Poland Set to Criminalize Kosher Slaughter

Poland’s parliament is again taking controversial legal action that harms Jews.

By: JNS.org and World Israel News Staff

Just one week after passing a controversial law outlawing statements indicating Polish responsibility for crimes against Jews during the Holocaust, Poland’s ruling party has sponsored a new bill including a clause that would criminalize kosher meat slaughter.

If the law is passed, anyone found guilty of slaughtering animals in accordance with traditional Jewish practice will face a prison sentence of up to four years.

The restrictions against kosher slaughter are contained within a general bill on animal welfare and include a ban on exporting kosher meat, which is expected to affect many of Europe’s Jewish communities. Israel currently imports some of its kosher meat from Poland.

The law stipulates that animals cannot be slaughtered in an “unnatural state,” unless they stand on all their feet. Kosher slaughter typically involves lifting the animal in order to eliminate pressure on the knife that would cause the animal pain and render the slaughter unkosher.

The Polish parliament initially outlawed kosher slaughter in 2013, but Poland’s courts reversed the decision, saying it contradicted the principle of freedom of religion.

European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin vowed to fight the new bill and called on the Israeli government to stipulate an amendment of the slaughter law as part of an agreement between the two governments.

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“These restrictions on kosher slaughter are in complete contradiction to the principle of freedom of religion of the European Union,” Margolin stated, according to Ynet news.

Saying the situation is “unacceptable,” he called on the Polish government to avoid “enacting this shameful law and to take into account that the Jewish people’s faith in the Polish leadership is deteriorating. I can’t imagine what the next stage will be after the Holocaust law and imposing restrictions on kosher slaughter in the country.”

“There are people who have invested a lot of money in building kosher factories and slaughter houses, and now this shocking law comes along and puts an end to it,” he added.

He further charged that there is “an unclear desire here to exclusively harm kosher slaughter and limit kosher meat exports. They are failing to explain the logic of the law. Populism and nationalism are skyrocketing and creating wars with the Jews for political purposes.”

The Jewish community in parts of Belgium is facing similar restrictions and challenges.