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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 14, 2012 TOP Jewish Foundation's anti-terror investment policy keeps your charitable investment out of companies with terrorist ties in Iran and Sudan. We can't find another Jewish foundation nationwide that can say the same. TAMPA" ORLANDO " PINELLAS JEWISH FOUNDATION, INC. 13009 Community Campus Drive, Tampa, Florida 33625 I 813.961.9090 topjewishfoundation.org [ emilie@topjewishfoundation.org ;rving mmunity Call on Central Florida's Exclusively Jewish Funeral Home for Details Regarding: Traditional Jewish Funerals Non-Traditional Services Interstate Shipping Pre-Arranged Funerals (Shalom Assurance Plan) Headstone, Grave Markers (Cardinal Memorials) 640 Lee Rd. Orlando, Florida W.E. "Manny" Adams, LFD James R. Cardinal, Executive Director Samuel P. (Sammy) Goldstein, Assoc. Exec. Director www.bethshalommemorialchapel.com Cnaan Liphshiz From left, Rabbi Menachem Margolin. European Parliament member Hannu Takula, Imam Hassen Chalghoumi and CRIF president Richard Prasquier discuss ritual slaughter in Poland and other religious freedom issues at the European Parliament on Nov. 29. By Cnaan Liphshiz (JTA)--News that ritual slaughter could be banned in Poland caught Jakub Lopinski at a critical mo- ment in his career. Lopinski, a non-Jewish entrepreneur from Kra- kow, was preparing to open a new kosher slaugh- terhouse in an attempt to carve out a niche for himself in Poland's large export industry for halal and kosher meat. But the future of that industry, estimated to be worth $250 million an- nually, was plunged into uncertainty two weeks ago when Poland's highest court declared unconstitu- tional a 2004 government provision permitting the slaughter of conscious animals only for religious reasons. The ruling will take ef- fect in January, the same time as a new European law, Regulation 1099, which requires that animals do not experience "unneces- sary suffering." Regulation 1099 provides exceptions for religious slaughter, though some level of dis- cretion is reserved for individual states. Jewish leaders worry it won't be enough to keep kosher slaughter legal. But for Lopinski, his business depends on it. "All of this will be re- solved through European Regulation 1099 long be- fore we open our slaugh- terhouse," Lopinski said. Poland is far from the first European country to see efforts to curb kosher slaughter on the grounds that it is cruel to animals. But unlike similar measures in Holland and Slovenia, among others, Poland, despite its tiny Jewish population, has a significant kosher indus- try, one on which several other countries depend for affordable meat. The Polish Ministry of Agriculture could not pro- vide exact figures on the number of kosher slaugh- terhouses in Poland, but the French news agency AFP put the total number of kosher and halal abattoirs at 17. Salah Messikh, the director of Halal Polska, a large slaughter agency in Poznan, puts the total at 50. Messikh says Poland exports a few hundred thousand tons of halal meat annually. Shechitah, as the Jew- ish regulations concern- ing animal slaughter are known, accounts for about 20 percent of Poland's ritual slaughter market, according to Piotr Kadlcik, president of the Union of Jewish Com- munities in Poland. Only a small amount is consumed locally by Poland's 6,000 Jews. Most is exported to Germany, Turkey, France, Italy and Israel. "A ban would be bad for us, but also bad for the Jewish communities in France and elsewhere who depend on affordable kosher meat from Poland," said Rabbi Yehuda Brodie of the Manchester Beth Din, a kosher certification agency in England that employs some of the ritual slaughterers, or shochtim, for the Polish kosher meat industry. Messikh, whose halal butchers kill and export 2,000 to 3,000 animals a year, says affordability is why the industry has evolved in a country with so few Jews and Muslims--the latter community's popu- lation estimated at about 25,000, according to a 2010 U.S. government estimate. "Overhead is much cheaper here than in West- ern Europe," Messikh said. Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, says ritual slaughter will survive the high court's ruling, which was issued in response to a petition submitted by animal rights activists. "We're concerned, but have full confidence this will be dealt with in a time- ly and effective fashion," Schudrich told JTA, adding that there is a"tremendous amount of good will on the part of Polish government officials to resolve this." Kadlcik was less certain. "It's difficult to say. Cur- rently, the debate concerns the constitutional validity of the exception made for Jews and Muslims and not ritual slaughter per se or whether it's cruel," he said. "But it may also involve a discussion on religious freedoms and how they need to be balanced with animal welfare. And that's a complicated area." Schudrich and Kadlcik said they would engage the government in talks on making sure ritual slaughter is made legal. A statement from Poland's Ministry of Agriculture on Nov. 30 said it was "preparing legal solutions which would not lead to infringement" of religious freedoms, and noted that "it would be necessary to amend the [Polish] Animal Protection Act." Still, international Jew- ish organizations moved quickly to condemn the Nov. 27 court ruling. Richard Prasquier, presi- dent of France's CRIF um- brella group, slammed the decision as "misguided" at a conference on religious freedoms at the European Parliament. Rabbi Men- achem Margolin, direc- tor of the Brussels-based European Jewish Associa- tion, which organized the conference, called the rul- ing "devastating to Jewish life" in a letter he sent to Polish President BronisIaw Komorowski. In recent years, kosher slaughter has come under attack in a number of Eu- ropean countries. In 2010, the Dutch Parliament first saw a bill tabled by Hol- land's Party for the Ani- mals to ban the slaughter of conscious animals. The bill passed but eventually was scrapped last year by the Dutch Senate. In Slovenia, the na- tional assembly is set to ;ote on a similar bill. Estonia last month an- nounced new regulations that further restricted an already stringent policy on ritual slaughter. Authori- ties must be notified 10 work days ahead of each planned slaughter, which now must take place in a licensed abattoir and where a government inspector oversees each procedure. "I fear the same thing will happen here," Messikh said. "It's deeply troubling. I think they could ban it and then what will we do? Open a fish farm in the ice?"