Pro-animal groups pan paschal sacrifice
Silence of the lambsSilence of the lambs

Pro-animal groups pan paschal sacrifice

Rabbis to reenact tradition by slaughtering a lamb, performing priestly rites in Jerusalem

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Illustrative painting of the paschal offering (screen capture: YouTube)
Illustrative painting of the paschal offering (screen capture: YouTube)

A team of leading rabbis are set to publicly reenact the temple’s Passover paschal offering this week, complete with slaughtering a lamb, drizzling blood over an altar-like structure, and roasting the animal while adorned in traditional priestly garb, with accompaniment by a Levite choir.

The ritual — now in its third year — drew fierce criticism from animal rights groups, the Walla news portal reported.

The purpose of the ceremony, a representative of The Joint Committee of Temple Organizations explained, is to practice the rituals “so on the day when we are permitted to bring the sacrifice, we’ll be trained [to do it].”

The display will take place in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in Jerusalem.

“It is a commandment from the Torah, just like circumcision or laying phylacteries,” Rabbi Etai Elitzur said. “In the days of the temple, it was one of the central annual commandments, but for two thousand years it has not been done, and the festive event this week is done out of longing and anticipation to renew our days of old.”

Animal rights organizations decried the ritual, which they claim is both archaic and immoral.

“These are primitive customs. It is unconscionable,” said Eti Altman, the head of nonprofit Let the Animals Live.

“It’s shocking, horrifying, and bizarre that this sort of event can be held in a state like Israel,” she added.

Public slaughter of animals as part of a religious practice “is no less horrifying than purchasing their body parts, wrapped in plastic, from the supermarket, after they’ve been held in harsh conditions of systematic torture,” a statement from Anonymous for Animal Rights read.

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