Lithuanian Jews have thanked their country’s parliament “on behalf of European Jewry” after lawmakers voted to allow shechita, the ritual slaughter of animals without stunning.
Tuesday’s ruling means that it is now just a handful of European countries that maintain their ban, including Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland and Iceland.
“I welcome the step and express the gratitude of the Lithuanian Jewish community,” said Faina Kukliansky, the chairwoman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
“I thank parliament also on behalf of Jewish communities in Europe.”
Similarly, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, said: “We welcome the news that Lithuania has committed to the European ideal that freedom of religion means freedom to practise religion and that Shechita is now permitted there.”
Brigita Kymantaite, from the Lithuanian Animals Rights Protection Organization, said she would ask the European Commission “to clarify whether the provision is in line with European laws.”
However, the vote comes as a welcome boost to Europe’s Jewish community, which is fighting an ongoing battle for the right to practice religious slaughter on the continent, with a legal battle currently being waged in Poland.
EU regulations advising that animals should be stunned, but allow individual countries can determine exceptions to the rule.
In the UK, the new president of the British Veterinary Association has led growing calls to ban slaughter without stunning.