Konstanty Gebert’s overview of the shechita, or kosher slaughter, controversy in Poland was both timely and instructive (“Shechita Controversy In Poland Has Wider Implications,” Opinion, Aug. 23).
His observation that “the ban on ritual slaughter has served as a reminder of the precarious position of the minority Jewish community in a majority Catholic land” is as relevant today as it was during the turbulent years between the two world wars.
Anti-shechita laws have long been part and parcel of a centuries-old anti-Jewish sentiment endemic to a number of European states. This legislation was meant to strike at the very core of Jewish law and tradition and in so doing, force the Jewish populace to voluntarily emigrate from their host countries.
During the interwar years, a number of proposals outlawing ritual slaughter were introduced in the Polish parliament under the guise of ensuring a more humane method of slaughter. The proposed legislation at the time was, in fact, a means by which to consolidate the economic boycott against Jews, making their stay in Poland all the more untenable. How ironic that those who clamored for the humane treatment of animals often remained visibly silent as their Jewish neighbors were rounded up by the Germans and taken away to be slaughtered.