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July 14, 2013 9:52 pm

Polish Parliament Refuses to Recognize Religious Slaughter

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The plenary hall of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament. Photo: Boston9 via Wikimedia Commons. – Jewish groups have condemned a July 12 vote in the Sejm, the lower house of Poland’s parliament, rejecting a bill that would have reinstated the Polish government’s recognition of religious slaughter, including kosher and halal practices.

“The first victims of this unconscionable Sejm action are Poland’s Jewish community,” American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris said. “We urge Poland’s legislative and judicial authorities to move expeditiously to recognize by law the Jewish community’s right to prepare kosher meat according to Jewish tradition.”

Poland instituted a ban on ritual slaughter in January, deeming a 2004 exemption that legalized kosher slaughter, or shechita, unconstitutional. On July 12, the Sejm voted 222-178 against a proposal that would have reinstated the exemption.

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“The majority of Polish [members of parliament] gave the Polish Jewish community three choices: don’t practice your religion, don’t eat meat, or don’t live among us,” Anti-Defamation League Chairman Abraham Foxman said.

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, head of the Conference of European Rabbis, said, “Jewish communities across Europe will be incredibly distressed that the Polish parliament has voted not to protect the religious freedom of its Jewish and Muslim citizens.”

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