July 12, 2012
Rabbis Urge German Jews To Continue CircumcisionsBy David Rising
BERLIN — A German court's decision that ritual circumcision amounts to criminal bodily harm threatens religious freedom in Europe, a group of European Orthodox rabbis said Thursday.
The ruling, handed down last month by a Cologne court, has prompted widespread criticism from Jewish and Muslim groups alike, despite German government attempts to allay fears that it could lead to a national ban on circumcisions.
Despite the government's assurances, the president of the German Medical Association this week recommended that doctors cease performing circumcisions for religious reasons until the law can be clarified.
Following an emergency meeting in the German capital of some 40 rabbis from across Europe to discuss the issue, the head of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, called circumcision "the foundation" of the Jewish faith.
[If that were true there would be something seriously wrong with the Jewish faith. Therefore that cannot be true....]
Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow, said that while the rabbis recognized the ruling does not set a nationwide precedent, it has raised fears among the Jewish community that members could be prosecuted if they circumcise their sons.
Goldschmidt cited France's ban on face-covering Muslim veils and Switzerland's ban on the construction of new minarets for mosques in saying the Cologne decision was part of a wider trend aimed at limiting religious traditions in largely secular Europe.
[No, one was about women's rights, the other abour town planning.]
"I don't think that today there is a quasi-ban of circumcision in Germany, but it is an attack on circumcision – a big attack on circumcision – and I am here because I think that this is not only a problem for Germany but a problem for Europe," Goldschmidt said.
[No, only a problem for those who are determined to cut non-consenting people's genitals.]
In a joint statement from Brussels earlier this week, a group of rabbis, imams and others said that they consider the ruling against circumcision "an affront on our basic religious and human rights."
[There is a human right to cut genitals?]
In its decision, the court said that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm even if parents consent to the procedure.
The ruling came in the case of the circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy that led to medical complications, and both German Jewish and Muslim groups have spoken out against it.
"Circumcision is for us a duty, and the basis for a Jewish child to be a part of the Jewish people," he said. [Women and girls are invisible again....] "Religious freedom is being curtailed, and that is something we cannot accept here in Germany."
"For us the deadline is not tomorrow, but yesterday," Goldschmidt said of possible changes to the law. In the meantime, however, "we say to the Jewish community ... keep performing the brit milah, and have no fear."
[And what became of "Dina de-malkhuta dina" - The law of the land is the law?]