Dec 20, 2006

the shechita

The post you have all been waiting for is finally here!!

After a couple of hours driving through the beautiful countryside to the northern village of Zarzir , located in the Jezreel Valley, we passed the village of Kfar Gidon. Kfar Gidon had been the living place of the Kramer Family and the subject of a great book I recently had read called Holy Woman. Kfar Gidon is about 10 minutes away from the Bedouin village of Zarzir, which is where we go to shecht.

We go to Zarzir to shecht because the guy there gives us a gaurantee of chlak, or glatt, meat. His gaurantee is that if the meat does not come out glatt, we do not take the meat. He will sell that meat to his Arabs and we can slaughter a different animal. While he seemingly has a high percentage of glatt results (probably why he gives us that gaurantee), the gaurantee does come in handy on occassion, as it did yesterday.

Let me now introduce you to the cow. I did not name him. This is he, prior to shechita:

In the picture above, he is being prepared for shechita. The process is interesting. They maneuver the calf (he was only 8 months old) through the pen into a track where he is alone and on the way out. I suspect the cow knows what is coming, because he did not want to be there. As a matter of fact, I saw some stuff that PETA could only dream of.

They get the calf into the track and they get this long rope and tie it around a back leg. They then tie another loop aeound a front leg. They leverage the rope by wrapping it around some poles and they begin to pull him out of the track onto the open floor. They then tie the other end of the rope, after some more leveraging around some poles, to the back of a car. They get the calf onto the spot of the floor they want him in. And in case you thought Cow Tipping was only a sport, one guy then pulls the back rope, the other guy drives the car forward just a little bit, and the cow tips over onto his side. They then stretch it a bit farther, so the animal is splayed out in a way that his movement is restricted.

The shechita was smooth and quick. No problems. After skinning the animal and opening it up, we checked the lungs, which were completely clean of any problems.

Here he looks like a real beast, hanging there waiting to be skinned....

WARNING: The following images are more graphic and are not for the faint of heart... do not read further if you cannot handle the sight of blood, or if you are under 18 years of age.

After the calf was done, I shechted a lamb. The "glatt gaurantee" came in handy because its lungs were a complete mess and it was a pure treifa. I shechted a second one and it was even worse than the first. The gaurantee was coming out worthwhile.

I was going to give up on the sheep, as it was starting to get late and we wanted to start heading back soon, but the Arabs were ok with my trying one more. Sometimes they are not willing to, because they have to be able to sell it to Arabs. If they already have enough meat, it is a bigger risk for them that they will be stuck with meat they cannot sell. I figured after two bad sheep, they will not be happy about a third, but they were ok with it. They said to go ahead, so I did.

Well, as they say, the third time is a charm . The third lamb was 100% glatt with absolutely nothing wrong with it!

Here you can see the local cats enjoying a good meal...

And then there was this guy:

I think he suspected he was next because when I got close to him, he ran away.

We headed back to Jerusalem where I koshered all the meat. It took a lot of time and energy, but with the help of a couple of my kids, my wife and my mother in law, we got all the meat kashered, trimmed into normal looking pieces, bagged and put away.


  1. Is it difficult to eat meat after having this type of first hand experience?

  2. not at all. I eat it with even more gusto...

  3. what an experience! and i'd imagine that you'd have a pretty good sense of achievement when you have a roast on friday night that came from the animal that you shechted yourself.

  4. why no pics of the actual ma'aseh shechita? Rivka, matis, and I were all looking forward to some real pics of rafi brandishing a knife....mmaaaannnnn.....
    but really, why no pics of the shechita?

  5. sarah - that it is

    shaya - I meant to include that in the post. There were three of us there. Me, shechting. The guy teaching me who had to watch me (so he could not take the picture). Then there was a third guy who came along to watch. I gave him the camera and asked him to get a pic of me shechting. The guy was such a yokel he could not figure out how to take the picture. I asked him afterwards if he got a good pic and he said he could not figure out how to turn the camera on.

  6. i missed the beginning though, ave you been learning hilchos shechita recently or is this something they let people do?

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. they do not just let people do this. We have resumed learnign shechita and treifos...

  9. Rafi,

    Did you check the knife before and after each shekhita?

    Did you check it with the fleshy side and the nail side your finger on the left, right and sharp side of the knife for nicks?

    I've heard they give you problems in Israel for doing this. Is that true? Either way, I would do the same exact thing if I lived there. I don't trust shechita practices today.

  10. anon - yes to all the questions except checking on thje flesh. we do not do this any more, rather check on all sides of the blade with all sides of the fingernail with back and forth motions.

    I am not sure what you mean " do they give you trouble". who is going to give me trouble and what for?
    if you mean the hechshers as if they were a mafia type thing, I have heard of such things. But I am doing a private personal shechita. I am not circumventing them and I am not selling meat. Nobody bothers me

  11. Nice post...

    I did my shechita in the larger slaughterhouses in Dir Assid and Shefaram (with Mori Sasson Gredi).

    Folks, slaughter like this is the best quality meat (period!).

    Small scale and well cared for animals...even if it takes a little prodding to get the animal.

    However if your are going to do it small scale with no pressure to cut (the next animal), you have no excuse not to check Abisra (on the flesh) as well as atufra (on the nail.)

    It's the Halacha for all Jews, even us Ashkenazim. And if you wet your finger and check slowly, you won't get cut (much!).

    Hashem Yishmor Alechem!

    R. Yisrael T.


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