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Israel Summons Polish Ambassador Over Shechitah Ban

Poland's ambassador was summoned to Jerusalem to register a formal protest against that nation’s ban against ritual slaughter (shechitah).
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/15/2013, 5:45 PM

Polish Amb. Jacek Chodorowic meets Pres.Peres
Polish Amb. Jacek Chodorowic meets Pres.Peres
Flash 90

Israel has summoned the Polish ambassador to Jerusalem to register a formal protest against that nation’s ban against ritual slaughter (shechitah).

In a harsh statement condemning the decision of a foreign democratic nation, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said “Israel is disappointed that Poland has chosen to forbid an important religious ritual which has been common practice among millions of Jews since ancient times. The Parliament’s decision to reject a bill allowing kosher slaughter in Poland is totally unacceptable," the statement read.

“Poland’s history is intertwined with the history of the Jewish People. This decision seriously harms the process of restoring Jewish life in Poland. We are astonished that Poland, of all EU countries, should be the one where kosher slaughter will be forbidden.”

The decision is not “in line with the openness and modernity that democratic Poland boasts,” the statement added.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein had already sent a letter of protest Sunday to his Polish counterpart after the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, rejected a government-sponsored bill to enable the contnuation of kosher shechita, or slaughter of animals intended for food.

Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich also was not silent over the issue, and threatened on Sunday to resign his post after the parliament voted 222 to 178 to reject a bill that would legalized kosher ritual slaughter.

Shechitah has been banned since January 1, when the country’s Constitutional Court deemed the practice a violation of animal rights.

Schudrich warned in a statement to Jewish media that if the legal right of kosher ritual slaughter is not restored, “I will be forced to give up my function... as I would not be able to serve my co-religionists properly.”

World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder added on Friday in a statement that the decision was a “slap in the face of Jews and Muslims alike.”  Lauder called it a “bitter blow” for all those who have made efforts to bring about a “renaissance” of Jewish life in Poland. “I am wondering what sort of message those who voted in favour of the ban wanted to send to their non-Christian citizens,” he commented.

The ban has been protested by Muslims as well as Jews, because Muslims engage in halal, the practice of ritual slaughter that is similar to shechitah. Moreover, farmers are also protesting the ban, inasmuch as they stand to lose much business, since Poland was a major exporter of kosher meat to other European nations. Sales have been estimated at some half a billion euros per year.