Polish Legislation Could Limit Kosher Slaughter

European Jewish Association says new bill also calls for restrictions on exporting kosher meat from Poland

Members of Polish Parliament in attendance at a parliament session in Warsaw, November 24, 2017.
Agencja Gazeta/Slawomir Kaminski via Reuters

A Polish animal-rights bill could impose restrictions on kosher slaughter and block the export of kosher meat to other Jewish communities in Europe, leaders of the European Jewish Association say.

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"The bill calls for restrictions on exporting kosher meat from Poland, which would affect a very large part of the Jewish communities in Europe," Rabbi Menachem Margolin, EJA chairman, said after examining the bill. Margolin added that he would fight against the legislation, stressing that the it contradicts freedom of religion.

He said the bill could impose a penalty of up to 4 years in prison.

"I do not want to imagine what the next stage will be after the enactment of the Holocaust Law and the introduction of restrictions on kosher slaughter in Poland. I call upon the government of Israel to bring up the matter in any discussion between the governments," he said in a statement.

In the statement, Margolin referred to a controversial legislation signed last week by Polish President Andrzej Duda, which includes a possible prison sentence and fines for accusing the Polish nation or state of crimes committed in the Holocaust.

The United States expressed disappointment with the Polish president's signing of the contentious legislation. “Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry,” said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  

The Polish government already enacted a law banning kosher slaughter in the past, but it was overturned by the Polish constitutional court in 2015 on the grounds that it violated the freedom of religion.