Ban on Shechita lifted in Poland

Dec 10, 2014

A Polish court has ruled that the de-facto ban on religious slaughter imposed last year, is unconstitutional.

Five out of the nine justices who reviewed the ban at the Polish Constitutional Tribunal Wednesday ruled it ran contrary to the country’s constitution. The court’s ruling was on a petition that argued the ban violated the European Convention on Human Rights and led to “discrimination in social and economic life of Jews in Poland.” The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland filed the petition and has been supported throughout the appeal process by the Conference of European Rabbis and Shechita UK.

Religious slaughter was banned in Poland, effective as of Jan. 1, 2013, after the country’s constitutional court scrapped a government regulation that exempted Jews and Muslims from a law requiring the stunning of animals prior to slaughter.

The tribunal asked for the opinion of the Sejm, or Parliament, and the Prosecutor General’s Office in making its decision. According to the Sejm, religious slaughter for the needs of the Jewish community in Poland is legal, and the person performing the slaughter cannot be punished. The Prosecutor General’s Office had a different opinion, saying that “the slaughter of animals, provided by religious rites, is not permitted.”

Following the Judgement Chief Rabbi Schudrich, who ran the campaign on behalf of the Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland said: “This has been a long and difficult campaign and I would to pay tribute to the Justices for reaching a fair and welcome decision. I would also like to pay tribute to the leadership of The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland for their steadfastness in addressing this issue and we are grateful for the invaluable support of the Conference of European Rabbis and Shechita UK.”

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis said: “We are extremely pleased that Shechita can continue in Poland as it has done for generations. Europe is a community and the repercussions of this ban would have had a far reaching impact across Europe. Poland has today set a precedent for other countries on matters of religious freedom and I would like to thank Rabbi Schudrich for his work in ensuring that voice of the Jewish community was heard and for running this successful campaign.”

Shimon Cohen, Campaign Director of Shechita UK said: “This is the right decision which will be welcomed throughout the Jewish world. Chief Rabbi Schudrich deserves immense credit for his role in leading the campaign.”