Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt
Rabbi Pinchas GoldschmidtEliran Aharon

Former Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), called for greater protections for religious freedoms in Europe ahead of the European Commission conference in Brussels tomorrow on “Freedom to practice religion in Europe - challenges for Jews and Muslims in the face of bans of traditional slaughter”.

“Today in Brussels, the European Commission is hosting a conference on “Religious Freedom in Europe: Challenges for Jews and Muslims in the face of bans of traditional slaughter”. Such is a worthy endeavor. As Jews, we need complete freedom to practice our religion. We must be able to produce Kosher meat (Shechita), educate our children, and maintain our traditions and lifestyle. Yet currently, across the continent, these freedoms are under threat. Shechita stands precariously threatened by hostile governments. In Belgium and Finland, for example, Animal Welfare Bills have brashly banned or are on course of outlawing their Jewish communities’ ability to produce their own meat, hindering Jewish life in those countries, and disregarding Jewish religious rights. To be able to live and thrive as Jews in Europe, these rights must be safeguarded in law. Such will be our message to this commendable conference,” Rabbi Goldschmidt said.

In 2021, a Belgian court upheld a December 2020 ruling of the European Court of Justice’s verdict on bans against religious slaughter in Wallonia and Flanders, rejecting claims that the bans violated religious rights.

Under the laws passed in Wallonia and Flanders, animal slaughter may not be carried out without stunning prior to the slaughter – a requirement which effectively bars both traditional Jewish and Muslim slaughter.

In July 2021,