In 1966, Wim van den Brande’s grandfather opened one of Europe’s largest kosher slaughterhouses in Antwerp, capital of the Belgian region of Flanders. At the end of 2018, the factory was processing 80,000 chickens a month. Now, a new law banning the methods used in ritual slaughter have gone into effect, forcing him to close the business and lay off his employees.
Many of Antwerp’s Jews view the new law as a statement telling them that they are no longer welcome in Belgium, as well as an opening for further hostile action.
“We still have meat,” said Nechemiah Schuldiner 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 that the law represents a prelude of things to come, potentially including a ban on the import of kosher meat, circumcision restrictions and more.
Ari Mandel, who in 2011 opened the online store Kosher4U, said that kosher slaughterhouses can move – as van den Brande hopes to do – but that doing so is merely “a temporary solution, a stay of execution.”
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