Polish Jewish leaders slam lobbying effort to overturn shechitah ban

(JTA) – Polish Jewish leaders sharply criticized the European Jewish Association’s hiring of a Polish nationalist lawyer to challenge Poland’s ban on ritual slaughter.

The European Jewish Association, a small Brussels-based Jewish group, hired Roman Giertych, the one-time head of the now-disbanded League of Polish Families — a far-right political movement accused of anti-Semitism — to lead a legal challenge against the ban on shechitah by Poland’s Constitutional Court.

The president of Poland’s Union of Jewish Communities, Piotr Kadlcik, and Polish Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich said in a statement they were surprised to learn of the European Jewish Association’s plans for legal action.

“This is the same organization that called for unity on one day only for it to issue an appallingly disrespectful and inaccurate attack on Poland’s Chief Rabbi Schudrich the next day,” the statement said — a reference to the call last month by the European Jewish Association’s director, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, for Schudrich to resign after Poland’s Parliament rejected the legalization of shechitah.

The European Jewish Association “has the right to protest,” said the statement, which was posted on the union’s web site. “However, as the representatives of the Jews in Poland, we consider it unacceptable that any legal or policy initiatives from abroad are initiated without the coordination, or at least consultation, with us.”

The Polish Jewish leadership is working to resolve the matter, Kadlcik and Schudrich said, and “cannot risk that our efforts will be hindered by the actions of people who will not bear the consequences of their interference.”

For his part, Margolin told the Jerusalem Post, “Most European Jewish organizations blame Schudrich for the present situation, and he is trying to fan the flames toward us out of his own egotistical motives.”

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