Menu JTA Search

Poland’s chief rabbi threatens to resign over kosher slaughter ban

(JTA) — Poland’s chief rabbi said he will resign if a definitive ban on kosher slaughter is imposed in the country.

“I cannot imagine serving as chief rabbi in a country in which the rights of the Jewish religion are curtailed, as I would not be able then to serve properly my coreligionists,” Rabbi Michael Schudrich wrote on his Facebook page. “This obviously is not a threat, for whom would I threaten, but a statement of an obvious fact. If the legality of ritual slaughter will not be reinstituted in a legitimate way, I will be obliged to resign from my function.”

The American-born Schudrich, who has worked in Poland for more than two decades, has served as chief rabbi of Poland since 2004. Before that he was rabbi to the Warsaw Jewish community and director of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation in Poland.

On July 12, the lower house of Poland’s parliament rejected a government-sponsored draft law that would have legalized Jewish ritual slaughter, or shechitah, in Poland, by a 222-178 vote.

The vote, which also outlawed Muslim ritual halal slaughter, prompted outrage in the Jewish world — in Poland and internationally.

Poland had allowed shechitah until earlier this year, making about $650 million annually by exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim-majority countries. But in January, acting on a petition filed by animal rights groups, a constitutional court ruled that the country has no right to allow religious slaughter.

The European Jewish Association, a Brussels-based group, on Monday called upon “all Jewish organizations .. to put aside their differences and unite all efforts towards foiling any legislation that can potentially contribute to Jewish exclusion and violate Jewish freedom of religion and worship throughout Europe, specifically in Poland.”

NEXT STORY