Mr. Cnaan Liphshiz who is a journalist for JTA, the newspaper of record in the Jewish communal world addressed a question to Rabbi Beliak. A portion of what Rabbi Beliak told JTA appeared in a recent JTA story.
The initial questions surrounding Kosher supervision in Poland arose in July and August 2013. The question of humane practices for farm animals addresses the question of Eco – Kosher and Ethical – Kosher. It includes addressing how the animal is slaughtered as well as proper salaries for workers and healthy working and growing conditions. These are opportunities for Judaism to be a leading force for good in Poland but there is a need for integrity in the political system and a language of trust between Catholic Poles and Jewish Poles. Allowing business interests to manipulate emotions for their benefit is the wrong direction.
Dear Rabbi Beliak,
Hope you are well. I trust you’ve seen reports that Kosher slaughter has continued in Poland despite the ban. Please see enclosed proof that shechitah has continued in Poland despite what has largely been contrued (sic) to be a ban: a package of kosher certified meat produced after Jan. 1, 2013, at the Biernacki plant. There are two additional plants where shechitah has continued.
I asked the chief rabbinate in Israel whether there is any suspicion of kosher fraud in Poland, and their answer was no. They declined to offer any further comment.
Polish television is scheduled to run an investigative piece on the subject next week. I am interested in your opinion on the impact this news becomes public knowledge in Poland.
Comment to Cnanan Liphshiz request, February 25, 2014
Dear Mr. Liphshiz,
In the summer of 2013 when this issue came to the fore the Union of Progressive Judaism (Beit Polska) offered to participate in a Polish parliamentary committee to address the question of humane animal slaughter. We renew our plea that that committee be formed.
We are willing and ready to take over the entire Kosher supervision process for Poland. We will distribute the proceeds from kosher supervision for internal use in Poland among Polish charities that benefit Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims — all the citizens of Poland — in an open and transparent fashion.
We believe that the manipulation of the issue of kosher/halal slaughter for political purposes by Polish politicians or Jewish community officials or by various business interests reduces the respect that the practice of keeping kosher deserves.
Kosher supervision should not be a business but a service that ensures humane, clean, ecological, ethical and “proper” food. Supervising the preparation of food (in this case Kosher food) is not a political football but a public service.
A related issue is the issue of manipulating fears of anti-semitism. Beit Polska and all good people view anti-semitism as a problem. Anti-semitism is a serious matter and the charge should not be a political football within Poland and especially outside of Poland.
Beit Polska proposes that we study the issues of kosher/halal slaughter. We have sympathy with the claims of people who ask questions about animal welfare and humane treatment of animals. That treatment begins not at the abattoir but at the farm where the animals grow.
We call attention to research that was done by Dr. Temple Grandon especially in the web information entitled “ritual slaughter” (sic) Here is the larger url, and the larger web site.
The notion that stunning is a more humane form of dispatching animals is not supported by science or Jewish experience. For those of us who seek to Eco-Kosher and Ethical-Kosher standards this emphasizes the larger understanding of keeping kosher.
Rabbi Schudrich is not the only authority regarding Kashrut in Poland. He is now in a competition among several kosher authorities that include Chabad and other Hassidic parties. That competition is not good.
The current situation of misrepresenting matters to Polish authorities — claiming that stunning of animals was happening when in fact it was not happening — is not acceptable. Clearly some officials are looking the other way and other parties are ratting them out!!
Beit Polska feels that all parties must place ecological, humane,and other practices of wage fairness above their narrow interests.
Journalist, JTA correspondent i Europe