After Holocaust law, Poland moves to ban kosher slaughter

February 12, 2018

The lower house of the Polish parliament is expected to vote this week on a new bill on animal welfare, which includes restrictions on Jewish slaughter and kosher meat exports that could affect many of Europe's Jewish communities as well as meat prices in Israel.
After the controversy created by the law banning people from accusing Poland of Holocaust atrocities committed by the Nazis, the country's ruling party has submitted a new bill restricting kosher slaughter and threatening anyone who violates the restrictions with up to four years in prison.
The new restrictions are included in a 48-page general bill on animal welfare, which the lower house of the Polish parliament is expected to vote on this week.
The restrictions include a ban on exporting kosher meat from Poland, which is expected to affect many of Europe's Jewish communities, as well as meat exports to Israel. Some of Israel's supermarket chains import and sell kosher meat from Poland, increasing the competition in the Israeli meat market. A drop in meat exports from Poland could lead to a hike in meat prices in Israel.
The bill also seeks to ban slaughter when the animals are in an "unnatural state"—in other words, when the animal isn't standing on all four feet, making a kosher Jewish slaughter practically impossible. According to European Jewish Association (EJA) Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, "Kashrut laws forbid to apply any pressure on the knife to protect the animal from unnecessary pain. Preventing this pressure is impossible when the animal is standing with its head leaning heavily on the knife."
Vowing to fight the new bill, Margolin called on the Israeli government to stipulate an amendment of the slaughter law as part of an agreement between the two governments.
"These restrictions on kosher slaughter are in complete contradiction to the principle of freedom of religion of the European Union,” the rabbi said. “The situation in Poland is unacceptable. I call on the government in Poland to avoid enacting this shameful law and to take into account that the Jewish people's faith in the Polish leadership is deteriorating. I can't imagine what the next stage will be after the Holocaust law and imposing restrictions on kosher slaughter in the country.
According to Rabbi Margolin, the new restrictions will make it impossible to perform a kosher slaughter in Poland. "There are people who have invested a lot of money in building kosher factories and slaughter houses, and now this shocking law comes along and puts an end to it. There is an unclear desire here to exclusively harm kosher slaughter and limit kosher meat exports. They are failing to explain the logic of the law. Populism and nationalism are skyrocketing and creating wars with the Jews for political purposes."
The Polish parliament banned kosher slaughter in 2013, but the decision was struck down by the constitutional court. The judges accepted an EJA petition and ruled that the Polish law contradicted the principle of freedom of religion.
The Article was published on Ynet website

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RED LINES CAMPAIGN- BE A PART OF IT! BRING THE CHANGE TO YOUR POLITICAL PARTY!

Anti-Semitism on the rise.
Populism and xenophobia on the march
Jewish life in Europe under pressure

Our practices under attack
We decided enough was enough.
These are our red lines https://www.ejassociation.eu/red-lines/
In November 2018, Jewish community leaders from all over Europe met in Brussels and ratified 5 key demands that we, as European citizens and Jews, expect as a minimum from political parties taking part in the European Elections in May 2019.
The EJA has been reaching out to party leaders, Parliamentarians, political groups in the European Parliament and ambassadors across the continent, getting them onboard, and getting their commitment to adopt the red lines.
We need your help.
Write to your local Member of Parliament and urge them and their party to take your and our shared concerns seriously and adopt them. You can find all the info you need HERE

80 YEARS AFTER BABYN YAR MASSACRE: TOOLS TO KEEP THE MEMORY ALIVE, LEARN THE LESSONS

For two days, September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,771 people were exterminated. More than thirty thousand of them were Jews.

A zoom press conference was dedicated on Tuesday to the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre ahead of an event “Lessons from Babyn Yar: History, Memory and Legacy” which is jointly organised by the House of European History in Brussels and the Kiev-based Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center (BYHMC).

The conference, organized in cooperation with the European Jewish Asociation, discussed lessons 80 years later, as well as unveiling new and unique tools to keep the lessons, history and memory alive, including actually putting faces and names to those murdered for the first time.

Among the speakers, French Father Patrick Desbois, founder of Yahad-In Unum and head of the scholarly council of BYHMC, stressed that Babi Yar was a criminal site where the genocide of the Jewish people took place in the center of a large city in a large country (Kiev, today Ukraine).

‘’The locals willingly aided the young fascists. The gunmen were given sandwiches and tea with little vodka in it as the mass executions lasted many hours,’’ he noted.

Father Patrick asked a practical question: where did the tons of items and valuables taken from the Jews before their execution go? ‘’It would seem that everything should be documented, but it is easier to find detailed evidence and statistics of the shootings than information about the confiscated property of those killed. It was as if the Germans were embarrassed to write about such facts.’’

He added, ‘’For me, this is another terrible evidence of the Babi Yar tragedy: human life is reduced to zero. It is only the result of statistics, nothing more. Even more terrible is that the USSR, on whose territory the tragedy took place, tried to hide the truth about Babyn Yar for a long time. Nevertheless, our generation has a goal: to find the hidden facts and restore the history of this bloody genocide.’’

“I visited Raka in Syria where there was a mass grave. Journalists came, journalists went. Perhaps in 80 years there can be a debate about what is a ‘fitting’ memorial. What is important is keeping the memory and lessons alive,’’ stressed Father Desbois.

One of the panelists, Marek Siwiec, Director of European Affairs at BYHMC, provided information about many ongoing projects, each of which can contribute to the restoration of the truth about Babyn Yar.

Colossal work has been done: out of more than 33,000 dead, 28,428 names have been identified, and essential family and personal facts have been restored. All these invaluable findings became the basis of a vast program titled “Project Names.”

‘’It brought us closer to the real life of those who were shot at Babi Yar. They say that the death of one person is a tragedy, but the death of tens of thousands is a statistic,’’ said Siwiec, who is a former member of the European Parliament.

‘’Project Names’’ allows us to turn dry statistics into pain for everyone who was left in that terrible place, who did not live, who did not love, who did not leave their continuation on earth,’’ he added.

Another project mentioned by Siwiec, “Red Dot” (Red Dot Remembrance), is unique: more than 3,000 people provided information about the WWII war crimes. This app has so far registered 2,850 sites across of Europe of the ‘Holocaust by bullets’ which enables users to see and learn what took place wherever they are.

‘’These are mass extermination sites, eyewitness accounts, evidence supported by documents, which were kept with German punctuality and pedantry throughout the war,’’ explained Siwiec.

On the Babyn Yar massacre anniversary date of 29th September, 15,000 schools in Ukraine will participate in a “lessons of the Holocaust Day”.

‘’The key word underpinning all of our activities is education. It is only through education that the tragic disasters of the past can never be repeated,” said Siwiec.

Marek Rutka, a member of the Sejm, the Polish parliament, and chairman of the parliamentary group for the commemoration of the crimes at Babyn Yar and for a Europe free from genocide and hatred, explained that members of his political party regularly visit the sites of the Shoah executions. ‘’They see heartfelt tragedies lead to politically literate conclusions about the need to talk about the Shoah on a European scale. There is no genocide without the tolerance of neighboring countries. These words can be taken as a motto for the whole debate.’’

Anton Schneerson, who contributed this article for European Jewish Press, is a Ukrainian Jew living in Germany. The Jewish community of his hometown, Dnipro, managed to build one of the world’s most prominent Holocaust museum that deeply covers the Babyn Yar tragedy.

Eastern Europe less affected by the coronavirus pandemic

One of the lessons so far from the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is that the eastern half of the continent is less affected than the western half.  
The combined death toll to date across more than a dozen eastern countries is less than the number of fatalities on any given recent day in Italy. The highest numbers of infections are in the Czech Republic and Poland, with around 4,500 cases in each country, still a fraction of the numbers in most western European countries.
Partly this could be down to lockdown measures introduced at an early stage in the outbreak. The Czech Republic imposed a strict lockdown three weeks ago, while at the same time Poland cancelled almost all flights in and out of the country. Polish authorities were also quick to close bars, restaurants, cinemas and schools. Police vehicles with mounted loudspeakers blare recorded messages urging people to stay at home.
‘’As far as I know there are no Jews among the people who died from the coronavirus in Poland,’’ said Edward Odener, a leading member of the TSKŻ Board, the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland, in a zoom conversation with the European Jewish Association. ,
TSKZ is the most important organization representing the interests of the Jewish community of the country, with 16 branches and nearly 2,000 active members, out of some 5000 affiliated Jews in the country.
TSKŻ aims to organize and to promote cultural events and Jewish art exhibitions, to consolidate and preserve the cultural heritage of Polish Jews, the Jewish culture among Jews and Poles, Yiddish language courses and publishing projects. It is is very active to preserve the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and of the Shoah.
‘’Most of the elderly Jewish people prefer to rely on their relatives if they need help during this period and are quite reluctant to ask for outside help,’’ Odoner explained.
The Synagogues have volunteers to deliver basic packages of kosher products and matsot for Pessach to the homes of those who will request it. However, there are not so many requests and Odoner presumes that they have other concerns than to keep a strictly kosher Pessach holiday.
In the country, there is no shortage of masks since they started to produce them in Poland.  ‘’Everyone can buy online any quantity of masks, also reusable ones, at an affordable price and they got it the day after their order.
Poles are for the last three weeks in strict lockdown, and Poland closed its borders for non Polish citizens and for non permanent residents since three weeks, Odoner said as he explained the fact that the country was able to contain the coronavirus.
Odoner noted that he didn’t recorded any antisemitic incident blaming the Jews for the crisis like it happened in other countries in Europe.
The article was published on the EJP

New year message from EJA Chairman for Rosh HaShanah:

5780 (2020) was undoubtedly a watershed year for all of us.
The pandemic has upended our lives, caused many of us heartache and loss, and has pushed many struggling communities close to the edge.
And yet we sat at Seder tables , we carried on as best we could, as we always have done. We looked after each other, we reassured, lent words of comfort, engaged in physical acts of help and support...in short, we remain hopeful and true to who we are and the role entrusted to us by the Almighty.
It is in this continuing spirit that we welcome in 5781 - the Jewish new year- this evening.
We remain hopeful, positive and optimistic as we turn a new page, and we pray for better days ahead.
From all of us at the European Jewish Association, we wish you, your families, your loved ones a hopeful, healthy, happy and successful new year.
Shana Tova!
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