a trained kosher slaughter
er (shochet) whose piety
expertise have been attested to by rabbi
The shechet severes the trachea and esaphagus of the animal with a special razor-sharp perfectly smooth blade causing very quick death, supposedly with little pain to the animal.
The slaughtering process is specified in detail, down to the type of knife that can be used.
The butcher must kill with a single, smooth stroke, usually under supervision by a rabbi.
The process begins with the shochet inspecting the knife for possible flaws and nicks. He does this by running the edge of his fingernail and finger up and down the blade.
Knife inspection is repeated before and after every slaughtering. The shechet recites a short Bracha.
The knife (chalaf) is usually about 6 inches long for chicken and 18 inches long for larger animals. The knife has no point at the end of it, and is of equal width from top to bottom.
Before cutting, the shochet washes the neck in order to remove any sand that might damage the knife.
The shochet is supposed to cut through the trachea and esophagus to the jugular. The backbone must not be touched.
"Shochet" and variations (Shejet, for example) is a frequent Jewish surname. There is a good short story by Isaac B. Singer about a reluctant shochet.