Jewish group calls on Polish rabbi to resign over shechita ban

Brussels-based European Jewish Association condemns Schudrich’s conduct following defeat of bill to legalize ritual slaughter.

Ritual slaughter 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Ritual slaughter 311
(photo credit: Reuters)
A Jewish lobby group from Brussels has called on Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, to resign following the defeat of a Polish bill to legalize ritual slaughter.
“I harshly condemn Rabbi Schudrich’s conduct and call on him to resign,” said Menachem Margolin, a rabbi belonging to the Chabad movement and director of the Brussels-based European Jewish Association.
Margolin told JTA on Tuesday that Schudrich “blocked efforts by Jewish groups out of ego considerations, to be the only one dealing with the subject.”
Schudrich told JTA that Margolin’s words constituted “unwarranted hate.” The chief rabbi said he was “in contact” with the European Jewish Congress and the Conference of European Rabbis about the issue.
But representatives from two other European Jewish organizations who spoke to JTA on condition of anonymity also criticized Schudrich’s performance in connection with the July 12 defeat in Polish parliament of a bill meant to reverse January’s ban on ritual slaughter.
The ban was imposed following a court ruling against ritual slaughter on a petition filed by animal welfare activists.
“Rabbi Schudrich told us everything was under control until it wasn’t and it was too late to do anything,” one source said.
On Tuesday, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he had no plans to reintroduce legislation to lift the ban on ritual slaughter in Poland, which once was a major exporter of halal and kosher meat.
But an official from a third organization said “it’s wrong to attribute this setback to Schudrich. He had a strategy which failed due to internal political issues.”
The source noted that bill was defeated 222 to 178. “The gap shows this is a major issue out of Schudrich’s control,” the source added.
Margolin also said that in March, Schudrich caused the cancellation of a meeting that members of Margolin’s organization had scheduled with the Polish president.
Schudrich, who has said he would resign in protest unless the ban is reversed, on Tuesday declined to elaborate about the criticisms.
But, he said, “Today, on Tisha b’Av, we remember the destruction of the Temple because of the sin of unwarranted hatred, Sin’at Khinam. It is painful to see we’ve learned nothing in 2,000 years.”