Why can't meat from a Muslim butcher be kosher? OU explains.
Eyad Suleiman, a Muslim Israeli living in Milwaukee, Wis., plans to open a kosher and halal meat plant for religious clientele, but getting kosher certification won’t be easy.
Last month The Journal Times, the daily newspaper for Racine County in southeastern Wisconsin ran a story on Suleiman and his proposed meat plant. The article claims that Suleiman is “looking for a rabbi to give whatever clearance is required by Judaism,” but getting kosher certification isn’t as simple as having a rabbi sign a document.
“If it’s not coming from a Jewish shochet [certified kosher butcher] it can’t be considered kosher. That’s the law,” Rabbi Moshe Elefant, the Chief Operating Officer of Orthodox Union’s the Kashruth Department said, adding that Jews can and do operate facilities that are certified both halal and Kosher.
Suleiman told The Journal Times that his meat plant would follow the Muslim dhabiha laws of saying a prayer in the name of God prior to slaughtering the animal. Additionally he said he would make sure the knife is never seen by the animal so it is not in distress, and perform the appropriate cut to the jugular vein so the animal does not experience much pain, precautions that, when done properly, fulfill some of the halachot (Jewish laws) of shechita, but not all.
While meat from a non-Jewish source cannot be kosher, a shochet can sell certified halal meat. The dhabiha law to pray in the name of God does not require that the prayer be said in Arabic or mention Allah, and most shochets customarily bless the animal with a Hebrew prayer that includes God.
According to Robin Shulman, author of "Eat The City," a book about the history of New York's food industry, one of the big differences between kosher and halal meat has to do with the knives used to slaughter the animal. In New York, Shulman wrote, some halal places allow Jewish shochets to bring in their own knives for a kosher kill.
If Suleiman intends to acquire OU certification for his meat plant, he will need to hire shochets in order to sell kosher meat.
Suleiman's idea to market to both Jews and Muslims reflects more progressive attitudes regarding cooperation and teamwork between Muslims and Jews. In 2011 when Holland's government banned kosher and halal slaughtering in favor of stunning the animals, Jews and Muslims lobbied together to fight the ban.
Suleiman was not reachable for comment.
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