We've seen that the kosher slaughter industry does not ensure against the animal mistreatment that permeates the animal product industries. The current kashrut overseers have failed to maintain an animal welfare standard that passes a test of decency as they continue to be satisfied with their belief that Jewish law permits it. [See here for Kosher beef imports to Israel and the U.S. under OU supervision].
The solution must come from elsewhere.
Organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) are bringing greater awareness to the public of all industries that use animals – but the implementation of societal change is slow, and does the Jewish community really want to concede authority for these matters to secular institutions? What does Jewish abdication of responsibility and concern for these matters say about our character, ideals or belief in our mission to bring greater awareness of Gdliness/goodness into the world?
Research and experience show that a call for people to stop supporting harmful industries is effective only if the consumer is given a reliable substitute product to support. It is in this light that I write an open letter to the Hekhsher Tzedek Commission and its visionary Rabbi Morris Allen:
[Hekhsher/Magen Tzedek is an initiative of Judaism's Conservative Movement to give its seal of approval on food products that maintain acceptable ethical and social justice standards in the categories of labor concerns, animal welfare, environmental impact, consumer issues and corporate integrity]
Dear Heksher Tzedek Commission and Rabbi Allen,
Kudos to the work you are doing to bring to market a way for the Jewish and non-Jewish consumer to identify products that are free from the taint of injustice that is so prevalent in the commercial food industry.
I have expressed my concern to the Commission about both the inadequacy of its proposed animal welfare standards as well as the insufficient enforcement and auditing of these standards. Additionally, I have recently learned that due to the many complications associated with kosher meat the Hekhsher Tzedek will not be endorsing any kosher beef or poultry supplier in the foreseeable future.
As someone who cares deeply about the success of H.T., I must emphasize the belief that the single most important product that the Heksher Tzedek can provide to the public is kosher meat. Hekhsher Tzedek's impact will be felt thunderously, and heroically, and historically when it provides the caring kosher community with a meat source that can serve as a shining example of what Judaism values.
Accordingly, I feel inspired to inform you about the work of CEO Devora Kimelman-Block and her KOL Foods ethical kosher meat production and supply. I have spoken extensively to Devora and feel that an association between Hekhsher Tzedek and KOL Foods can be a partnership that provides the kosher meat product the caring public craves.
Rabbi, Congregation Moreshet Yisrael