Belgian ban on kosher slaughter impacts Jewish customs

A regional law banning methods used in ritual slaughter of animals has gone into effect in Flanders Belgium. The law has forced butchers and factories producing kosher meat for observant Jews to close. The law has also caused members of the Jewish community to worry about what other laws impacting their beliefs and way of life may be coming down the line.

Wim van den Brande has had to fire his 10 employees and close up shop, in the hope of moving his factory to Hungary. For him and hundreds of meat industry professionals, the new law is “an attack on traditions and on an entire industry,” he told JTA.

Kosher meat can still be imported from elsewhere within the European Union trading bloc. “On the ground, it makes little difference. We still have meat,” said Nechemiah Schuldiner, a leader of the Shomre Hadas Orthodox Jewish community of Antwerp. “The problem is the message it sends. It tells Jews: We don’t want you here.”

Schuldiner fears the law, which he considers a ban, is a “prelude to a ban on importing kosher meat,” and a move heralding “new restrictions, be in on milah [circumcision] or other elements of Jewish life.”