Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog sent a letter on Sunday to the president of the Belgian regional parliament of Wallonia in an appeal to lift the ban on shechita in the area.
This ban, initially legislated in 2017 and in effect regarding Jewish and Muslim slaughter since September 1, 2019, is of grave concern to The Jewish Agency, the organization mandated with ensuring the spiritual and physical well-being of Jewish communities throughout the globe. The Jewish Agency views the ban as an indication of a dangerous erosion of freedom of religion for Jews in Belgium.
The ban on shechita in the region of Wallonia is currently being enforced, although a court ruling is pending on an appeal. A similar law was passed by the Flanders regional parliament in Belgium.
In the letter, Chairman Herzog stated: “This is not only an issue of freedom of practice for traditional kosher butcheries…. This is an unacceptable infringement of general freedom of religion.”
He continued to say: “This could indeed be the beginning of a creeping expulsion of Jews, and – as Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis said recently of this grave development – another sad day for Europe’s darkening skies. We thought that restrictions on the practice of religion belonged to Europe’s history, not to its present and even less so to its future.”
“I call on you to do your utmost in order to attempt to roll back this legislation so as to find the right balance between animal rights…and freedom of religion.”