Greek Jewish community seeks legislation to legalize ‘shechita’

The Greek Jewish community plans to request that the Greek government draft legislation to legalize shechita, the kosher slaughter of animals, after the country’s highest court ruled last week that the practice was illegal.

The Council of State, Greece’s highest administrative court, struck down regulations issued by ministerial decision that provided an exemption from prior stunning for the slaughter of religious animals.

This has meant that shechita in Greece became illegal overnight, depriving the Jewish community of kosher meat sourced from Greece.

Victor Eliezer, general secretary of the Central Board of Jewish Communities of Greece, said The Jerusalem Post by email that the organization will now “appeal to the competent authorities seeking cooperation to find a viable solution to allow kosher slaughter in Greece.”

Eliezer added that the Central Board believes that the current government “has the political will to address the problem,” adding that the Jewish community “enjoys productive cooperation and mutual understanding with the government and state authorities.”

A slaughterhouse cuts beef carcasses into pieces at the slaughterhouse of the Biernacki meat plant in Golina near Jarocin, western Poland, on July 17, 2013 (credit: KACPER PEMPEL / REUTERS).

Meanwhile, the Jewish community, which numbers between 4,000 and 5,000 people, makes do with kosher meat imported from other parts of Europe, although Eliezer noted that this was much more expensive than producing local kosher meat.

“We hope that the competent authorities of the Greek State will soon regulate the issue of the slaughter of animals with a just and workable solution that safeguards the continued observance of the religious duties of the Greek Jews, as well as the thousands of Jewish visitors in Greece. Eliezer said.

In 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union upheld the ban on kosher and halal slaughter in Belgium and dismissed arguments that the ban violated the religious rights of Jews and Muslims by requiring them to stun animals prior to slaughter, somewhat prohibited by Jewish and Islamic law.

Although the European Court of Justice ruling said its ruling was relevant only to the specific case of Belgium, European Jewish leaders at the time expressed concern that it would set a precedent for other European countries to enact bans and hamper legal appeals. against such legislation, or even against the judgments of national courts.

Shimon Cohen of Shechita UK said the idea that the ruling would not set a precedent was “a pipe dream” and that the European court ruling “indicated to other countries that they could insist on stun” despite religious objections.

Although the Council of State ruling did not mention the European court’s decision, Cohen noted that that ruling now hangs over any possible appeal of the Greek decision to the European court.

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