Jewish Agency urges European leaders not to follow Belgian kosher ban

Legislation prohibiting kosher slaughter in most of Belgium was recently upheld by the European Court of Justice.

Issac Herzog (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Issac Herzog
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Isaac Herzog, the Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel, has launched a campaign to protest the ban on kosher slaughter in Belgium by sending an urgent message to European leaders, urging them not to follow the same policy.
Legislation prohibiting kosher slaughter in most of Belgium was recently upheld by the European Court of Justice, which rejected an appeal brought by the Belgian Jewish community, and there is concern that other European states will adopt similar legislation.
“Today, my purpose is to alert you to a growing sense of discomfort and rejection among a number of Jewish communities, who feel that the Jewish traditions and religious observance are increasingly challenged by certain parts of European publics and legislators. I am referring to legislation which bans kosher slaughtering of animals and initiatives to ban by law religious circumcision,” Herzog wrote.
He added: “These are foundations of Jewish religious practice, and they are non-negotiable aspects of traditional observance.”
In his note, Herzog referred to similar events that took place in Europe during the period when his grandfather, the late Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, who served as the Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1921-1936 and later became Israel’s first Chief Rabbi, stating: “During his tenure, he succeeded in blocking an initiative to ban kosher slaughtering. I know what it meant to him and to his community, and how they must have felt in those pre-War years in Europe.”
Herzog ended his letter by warning that Jewish communities that have lived in European countries for thousands of years may likely feel they are no longer welcome.
“Will they feel accepted and welcome in countries which truncate their freedom to lead a life of religious observance according to their ancient traditions? We all must ask ourselves that question with a sense of urgency. I am sharing these thoughts with you to beseech you to do everything in your power so that the answer to that question will not be negative.”