The Romanian government issued a landmark law to protect shechita (kosher slaughter) during a meeting with rabbinic leaders of the Conference of European Rabbis, the umbrella organization representing hundreds of mainstream Jewish communities across the continent. CER rabbis were invited to the Romanian Parliament, where they met with Marcel Ciolacu, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania, and Catalin Predoiu, the Romanian justice minister.
Ciolacu, together with President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Romania Silviu Vexler, signed legislation to protect the practice of kosher slaughter in the country. Romania now has a specific and explicit law allowing shechita. Currently, shechita is allowed in most EU member states by a derogation from the law.
“This new law to protect shechita as a legal method of slaughtering animals for food stands as a shining symbol to other countries throughout the world, to protect Jewish communities and religious rights,” Vexler said after the event. He added that he pays “tribute to Rabbi Raphael Schaffer, the chief rabbi of Romania, for his important role in this.”
What made them come to this decision?
The decision was greatly welcome, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of CER, said.
“With this law, Romania continues its noble path of support for its Jewish community,” he said. “I hope that other leaders across Europe will follow the initiative of the Romanian Parliament, valuing and protecting the continued future of Jewish life on the European continent. The CER remains at the forefront of lobbying for the protection of shechita and other Jewish religious rights at the highest political and diplomatic levels.”
Romanian Prime Minister, Nicolae Ciuca, president of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania, Ciolacu and the Senate speaker, Alina Gorgio, together with political, civic, religious leaders and ambassadors were honored guests at a gala dinner hosted by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania on the occasion of the Standing Committee of the Conference of European Rabbis held in Bucharest on Monday evening.
Welcoming the CER to Bucharest, the prime minister paid tribute to Romania’s Jewish community leaders and pledged to continue his government’s proud record of support for the local community.
As part of the event, Rabbi Moshe Rosen Prize was awarded to the Romanian Parliament in appreciation of this law to preserve the religious freedom of the Jewish community in the country.
There are about 9,000 members of Romania’s Jewish community, according to the World Jewish Population (2020) report coordinated by Prof. Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
A year ago, the Hellenic Council of State, the top administrative court in Greece, ruled to ban kosher and halal slaughter, according to the Panhellenic Animal Welfare and Environmental Federation. The federation had requested from the court that it annul a ministerial decision that exempted religious slaughter from a Greek law requiring animals killed in slaughterhouses to be anesthetized first.
There are a few European countries that ban kosher slaughter, such as Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Slovenia and parts of Belgium. Countries such as Poland have banned shechita and then revised the law.