(photo credit: Israel Weiss)
Poland’s Jewish community is preparing to go to their country’s Constitutional
High Court to lift a ban on kosher slaughter that has been in effect since
January, Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich told The Jerusalem Post on
Michael Boni, the Polish Administration and Digitization
Minister requested leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities file the motion.
This advice comes after a government body studying the issue, appointed by Prime
Minister Donald Tusk to find a solution to the ritual slaughter crisis, declined
to give an opinion regarding the legality of the ban.
“The only way to
resolve this conflict between the rights of religious communities in Poland and
this law is to ask the Constitutional Court for a ruling. Until the
Constitutional Court makes a ruling, everyone should refrain from ritual
slaughter, but at the same time, keep in mind the basic constitutional rights
that the Polish Constitution guarantees religious minorities,” said Boni at a
joint press conference held after a meeting with Schudrich and Muslim leader
Mufti Tomasz Miskiewicz, on Monday.
The Government Legislation Center, a
body that serves to clarify issues of Polish law and examined the matter of
ritual slaughter at Boni’s request, found a conflict between the rights of
minority groups and animal welfare concerns.
It added that the government
wants to send the issue back to the Constitutional Tribunal.
slaughter in Poland ceased following a 2012 decision that exempting religious
Muslims and Jews from a law requiring that animals be stunned before slaughter
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 community.
Schudrich, who has
continued slaughtering according to Jewish rites despite the ban, said that
“this is the most difficult moment in Polish-Jewish relations for 24 years,
since the fall of Communism.”
Speaking with the Post
Schudrich said that following the meeting, Jewish leaders consulted with lawyers
and are now in the process of preparing themselves for litigation.
Union of Jewish Communities of Poland, he said, will be taking Boni’s
“Now it is going to the Constitutional High Court and we will
have to see what happens there. And there is always also the possibility to
resubmit a bill to the Parliament,” he said.
“We have to make it as
strong a case as possible, quoting all the Polish laws that support our
Asked what the chances were of having ritual slaughter
reestablished in Poland, Schudrich replied that he happens to think that “we
have a 100 percent chance but I don’t know what the high court
thinks.”JTA contributed to this report.