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ARCHIVE - Screams From The Kosher Kill Floor

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Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President
The Orthodox Union
11 Broadway, 14th Fl.; New York, NY 10004

Cc: Rabbi Menachem Genack, Rabbinic Administrator
Kashrut Division, Orthodox Union
11 Broadway, 14th Fl.; New York, NY 10004

Dear Rabbi Weinreb;

As someone who cares about animal welfare and values religious freedom, I am stunned by the atrocities masquerading as kosher slaughter at AgriProcessors Inc. in Postville, Iowa. After viewing undercover video released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, I can only conclude that humanity is on permanent holiday for these particular kosher slaughterers.

Inside the nation's largest factory for glatt kosher certified meat, cows are electrically shocked to goad them into a rotating drum. Once restrained, each animal is mechanically flipped upside down, to position a blade over his throat as stipulated by Halacha.

PETA's on-site footage, taped during routine operations from July to September of 2004, shows workers slicing the throats of conscious animals. Tongues protrude and eyes blink as columns of blood spurt from the wounds. After throats are slit, other workers use hooks to gouge out the steers' necks and manually extract their trachea and esophagus.

With the tug of a lever, cows are then hurled from the drum like giant rag dolls. On the floor, they struggle to stand while workers wait for blood to drain from their mangled bodies. Cows walk on their knee joints, tossing their heads from side to side in obvious agony. Pieces of their torn out windpipes dangle alongside them. Still conscious, sometimes up to three minutes, the animals are finally leg-tied and hoisted for decapitation.

Screams and groans can be heard above the clang of metal. Yet the plant's Rabbi Chaim Kohn tells reporters "the steers feel nothing, even as they struggle on the floor and slam their heads into walls." Rabbi Kohn is either terribly misinformed or lying. If you have not done so already, please view the video at: video=agri_long.

I appeal to the Orthodox Union to audit AgriProcessors and promptly install safeguards to inhibit its rampant animal abuse. Please establish publicly accessible standards for humane care in all slaughterhouses the OU certifies. These standards should include: A ban on electric prods, a ban on the practice of rotating animals upside-down for throat-slitting (shechita), and a ban on the handling/moving of throat-severed animals until they're dead from bleed out.

In addition, the OU should teach shochets (slaughterers) to identify physiological signals of awareness in cows—i.e., blinking, bellowing, standing, rhythmic breathing, efforts to right one's head—to assure no alert animals are handled until they become unconscious. It is also imperative all equipment be regularly inspected to ensure it is not injurious to animals.

AgriProcessors is clearly in violation of federal and kosher law. As testament to religious mercy and empathy, please do everything possible to end this unspeakable cruelty and suffering.

Thank you,

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