Polish court sets stage for shechitah ban

A kosher meat shortage? (Photo: AP)

A kosher meat shortage? (Photo: AP)

A Polish constitutional court has opened the door to a ban on religious slaughter methods in the country in a decision on Tuesday.

The ruling in a Warsaw court states that the current exemption for Jews and Muslims from stunning animals before they are killed, as kashrut laws require, is unconstitutional.

Kosher slaughter is currently carried out at 17 locations in Poland under an exemption announced by the Minister of Agriculture. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal has now ruled that in announcing this, the minister acted outside his powers.

However, Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that shechitah is also allowed under the 1997 Law on Regulating the Relations between the State and the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland.

It is also likely that if there is no law upholding the right, the country will be in breach of European laws on the freedom of religion.

“It appears there is a legal contradiction here and it is too early to tell what this means,” Mr Kadlcik told JTA. "We are seeking legal advice on this right now."

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), said: “This latest development in Poland is a deeply troubling challenge to a fundamental cornerstone of Jewish religious practice and yet we know from the CER’s most recent meeting with President Bronisław Komorowski that the political will to protect shechitah is there.

“Our challenge is to ensure that translates into a swift resolution of this constitutional confusion.”

Last updated: 7:19pm, November 28 2012