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Israeli Mom to Ask High Court to Block Rabbis’ Circumcision Order

Israel’s Supreme Court soon may have to decide if it wants to set off fireworks and take on a case that involves the authority of a rabbinical court to order a circumcision.
Brit Milah

Brit Milah ceremony. Photo for illustration purposes only.
Photo Credit: Serge Attal/Flash90

An Israeli divorcee who has fought for a year to prevent her son from being circumcised said she will appeal to the Supreme Court to cancel a rabbinical court order that she allow a brit milah to be performed on the baby.

The unusual case occurs at a time when there is growing pressure in Europe and some isolated parts of Canada and the United States to ban or control circumcision, which opponents say is a violation of human rights since the baby does not have the freedom of choice.

The order to the mother, identified as Elinor, to have her circumcised upholds a similar ruling last month by a Netanya rabbinical court. Her baby now is one year old, and she originally objected on medical grounds to circumcising her son after eight days, as prescribed by Jewish law unless there are medical reasons to postpone it.

The mother is fighting the father’s determination to have the baby circumcised, and the Jerusalem rabbinical court said that she may be exploiting  the act of circumcision “as a tool to make headway in the divorce struggle,” according to Haaretz.

The court ordered the mother to pay a fine of $140 for each day the boy remains uncircumcised.

No one is speaking about a ban in Israel of the Jewish custom that is part of the heart and soul of Judaism, but the case tests the authority of rabbinical courts and strikes at the very heart of Judaism at a time when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is insisting that Israel be known by the Palestinian Authority as a “Jewish state.”

Jewish law, like secular law, does not allow one to choose what law he wants to observe, particularly when it comes to circumcision that Jews have practiced for centuries at the risk of death by tyrannical regimes, dating back to the Roman Empire and more recently to the Communist regime in the former Soviet Union.

The mother’s opposition, as quoted by the newspaper, parallels that of anti-circumcision campaigners outside of Israel who are protesting that the procedure should be banned because it is painful and should not be done without the approval a child, who of course cannot be reasonably state his opinion until he is at least a teenager.

“I started reading about what actually happens in circumcision, and I realized that I couldn’t do that to my son. He’s perfect just as he is,” the mother told Haaretz. Jewish thought explains that one of the lessons of the Torah law for circumcision is exactly the opposite of what she said – that no one is born perfect and that everyone must make a “tikun” to repair the world, starting with himself.

The rabbinical court noted, “We have been seeing public and legal fights against circumcision in the United States and Europe for quite some time. The public in Israel stands united against this phenomenon, seeing it as another aspect of the anti-Semitic acts that must be fought.”

If the case reaches the Supreme Court it will have special significance due to recent legislation that diluted the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, which is dominated by the Haredi stream of Judaism, to decide where couple can get married and what conditions they have to meet for a marriage to be performed.

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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12 Responses to “Israeli Mom to Ask High Court to Block Rabbis’ Circumcision Order”

  1. She is guilty in two ways –denying the father of his rights, and using a child to undermine them; and guilty, in Israel no less, of antisemitism. Wouldn’t it funny if someday her son sued her for damages? No b’rit mila, no Judaism. And they talk of freedom to choose, while negatively effecting his right to choose by putting undue burden on him when older and wanting a Jewish identity via covenant with G-d.

  2. Malkah Sorel says:

    What is happening to us

  3. Dan Silagi says:

    If she doesn't want her son to be circumcised that's her choice, and no religious court should have the power to interfere. This is simply the inverse of what's going on in some European countries, where so-called "intactivists" (generally gay men) are trying to outlaw circumcision. This is clearly a matter of choice, and Israeli secular law doesn't mandate circumcision for Jewish boys. Freedom of religion means just that.

  4. Ben Yosef Shomer says:

    exactly dear Dan. According to the democratic values, is a matter of choice. According to Judaism is an obligation. Obviously dear Malkah , Hashem gives us the opportunity to choose . The divine Law or the Greek mentality. May with the help from above, and the bright light of Hannuka, the people of Israel will win the battle against the hellenists yimach shemam

  5. Carolin Knox says:

    The thing is, these parents say “wait” so the child can decide, but few 12 yr.Olds will choose circumcision, therefore denying the Covenant to the child. Actually, it is denying him his birthright.

  6. Leah Urso says:

    Should it be the mother's choice or the father's choice whether their son be Jewish? The sad part is that he will never be able to marry a Jewish girl.

  7. Eamonn Dunne says:

    The fine from the rabbinical court, is that compulsory and enforced by the state?

  8. Joseph Kayne says:

    Carolin Knox says, “few 12 yr.Olds will choose circumcision, therefore denying the Covenant to the child. Actually, it is denying him his birthright.

    Is the argument that circumcision must take place before he can choose for himself precisely because the child would never choose it for himself? I find that a profoundly disturbing thought. If he truly wishes to be a part of the Abrahmic covenant, he would decide this for himself as a symbol of how he feels. If he doesn’t then he won’t. But, I reject the idea that the boy would be any less Jewish simply because he did not have a part of his penis amputated. That makes very little sense, even from a religious standpoint. If he wishes to make the sacrifice, nothing will be stopping him from choosing this for himself. I have known many men who chose circumcision in adulthood. This boy can too.

  9. Jerry says:

    This woman should be punished badly because she never ask her son for his opinion before she conceived and brought him to the earth. Human rights groups should lock her up for life. So she can stop funnying about with G-D contract with Abraham. Shame on her.

  10. Ron Low says:

    That court has no jurisdiction over people other than the husband and wife. I dare say they could not order her to cut a piece of property such as a doll. But to torture a child?

  11. Sam Rubin says:

    We are the chosen people and Hashem made a covenant with Abraham. Circumcision was part of our side of the bargain amongst many others as a sign of our covenant with Hashem. Are we not proud to be Jewish?

  12. Rich Rochlin says:

    I agree. But it begs the question: how do you really know?

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