Polish Court Overturns Ban on Kosher Slaughter

Last year Poland prohibited slaughtering animals without stunning them first, effectively banning kosher and halal ritual slaughter.

Yaron Kaminsky

A Polish court overturned a ban on the kosher slaughter of animals Wednesday, saying it was unconstitutional.

Last year Poland prohibited slaughtering animals without stunning them first, effectively banning both kosher and halal ritual slaughter.

On Wednesday, a 5-4 majority of Polish Constitutional Tribunal justices ruled that the ban ran contrary to the country’s constitution, the European Jewish Association said in a statement. The association is a Brussels-based lobby group that has fought to scrap the ban.

The 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,” polska.newsweek.pl reported.

The Union of Jewish Religious Communities in Poland was among several entities that appealed the ban. The union filed its petition with the tribunal over a year ago to review the case.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement that the ruling meant that kosher slaughter "can continue in Poland as it has done for generations.” He thanked Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, for his efforts to reverse the ban.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, director of the European Jewish Association, said the ruling was a “relief” because it “prevents a dangerous precedent that would have affected all European Jewry.”

Ritual slaughter was banned in Poland starting January 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. Jewish ritual slaughter, or shekhita, as well as Muslim ritual slaughter, or halal, requires that animals be conscious before their necks are cut.

Before the ban, Poland had a $500 million industry of halal and kosher meat for export.

In July 2013, a draft bill aimed at legalizing ritual slaughter failed to pass in the parliament.

On March 5, KRIR, or the National Council of Agricultural Chambers in Poland, filed a bill that would legalize ritual slaughter. With the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment, the parliament will now take up the bill.