Jewish Religion & Fur

Jewish religion & Fur: Questions/ Myths and the truth.

1)- Question: Why is there NO need for concern for the Ultra Orthodox citizens the world over?

There should absolutely be NO concern for Ultra Orthodox citizens worldwide, since all bills to ban the sale of fur contain a like exemption for religious apparel as that in the original catalyst bill proposed in Israel in 2009. Even though the bill didn’t pass yet in Israel; It has become the blueprint for all bills the world over banning the sale of fur

2)- Myth: Ultra Orthodox will be singled out on the streets for wearing fur.

Fact: In reference to an article from HaModia about the NYC exemption: The ban does not concern people who continue to wear fur, but is ONLY a ban on the sale of fur. Hence the aforementioned article is totally and purposely misleading, to claim
that the Ultra Orthodox will be singled out on the street for still wearing fur. We emphasize that Everybody will still be able to wear fur on the streets, and in public, unhindered by the legislation. This is why the argument claiming that the bill could cause the Ultra Orthodox to stand out from other citizens and encourage antisemitism, is a totally fake and pathetic claim in a feeble attempt to sabotage the ethical bill. Of course many other people of every religion, race and gender shall continue to wear fur too.

3)- Myth: Another false argument is the claim that Israel haters are behind the catalyst bill to harm Jewish people around the world And that they will attempt next to ban Kosher slaughter and circumcising. 

Fact: The argument that the bill is antisemitic is totally incorrect and quite upsetting, to say the least. Nobody needs to be Albert Einstein or Nicolas Tesla to understand that a bill which had been supported by the Israeli president, 90 % of the Israeli public, many leading rabbis and the *Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu* can NOT be an antisemitic bill! Because Israeli Jews are the ones that originated the catalyst bill in the first place! Furthermore the original Israeli bill proposal had been initiated (with the cooperation of Members of the Knesset) by Jane Halevy: The Jewish Israeli founder of International Anti Fur Coalition( IAFC). Moreover the Global Coordinator of the IAFC is Mitzi Ocean; An American Jewish woman (and the daughter of a holocaust survivor.) Also since 2009 The bills to ban the sale of fur in Israel, had all been signed and widely endorsed by a huge majority of MKs, including the current president Reuven Rivlin (as stated above) who had strongly supported efforts to ban fur. too. In 2010, he even had said as he served as Speaker of the Knesset that this bill has to be voted-in, and that via this ethical bill Israel has an opportunity to send a message of compassion to the entire world to follow. 

4)- Question: Why having the exemption is the right thing and accepted and respected on all sides?

Fact: Ultra-orthodox citizens need to change their views and morals within their own community and not via laws imposed upon them. The change (starting to buy Sthtreimels made of synthetic fur) has to come from within and not by politics. This is why there is a mutual understanding and acceptance from both sides: Animal Rights advocates and the religious leaders/ Politicians that the exemption needs to be included.  

5)- Question: How did the fur hats called Shtreimels become a custom of some Hasidic groups?

Fact: The Shtreimel is only a Hasidic custom, worn today as a status symbol and has absolutely nothing to do with actual Jewish religious laws: The contrary being true, because the actual origins of the custom of the Fur hat began some time ago in Eastern Europe, where it had been a fashion fad worn by the Goyish aristocracy. It only had been adopted by the Jewish men there to actually hide their regular obvious Jewish Kipa (skullcap), in an attempt to hide that they were Jewish.

6)- Question: What about synthetic fur Shtreimels? 

Fact: They do exist: it's very important to acknowledge that many Shtreimels used today, are synthetic fur Shtreimels. Quoting Rabbi Halevi, Late Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Tel-Aviv. who  ruled in 1992 that Jews should avoid wearing fur: "Why should people be allowed to kill animals if it is not necessary, simply because they desire the pleasure of having the beauty and warmth of fur coats? Is it not possible to achieve the same degree of warmth without fur?"

In addition The Torah prohibits Jews from causing tsa’ar ba’alei chayim—Unnecessary pain to any living being— But the horrendous torment of captivity, trapping, beating, shooting, anal electrocution, of the victim animals causes immense pain. Putting animals through intense suffering simply to indulge human vanity and greed is not in harmony with Jewish teachings. That is the reason why a number of leading Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox rabbis have requested that their followers get fake fur shtreimels.

7)- Another reason Why inexpensive fake fur Shtreimels has been recommended by leading rabbis:

Fact: The fake fur Shtreimels have been recommended by leading Hasidic Rabbis, because besides the importance of the Jewish teaching of compassion and  empathy for all animals, the expensive real Fur Shtreimel goes against the Jewish rule of modesty.(-Real fur Shtreimels are very expensive; as crafted from 30 to more than 100 sable tails for an individual’s hat size: It can cost between 2000 $ to 5000 $. A fake fur may cost around 500 $.)

8)- A few chosen quotes among so many leading rabbis: 

-Rav Shmuly Yanklowitz had written a letter in support the New York City bill to ban the sale of fur. Just mentioning a part: "It is with great sadness that I learned of the Hasidic opposition to the New York City Council’s bill that would ban the sale of new fur products. As an Orthodox rabbi myself, it is difficult for me to fathom the continued need to perpetuate a cruel practice over a humane one........  The Sages taught that Jews are to be compassionate children of compassionate ancestors (BT Beitza 32b). This mandate should permeate all of our actions."

-In his book Horeb, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, 19th century philosopher and Torah commentator, notes that Jews "are faced with God’s teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours."  

-Example of an amazing leading rabbi who asked his followers to evolve: Very well-known Rabbi Schlomo Pappenheim, chairman of Ha’edah Hacharedit called on Chassidim to abandon their traditional shtreimel hats, which are usually made out of real fur, in favor of synthetic versions. Rabbi Schlomo Pappenheim said that wearing a shtreimel today constitutes Chilul Hashem/  The desecration of God's name."We should get to a point where people would be ashamed to wear anything but a synthetic shtreimel," he concluded. We thank him for this evolving declaration and we thank him for speaking up & taking such an important stand against cruelty towards animals! Gathering of links, about this compassionate and progressive call for a change:  Times of Israel

-Other example: Rabbi Yona Metzger and his [rabbinic ruling based on Jewish law] banning the wearing of fur obtained from animals who were brutally skinned: Metzger declared that we need to avoid causing tsa'ar ba'alei chaim, emphasizing that the quality of mercy was embedded in the Jewish people as one of the key signs of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob: to have pity on every created being and to prevent it from sorrow and suffering. He said  that "The Jews are duty-bound to prevent the horrible phenomenon of cruelty to animals, and to be a light unto the nations by refraining from purchasing items whose production involved such needless and horrifying cruelty." 
*Rabbi Schlomo Pappenheim onthe right. Photographer: David Amichai* 

9)- Ultra orthodox and the paradox: You may now have noted the paradox of Ultra Orthodox politicians. Why would they block the bill instead of leading it? 

Fact: Since some Ultra Orthodox politicians remained against the bill despite the exemption: The reason why is because the furriers and their lobbyists teamed up with them (in Israel but not only ) as they are the only ones left to team up with. Their last desperate chance being to ‘Play the Religious card’.
Israel was supposed to lead the way globally on banning the fur sale in 2009, but it hasn’t happened as yet. The only thing though that can not be ignored is the fact that the seeds for such a bill, were planted internationally via the Israeli catalyst bill. Currently in 2019- California may become the first entire state to ban the sale of fur. (In addition similar statewide bills to ban the sale of fur have been proposed in NY State and Hawaii too.)
10)- Question:  So why so much fury to sabotage this ethical proposed bill to ban fur in Israel? 
Fact: Furriers knew from the beginning (2009) that this proposed bill will become a parliamentary inspiration for other cities, states and countries to follow suit. Another point furriers had stated then, was the fact that this bill was too progressive. What an acknowledgment that fur is primitive! 
Finally, We really agree on that matter. Time to evolve and ban #BloodFashion fur. 
(*Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu* had to withdraw from supporting the bill, only because of former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper had pressured him to oppose the bill, in connection to Canadian friendship and international trade dealing, in a meeting held in Israel: As reported on and revealed by the in-depth investigative TV news program "Mabat sheni.")


An ultra- Orthodox group protesting against fur with members of
The International Anti- Fur Coalition, in Tel Aviv, Israel.