The Israeli government fears that Poland’s ban on kosher animal slaughter presages further negative implications for the Jewish community there, Education Minister Shai Piron said Tuesday during a visit to the Eastern European country.
In a meeting with Polish Religious Affairs Minister Michal Boni, Piron demanded that Poland repeal the prohibition as soon as possible and allow its Jewish community to pursue their religious practices without interference.
“The ban sends a message to the Polish Jewish community that they cannot live in such a country,” Piron told the Polish minister. ”This is a slippery slope that begins with ritual slaughter and could expand to additional rulings against the Jewish community.”
Piron, who was in Poland to attend a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Sobibor Ghetto uprising, went on to describe the significance of the traditional religious custom.
“[The ban] violates the essence of Jewish life in Poland; many Jews perceive kosher slaughter as something that shapes their identity,” the education minister said. ”I believe that cooperation with Poland will assist in resolving the issue.”
Boni replied that both he and the Polish prime minster had been working on a solution that would allow freedom of worship and kosher slaughter for Jews in the country.
Boni said that the ban was being reviewed by Poland’s constitutional court, and expressed hope that the judges would rule in favor of permitting the practice.
In July, lawmakers voted down a draft amendment to the law on animal protection that would have allowed for the slaughter of animals without prior stunning, as required by Jewish and Muslim law, if carried out so as to follow religious customs.
Slaughter without prior stunning was made illegal in Poland as of January, following a ruling in November by the constitutional court on a petition by animal rights activists.
Last month, representatives of Poland’s Jewish communities petitioned the Polish constitutional court to reverse the law.
JTA contributed to this report.