Kashrut, or, the Ortolan
by Andrew Paul
“Compassion is what’s most important here,” Schulman tells his son.
He shows him the sakin, turning it over in his hand, highlighting each angle.
“The blade is sharpened again and again. There cannot be a single imperfection. Do you see?” Schulman asks.
He lightly guides his youngest’s fingers across the metal edge. Jacob’s hesitance ebbs when he sees in his father’s care that there is no room for error, no chance of injury.
“The sakin‘s edge is straight, not serrated. There can be no unnecessary tearing, just one precise and deliberate cut.”
Schulman motions to the heifer’s neck, pausing at every essential location along the knife’s route.
“Esophagus. Trachea. Jugular. Carotids. Vagus,” he lists.
Jacob swallows instinctively. Schulman nods.
“It may seem excessive. But this ensures the slaughter to be as painless as possible. Compassion. That’s what’s most important.”
About the Author
Andrew Paul’s recent fiction work is included in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, as well as the anthologies, “Mississippi Noir,” published by Akashic Books, and “Thuglit: Last Writes.” His nonfiction has been featured in numerous online and print publications, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Oxford American, Hazlitt, VICE Media, The A.V. Club, and Tablet. He currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, and online at www.andrewpaulwrites.com and @anandypaul.