USA: Jewish Vegetarian Group condemns abuses at Rubashkin's Nebraska slaughterhouse

JVNA Press Release 

July 16, 2007 

Contact person: Richard H. Schwartz, 
President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) 
Phone (718) 761-5876 

The Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) today expressed shock and sadness at the violations of Jewish teachings at the Rubashkin-owned slaughterhouse in Gordon, Nebraska, as revealed in a new video and reported by the JTA last week. JVNA believes that the abuses are especially shameful since Rubashkin had agreed to improve conditions in its plants after PETA released a video it had shot surreptitiously in 2004 showing gruesome footage of cows being slaughtered at Rubashkin's glatt kosher slaughterhouse at Postville, Iowa, under conditions that were condemned by many rabbis, veterinarians and others, such as Temple Grandin, an internationally acknowledged expert on slaughterhouse conditions. 

While opposed to all methods of slaughter, JVNA believes that properly carried out ritual slaughter is a relatively “humane” method of slaughter, which aims to minimize animal pain, and that Jews who continue to eat meat should eat kosher, organic, humane-certified meat. JVNA has also consistently opposed efforts to single out shechita for criticism. However, JVNA believes that the graphic depictions of the horrifying mistreatment of the animals at the Nebraska slaughterhouse should cause the entire Jewish community to examine the ways animals are currently being raised, treated, prepared, and slaughtered, to see if the laws and principles of the Torah are actually being properly practiced. And we hope that closer study of the values in Jewish tradition-- concern for the pain of fellow creatures, maintaining health, protecting God's world, conserving resources, feeding the hungry-- will ultimately lead Jews and others to adopt a diet that is more humane, healthy, environmentally sustainable, and capable of feeding hungry people -- vegetarianism. 

JVNA president Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D. stated, “These horrific slaughterhouse scenes completely contradict our mandate to be 'rachmanim b'nei rachmanim' (compassionate children of compassionate ancestors). Even if ritual slaughter is performed flawlessly, consistent with halacha, we should not ignore the severe violations of Jewish law occurring daily on factory farms. We should fulfill our charge to be 'a light unto the nations' by helping to lead the world away from a diet that is so harmful to people, the environment, and animals, to one that is far more consistent with basic religious values, especially at a time when anima-based diets are causing an epidemic of disease in the Jewish community and other community and when animal-based agriculture is a major contributor to global warming and many other environmental threats.” 

For a long time, JVNA has argued that Jews should consider how animal-based diets and agriculture violate basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, preserve the environment, conserve natural resources, and help hungry people.. Putting these issues squarely on the Jewish agenda would save many lives, move our imperiled planet to a more sustainable path, and show the relevance of Judaism in addressing current critical issues, and thus help revitalize Judaism. 

JVNA is anxious to engage in respectful dialogues on these issues. 


Further information about the JVNA and its campaign to get vegetarianism onto the Jewish and other agendas may be obtained by contacting Dr. Schwartz or the JVNA (; The web site also has many Jewish vegetarian recipes. 

A complimentary copy of Richard Schwartz's book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” and a related CD will be sent to members of the media who request them as background for a potential article and to others who indicate how they would use the material to help get vegetarianism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda. 

Richard H. Schwartz
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival and Mathematics and Global Survival and over 140 articles at>
President. Jewish Vegetarians of North America (; Director of Veg Climate Alliance
Associate producer of A SACRED DUTY