September 29, 2014

The Ever-Changing Kosher Meat Supply in Europe Turns to Lithuania

LONDON — The stories that have been coming out of Europe lately about the supply of kosher meat in Europe may be a bit confusing. When the Polish Parliament outlawed kosher slaughter almost a year ago, there was the nagging question of who would pick up the production slack of an estimated $500 million of kosher meat, most of it exported to Israel. But then there were reports that somehow production of kosher meat in Poland was continuing. These reports were followed by news of a spreading ban on kosher slaughter (schechita), including Poland and Denmark. The result was a shortage of kosher beef in Europe. But this too left many puzzled as the laws seemed to impact Europe’s exploding Muslim population with its need for halal than kosher consuming Jews. This was followed by the impact of Russia’s ban on EU meat.

Now comes word that Lithuania may well be the country to fill the void of Poland and the shortage in general. It recently passed a law permitting schechita. "The new law allows us to start talk with Arab countries over our meat exports. We are also in talks with Israel," said the Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitiene. The first to benefit will be the Lithuanian Jewish community of 3,000. All of these developments come against the background of growing anti-Semitism, largely at the hand of Muslims, who ironically face the same restrictions on religious slaughter as Jews do. Many Jews are simply leaving Europe, most notably from France and Holland. But Europe still has its share of strong Jewish communities, most notably the UK and France and schechita remains an important need of European Jewry. And then there is Israel, which fills its need for beef from South America and Europe. If all of this sounds confusing, it is as the situation continues to change in Europe.