December 3, 2012

Poland Shoots Itself in the Foot as Kosher Producer, Destination

WARSAW — It would seem that Poland should be doing everything in its power to curry favor with Jews who are rapidly becoming a significant segment of their tourist industry as well as good trading partners, but instead the Poles seem to be throwing sand on that potential. Just last week, a Polish court ruling seemed to threaten kosher slaughter at a time when the country was emerging as a major source of kosher slaughtered meat. 

Poland's Constitutional Court reinforced a law requiring stunning before slaughter, which is unacceptable to kosher slaughter. "While it may not be their intention, those who seek to proscribe Jewish traditions in general and shechitah (kosher slaughter) in particular are reminding the Jewish community of far darker times," Aryeh Goldberg of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe said in a statement. "We call on the Polish government to find a legal caveat which will ensure the continuation of shechitah, which is such an important part of Jewish life ... all over the world and particularly in Poland," Goldberg said. 

Poland has in recent years emerged as a major destination for Jews seeking to explore their Jewish heritage. Many hotels in cities like Warsaw, Krakow and Lodz now routinely cater to a Jewish clientele. Pinhas Etzioni of Kosher Delight says that his restaurants and catering establishments in the major Polish cities are serving a growing number of tourists and organized groups who visit Poland. 

Major Chasidic groups like US-based Skver and the international Ger movement have arranged for major missions to Poland, according to Mr. Etzioni, who operates one of the major kosher establishments in Poland. In addition, producers in the US and Israel have looked to Poland as a major source of kosher slaughter, which could now be jeopardized as a result of the action by the Polish courts.