The Hungarian government is allowing Israelis working in the kosher food industry to enter the country, despite a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19, in order to allow them to work at one of the only kosher slaughterhouses in Europe that remains open.
The orthodox Jewish communities in Europe have seen a significant decrease in the supply of kosher meat and poultry during the pandemic. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, countless workers in the kosher food industry have been unable to fly to kosher slaughterhouses. Even in a scenario in which flights are available, the workers must first enter quarantine for a two-week period, which only serves to create more of a delay for the employees to get to work. Moreover, many of the slaughterhouses, most of which are located in Poland and Spain, have been forced to close as they have not been logistically prepared for the pandemic.
In light of this, the Hungarian government, in cooperation with the Nezer Hakashrut kosher food company and the Hungarian Jewish Communities Association (EMIH), has over the past month, built a procedural basis that includes full health monitoring of the health status of kosher food workers in Israel before they even arrive in Hungary. In this process, 6 shochtim (kosher slaughterhouse workers) have arrived almost two weeks ago and six more arrived earlier this week.
"The adjustments we had to make during this very complicated time appeared completely unrealistic at first," Nezer Hakashrut said in a statement. "However, we were able to make everything work due to the full cooperation of all actors involved including the Hungarian government, the Jewish community and kosher food industry. There is no doubt that we all have made a breakthrough in the world of kosher food and the kosher food industry in particular, as a result of the crisis that has been forced upon us.”
Rabbi Shlomo Koves, haid of the EMIH, expressed gratitude to Hungary for recognizing the importance of the initiative. "When we approached the Hungarian government, they responded to the challenge and built a medical tracking program in Israel, helping to prevent any delay in the arrival of workers at kosher slaughterhouses upon landing in Hungary. There is no doubt that while there are those in the world who choose to fan the flames of anti-Semitism, Hungary is choosing to be a role model against such sentiment," he said.