Haredi Rabbis Debate: Is New Chicken Breed Kosher?

ISRAEL - A debate has recently been raging in Israel's haredi, or ultra-Orthodox community. Is a new form of imported chicken kosher?
calendar icon 8 August 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

The chicken breed, called Braekel, has actually existed for centuries, but was never exported to major Jewish communities abroad, and originates from a region of Belgium where Jews have never historically resided as an organised community.

According to Israel National News, as Jewish law does not provide clear identifying features for kosher fowl, as it does for other animals, Jews have relied on a tradition telling them which birds are permitted to eat. The bible has a list of non-kosher birds, all of which are birds of prey.

The crux of the question is this: Is Braekel a new breed of fowl, and as such, forbidden to eat? Or should it simply be considered a variety of chicken, which does have a tradition, mesorah, deeming it kosher?

According to Yeshiva World News, one of Israel's most prominent haredi religious courts, the Eida Hachareidit, debated the issue last week for over four hours. While Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, nephew of the famed Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, (better known by the name of his work, the 'Hazon Ish') permits it, Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch ruled that it does not have the necessary mesorah to make the bird kosher.

A letter released by other top rabbis Tuesday reassured the public that Braekel is permitted. "We have been introduced to a chicken called 'Braekel', and we do not see any thing in it that goes against tradition, but we checked the issue to remove any doubts," read the missive.

These recent events are not the first time this sort of controversy existed. Small pockets of Jews still refrain from eating turkey, contending that its North American origins render it outside the mesorah of kosher birds.

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