Poland Chief Rabbi Pushing to Amend Animal-rights Bill to Protect Kosher Slaughter

Animal rights activists are eager 'to find a compromise that will not negatively impact Jewish religious life', Polish chief rabbi assures

Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland. 3 April 2017
Wikicommons/Cezary p

Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, hopes to amend the animal-rights bill wending through the Polish parliament, which could constrain kosher slaughter in Poland and made headlines in Israeli media.

"I am in advanced discussions with the member of parliament who proposed this new bill, to change the bill to be more sensitive to Jewish needs," Schudrich told Haaretz. "There is a real openness, also among the animal rights people, to find a compromise that will not negatively impact Jewish religious life."

The bill does not touch directly on religion, let alone Judaism, Schudrich said: it aims to protect animal rights. As formulated now, it would allow the Jewish community to continue slaughtering animals in the kosher way – but not allow slaughter products to be exported from Poland to the rest of Europe.

"As the bill reads now it would permit shechita for the local Jewish community only," Schudrich said.

Earlier on Monday, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, chairman of the European Jewish Association, warned that if the bill passes, it would hurt many of the Jewish communities in Europe, which depend on meat imported from Poland.

Some years ago the Polish parliament did pass a bill that involved kosher slaughter, but it was voided in 2014 by the constitutional court on the grounds of impairment of freedom of religion.