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      Polish Official Calls for End to Ban on Kosher Slaughter

      Poland's human rights ombudsman says Warsaw should advance legislation to legalize kosher slaughter, as a matter of human rights.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 2/6/2014, 1:16 PM

      Shechita (illustration)
      Shechita (illustration)
      Flash90

      Poland's human rights ombudsman, Irena Lipwitz, has issued a report saying that Warsaw should advance legislation to legalize shechita, Jewish ritual slaughter. Enacting such a law is a matter of human rights, she said.

      Kosher ritual slaughter was banned in Poland last year, with legislators claiming that it was incompatible with laws preventing cruelty to animals. Poland has faced criticism from both the Jewish community as well as from Israel, whose Foreign Ministry said the ban on kosher slaughter methods damaged efforts to rehabilitate Jewish life in the country. Despite criticism, Warsaw has not budged on the matter.

      Lipwitz undertook a major study of Jewish ritual slaughter and its impact on the Jewish community, after receiving complaints from several Jewish groups, including the European Jewish Association (EJA), an umbrella group of Jewish organizations on the continent. Roman Gitrich, an attorney representing the EJA, said that Lipwitz agreed that the rights of Polish Jews were being denied, and that the government was obligated to find a solution.

      "The law not only contradicts the human rights elements of the Polish constitution, but specific legislation on the government's relationship with the Jewish community," Gitrich said. "Her position is in sync with that of the EJA and other Jewish communities in Europe."

      The case is due to come before Poland's constitutional court in the near future. That court cannot legalize kosher slaughter, but it can order the Polish legislature to change the law.

      According to Rabbi Menachem Margolin, head of the EJA, said that the ban contradicted numerous laws in Poland. "I am very hopeful that the government will respond quickly and find a solution to this issue, which is injurious to Jewish freedom of religion in Poland."