Monday, March 17, 2014

JERUSALEM: High Court considering Rabbinical Court circumcision order

Jerusalem Post
Febraury 26, 2014

Mother petitions court decision ordering her to follow father's request to circumcise son

by Yonah Jeremy Bob
Following a Tuesday hearing before a seven justice panel of the High Court of Justice over whether the Rabbinical High Court can order the mother of a one-year-old boy to circumcise her son in keeping with the wishes of the boy's father, the mother said, "'Social pressure is no reason to force cutting my son's body as nature and the universe naturally created him."

The mother and the father are in divorce proceedings before the Netanya Rabbinical Court which intervened in the parents' dispute over whether to circumcise their son, ruling that it was in the boy's best interests to be circumcised.

The Netanya Rabbinical Court even went a step further, fining the mother NIS 500 per day until she had her son circumcised.

Next, the Rabbinical High Court confirmed the Netanya Rabbinical Court's order.
The identity of all of the family members is under a court gag-order.

Following the Netanya Rabbinical Court's order, the mother on December 18, 2013, petitioned through the Justice Ministry's Legal Assistance Division to the High Court of Justice to intervene on the grounds that the Netanya Rabbinical Court did not have authority over whether parents circumcise their children.

Justice Yoram Danziger froze the Rabbinical Court's ruling the same day the petition was filed.

The High Court then requested Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein's opinion who wrote on February 11 that he also believed that the Rabbinical Court had exceeded its authority in intervening on the circumcision issue.

The High Court began the hearing saying that it centered around three questions: does any judicial body have authority to intervene on the issue, do the rabbinical courts specifically have authority and if the rabbinical courts have some degree of authority, is there a basis for the High Court to give the rabbinical courts directives in using that authority? The mother's lawyer Avigdor Feldman told the High Court that she opposed the practice of circumcision and rejected the rabbinical courts' claim of authority based on the best interests of the boy.

Feldman said that the rabbinical courts' claim was based on an incorrect interpretation that circumcision was a medical procedure in the boy's best interests, whereas Feldman said that there was no medical necessity, and that the issue was merely an ideological dispute between the parents.

He added that the question of whether to do a circumcision was between an individual and god, and was beyond any human court's right to interfere.

The justices questions varied widely with some appearing to agree that stepping into this issue could lead to courts deciding between parents whether their children eat Matza on Passover and some implying that failing to circumcise the boy now could hurt him socially later in life.

Lawyer Shimon Yakobi, representing the rabbinical courts said that it was crucial to uphold their authority in recognizing them as equal and valid courts within the judicial system.

The High Court ordered Weinstein to address certain specific legal issues in greater detail within seven days with the other involved parties responding to Weinstein's final opinion within an additional seven days.

Earlier story

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