The Chief Rabbis of western Europe’s largest Jewish communities have called on the European Union to protect Jewish rights as the EU institutions prepare to bring in new legislation concerning animals at the time of shechitah.
At a meeting in London on Monday, Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogues of the British Commonwealth and Associate President of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), and Chief Rabbi of France Gilles Bernheim, called on EU member states to protect shechita, and not seek to place Europe’s Jewish communities outside the pale.
“Shechita, the Jewish humane method of the slaughter of animals for food, has long been accepted as a fundamental right for Europe’s Jewish citizens. The acceptance of religious practices by minority cultures in society is one of the pillars upon which Europe preserves its liberal and democratic character,” Chief Rabbi Sacks said.
A draft regulation concerning animal slaughter methods was initially presented by the European Commission last year. If accepted at the Council of Ministers meeting in June, this could allow certain member states to forcibly require stunning of animals, effectively banning shechita in those countries.
“We call upon our national governments to protect the fundamental rights of their Jewish citizens,” Chief Rabbi Bernheim said.
“We are fortunate that our own governments are taking positive stands on this issue but in a Europe of 27 member states, the vote of all countries in support of Jewish rights is equally vital, “he added..