(JTA) — Poland’s Jewish community has about a one-month supply of kosher meat left, following a ban on ritual slaughter.
Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland, confirmed to JTA on Monday from Warsaw that Poland will run out of kosher meat within a month. The ban on ritual slaughter, or shechitah, went into effect at the beginning of the year.
The status of ritual slaughter in Poland became unclear in November when a Polish court ruled that the government had acted unconstitutionally with its 2004 regulation exempting Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before slaughtering them, as their faiths require.
The Jewish community and some legal experts say kosher slaughter remains protected by another law, the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community.
Poland’s Agriculture Ministry has said it will work to enshrine ritual slaughter in Polish legislation this year that is designed to streamline the way that Polish procedures correspond with European Union Regulation 1099, that went into effect in January. Regulation 1099 requires that animals do not experience “unnecessary suffering.” The EU has said individual countries will have discretion on whether to allow or ban ritual slaughter, however.
But ritual slaughter currently remains illegal. Polish prosecutors began investigating reports of the March 12 kosher slaughter of a cow in the northeastern town of Tykocin after hearing about it from a county veterinarian in Bialystok.
Poland has about 6,000 Jews and 25,000 Muslims, according to the European Jewish Congress and the U.S. State Department, respectively.
The country’s for-export industry of kosher and halal meat was worth approximately $259 million at the end of last year, according to the French news agency AFP, with kosher exports accounting for 20 percent. But meat exports reportedly have declined by 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Polish Meat Association told Polish Radio, according to The Jerusalem Post.