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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 17, 1998, Vol. 6, No, 72

Lightning Hits Jerusalem Mosque

Israel Faxx Staff Report

Lightning struck the minaret of a 12th century mosque in Jerusalem's Old City Thursday, raining concrete on Orthodox Christian pilgrims at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the traditional burial site of Jesus. At least two of the black-garbed pilgrims, who had gathered for a feet-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday ahead of Orthodox Easter, were lightly injured as pieces of the Mosque of Omar's minaret tumbled into the church's courtyard. The pilgrims cried out and crossed themselves wildly, witnesses said.

Israel's Intelligence Chief

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

The chief of Israeli army intelligence says he believes Palestinian chief Yasir Arafat has made it clear to the militant Hamas group that there must be no terror attacks on Israel for now. This would fulfill Israel's main demand of the Palestinians.

"Absolutely," answered the intelligence chief, Moshe Ya'alon, when asked if Arafat ordered a "red light" on terror attacks. Ya'alon told Ma'ariv that Arafat has transmitted his message to the Islamic militants, including arresting Hamas leaders.

The violent death last month of Hamas military leader Muhyideen al-Sharif set off a confrontation. Hamas blamed Israel and Arafat's Palestinian Authority. The PA's investigation determined that al-Sharif was killed by rival Hamas leaders. Then Arafat ordered the arrests.

In the interview, the Israeli intelligence chief said Arafat has always seen Hamas as a threat to his leadership and to the peace process with Israel. Ya'alon said Arafat's decision to stop Hamas attacks on Israel is a strategic move, after he determined that terror attacks in retaliation for al-Sharif's death would harm the Palestinian cause.

Sanford's Kosher Slaughterhouse

By Jan Sluizer (VOA-Sanford, Colo.)

Sanford, Colo., is a small ranching town located near the border of New Mexico. It is also the only place in America west of Iowa where beef cattle are ritually slaughtered according to strict Jewish tradition.

Sanford's kosher meat packing facility was opened a few years ago by a local rancher's cooperative. It has provided an important economic boost for the region, where the average per capita income of $10,000 per year ranks it among the poorest in the United States.

Sanford's kosher slaughterhouse has been more than an economic boon. It has also helped build bridges between the area's disparate religious communities.

Cattle breeder Olive Valdez says the idea of opening a kosher slaughterhouse in Sanford, first occurred to her nearly four years ago, when Israel's Minister of Agriculture, during a visit to Colorado, asked for kosher buffalo meat to take back to the Middle East.

None was available. Valdez and her husband, Demetrio, who have spent almost 30 years in the cattle breeding business, didn't know anything about Jewish ritual or kosher laws. But she says she thought it would be great to build a local kosher slaughterhouse to create another market for their organically-fed blonde d'aquitain -- a prized French breed whose meat is low in fat and cholesterol.

Her idea for a kosher slaughterhouse became a reality when 125 local cattle and lamb breeders got together and formed the Rancher's Choice Cooperative. Each producer paid a $125 membership fee. They also signed a marketing agreement which said they would provide a certain amount of cattle annually to be slaughtered by kosher ritual.

Chris Youngs, a member of the Rancher's Choice co-op, explains that what makes meat kosher is not how it is raised or what it is fed but rather the health of the animal at slaughter and the techniques used to kill and eviscerate it.

Youngs explains that a kosher slaughter is performed by a rabbi specially trained in the necessary techniques: "They first look at the animal to make sure it's clean, that it has no blemishes or injuries. The animal then is led into the slaughter facility and then instead of using a stun gun as they do in a regular facility, they slit the animal's throat and let him bleed out.

"And this all has to be done a certain way. No nicks on the knife; the animal cannot struggle. It's very humane. It's probably more humane than the stun guns. The animal basically just goes to sleep and then the rabbis check the internal organs for blemishes and one of the worst one's if the animal has had pneumonia, there will be spots on his lung and that will take him out of the program. The meat is still pretty good for normal use but it's not kosher anymore."

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