Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fake Fur Streimels - Coming Soon?

An article in Jewish World discusses recent legislation in Israel that may ultimately affect the importation of fur used for shtreimels.
According to the motion to amend the Cruelty to Animals law, which was submitted by Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh, the importation from East Asia (and mainly China) of fur or textile products made out of the hair of dogs, cats or rabbits will be banned and punishable by a one-year prison sentence.

Tirosh wrote that about 2 million animals are slaughtered each year for the sole purpose of skinning them for their fur and they sometimes get skinned alive. "We as a society must try and prevent this unnecessary murder," the motion stated.

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, whose office is in charge of implementing the law, even recommended expanding the bill to include fur of wild and domesticated animals from around the world.
What I find most curious is how people are so quick to condemn the Chassidic minhag of shtreimels. Both in the Jewish World article and in the recent FailedMessiah post - A Haredi 'History' Lesson - that covered this topic, you can see how many people are opposed to the custom. Now I can understand such a point of view if one is a radical vegan of the Peta-ilk, but otherwise what is really behind the opposition to shtreimels? So what if it's a custom that goes back "only" a few hundred years or so? The only issue that folks should have (again, other than radical animal rights adherents) is whether the animals were killed humanely. You have problems with shtreimels, fur coats, leather shoes, meat-eating? Fine, don't use them or eat meat. And feel free to try and respectfully convince others not to. But the bottom line is that humans have used animals for food and clothing for tens of thousands of years and will continue to do so for a long time to come.

Although I truly believe that Peta is an evil organization cult, they have brought the issue of animal cruelty to the forefront. And that's a good thing. To those folks who want to forbid shtreimels or fur products (one absurd comment on FailedMessiah was from Michael who said "Shtreimels are clearly forbidden d'oraita"), I would first ask "are you a vegan"? If not, you may want to take a close look at the lives of chickens used for meat and (especially) eggs. See where animal suffering occurs on a truly grand scale.

I suspect that most of the opposition to shtreimels does not stem from a specific aversion to the use of fur, but a more visceral contempt for Chassidim because of their rejection of much of the trappings of modernity. Shtreimels, vasa zocken (white socks with knickers), long peyot, etc., are only the most outward signs of this rejection.


Acher said...

Very good points. Shtreimels bother me because of the craziness of wearing them in the summer, in the sweltering summer heat. It's a common thing that happens to stuff that's done simply because it's from the Heim. It doesn't have its practical basis anymore, and now it's carried on to an absurdity. But that's a personal Meshugas of mine. On moral grounds, Shtreimels are no different than any other animal based good.

Anonymous said...

I like it when cynical bloggers get reflective. :)

Anonymous said...

"Shtreimels bother me because of the craziness of wearing them in the summer, in the sweltering summer heat."

You could say the same for clothing, too, of whatever social or cultural orientation.

Having worn one for many, many years, I'd say this comment bespeaks unfathomable ignorance and unacceptable bigotry.