August 2, 2013 — Beit Polska the Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations in Poland (originally published in Beit Warszawa Newsletter)Beit Polska, the Progressive Jewish community of Poland calls upon the Sejm to permit the preparation of kosher meat. Progressive Jews have developed their own views and practices of Shechitah. Shechitah is defined as being mindful that care of all animals during slaughter must cause minimal pain and stress. We recognize that Shechitah performed with skill and care can be swift and painless. We appeal to the Polish parliament to ensure that this ancient religious rite is maintained in a free and democratic Poland. Any form of religious discrimination is to be deplored.
We propose that a study commission be appointed to clarify any questions and make recommendations for procedures so that these values are upheld. Members of our Progressive community are qualified and ready to participate in such a commission. For many Jews, eating kosher meat is an essential religious imperative that has been Jewish custom for thousands of years. As with the Muslim custom of eating similar Halal meat eating unkosher meat would and could never be countenanced.
We Progressive Polish Jews, join with the World Union of Progressive Judaism representing 1.8 million Jews in 45 countries in affirming the principle of religious freedom and religious tolerance.
Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Rabbi of Beit Polska the Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations in Poland
Piotr Stasiak, President of Beit Polska the Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations in Poland
On July 15, 2013 – Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak was asked for a comment by Don Snyder of the Daily Forward:
“A Jew can’t help but remember that the old Polish Sejm debated the issue of kosher slaughter during the first few days of Germany’s attack on Poland in September 1939.
Then the obsession with the imagined enemy distracted people from the real enemy and the threat of blitzkrieg.
The new Poland is striving to be an inclusive civic society – respecting all its citizens and honoring all religions.
It is my hope that this is a hiccup and that the restoration of kosher meat preparation will be permitted.
Poles are too sophisticated to allow this kind of issue to abridge religious expression or to harm Poland’s farmers and cattle growers.
Rules of compassion for the animal life are built in to Judaism’s practices of keeping kosher. Many Jews move from being meat eaters to vegetarian diets as a result of an encounter with Kosher practices.
Progressive Judaism endorses freedom of conscience in this and many other customs. Singling out Kosher and Halal practices suggests a lack of tolerance for Jews and Muslim, respectively.
I pray that tolerance and accommodation will prevail.”