for her work.