Kosher slaughter ban could mean end of New Zealand community

New Zealand Jewish life is in jeopardy if the community loses its legal battle over the ban on kosher slaughter, Jewish leaders there warned.

An e-mail titled “Save the Future of Judaism in New Zealand” and circulated Oct. 22 to some 1,000 families warned that if the community loses the case over the new law, it will signal the death knell of the Jewish community, which dates back nearly 200 years.

“It will mean we can’t engage rabbis or youth leaders,” read the e-mail, which was jointly released by Auckland Hebrew Congregation President Garth Cohen and Wellington Jewish Community Center Chair Claire Massey. “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.”

The e-mail urged each family to donate about $75 to the New Zealand Shechitah Appeal, and to e-mail Agriculture Minister David Carter, who imposed the ban on shechitah in May, and Prime Minister John Key, whose mother was a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria on the eve of the Holocaust.

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

About 1,000 affiliated Jewish families live in two main centers, Wellington and Auckland, as well as smaller communities in Christchurch and Dunedin on the south island. — jta

Cathleen Maclearie

J. art director