Poland Tries to Calm Dispute Over Kosher Animal Slaughter

Poland is to draft new laws so that it does not have to stop slaughterhouses from producing kosher meat, a prospect that has angered the Jewish community in the country where Nazi Germany massacred millions of Jews during World War Two.

The constitutional court ruled this week that kosher slaughter methods, which involve killing livestock while they are still conscious, contravened a Polish law which states animals must be stunned before slaughter.

The agriculture ministry said in a statement it “has taken actions to prepare legal solutions,” that would amend the current animal protection law and allow the practice to continue legally.

“I believe this it is the only way to get out of the current legal impasse,” said Piotr Kadlcik, the head of the Union of Jewish Communities of Poland. “We will be fully satisfied when shechita (kosher slaughter) is legal again.”

Some Polish abattoirs have been slaughtering animals without stunning them for Jewish customers and also for Muslims, whose halal butchery techniques are similar.

They were able to do this because the government had issued a ministerial decree waiving the requirement that livestock be stunned, but the court said the waiver was unlawful and would no longer apply from Dec. 31 this year.

The case was referred to the court after representations from animal rights activists, who say kosher and halal slaughter practices are unnecessarily cruel.

Jewish groups said the ruling threatened their right to freely practise their faith. Some Jewish community leaders said the tone of the debate around the issue echoed the kind of anti-Semitic rhetoric seen in Europe before World War Two.

Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community before the outbreak of war in 1939, but the Holocaust all but wiped it out. Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka were located on Polish soil.

The Polish dispute over kosher meat has echoes of a case in neighbouring Germany this year.

There, a court ruling outlawing circumcision of young boys on medical grounds raised an outcry from Jews and Muslims, who said it curtailed their religious freedom. The German ruling is to be overturned by new legislation.

Written by


Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Poland Tries to Calm Dispute Over Kosher Animal Slaughter

Thank you!

This article has been sent!