BRUSSELS—Since Tuesday, kosher slaughter is banned in Flanders, one of Belgium’s region as a result of a law prohibiting animal slaughter which was voted in the Flemish parliament.
Halacha, the Jewish law, mandates that an animal be healthy and not injured before kosher ritual slaughter, or shechita, and that rendering it immobile (or pre-stunning it) is prohibited; hence, the animal cannot be used.
Shechita is now banned in Flanders and similar measures will be implemented in another Belgian region, French-speaking Wallonia, in September 2019 after a vote in the Walloon parliament.
“This is very unfortunate for us,” said Rabbi Menachem Margolin, who chairs the Brussels-based Europe Jewish Association (EJA), a group federeting several Jewish communities in Europe. He stressed that the Flemish region ban sets a bad precedent and could lead to the prohibition of brit milah or circumcision.
The Jewish community of Belgium will have to import kosher mead from the Netherlands and Hungary. The main city of Fanders, Antwerp, is home to a large Orthodox Jewish community.
“To have the government interfere in this way is damaging to the reputation of the Jewish people as a community. It implies that we as a group are irresponsible with the welfare of animals and need government supervision which is, of course, a very negative view of us,” Rabbi Margolin said.
Ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning of is outlawed in several European countries, including Denmark, Norway, Sweden and partially in Switzerland.
Rabbi Margolin, who also serves as the Director General of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE) said that he ‘’will continue to fight for European Jewry and grow stronger together, despite the difficulties.”
He said that the RCE and EJA will continue to help the communities that are blatantly oppressing their religious residents by organizing and transporting kosher products from countries that practice freedom of religion.
“We publicly fought for religious rights of various Jewish communities throughout Europe on a political level, and have succeeded. We will continue to do so in Belgium and in every other European country that is attempting to hinder Jews from living a peaceful religious life.”
Legal challenges against the legislation passed by the Flemish and Walloon parliaments is underway, including by
As part of its campaign against antisemitic discrimination, The Lawfare Project, a New York-based group, is also working on legal challenges against the legislation passed by the Flemish and Walloon parliaments.