Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich harshly criticized the European Jewish
Association on Tuesday for hiring the former leader of a controversial
parliamentary faction to represent the group in legal efforts to overturn a ban
on ritual slaughter.
Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post last week that
Poland’s Jewish community was preparing to go to the country’s Constitutional
High Court to lift the ban on shechita (kosher slaughter), which has been in
effect since January.
However, the EJA – a small Brussels-based
organization said to be affiliated with the Chabad-Lubavitch Hassidic sect – has
hired attorney Roman Giertych and declared its intention to go to the high court
on its own, the Times of Israel reported Tuesday.
Giertych is the former
leader of the now-defunct League of Polish Families, a far-right parliamentary
sect that has been accused of anti-Semitism.
“It is important... that
when there’s concern abroad for the welfare of a Jewish community that process
be coordinated with the local Jewish community. It is a foolish move, and
often counterproductive, for an outside organization, even with good intentions,
to come in to a local situation to even try to help the situation,” Schudrich
told the Post on Tuesday.
He added that “all the other Jewish
organizations, everything from the European Jewish Congress to World Jewish
Congress to ADL, the American Jewish Committee… they are all coordinating… we
talk to each other rather than having a Jewish organization coming in and doing
what they feel like.”
In an official statement, the Union of Jewish
Religious Communities in Poland said that it was “surprised to learn” of the
EJA’s actions in retaining Giertych and its plans to petition the
“This is the same organization that called for unity on one day
only for it to issue an appallingly disrespectful and inaccurate attack on
Poland’s Chief Rabbi Schudrich the next day,” the UJRC stated, referring to
calls for Schudrich’s resignation by EJA director Rabbi Menachem Margolin two
While the EJA has “every right to protest,” the Polish
communal body asserted, “we find it unacceptable that any legal or political
initiatives from abroad are launched without coordination, or at least
consultation, with us.
Even if well-intended, such actions undertaken
without an understanding of local conditions can backfire and be
In response to Schudrich’s condemnation of the EJA’s
actions, Margolin told the Post that the chief rabbi’s “claims are false, and
they reinforce the call for him to resign from his position as soon as possible
as a result of his failure to deal with the issue of shechita in
According to Margolin, the EJA and other groups had previously
approached Schudrich with offers of help and received no response.
European Jewish organizations blame Schudrich for the present situation, and he
is trying to fan the flames toward us out of his own egotistical motives,” the
EJA director said.
Ritual slaughter in Poland ceased following a 2012
ruling that exempting religious Muslims and Jews from a law requiring that
animals be stunned before slaughter was “unconstitutional.” Polish Jews maintain
that kosher slaughter is legal under the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State
to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be
performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish
Margolin vowed to “continue to battle with all of our strength
for the existence of shechita for the Jews of Poland until we achieve the
successful resolution of our struggle.”
At present, he continued, “we are
reaching out to and calling upon all Jewish organizations, including the Polish
Jewish community, to lay all political and selfish interests to one side and to
work together for the sake of shechita in Poland, which is so crucial for the
continuation of Jewish life in Europe.”
JTA contributed to this report.