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Europe's Jews Call for Unity Over Polish Shechita Ban

European Jewish Association calls for united efforts towards reversing the Polish parliament's decision to ban kosher slaughter.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/16/2013, 4:44 AM

Kosher meat (illustrative)
Kosher meat (illustrative)
Israel news photo

The European Jewish Association (EJA) on Monday called on all Jewish organizations throughout the world to put aside their differences and unite all their efforts towards reversing the Polish parliament's decision to ban kosher slaughter in the country, reported the European Jewish Press (EJP).

On Friday, the lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm, rejected a government-sponsored bill to enable the continuation of kosher shechita, or slaughter of animals intended for food.

Ritual slaughter has been banned in Poland since January 1 after a Constitutional Court deemed it incompatible with animal rights law.

“We must unite all our efforts to fight this legislation which can potentially contribute to Jewish exclusion and to violate Jewish freedom of religion and worship throughout Europe, specifically in Poland, with all its symbolic significance to Jewish history,” said EJA Director General Rabbi Menachem Margolin, according to EJP.

Since the Friday vote, Rabbi Margolin has conducted a series of intensive talks with Polish leaders and representatives in the EU Parliament.

In a letter sent to Polish President Bronisław Komorowski and the speaker of the Polish Parliament Ewa Kopacz, Rabbi Margolin urged them to meet with members of the Jewish community in order to discuss ways to reversing this decision.

In the letter, he stressed the feeling among Jews all over the world when they heard about a Polish Parliament vote “so devastating to Jewish welfare and freedom of religion,” reported EJP.

"Kosher butchering that has been proven scientifically as not crueler then any other method, is essential for sustenance of Jewish life and its ban hurts Jews not only in Poland but across Europe and all over the world," he said.

Rabbi Margolin also emphasized that the Rabbinical center of Europe (RCE) is already mobilized with rabbis across Europe arranging meetings with the Polish ambassadors in their respective countries in order to protest the ban.

He noted with satisfaction that European Parliament Members as well as Members of the Polish Parliament with whom he has spoken “all understood the grave consequences of the Polish Parliament's legislation.”

Some, he said, have pointed out that this legislation stands in contradiction with the  Polish constitution. Polish officials have stressed that the most practical way to address the issue is to resubmit the legislation in the Polish Parliament, reported EJP.

On Monday, Israel summoned the Polish ambassador to register a formal protest against the ban of ritual slaughter.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Sunday sent a letter of protest to Kopacz over the ban.

"I was sorry to hear of the step taken by the Polish Sejm, and the rejection of the government law that was intended to enable the continuation of the religious process of kosher meat slaughter in Poland,” Edelstein wrote.

“The regrettable decision” by the Polish parliament, he added, “makes one wonder, how is it that modern Poland, as a democratic state in the year 2013, could deny the basic rights of Jewish and Muslim minorities.”

"As Speaker of the Knesset, Israel's elected parliament,” he wrote, “I hereby express my protest regarding the decision by the Polish parliament,” said Edelstein.