EJA Open Letter Calling on Polish Government to Scrap Kosher Ban Plans

October 15, 2020

EJA INITIATED OPEN LETTER FROM DOZENS OF PARLIAMENTARIANS ACROSS EUROPE AND JEWISH LEADERS CALLING ON POLISH GOVERNMENT TO SCRAP KOSHER MEAT BAN PLANS
Dozens of parliamentarians from across Europe and Israel, including Senators, MPs, MKs, MEPs and the UK House of Lords, and Jewish community leaders from all over Europe have joined forces in a letter calling on the Polish Government to scrap part of an animal welfare Bill to be voted on in the Polish Senate on Tuesday 13 October.
The Bill, if passed as currently written, would see a ban on the export of Kosher meat from Poland, a move that would severely impact Jewish communities across the continent who, either by size or limited resources, rely heavily on Poland as a supplier of kosher meat.
The Bill – to the clear concern of the many parliamentarians and Jewish leader signatories – also sets a dangerous precedent: it puts, animal welfare rights clearly ahead of the fundamental European right of freedom of religion.
The signatories also raised the fact that there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support claims that kosher slaughter is any more cruel than the majority of slaughter taking place day-in, day out in Europe.
In their letter to the Polish President H.E. Mr. Andrzej Sebastian Duda , H.E. Madam Elżbieta Barbara Witek, Marshal of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland and H.E. Mr. Tomasz Paweł Grodzki, Marshal of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, the signatories wrote:
“By prohibiting an export of products that represents a central tenet of Jewish faith and practice for many, you are sending a strong message that laws that effectively hinder Jewish life in Europe are acceptable.
“it is for these reasons – and on behalf of the many thousands of Jews that we as Community Leaders and Parliamentarians represent – that we urge the Polish government, its Parliament and its Senators to stop this aspect of the Bill.”
Our Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin speaking ahead of the vote said,
“What appears to be a national polish political issue is nothing of the sort. The ramifications of this Bill are potentially devastating and profound to Jews eveywhere in Europe, and also to the many who value the liberty to practice freedom of religion.
“The Bill, if passed, will be seen as a declaration that it is open season to anyone who objects to aspects of Jewish law, faith and practice. It must be stopped.
“We are extremely humbled and touched that so many dsitinguished politicians, from the French Senate to the Greek Parliament and everwyhere in between, and so many Jewish community leaders agree and are backing the call for this aspect of the law to be scrapped.”
You can find a copy of the open letters and view its updated list of signatories below

Additional Articles

‘I want every student to see Auschwitz’ - UK Education Minister

Secretary of State for Education of the United Kingdom Nadhim Zahawi said last week that he believes every school pupil in Britain should travel to see the Auschwitz death camp.
Zahawi told the Jewish Chronicle that “we have to make sure young minds actually see this place, experience this place, and understand what took place here, and for them to pledge ‘never again’ for future generations.” He added that a visit will aid future generations “understand how important is our fight against antisemitism.”
Zahawi had recently returned from a tour of the Auschwitz Memorial in Oswiecim, Poland. The tour, organized by the EJA (European Jewish Association), which hosted a two-day conference to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht.
Auschwitz was one of the most infamous of the death camps in Nazi-ruled Europe where 1.1 million victims ultimately perished.
Zahawi said he felt that the atrocities committed within the 400-acre compound housing many gas chambers and crematoria, are a good launching point for Holocaust education. “The scale is unimaginable. No film reel, no newsreel can really describe what this place is like, and how systematic and haunting it is that human beings, 7,000 of them, came to work here – to murder innocent souls – day in, day out.”
“It’s the only way,” concluded Zahawi.
Earlier this month, 2,000 British residents were surveyed on their knowledge of the Holocaust. Findings showed that 52% did not know how many Jews perished in the Holocaust (roughly 6 million), while 22% couldn’t name a single concentration camp.
The EJA’s Chairman, Rabbi Menachem Margolin, declared that “Europe is fighting antisemitism, but isn’t winning yet,” calling Holocaust education “a vaccine to the oldest, most virulent virus in Europe”.
https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/i-want-every-student-to-see-auschwitz-uk-education-minister-685096

The EJA is happy to congratulate David Obadia for winning the presidency of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain.

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, the institution that officially represents Spanish Jews, elected David Obadía as its new president for the next four years, replacing Isaac Benzaquén.
Obadía’s first declarations after being elected focused on pointing out that the axes of his work will be “dialogue, coexistence, diversity and multiculturalism”.

The new president of the Jewish community in Spain is Spanish, son and grandson of Spaniards, and was born in Beer Sheva, Israel, in 1961. During his childhood and adolescence he lived in Melilla and, currently, in Torremolinos, where he has developed his life as a businessman in the real estate sector and also his political career.

In 2015 he entered politics through José Ortiz, former mayor of Torremolinos, who appointed him as his personal advisor. With the Ciudadanos party he held the positions in the Torremolinos Town Hall of Deputy Mayor, Councillor for Development, Urban Planning, Infrastructure, Commercial Activities, Public Roads and Heritage, and served as spokesman for his political group. However, in 2023 Ciudadanos nominated him as candidate for mayor of Torremolinos but he decided to retire from politics.

According to the FCJE, Obadía has extensive community experience that began in 1980 as a collaborator in the Yosef Obadía synagogue in Melilla, founded by his great-grandfather of the same name.

To date he has held various posts, including that of president of the Jewish community of Torremolinos for 8 years, of which he is currently honorary president; vice-president of the FCJE; head of the Spanish Jewish Youth; and current president of the Jewish community of Malaga and of the Association of Jewish communities of Andalusia. He has also received numerous awards for his extensive career in the service of Spanish Jewish life over the last 40 years.

After Holocaust law, Poland moves to ban kosher slaughter

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

A short video from the eja delegation to Prague

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