Jews to petition European Commission over shechita

Rabbinic leader to meet with Muslim group, meat association in attempt to overturn Poland's ban on ritual slaughter.

By
November 27, 2013 02:08
2 minute read.
Poland's Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich in his office, November 3, 2013.

Poland's chief rabbi Michael Schudrich 370. (photo credit: Sam Sokol)

The European Jewish Association will be filing a petition with the European Commission to overturn Poland’s ban on ritual slaughter performed without prior stunning, on Wednesday, EJA Spokesman Asher Gold told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

EJA director Rabbi Menachem Margolin will also meet with Tomasz Mis´kiewicz of the Muslim Religious Association of Poland and representatives of the Polish Meat Association Wednesday at a seminar on ritual slaughter in Brussels organized by MEP Jaroslaw Kalinowski, a Polish member of the European Parliament.

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While a copy of the text of the petition has not yet been made available to the Post, Gold did state that it was based on arguments that the EJA had previously brought to the Polish Ministry of Agriculture.

According to the EJA, Poland had adopted the slaughter ban “in violation of the European law that requires formal notification of the EU Commission for a legislation that contravenes EU regulation.”

The EJA’s argument revolves around European Council regulation 1099/2009, a set of guidelines for slaughter that came into effect across Europe on the first of the year.

EC 1099/2009 requires pre-stunning before slaughter but provides an exemption for religious slaughter. European Union member states observing “national rules aimed at ensuring more extensive protection of animals at the time of killing” were permitted to maintain such local laws, provided that they informed the EC before the new regulations took effect.

“The EU laws [and] regulations allow exemptions for religious reasons,” Margolin told the Post in September. To gain an exemption a state must “ask in advance in a specific way, which was not done [properly] by the Polish, which means the Polish parliament cannot take independent decisions against the EU regulations.”

While an official from the Polish Agriculture Ministry did inform the EC of his country’s derogation before the end of December 2012, the EJA maintains that the letter was not sufficient and thus that European law overrides local Polish regulations.

The Polish government as well as Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich rejected the EJA argument as having insufficient legal basis. While the administration of President Bronislaw Komorowski has publicly opposed the ban and promoted efforts at a legislative solution, a spokesman for the Minister Michal Boni, the government’s point man on the issue of shechita (slaughter), told the Post in September that the matter “can [now] only be settled by the Constitutional Court.”

Schudrich told the Post that the Jewish community of Poland submitted a petition three months ago to the Polish Constitutional Tribunal to allow religious slaughter.

“We have full confidence that the Tribunal will uphold our religious rights,” he said. “It is unclear to us why other measures are necessary at this time. The Constitutional Tribunal is the authority that can make this decision.”


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