The following reflection was written by Shana Orlansky, Fall 2010 Adamah fellow
A few weeks ago, Adamah shechted* four of our roosters. Part of me was nervous and hesitant to have a part in taking the life of another animal, but another part was looking forward to this new experience. I was ready to make a connection that I have desired for years – the connection between the meat that I eat, and the life that once sustained it. This is a dilemma that raises many questions for many people – do I really want to eat the meat of an animal? Do I feel comfortable eating the meat of an animal that I have never seen before? Can I eat the meat of an animal that I have touched, held, and killed? Will I still be able to eat any meat after I have seen an animal killed? These sorts of questions ran through my head the morning before we gathered for the shechting.
Throughout the process of preparing, killing, cleaning and more preparing, I noticed the varying levels of separation and connectedness among the group. One of my tasks for the morning was to set up the tables and sharpen the knives for the shechting that would happen a few short hours later. While I sharpened, I tried to remember what exactly was going to be done with the knives. I tried to make myself aware of and feel gratitude for the process that we were going through. Even in my state of awareness, I felt a disconnect that made me wonder what exactly I should be grateful for.
Later, as the group walked with the roosters in arm to the shechting site, there was a connection and feeling of awareness throughout the group that was almost tangible. As we walked, we held silence. Once we got up to the site, the only conversation was the logistics of what we were to do. As I held the first rooster’s legs after the cut was made, I could feel the life leaving its body. I was as connected as I could ever be to the act of killing an animal. This silence and level of alertness was held until the first two roosters were killed, and then the plucking began. Although I felt that everyone was still very much trying to stay in the moment, there was a shift. The state of stillness was filled with a need to get the work done – pluck and eviscerate each rooster so we could wrap up the meat to be cooked for dinner.
As I reflect on this change in focus, I add to my steadily growing list of questions. Is it best for us to keep a certain level of separation between ourselves and the meat we eat? Should we not eat meat unless we have killed it ourselves? No one has the right or the wrong answer to these types of questions. No one person’s decision on this subject is better than the next. The important thing is that we expose ourselves to the knowledge that will inform us. I’m still not even close to answering the questions I pose in this entry, but I am confident that I am a step closer to figuring our what is right for me. I hope that we all continue to strive to be more connected to the cycles of life and death that surround us every day.
*Shecht is Hebrew for “slaughter.” We use the term shechting to refer to the kosher slaughter of an animal. Although we did follow the rules and rituals of a Kosher slaughter, we did not have an official Shochet, so some may not consider our process Kosher.