Bochurim Explore the Story Behind the Food We Eat

The students at Darchai Menachem Mesivta had the opportunity to explore the backstory of shechita and kosher food and participate in farm chores at Pardess Chabad Farm in Southern Dutchess County, led by Shluchim Rabbi Zalman and Goldy Sandhaus.

Where does our food come from? What makes that food kosher?

The students at Darchai Menachem Mesivta had the opportunity to explore these questions at Pardess Chabad Farm, the Chabad center serving Southern Dutchess County. Led by Shluchim Rabbi Zalman and Goldy Sandhaus, Pardess Chabad Farm incorporates agricultural experiences in their Chabad house activities. On a recent Thursday, the boys made the trek to this secluded haven to learn farm chores and participate in a real life Shechita experience.

The boys began their experience with a crash course in Shechita from an experienced Shoichet who generously gave of his time for this important workshop. The Mesivta already had the pleasure of meeting this Shoichet for a Shechita experience back in Elul when he taught them how to shecht chickens, and now he returned to teach the laws of Shechita for larger animals. Using an interactive slideshow and exclusive footage, the Shoichet showed them all the steps of Shechita, all the way from sharpening the knife to removing the Cheilev.

After the Shiur, the Darchai Menachem Mesivta was joined by a group of Bochurim from the Wilkes-Barre Yeshiva that are learning Shechita and their rebbe, Rabbi Eliyahu Ezagui, to actually schecht the sheep. In total, 4 sheep were shechted, which allowed the boys to get a thorough picture of the Shechita process. Upon completion of each Shechita the Shoichet explained what he had done and the manner in which he would confirm that his Shechita had been properly performed.

Once the animals were shechted, the boys split up into groups. The majority of the students went with Rabbi Sandhaus to help out with farm chores. One group built tables and benches, while other boys planted blueberry bushes and sunflowers. They drained a muddy patch for planting, removed weeds, and erected a new fence. The bochurim worked with the livestock as well, feeding and milking goats, and feeding the herd of alpacas that Rabbi Sandhaus raises on the farm.

A few of the boys continued learning the Shechita process with the Shoichtim. They skinned the animals and taught the boys the basics of butchery. When inspecting the lungs, the Shoichet pointed out which defects rendered some of the animals not Kosher. He also taught the boys which fats were Cheilev, and which were Kosher.

The boys’ learning journey didn’t stop when they left the farm, though. After a delicious barbeque and Mincha the Mesivta headed back to Crown Heights, bringing the freshly shechted meat with them. They had the opportunity to learn the process of soaking and then salting it, and barbequed the meat the next week for a delicious lunch.

It was a truly memorable experience that the bochurim will cherish for a lifetime.

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