Judaism under threat in New Zealand

Statement issued by the Auckland Hebrew Congregation President Garth Cohen and Claire Massey, the Chair of the Wellington Jewish Community Centre:

“The prospect of a permanent ban on shechita, resulting in no more kosher meat in New Zealand is very real.

“New Zealand recently became the first country in the world to outlaw kosher slaughter since the Nazis enacted similar legislation in Europe over 70 years ago. New Zealand Jews may soon be the only Jews in the world who can no longer eat chicken. Your children or grandchildren may never experience a Passover with chicken soup and matzah balls, or ask the meaning of the lamb shank on your family’s Seder plate.

“Some kosher meat (but not chicken) may be able to be imported, for a limited period. It is likely however that if we lose the right to practise shechita, then the ability to import kosher meat will soon follow.

“The absence of kosher meat will mean we can’t engage Rabbis or Youth Leaders. It will mean our religious families will be forced to leave New Zealand. Few Jews will want to migrate here. We will be seen as a country where Jews are not welcome, and where our traditions and beliefs are not respected or valued. Our rich New Zealand Jewish history and culture, dating back over 170 years to the earliest days of New Zealand settlement, may soon become a distant memory.

“The leaders of the Jewish communities in New Zealand feel so strongly about this that they are going to Court to challenge the Government. From a legal perspective they have a good deal of confidence, but only in the Court can the issue be determined.

We need the support of every Jew in New Zealand. Whether you keep kosher, observe Shabbat, or not, we must stand together. Your religious, cultural and social future is under threat.

“What you can do to help?

“Make a donation: Everyone can help and for the continuity of your family, your friends and your community you must help. We want every household to donate $150. We want you to ask your friends and families if they have given yet. We need your help and we need to help each other.

“Please make your donation now to the following account: New Zealand Shechita Appeal, Account Number: 01-0297-0024731-27 (use your family name and initials as a reference), or post your cheque to the Wellington or Auckland shul offices (marked “Shechita Appeal”).

“Write a letter: You can write to the Minister of Agriculture (David Carter), the Prime Minister and your local MP. Please also encourage your friends to write. A short email in your own words is most effective. The Minister’s email address is [email protected] The Prime Minister’s email address is [email protected] You can also copy in your local MP – a list of MPs is available on the Parliament website at http://www.parliament..nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/MPs”

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