HEADS UP: Schlochthaus Videos
Teachers, here's a "heads-up":
The press seems to be making a big deal about PETA's hidden schlochthaus videos. You're liable to encounter questions on schitah and cruelty to animals.
The NY Times quotes:
Rabbi Chaim Kohn, of the AgriProcessors plant, says the steers feel nothing, even as they struggle on the floor and slam their heads into walls. "Unconsciousness and the external behavior of the animal have nothing to do with shechita," he said. Because the throat-tearing happens after the shochet's cut, the rabbi said, it does not render the animal nonkosher.
Other experts in kosher law were divided on the issue. Rabbis Menachem Genack and Yisroel Belsky, the chief experts for the Orthodox Union, which certifies more than 600,000 products as kosher, including Aaron's Best meats, said the killings on the tape, while "gruesome," appeared kosher because the shochet checked to make sure he had severed both the trachea and esophagus. Scientific studies, Rabbi Belsky said, found that an animal whose brain had lost blood pressure when its throat was slit felt nothing and that any motions it made were involuntary. "The perfect model is the headless chicken running around," Rabbi Genack said.
See also the AP report.
Keep your eyes on the OU website for what will hopefully be a useful response (for our classroom discussions).