(October 1, 2020 / JNS) Europe’s largest Jewish umbrella organization expressed alarm on Thursday over an animal-welfare bill in Poland that would ban exports of kosher meat.
“This draft law is of deep, deep, concern to European Jewry. It puts unproven and unscientific claims about animal welfare above Freedom of Religion, breaching a central pillar—Article 10—of the E.U.’s charter of fundamental rights which states clearly: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right includes freedom to change religion, belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and in public or private, to manifest religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance,’” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, in a statement.
The animal-welfare bill has passed the chamber of deputies. It now seeks approval in the Senate.
If passed, it would see a central and vital part of Jewish practice that has taken place for millennia effectively wiped out: access to the supply of kosher meat.
Margolin said the proposed measure “alarmingly, seeks to control and put a headcount on Jewish practice by giving the Minister of Agriculture the power to determine the qualifications of persons performing religious slaughter.”
“Additionally, the draft law will also require a determination of the quantity of kosher meat needed by the local Jewish community. How is this to be done? By creating and supervising a list of Jews in Poland? This law, if passed, carries with it a dark and sinister undertow for Jews—a harking back to occupation, where practice and belief were initially targeted as first steps on the road to our eventual destruction,” he said.
Margolin called for the Polish government and President Andrzej Duda to stop the bill from becoming law.
In early 2018, Poland proposed legislation banning kosher slaughter until it was removed from the parliamentary agenda later that year.
Jewish law mandates that an animal be healthy and not injured before kosher ritual slaughter, or shechita, and that rendering it immobile (or pre-stunning it) is prohibited; hence, the animal cannot be used.
“There is no ‘nice’ way of killing an animal,” said Margolin. “Either we should all become vegetarian, or we must accept that kosher slaughter is no more cruel than any other method.”
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