Polish chief rabbi threatens to resign over shechita ban

Rabbi Schudrich decries ban on Jewish, Muslim ritual slaughter.

DO NOT USE shechita ritual_311 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Vosizneias.com)
DO NOT USE shechita ritual_311
(photo credit: Nati Shohat/Vosizneias.com)
Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich threatened to resign his position on Sunday, following last week’s parliamentary decision to maintain a ban on Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter.
A government sponsored bill aimed at legalizing the practice of shechita, Hebrew for ritual slaughter, was shot down in the Sejm in a vote of 222 to 178. Such slaughter has been illegal in Poland since January.
In a statement emailed to The Jerusalem Post by the Jewish Community of Warsaw, Schudrich stated that he could not imagine functioning as the chief rabbi of a country in which the rights of Jews are limited.
If the legal legitimacy of ritual slaughter is not restored, he stated, “I will be forced to give up my function” as “I would not be able to serve my coreligionists properly.”
Polish radio reported that Poland’s Jewish and Muslim minorities were not the only groups unhappy with the continued ban, with farmers protesting before last week’s vote. Prior to the cessation of shechita, Poland has served as a major exporter of Kosher and Hallal meats throughout Europe, with sales estimated by some at half a billion Euros annually.
The government had hoped the proposed law would allow Polish abattoirs to resume production of kosher meat. The result of the vote came as a shock to leaders of the country’s Jewish community and elicited strong responses from the community world wide.
“This decision is a slap in the face of Jews and Muslims alike,” Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress said in a statement Friday. “It is a bitter blow for all those who undertook great strides to bring about a renaissance of Jewish life in Poland. I am wondering what sort of message those who voted in favor of the ban wanted to send to their non- Christian citizens.”
Despite the furor, however, Andrzej Rozenek, an MP opposed to ritual slaughter, said that the ban was justified and that the economic concerns of the cattle industry were overblown.
“Even if we were talking about significant losses – and we’re not – there is no permission for animal cruelty in the name of money,” he was quoted as saying on the website of Polskie Radio.
Reuters contributed to this report.