JTA reports that Estonia is moving to change its policy toward “shechita” or religious slaughter owing to the 2010 DialRel report which found that the method of stunning an animal is a better alternative than shechita.
The DialRel report stated that shechita causes distress and torment to animals. According to Jewish law, animals must be alert when an incision is made into their necks.
Sirje Jalakas, head of the Estonia Animal Welfare Bureau said that this change in policy is needed because shechita “does not take new scientific knowledge into account.” However, Jalakas said “there is no plan to ban” shechita in the country.
Roughly 1,000 Jews live in Estonia. Compared to other European Union nations, the country’s current guidelines on shechita is very severe. Prior to each scheduled slaughter, government managers must be notified at least 10 work days in advance, and an inspector supervises each shechita. After animals’ throats are cut, they are then subject to “post-cut stunning,” a practice which is not approved by all rabbis. Austria, Denmark, and Finland all engage in the practice of post-cut stunning.
Estonia’s Chabad emissary and chief rabbi Shmuel Kot said he is contact with the government officials about the new policy and that they are conferring with him about the policy change. The Rabbinical Centre of Europe said it is “confident that any decision on animal slaughter in Estonia will not end in banning the practice.”
Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland have already completely banned shechita.