Numerus Clausus on Shechita in Poland: New Law Drafted to Limit Cattle Slaughtered According to Jewi

A bill is being drafted by the Government, the Yiddish daily “Najer Haint” says, to restrict the number of animals slaughtered in Poland according to Jewish ritual to the actual numbers of the Jewish population of the country.

The Ministry of Trade, however, is opposed to the plan, it is added.

The enforcement of a numeres clausus on Shechita to limit it in strict proportion to the numbers of the Jewish population was recommended in the Spring of 1929 for Warsaw, the city with the largest Jewish population in Europe, in the report presented by the Special Commission appointed by the Warsaw City Council a year before to study the Shechita question with a view to taking action on the resolution adopted in January 1928 to make it compulsory to stun all animals by electricity before slaughtering.

Despite the efforts of the Jewish members of the Commission, the Commission also proposed the municipalisation of the meat trade and the elimination of middlemen, the result of which would be to throw many Jews out of employment. In Jewish circles it was urged that the economic proposals of the Commission showed that it was more concerned with dealing a blow to the Jews in the economic field than with humanitarian motives.

The original motion adopted in 1928 was moved by a member of the Warsaw City Council who is himself of Jewish origin, a medical man named Dr. Zawadzki. Soon after the adoption of the resolution it became clear that that the anti-Shechita movement was not confined to the antisemites. The humanitarian organisations, in other respects friendly to the Jews, joined the campaign against Shechita together with the avowedly antisemitic elements who are anxious to further any movement injurious to Jewish interests. The ten delegates from the Polish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who attended the International Conference of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held in Vienna in May 1929, supported the resolution adopted there, demanding the prohibition of Shechita in all countries.

The Board of Deputies in London was told by its Shechita Committee at the time that it had received information that antisemithic agitators had made use of the International Conference to stir up anti-Jewish prejudice on the grounds of the alleged cruelty to animals, exhibiting in this connection a “faked” film of Shechita made in 1923.

Dr. Sigismond Wirembovski the President of the Health Department of the Warsaw Municipality, who was the Jewish member of the Special Committee on Shechita appointed by the Municipality, proposed at the time that a World Congress of Jewish Communities in Europe and America should be called, with the participation of eminent authorities who have testified on scientific grounds in favour of Shechita, in order to take up a derermined fight on behalf of Shechita, urging that the anti-Shechita movement throughout the world is much more inspired by antisemitism than by humanitarianism, and in some countries, notably in Poland, has also the economic motive of seeking to oust the Jews from the meat trade.

Despite all the agitation, the President of the Warsaw City Council, M. Slominski, declared not long ago, that the decision adopted by the Warsaw City Council to restrict Shechita would in all probability remain a dead letter, merely expressing a pious wish which cannot be carried into effect. The decision is impracticable, he said, for if Shechita is restricted to the needs of Jewish consumption, the price of meat for the non-Jewish population will be increased, since there will no longer be available the large quantities of parts of the animals slaughtered according to Jewish practice which Jews do not eat, and which are therefore at present sold at lower prices to non-Jews.

It is interesting that during the debate on the resolution, a priest named Wirembovski, who is a member of the City Council, referred to this very question of the sale to non-Jews of those parts of the animals slaughtered according to Jewish practice, which Jews do not eat, in the following way:

It is a question for us, not of religion, nor even of economics, but of national pride. We do not want to eat the meat of an animal over which a Jewish benediction has been recited, and we also do not want to eat meat which you Jews have discarded and do not want to eat. It is the same, he said, as with the dissection of corpses. If you don’t want to dissect Jewish corpses, you must not dissect non-Jewish corpses. If dissecting your own people is against your religion, don’t go in for medicine.

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