(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Polish Jewry is set to run out of kosher meat within a month, Piotr Kadlcik, the Warsaw-based president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday. “We still have something in the deep freezers,” he said, “but this whole thing hurts.”
“Within a month we will have to import meat,” Kadlcik predicted, guessing that the most likely source of kosher meat would be Lithuania.
A Polish ban on religious ritual slaughter went into effect on January first. Combined with a decline in meat exports due to Poland’s implication in the European-wide horse meat scandal, the end of local ritual slaughter has caused harm to the eastern European country’s cattle ranchers and exporters.
In 2012, Poland’s supreme court ruled that an exemption for religious Muslims and Jews in a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter was “unconstitutional.”
The January ruling was implemented concurrently with the European Union which requires that animals do not experience “unnecessary suffering.”
Regulation 1099 provides exceptions for religious slaughter, though some level of discretion is reserved for individual states.
Polish Radio quoted legal expert Prof. Wladyslaw Czaplinski at the end of January as saying that “EU regulations have absolute priority over [local] law,” but thus far, this view does need seem to have been acted upon in Poland.
According to the Polish Meat Association, exports have declined by 30 percent since the beginning of the year, Polish Radio reported at the end of February, linking the decline to suspicions that locally sourced cuts were tainted with equine meat.
Polish lawmakers are examining avenues for legalizing shechita (“kosher slaughter”) again during the current legislative session, according to reports.
Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba has been quoted in the Polish media as saying that ritual slaughter generates hundreds of millions of dollars in profits annually.
The ban, Kadlcik agreed, “has done terrible damage to the Polish breeders. For them it is a disaster.”
However, despite the negative impact that the ban has had on the Jewish community, Kadlcik said that Polish Jewry is not “dealing with similar problems” as those facing the Jews of Hungary or the Ukraine, where anti-Semitic parties have gained significant power in local legislatures.
Kadlcik noted that Prof. Eugeniusz Krol, the director of the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences was quick to denounce an article published last week by Academy member Krzysztof Jasiewicz in Focus magazine.
Jasiewicz asserted that “the Jews themselves participated in the murder of their own people” and that “the Jews, and not the Catholic church, worked to bring the Holocaust about.”
Such views, Kadlcik asserted, are not widespread in Poland.
“Of course, there is a certain level of anti-Semitism, there are people who are expressing anti-Semitic views, but this kind of historical approach that this gentleman represents, I would say it’s way beyond the [normal] level,” he said.
Kadlcik announced that the Warsaw community will be running a series of lectures and workshops for the general public on Holocaust Remembrance Day, entitled Nizkor (“we will remember”).