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David Latchman

The Kashrut Wars Continue: Kedassia and the Kotzker

The 1930 letter of the former Haham of the Sephardi community, Dr Moses Gaster, to Dr B Homa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations objecting to the Chief Rabbinate being given the authority to licence Shochtim
The 1930 letter of the former Haham of the Sephardi community, Dr Moses Gaster, to Dr B Homa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations objecting to the Chief Rabbinate being given the authority to licence Shochtim

In my last piece on the UK Kashrut war between Chief Rabbi Adler and the Machzike Hadaas community, we described the eventual compromise that was reached by the two parties, in which the Machizke Hadaas meat came under the umbrella of the Chief Rabbinate but continued to be supervised by the Rabbi of the Machzike Hadaas. The compromise was accepted by the Machzike Hadaas members living in East London, and their shul joined the Federation of Synagogues shortly afterwards.

Yet, as we are all too aware of in any pious dispute, one North London group of Machzike Hadaas members remained steadfast in their objections to the Chief Rabbinate and refused to be taken under their authority. They were to form what ultimately became the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations (UOHC), complete with its own Kashrut authority, Kedassia. All was then quiet for some time.

In 1930, however, the Kashrut wars erupted again when a Parliamentary Slaughter of Animals Bill proposed that animals for Jewish use should be slaughtered by “a Jew licensed for that purpose by the Chief Rabbi” (see illustration).

The Parliamentary Slaughter of Animals Bill, proposing that animals for Jewish use should be slaughtered by “a Jew licensed for that purpose by the Chief Rabbi”

The UOHC, the Federation and the former Haham of the Sephardi community, Dr Moses Gaster, all objected to being excluded, with the Chief Rabbi being given sole authority to licence shochtim (see illustration).

The 1930 letter of the former Haham of the Sephardi community, Dr Moses Gaster, to Dr B Homa of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations objecting to the Chief Rabbinate being given the authority to licence Shochtim

As with the previous battle and countless rabbinic disputes throughout the ages, pen was put to paper and letters were obtained from abroad on either side of the argument. One note from Rabbi Yitzhak Morgenstern, the famed Kotzker Rebbe, ruled against authority being placed in an officeholder, since even if the present incumbent was suitable, one cannot guarantee the quality of those who would then follow him (see illustration).

The letter from Rabbi Yitzhak Morgenstern, the famed Kotzker Rebbe, against the licencing power being placed with any one officeholder

Ultimately, as in the previous debate, the dispute needed to be settled quickly, before the Government would begin to look critically at Shechita itself. The compromise reached was to give authority to a Commission, chaired by the Chief Rabbi but with representation from other Orthodox organisations, including the Federation and the UOHC.

The resolutions of the Conference on the Slaughter of Animals Bill, 9th October 1930, between representatives of the Board of Deputies, the United Synagogue, the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, the Federation of Synagogues, and the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.
About the Author
Professor David Latchman, CBE, is a leading UK academic, author, and philanthropist, and currently holds the position of Vice-Chancellor of Birkbeck University of London, having led the university since 2003. Latchman holds First-class Honours in Natural Sciences, a MA, and a PhD, and has completed a three-year post-doctoral fellowship at Imperial College London. He also has a DSc (higher doctorate) from the University of London.
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