Polish Jewish leadership upset by lobby’s political action on shechitah

(JTA) – Poland’s Jewish leadership has sharply criticized as “unacceptable” interference unilateral moves by a Jewish lobby group to hire a right-wing politician to represent it in a legal challenge against Poland’s ban on ritual slaughter.

The European Jewish Association, a small, Brussels-based Jewish lobby group which is associated with Chabad, startled Jews in Poland by hiring lawyer Roman Giertych, the one-time head of the now disbanded League of Polish Families, a far-right political movement accused of anti-Semitism, to helm its legal challenge against the ban on shechitah in the Constitutional Court.

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An official statement by the President of Poland’s Union of Jewish Communities, Piotr Kadlcik, and Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, said the Union had been “surprised” to have “learned from the media” that the European Jewish Association was planning this legal action.

“This is the same organization that called for unity on one day only for it to issue an appallingly disrespectful and inaccurate attack on Poland’s Chief Rabbi Schudrich the next day,” the statement said, referring to European Jewish Association Director Rabbi Menachem Margolin’s call for Schudrich’s resignation last month after parliament rejected the legalization of shechitah.

The European Jewish Association “has the right to protest,” said the statement, which was posted on the Union’s web site. “However, as the representatives of the Jews in Poland, we consider it unacceptable that any legal or policy initiatives from abroad are initiated without the coordination, or at least consultation, with us.”

Even if such actions are well-intentioned, the statement said “they can produce the opposite effect to that intended.”

The Polish Jewish leadership is working to resolve the matter, Kadlcik and Schudrich said, and “cannot risk that our efforts will be hindered by the actions of people who will not bear the consequences of their interference.”

Schudrich told the Jerusalem Post that “all the other Jewish organizations, everything from the European Jewish Congress to World Jewish Congress to ADL, the American Jewish Committee… they are all coordinating… we talk to each other rather than having a Jewish organization coming in and doing what they feel like.”

For his part, Margolin told the Jerusalem Post that: “Most European Jewish organizations blame Schudrich for the present situation, and he is trying to fan the flames toward us out of his own egotistical motives.”