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Anti-Shechita Prosecutions in the Anglo-American World, 1855–1913 “A major attack on Jewish freedoms…” North American Jewish Studies Series Editor IRA ROBINSON (Concordia University) Anti-Shechita Prosecutions in the Anglo-American World, 1855–1913 “A major attack on Jewish freedoms…” 1 DAVID FRASER Boston 2018 1 David Rome, The Jewish Biography of Henri Bourassa, Part 1 (Montreal: National Archives of the Canadian Jewish Congress, 1988), 94. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Fraser, David, 1953-, author. Title: Anti-shechita prosecutions in the Anglo-American world, 1855-1913: a major attack on Jewish freedoms / David Fraser. Description: Brighton, MA : Academic Studies Press, [2018] | Series: North American Jewish studies Identifiers: LCCN 2018006489 (print) | LCCN 2018006683 (ebook) | ISBN 9781618117434 (e-book) | ISBN 9781618117427 (hardback) Subjects: LCSH: Shehitah—Case studies. | Livestock—Stunning—Case studies. | Animal rights movement—Case studies. | Meat industry and trade—Law and legislation—Case studies. | Religious discrimination—Law and legislation—Case studies. | BISAC: NATURE / Animal Rights. | RELIGION / Judaism / Rituals & Practice. | COOKING / Regional & Ethnic / Jewish & Kosher. Classification: LCC BM720.S62 (ebook) | LCC BM720.S62 F73 2018 (print) | DDC 296.7/3—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018006489 ISBN (hardback) 978-1-61811-742-7 ISBN (electronic) 978-1-61811-743-4 © 2018 Academic Studies Press All rights reserved Book design by Kryon Publishing Services (P) Ltd. www.kryonpublishing.com Cover design by Ivan Grave Published by Academic Studies Press in 2018 28 Montfern Avenue Brighton, MA 02135, USA press@academicstudiespress.com www.academicstudiespress.com Table of Contents Acknowledgments#8;vi Introduction: Jews, Shechita, and the Law#8; viii 1. #7;Criminalizing Shechita: The Halifax Prosecution of Abraham Levitt, 1913#8; 1 2. #7;The Aberdeen Shechita Case of 1893: Criminalizing the Jewish Method in Scotland#8; 28 3. The Mansion House Case: Anti-Shechita in London, 1855#8; 56 4. M #7; anchester Shechita: Criminalizing Orthodox Judaism 1878 and Beyond#8; 74 5. The Birkenhead Shechita Cases#8; 85 6. Criminalizing Shechita Down Under: The Sydney Case#8; 103 7. Outlawing Shechita in America#8; 134 8. The Massachusetts Anti-Shechita Story#8; 168 9. T #7; he End (or Not) of the Story: Shechita and the Law in the Anglo-American World, 1855–1913#8; 199 Bibliography#8;215 Index#8;230 Acknowledgments T hanks to the many archivists and librarians who made this book possible. Staff at the Boston Public Library, the British Library, the Halifax Public Library, the London Metropolitan Archives, the Liverpool Record Office, the Manchester Central Library Archives Service, the New York Public Library, the Nova Scotia Archives, and the Wirral Archives Service assisted. Colin Spanjar granted access to the files of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and Charles Tucker, Record Keeper of the London Beth Din, allowed consultation of the files of the Office the Chief Rabbi. Judi Garner at the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) in Boston granted access to the Friedman Family papers. The AJHS in New York provided important information. Rachel Reddick of the Stephen H. Hart Library and Research Center, History Colorado, made available historic Colorado newspaper coverage. Archivist Heather Perez at the Atlantic City Free Public Library assisted in finding local newspaper files, as did staff at the Attleboro and Providence Public Libraries. Robert Thornton, Senior Archivist, Adelaide City Archives, provided valuable information. Emily Hanna of State Records New South Wales helped with information concerning Sydney. Emily Chapin, Collections Access Archivist at the Museum of the City of New York, assisted with the Henry Bergh correspondence. David Allen responded with kindness to inquiries on the archival holdings of the RSPCA. Jan Holmquist of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals answered my questions, and Debra A. Gardella of the Massachusetts Superior Court, Fall River and James P. Perkoski, First Assistant Clerk-Magistrate, Attleboro District Court, generously assisted in tracking down the remaining information on the 1910–1911 case from Attleboro. Gina Y. Hodges, Administrator of the Atlantic City Municipal Court searched for files on the Kaplowitz case. Josh Jasper, Librarian and Archivist at the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Association was i nvaluable in finding information on the relationship between the Jewish community in Providence Acknowledgments vii and the Jews of rural Massachusetts and identifying Rabbi Katznelson. Kevin Luy of the Colorado State Archives provided the records of the Wolf Heller case. Vaughan Black and Sheila Wildman shared insights into the history of law and animals in Halifax. This project started in the files of the Alex Dworkin Canadian Jewish Archives in Montreal. Janice Rosen and Hélène Lavallée are an inspiration and to them this is yet another expression of my gratitude. My sincere gratitude to Professor Ira Robinson and the Concordia Institute for Canadian Jewish Studies for their support in publishing this book. The opinions expressed herein are my own. As always, this is for Kathryn. Introduction: Jews, and the Law Shechita, The Historical and Linguistic Stakes I n the spring of 1913, Abraham Levitt, rabbi of the small Jewish community in Halifax, Nova Scotia was charged on the information of an inspector of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty, with inflicting ill-treatment on, and causing unnecessary suffering to, a heifer. According to the local newspaper coverage of the case, this was “the first time in American history that a rabbi has 1 been haled before the courts in a case of this kind.” After a hearing lasting several days, Levitt was convicted and fined six dollars plus seven dollars and sixty-five cents in costs. For the first time in the history of the American continent a Jewish rabbi had been fined for killing an animal according to the Jewish belief, namely by cutting its throat without prior 2 stunning. The historian of Montreal and Canadian Jewry, David Rome, later wrote that, “because Halifax is so distant from the centres of Canadian Jewry a very important anti-Semitic case in that city, classic in its form, received very 3 little attention and has since been virtually lost to memory.” This book remedies the gap identified by Rome by returning the Halifax case to our collective legal and historical memory. It interrogates the often-competing discourses of the anti-cruelty movement in the early twentieth century, narrow positivistic renderings of legal texts, and ideas of religious   1 “The Halifax Hebrew Rabbi Is Before Stipendiary Magistrate’s Court,” Halifax Herald, April 2, 1903.   2 “Jewish Rabbi Fined by the Stipendiary,” Halifax Herald, April 22, 1913.  3 The Jewish Biography of Henri Bourassa, 94. Introduction: Jews, Shechita, and the Law ix freedom and practice that circulated around, and informed the context of, the prosecution of Rabbi Levitt. It is necessary to place events in Halifax in 1913 in broader social, political, and socio-legal historical contexts that surrounded local, national, and international debates about animal welfare and about the place of growing Jewish communities in North America. At first blush, the singular prosecution of Abraham Levitt, apparently the only recorded instance of an animal cruelty case and conviction of a Jew engaged in the religiously ordained killing of an animal in North American legal history, might seem to be a minor historical event at the geographical and demographic margins of Canada, North America, and the British Empire. This study highlights the ways in which this singular instance of legal prosecution embodied matters of historical, social, and cultural significance that went far beyond the fate of Abraham Levitt and the small Jewish community of Halifax. It brings to light other instances of attempts to criminalize Jewish religious slaughter in the common-law world, demonstrating how and why the singular instance of the Halifax case was, contrary to coverage at the time, not at all singular. Instead it fits into a pattern of actions by animal welfare groups targeting the Jewish method of slaughtering animals for food over a significant period of time and in a variety of jurisdictions. I seek to recover for historical memory the vital role of these anti-shechita prosecutions in the legal and social history of Jewry in the different places they occurred. By bringing to light these other attempts to criminalize and abolish shechita, the process of interrogating the hermeneutic and narrative similarities that informed each of these now somewhat obscured legal instances, in which observant Jews were prosecuted for practices central to their religious identity in the name of humane values, can begin. The prosecution of Abraham Levitt in Halifax on the eve of the First World War was not as singular or isolated as David Rome believed. An important goal of this study is to begin to trace a socio-legal history of attempts in the English-speaking world to criminalize the practice of the Jewish mode of killing animals in the name of the competing value of animal welfare and to interrogate the hows and whys of legal processes that contrast in a negative and harmful way, humane values and Jewish religious observance. Each instance highlights the common conflicts that occurred in the legal regulatory realm as a public good, animal welfare, encountered another public good, the need to recognize and accommodate religious practice. While each clearly occurred at different times and in distinct geographical spaces, neither Jewish communities nor animal welfare groups acted in complete isolation from their fellows, nor did they Canadian Legal History, 1990), 51. 4 Anti-Shechita Prosecutions in the Anglo-American World, 1855–1913 the situation did improve somewhat in later years, especially as the decline of Anglican influence opened up space for other Protestant denominations, a 16 de facto quota of Catholic seats remained in effect for many years. The first Jewish judge in Nova Scotia was not appointed until 1967, the centenary of 17 Canadian Confederation. Abraham Levitt was summonsed to appear before the stipendiary magistrate on charges of animal cruelty. These judicial officers were the first point of call for 18 law-breakers in Halifax. In other parts of the province, magistrates were often not even legally trained. In many cases, stipendiary magistrates did not receive their costs for the hearing unless a conviction was entered. This gave rise to significant dissatisfaction with the lower levels of the criminal justice system in the province, and most significantly to a perception that magistrates and police 19 were branches of the same enforcement agency. In Halifax, however, the situation was less problematic and more recognizable as embodying separation of powers principles. The law provided that the stipendiary magistrate for the City of Halifax had to be a barrister of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia with no less than five years’ experience and that he hold no other position nor practice his 20 profession. This was a full time judicial appointment. At the time of the shechita trial, the stipendiary magistrate in Halifax was G.H. Fielding, who came from a prominent Baptist family, and was the brother of W.S. Fielding, former Premier of 21 Nova Scotia, and a federal cabinet minister and Privy Councilor. Throughout 22 his tenure, Fielding was known as a merciful jurist. On the face of it, a competent, professional, and compassionate jurist would determine Rabbi Levitt’s fate. Robert H. Murray led the prosecution. In his day job, Murray was a crown prosecutor, but he was and is perhaps “specially well-known as the 23 counsel for the Society for the Protection [sic] of Cruelty.” From a prominent 16 R. Blake Brown and Susan S. Jones, “A Collective Biography of the Supreme Court Judiciary in Nova Scotia, 1900–2000,” in The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, 212. 17 Ibid., 212–213. Nathan Green, a Jew, was appointed as a Provincial Magistrate in 1959, and became first Chief Judge of the Provincial Court in 1981, “Chief Judge Nathan Green,” in Judge R. E. Kimball, The Bench: The History of Nova Scotia’s Provincial Courts (Halifax: Province of Nova Scotia, 1989), 65. 18 Boudreau, City of Order, 53–54. 19 Kimball, The Bench, 2–6. § 20 Laws relating to the city of Halifax, 1891, 133. 21 “Fielding, William Stevens,” in Shirley B. Elliott, ed., The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, 1758–1983: A Biographical Directory (Halifax: Province of Nova Scotia, 1984), 70. 22 Boudreau, City of Order, 54. 23 Halifax Herald, “Wedding,” April 16, 1915. Criminalizing Shechita: The Halifax Prosecution 5   CHAPTER 1 Nova Scotia Presbyterian family, his work for the SPC, as well as his job as a c riminal p rosecutor, brought him into contact with many of the social ills of late Victorian and early Edwardian Halifax, from problems of wayward girls 24 to conditions in the local jail, and the prevalence of cruelty. He was a prominent member of the Halifax Civic Reform League, the organization that led 25 the fight in pre-World War I Halifax against prostitution. But in the shechita case of 1913 he wore not his crown prosecutor’s hat, but that of counsel for the SPC, tasked with wiping out cruelty to animals in the city’s and the province’s slaughterhouses. W. J. O’Hearn, K.C., defended Levitt. One of the best lawyers in Halifax and a leading expert on Canadian criminal law, O’Hearn was a Roman Catholic. He later served as Attorney-General of Nova Scotia, and upon leaving poli26 sat as a County Court judge. The prosecutor and the magistrate in the shechita case’s first stages were prominent Protestants and the lawyer defending the Jewish shochet was a member of the Roman Catholic religious minority. At the time of his trial, Rabbi Levitt was described as “an old man, with a long 27 flowing beard.” Of “Russian” origin, Rabbi Levitt did not speak or understand 28 English. Samuel Webber acted as translator. Webber was a member of a large and prominent Halifax Jewish family. He had arrived in Halifax from Russia in 1899, with his parents, Copel and Tona, and his many siblings. Webber’s father, Copel, is described as a vegetable merchant, and acted as “the first Kosher 29 Butcher until 1911” in Halifax. Shortly after the case, the Webbers and others would split from the main community and form their own synagogue, known as the Proctor Street or Webber Synagogue. The rift, largely between the English-speaking “German” Jews and the more recently arrived eastern European Yiddish-speaking members would be healed some years later. The case proceeded along what can only be described as parallel normative lines. Murray for the SPC introduced the testimony of Williamson and Gough to establish that they had witnessed the prolonged and u nnecessary death throes of the heifer. Cross-examined by O’Hearn, the SPC inspector stated that he “inferred that the animal suffered pain because it struggled, and he based that statement on observations. In his opinion, the more humane way 24 Boudreau, City of Order, 43, 66, 89. 25 Ibid., 135–136. 26 “O’Hearn, Walter Joseph Aloysius,” in Elliott, The Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, 171. 27 “The Halifax Hebrew Rabbi.” 28 “Hebrew Rabbi Again Before City Stipendiary,” Halifax Herald, April 16, 1913. 29 “Morris Herman and Rosa Bella,” 49, 51, 54, 56–61, slaughter houses Index 233 63, 65–75, 77–99, 101 103, 108–121, suttee, 9, 130, 195 129–132, 134–139, 141–145, 147–148, Switzerland, 25, 49–52, 151, 168–170, 192 150, 161–162, 164, 166–178, 180–194, Sydney Morning Herald, 109, 111, 129–131 196–203, 205, 207–209, 211 de Sola, Abraham, xx T de Sola, Meldola, xx, 120 treif (treifa / terefah), 90, 146, 150 South Australia, see Adelaide Tub Taam, 140–141, 150 Stephen, Alfred, 104, 109–111 stockyard, 148, 153 U stunning, viii, xiii, xxiv, 6, 7, 10–13, 16, 17, 19, University of Manchester, see Owens College 20, 23–25, 28, 31–32, 37, 39–42, 44–45, 49, 51– 53, 56, 59–60, 66–69, 71, 72, V 77–80, 82, 83, 90, 91, 98, 100–103, 115, veterinary surgeon, 2, 6, 14, 16, 19, 31, 39, 41, 117–118, 121, 125, 129, 135, 140–142, 45, 79, 80 145–147, 151, 152, 154, 155, 157, 159, 161, 168, 170, 173, 176, 187, 189, 191– Y 194, 197, 199–200, 203, 205–207, 210