The case against New Zealand’s ban on kosher animal slaughter will be heard in the High Court in Wellington later this month.
New Zealand Jewish Council President Stephen Goodman said the case on Nov. 29 would be watched closely around the Jewish world.
“We believe that this is, or will be interpreted as, a worldwide test case,” he said. “The animal rights lobby will be applying pressure to governments around the world. We have heard rumors of the issue being raised in France, Ireland and even Australia.
“Denying us a fundamental tenant of our religion is a direct challenge to our existence. It is unintentional anti-Semitism,” Goodman said.
Goodman issued a plea to Jewish communities worldwide to assist financially in arguing for shechitah, or kosher slaughter. The cost of the case is estimated at $123,000, but less than half that has been raised, he said. The community, which numbers less than 7,000 Jews, has set up a Facebook page and a PayPal account to encourage support. “We have a very good case and a high probability of winning,” Goodman said.
In May, Agriculture Minister David Carter rejected a recommendation that shechitah be exempt from the new animal welfare code, which mandates that all commercially slaughtered animals must first be stunned, thus rendering kosher slaughtering illegal. The community filed legal action in August after negotiations with Carter broke down.
The case pits the Jewish community against the Conservative government of Prime Minister John Key, whose mother, Ruth Lazar, was a Jewish refugee who escaped Austria on the eve of the Holocaust.
Shechitah has been carried out in New Zealand since 1843.