Poland’s government has proposed a new law that would limit kosher slaughter, in a move that has provoked a global outcry from the Jewish community.
The animal welfare bill will seek to impose significant limits on the technique and would enforce “restrictions on exporting kosher meat from Poland, which would affect a very large part of the Jewish communities in Europe”, according to the European Jewish Association.
Kosher slaughter was banned in Poland in 2013, but the decision was overturned by the high court in 2014.
The country already imposes limitations on its practice but the new legislation would go further, prohibiting the slaughter of animals when they are “in an unnatural state,” and bringing in a four-year jail sentence for those in breach of the law.
The Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, will take a vote on the bill this week, the EJA said.
EJA Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin said the proposal was in breach of laws protecting religious freedom.
“These restrictions on kosher slaughter are in complete contradiction to the principle of freedom of religion of the European Union,” he said. “I call on the Polish government to not legislate this shameful law and to take into consideration that the Jewish people’s trust in the Polish leadership is deteriorating. I don’t want to imagine what the next stage will be after legislating the Holocaust Law and putting limits on kosher slaughter in the country.”
He also said the ruling would make it “very difficult” to perform kosher slaughter.
“Some kashrut laws forbid to apply any pressure on the knife to protect the animal from unnecessary pain,” he said, but it “is not possible when the animal is standing, and its head is leaning heavily on the knife.”
It follows an ongoing spat between Israel’s government, global Jewish organisations and Poland over a new Polish law that criminalizes attributing blame for the Holocaust to Poland.