Residents of the Netherlands can pick up a bolus (sweet roll) or some pom (a chicken dish) to eat almost anywhere in the country, but how many of them know that these foods have Jewish origins?
Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum is banking on curiosity about these and other traditional Jewish foods to bring people through its doors to experience its new “Jewish Flavor: A Worldwide Cuisine” exhibition, which opens December 21 and runs until May 5, 2013. It is the first-ever museum show on Jewish food in the Netherlands.
With only approximately 30,000 Jews living in Holland (about half of them in Amsterdam), the museum hopes the show will bring in many non-Jewish visitors who love food and cooking and are curious about Jewish cuisine and culture. For the museum’s Jewish visitors (mainly foreign tourists), “Jewish Flavor” will be a sweet — and savory — trip down memory lane, and also serve as an introduction to unique Dutch Jewish foods.
A Dutch lawmaker resigned from his party in protest of its support for banning ritual slaughter, among other issues.
Wim Kortenoeven announced his resignation from the Party for Freedom at a news conference last week in The Hague. Founded in 2005 by Geert Wilders, the party follows an anti-Muslim, pro-Israel policy.
“Regarding ritual slaughter, I came under intense pressure from Wilders to vote against my conscious,” Kortenoeven said.
In 2011, the Party of Freedom voted in favor of a bill to ban ritual slaughter in The Netherlands. Kortenoeven voted against the bill. He was the only party member who defied party discipline. Though passed into law, the Dutch Senate scrapped the ban last month.
Last month, The Dutch Animal Rights Party pushed a bill through the lower house of the Dutch Parliament that would outlaw the slaughter of animals without stunning. The law, if ratified by the upper house of parliament, will in essence make locally raised and slaughtered kosher (and halal) meat illegal. A similar law was passed in New Zealand last year, and kosher slaughter is already outlawed in Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
The battle over the ethicality of kosher slaughter came to the United States recently, though fortunately with a better outcome. A Washington state appellate unanimously rejected a suit that would have made a law protecting religious slaughter unconstitutional, says the JTA.
Jewish groups in Europe are strategizing ways to combat the Dutch bill. In June, United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks told British paper The Telegraph: “We are worried that [this type of bill] could spread. There has been a non-stop campaign by animal welfare activists to have all forms of ritual slaughter banned. It has to be fought everywhere because if it’s lost anywhere it has a potential domino effect.”
Local kosher and halal meat may not be available for long in the Netherlands. Dutch lawmakers voted today to approve a law proposed by the Dutch Animal Rights Party that would ban kosher and halal slaughter, CNN’s Belief Blog reports.
The bill requires that animals in the country be stunned or anesthetized before being slaughtered. Animal rights activists argue that this method causes the animal the least amount of pain. However, kosher (and halal) meat can only come from an animal that has been slaughtered according to religious law, which prohibits stunning.
The Dutch Jewish community, which numbers 40,000, has protested the bill as a violation of religious freedom. Marianne Thieme, head of the Animal Rights Party, says that humane treatment of animals must trump religious freedom. Speaking to the house before the vote she said: “This way of killing causes unnecessary pain to animals. Religious freedom cannot be unlimited. For us religious freedom stops where human or animal suffering begins.”
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