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Israel’s Chief Rabbi in Germany to Help Resolve Circumcision Crisis


Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger

Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger under questioning for bribery
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon / Flash90

After a rabbi in Bavaria, Germany, has been slapped with criminal charges of committing bodily harm, in the first known case to arise from an anti-circumcision ruling in May, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has arrived in Germany for talks aimed at resolving the controversy over the legality of religious circumcision.

The charge against Rabbi David Goldberg, who is a mohel, or ritual circumciser, means that the May decision in the state of Hesse has been applied in Bavaria, confirming the fears of Jewish leaders here that the local ruling would have a wider impact.

Rabbi Goldberg, 64, a Jerusalem native living in Hof Saale in Bavaria, told JTA he had not yet received a notice from the court. He said he would decide what to do after he had seen it. The criminal charge was reported by the main Jewish newspaper of Germany, the Juedische Allgemeine Zeitung.

The rabbi also said he did not know what act the charges could refer to, since he has not performed any circumcisions recently in Germany. “Only abroad: in Budapest, in the Czech Republic, in Italy,” he said.

Still, Rabbi Goldberg said no secular ruling would stop him from performing brit milah in Germany as well. If a family in Germany came to him with a request to perform a circumcision, Goldberg said he would ask the Central Council of Jews in Germany what to do. “A few weeks ago, they said, ‘You can continue,’” he said.

German lawmakers and Israeli, Jewish and Muslim dignitaries have urged the German government to draft a law this fall explicitly permitting circumcision.

In June, a Cologne court concluded that circumcision amounts to bodily harm — a ruling that doesn’t amount to a ban but worried Jewish and Muslim groups.

Chief Rabbi Metzger said on Tuesday that Jews are commanded by God to circumcise their male children on their 8th day.

He said that after his meetings at the Justice Ministry a compromise is emerging, whereby mohels would receive additional medical training.

Goldberg said regional journalists had informed him of the criminal charges against him, saying it had been filed by a doctor in the state of Hessen who had gathered 600 signatures in an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that supported the anti-circumcision ruling.

Merkel and the German parliament have said that they intend to push for legislation to ensure that Jews and Muslims have the right to carry out the religious ritual.

The original ruling in May related to a Muslim family in Cologne whose son suffered complications after his circumcision. The court found that non-medical circumcision of a minor is a criminal act. Although the ruling was local, it has alarmed traditional Jews and Muslims across the country. Virtually all Jewish denominations have joined in condemning the ruling.

Meanwhile, JTA reported that anecdotal evidence shows that Jewish ritual circumcisions continue to be performed in Germany despite the ruling’s chilling effect. Although several hospitals have declared moratoriums on the practice for now, brit milah is being performed in private homes and in synagogues.

The head of the Conference of European Rabbis, Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, told JTA: “This latest development in Hof, Germany, is yet another grave affront to religious freedom and underlines the urgent need for the German government to expedite the process of ensuring that the fundamental rights of minority communities are protected.”

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13 Responses to “Israel’s Chief Rabbi in Germany to Help Resolve Circumcision Crisis”

  1. Hwmk Psitg says:

    Germany just needs to be bombed again, that's all. First time round was only the pre-wash.

  2. Gary Metilly says:

    When our Creator makes an agreement with Israel as a nation, who are we to undo what is not our business?

  3. Gary Metilly says:

    "…our Creator, blessed is He,…"

  4. Jesse Caron says:

    The only argument against real circumcision boils down to aesthetic. People are compelled to believe that fewer nerve endings equals detriment to health and sanity. Then again, sensitivity is often confused with reactionism, whereas it should be the impetus to understand intent.

  5. Jesse Caron says:

    Personally, I don't have brit milah, but I am circumcised, and I don't miss it. People might like to think I have mental problems, but they would be hard pressed to prove that it's because I don't have a foreskin.

  6. Andy Bendzin says:

    It may not be the best thing to circucise an older boy as it is in the Muslim tradition. But you can't allow one group and disallow the other. Both should be able to continue circumcision. The real problem is genital circumcition with girls which is cruel, painful, and life changing. While the circumcision of a boy's forskin is truly no different from cutting of a umbilical cord. Oy vey.

  7. Andy Bendzin says:

    I may have been wrong on that part Rebekah (umbilical cords. But science has prooven that the 8th day is the best day to circumcise boys because of how the blood clods and all of that. But if it is so cruel and painful, which I don't say it's not painful, then why did Abraham circumcise himself as a covenant with God. Why could other men as part of becoming Jewish if they wanted to be circumcise themselves at older age without any further complications aside from minor. And to say it is the same for girls that is baloney. Have you never heard of the Somali Muslim woman here in America who speaks out against genital circumcision for girls? It changes everything from having to go to the bathroom to having sex while for boys it has none of those consequences. And what about circumcision for a great number of male infants in America because of the realization that it is more hygienic and causes less genital related deceases. I think what we have here on this forum is a bunch of people that don't like the Jews and have no interest of finding out the facts for themselves. This is blatant Anti-Semitism. Makes me sick to hear this as a German. Shameful!

  8. Andy Bendzin says:

    Why do you spew your Jew hatred on a Jewish news site? Do it somewhere else.

  9. Jesse Caron says:

    Cyneva Dalton-Vazquez:"This is a common reaction among victims of MGM." Ah, that was a good one. I snickered. A little too convenient, though. But when you say "reaction", do you just mean denial, as in a kind of shock symptom where the person doesn't even realize what pain they are in, or an irreversible "insensitivity". Keep in mind, the latter would preclude the ability to react at all…also, the former would negate the sense and sensibilities of those "victims" of "MGM" who claim to know what they are talking about when they connect their dissatisfaction with the absence of a foreskin. That is what you were getting at, right? Or do you yet know?

    That article webpage only confirms what I already said about aesthetics. Not the appearance of the penis, but supposition about the senses/sensations of the owner, and subsequent arbitrary assumptions. You've heard of the three kinds of lies haven't you? Twenty men signed something, and some other people think, "that these feelings exist at all is a noteworthy development and reason for concern"? You haven't even approached the threshold of aesthetic to substance.

    "No. It boils down to human rights." Rights unrealized by the infants, I'm sure you would say. That's the parents' responsibility in rearing, not that of "society", since society will never parent a child, nor grant a human their rights. The old adage of "It takes a village…" is rarely used by actual villagers, just deluded and superficial socialistic fascist cosmopolitan pseudo-sophisticates. You've not proven any continuity in your logic.

  10. Andy Bendzin says:

    Actually, on this one I stand by the Muslims as well as the Jews, regardless the difference of believes. You cannot condone one but not the other. But what else should I expect from Jew haters.

  11. Andy Bendzin says:

    I just had to make that point clear. But don't bother replying because I won't take the time to respond on any of your other comments either. Just a waste of time.

  12. Jesse Caron says:

    Rebekah Pele Marie: You prove you know nothing about the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I'm not even Jewish and I can see that.

  13. Jesse Caron says:

    I just read your words, that's all.

Comments are closed.

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