Preserving Kosher Slaughter and Judaism in Poland

July 16, 2013 2:07 pm 1 comment

The plenary hall of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament. Photo: Boston9 via Wikimedia Commons.

Three months ago, I was in Poland as part of a UK Jewish Delegation organised by the Polish embassy in London. The purpose of our trip was to explore Jewish life in Poland, and to strengthen relations between our countries and communities. It was a fascinating trip, during which we visited small towns like Bobowa, Lezajsk, and Nowy Sacz, and big cities like Krakow and Warsaw. We felt very welcome and experienced great hospitality in the country that was home to the biggest Jewish community in Europe before World War Two.

During a debrief in the House of Commons about our trip, we decided to establish a Jewish-Polish forum to discuss important issues and strengthen relations and harmony between the Jewish and Polish communities. We didn’t know that just a few days later a major challenge would arise: the decision of the Lower House of the Polish Parliament to reject a bill that would have recognized the religious practice of Kosher Shechita and Halal.

The bill was defeated by 222 to 178 votes, when 38 members of the ruling Civic Platform party voted against it. Poland’s chief Rabbi expressed his shock, while the President of the Union of Jewish Communities said that “populism, superstition, and political interests won out.” This issue matters not just for the Jewish community in Poland, but for Europe as a whole – and what transpired could set a dangerous precedent.

The decision also affects the Polish economy, since Poland is a big exporter of Halal food (to Muslim countries) and Kosher meat (mainly to Israel). The value of exports is estimated to be between £220m and £307m a year. There are 20 slaughterhouses in Poland that specialize in producing kosher and halal meat, and they employ 6,000 people, according to the Polish agriculture ministry.

We’ve already seen an assault by some countries in Europe against religious practices such as circumcision. It is embarrassing that Jews are being discriminated against in 21st century Europe, and we must demand answers to some serious questions: isn’t this a violation of freedom of religion? Isn’t it a basic right of Polish Jews to practice their religion by eating kosher meat? Are they supposed to become vegetarians, to buy non-Kosher meat, or to pay steep prices for imported meat? Can you imagine what would happen if the House of Commons in the UK would ban halal meat?

The battle for preserving and protecting our religious practices and identity will continue. We call on the Polish government to reintroduce the bill in the near future and make sure that kosher and Halal are enabled in Poland.

Tal Ofer is a UK Member of the European Jewish Parliament and can be found on twitter @TalOfer and his own website: www.talofer.com

1 Comment

  • in the uk we do not want halal meat on our shore but here in the uk we are forced to eat halal its rammed down our throats because their is no clear labeling why should we eat halal meat its not in our religion to do so can you imagine polish jews eating non kosher meat you would be against it so why should myself be forced to eat halal why should i eat meat that is blessed to a false god called allah see our uk government is so stupid the people of the uk dont want halal i tell you another thing is that halal meat is banned in the houses of parliament in westminster why is that we all say it makes me so angry that all food products are changing in my country to support the muslim community. kosher on the other hand is not being forced down my throat help us in the uk we want to bann halal in the uk why should we be forced to pay of halal certification when we all no it goes to fund terrorist activity in our countries and abroad please join boycott halal on facebook show your support

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated Profiles Orthodox NCAA Basketball Player Aaron Liberman

    Sports Illustrated magazine featured an extensive profile on Orthodox-Jewish college basketball player Aaron Liberman on Wednesday.  The article details Liberman’s efforts to balance faith, academics and basketball at Tulane University, a challenge the young athlete calls “a triple major.” Sports Illustrated pointed out that Liberman is the second Orthodox student to play Division I college basketball. The other was Tamir Goodman, the so-called “Jewish Jordan.” As reported in The Algemeiner, Liberman started his NCAA career at Northwestern University. According to [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    Cycling the Desert: New Israel Bike Trail Connects Mitzpe Ramon to Eilat

    As the popularity of cycling continues to increase across the world, Israel is working to develop cycling trails that make the country’s spectacular desert accessible to cyclists. The southern segment of the Israel Bike Trail was inaugurated on Feb. 24 and offers for the first time a unique, uninterrupted 8-day cycling experience after six years of planning and development. The southern section of the Israel Bike Trail stretches over 300 kilometers in length and is divided into eight segments for mountain biking, [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    Forthcoming Major Action Movies Inspired by Jewish Comic Artist Jack Kirby

    JNS.org – With the recent Oscars in the rearview mirror, Hollywood’s attention now shifts to the rest of this year’s big-screen lineup. Two of the major action films coming up in 2015—Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters in May, and the third film in the Fantastic Four series, slated for an August release—have Jewish roots that the average moviegoer might be unaware of. As it turns out, it took a tough Jewish kid from New York City’s Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    When Torah Teaches Life and Life Teaches Torah (REVIEW)

    JNS.org – Rabbi Gordon Tucker spent the first 20 years of his career teaching at the Conservative movement’s Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) and the next 20 years as the rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, N.Y. I confess that when I heard about the order of those events, I thought that Tucker’s move from academia to the pulpit was strange. Firstly, I could not imagine anyone filling the place of my friend, Arnold Turetsky, who was such a talented [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    Oscars 2015: Reflecting on Love at First Sight

    JNS.org – I’m in love, and have been for a long time. It’s a relationship filled with laughter, tears, intrigue, and surprise. It was love at first sight, back when I was a little girl—with an extra-terrestrial that longed to go home. From then on, that love has never wavered, and isn’t reserved for one, but for oh so many—Ferris Bueller, Annie Hall, Tootsie, Harry and Sally, Marty McFly, Atticus Finch, Danny Zuko, Yentl, that little dog Toto, Mrs. Doubtfire, [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    Examining America’s First Foray into the Middle East (REVIEW)

    At the turn of the 21st century through today, American involvement in Middle Eastern politics runs through the Central Intelligence Agency. In America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, historian Hugh Wilford shows this has always been the case. Wilford methodically traces the lives and work of the agency’s three most prominent officers in the Middle East: Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt was the grandson of president Theodore Roosevelt, and the first head of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.