Photo Credit: Gershon Elison/Flash90

The Jewish Hospital in Berlin has suspended all religious circumcisions of children following a ruling delivered by a German court on June 24 banning the practice.

The district court in Cologne ruled that circumcising young boys “is a serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” and raised an outcry of protest from Jewish and Muslim groups, both religions performing circumcisions on their children as a symbol of religious faith.

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The ruling was made on a case in which a 4 year-old Muslim boy’s circumcision by a doctor led to pervasive bleeding and medical complications.

Gerhard Nerlich, a spokesman for the hospital, announced that “we are suspending circumcisions until the legal situation is clarified”.

The hospital performs approximately 100 religious circumcisions a year.  Two surgeries scheduled to take place were cancelled by the hospital, with calls placed to the families explaining the reason.

In its ruling, the court found that performing the religious circumcisions impinged on a child’s “fundamental right to bodily integrity” and was “against the interests of a child to decide for himself later on to what religion he wishes to belong”.  “Even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, [circumcision] should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent”, the court said.  It noted that once a boy reaches the age of consent, he will be permitted to have a religious circumcision performed on himself.

The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany condemned the ruling as “an unprecedented and dramatic intrusion on the self-determination of religious communities”, calling it “outrageous and insensitive”.

Rabbi Shimshon Nadel of Har Nof, Jerusalem, said the ruling was indicative of Germany’s sentiments toward Jews.  “Throughout Jewish history, there have been many attempts to ban circumcision – this is nothing new, and unfortunately, anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head in Germany,” he said.  “The circumcision procedure is something that is safe when performed by a trained mohel [performer of ritual circumcisions], we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so it really comes down to the training of the mohel.”

The World Health Organization estimated that approximately 1/3 of men around the world are circumcised.

Germany is home to millions of Muslims and over 100,000 Jews.

Chabad of Berlin could not be reached for comment.

 

Please see the petition on Germany’s ban.

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Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

81 COMMENTS

  1. Jede Religion (wie auch jede andere Gruppierung in Deutschland) hat das Recht respektiert zu werden, verbunden mit der Pflicht, andere zu respektieren.
    Dazu zählt die freie Ausübung von Religion, solange sie sich nicht anmaßt, ihre Glaubenslehren als allgemeinverbindliche Wahrheit gegenüber anderen durchsetzten zu wollen.
    Ebenso muss es selbstverständlich sein, dass jede religiöse Gemeinschaft ihren eigenen Mythos leben, sowie ihren Kult und Ritus uneingeschränkt ausüben darf, solange er die Freiheit anderer nicht einschränkt.
    Man kann die Frage stellen, ob das Bescheiden von Knaben oder aber auch das rituelle Schlachten (Schächten) von Tieren die Grenzen erlaubter Riten überschreitet.
    Das Argument, durch Beschneidung würde muslimischen wie jüdischen Knaben eine Versehrung im Sinne einer Behinderung zugefügt, ist allerdings absurd.
    Rituelle Schlachtungen könnten gesetzeswidrig werden, falls sich Tierquälerei nachweisen ließe. Generell ist die Aufzucht von Tieren zum Zwecke der Schlachtung bereits fragwürdig, wenn man dem Tier ein Recht auf Würde zubilligt. Bislang ist das im deutschen Grundgesetz jedoch nicht verankert.
    Xenophobe Kreise werden sich allerdings beeilen, unter der Maskerade der Menschen- und Tierliebe, wann immer möglich, Rechtsmittel gegen Muslime, Juden, Roma, wie auch gegen asiatische und afrikanische Migranten wirksam zu machen.
    Wir sollten aber darauf vertrauen, dass deutsche Richter nicht durchgehen dämlich sind. Die meisten interpretieren Gesetzestexte im Sinne des Rechts, nur wenige nach den Maximen rechter Ideologie.
    Es freut mich, dass Sie, Nathan Warzawski wie auch Henryk M. Broder Feueralarm geben, sobald Nazis am Rechtsstaat zündeln.

  2. ban on ritual circumcision, slaughter, cloaked in concern for human rights, concern for animal rights – BALONEY – just another way to stick it to the Jews, the Muslims are just collateral damage.

  3. Two points:
    1. I have four sons, all circumcised. The first circ was by a doc, and was a bit botched. The rest were by mohels and were just fine. I recommend mohels over doctors for a bris, and hospitals are an unnecessary adjunct.
    2. I don't believe Germany's ruling is anti-Semitic – just the result of an antireligious mentality that is on the rise worldwide. Germany has many laws that are enforced against anti-Semitism; but not against stupidity.

  4. Circumcision is beyond tradition, it was G_d-instituted. Its imposition to the Jews and even non-Jews will incur, as counted for obedience and scientifically-proven health benefits both to the former and the latter. Remember how Abraham experienced attempts on his life (by the L_rd G_d) when he delayed to obey the act? ( And I believe this statement is Biblically correct ).

  5. Die Mohel werden weiter beschneiden!Hoffentlich wird es keine "Sittenpolizei " geben, die prüfen wird, ob die Söhne beschnitten sind. ( wie vor 70 Jahren,bei den Nazis)

  6. "It noted that once a boy reaches the age of consent, he will be permitted to have a religious circumcision performed on himself." HA! I am reminded of the great line of Rabbi Emanuel Rackman z"l who said, "I must firmly ask [non-Jews] to respect my religious convictions as I see them and not as they see them." I admire (am inspired by) all the Russian Jews who were circumcised when they got out of Russia – I don't know if all Jews will have the fortitude to take care of it if it isn't taken care of for them when they are babies (as many Russian adult men have told me – they "wish" it had been taken care of for them when they were babies).

  7. The Jews have a natural right to their Religious Heritage, since it is not a casual belief, but a social institution, and social institutions of faith are of Natural Law, higher than any "state" The state does not own the flesh of the people, nor does the state own the flesh of married people's children. This law brings us back to the nazi concept of building a master race. Years ago the Catholic Church opposed the circumcision on religious grounds, not on health, and when scientific health benefits were realized , the Catholic Church approved of circumcision as a health choice, seeing that Circumcision is proven to prevent diseases, including AIDS. This entire matter is being caused by the Atheists. The Bible says to circumcise on the eight day, and no one in any state government has a right to deny anyone a Biblically sound precept of religion. The Bible existed before the German State and will exist after it. Enough is enough.

  8. You simply prefer to be hostile and hateful, no, not necessarily about the issue, it is your repugnance against the Jews (G_d the Almighty had prophesied about your stance against HIS people epochs ago) bet you are not circumsized yourself, who is too yellow to bear a pinch of pain.

  9. Ruth, you don't know Hugh, and nothing he said was hostile or hateful. Circumcision is an act, that when performed in other cultures, is considered inhumane, and is completely unnecessary. If we can replace animal sacrifices with scrolls of paper nailed to our doorways, why can't we replace this barbaric act with a prayer?

  10. You can't have it both ways. If it is brave to undergo circumcision, then it is cowardly to impose it. But why would I ever want to have (the best) part of my genitals cut off?

  11. Nobody owns the flesh of any children, except the children themselves. Their parents only hold them in trust until they are adults and able to decide for themselves whether to have parts cut off. That is what the court has ruled, based on the German Basic Law.

    "Biblically sound"? So some precepts of religion are Biblically unsound? Who decides, and how?

  12. Ani Stubbs – don't be an idiot. Infants do not have religious beliefs, and thus are rightly protected from abuse. I was cut as an infant and dispise my parents for cutting of a very sensitive part of my body that I will never get back. Hating circumcision has nothing to do with hating jews. Stop being an idiot. Seriously.

  13. Age restricted with no regard for the religious mandate that a boy child is circumcised on the 8th day. Furthermore, circumcision is a lot less painful and less debilitating in infancy than at a later age.

  14. I wonder if the nitwit who wrote the headline bothered to read the article. Whatever you think of the court's ruling, or the hospital's decision, it was ONE hospital in Germany. ONE. FOR THE TIME BEING. The headline shouts that NO circumcisions are allowed ANYWHERE in Germany.

  15. @Jaden Carver Cringe in fear of your profanities, there are G_dly values involved here, affecting your eternal condition, if not your immediate future. @Hugh Intactive If your contention is challenged, examine its verity, obedience in the faith has nothing to do with logic and fact, this is a matter of relating yourself to the mandate-Giver, G_d the Almighty. Even the entire Jewish, non-Jewish practicing world community placed high value on the practice and its supportive factors pointing to the Creator. They know and understand why they have to observe it. When He gave the directive to Abraham, G_d did not explain why. Obedience is not a fad, it is a way of life with the Holy One Who deserves reverence and awe. On issues dealing with -G_d's word, our reasonings "are plain, filthy rags" (sic) @Jaden @Hugh you both lost in these? Read your Bible, pray to the Author if you persist philosophizing.

  16. Cringe in fear? Fear of what? Your imaginary friends don't scare me, it's been scientifically proven [referring to biblical god here] that he doesn't exist, also no profanities in any of my posts. But you have confirmed to me that you are a lunatic. I've read the bible. It's not very accurate.

  17. The same verse in Genesis that mandates circumcision (BY the father, nobody else) on the sons, mandates it for your slaves and the stranger within your gate too. Do you still do that? No? Then fear the WRATH of the LORD! (sarcasm)

  18. Sharon Gibson "with no regard for the religious mandate that a boy child is circumcised on the 8th day" The court did regard that mandate and ruled (correctly) that the rights of the infant person outweighed the rights of his parents to practise their religion on him, since it would still be impacting on his body when he is adult and formulating his own religious beliefs.

  19. There is another the one of the heart Deuteronomy 30.
    Messiah has come Daniel 9:24-26.
    for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of G-D.
    Isaiah 53 psalms 22.
    Who believes our report?

  20. Ruth Hirt The same verse in Genesis that mandates circumcision (BY the father, nobody else) on the sons, mandates it for your slaves and the stranger within your gate too. Do you still do that? No? Then ancient edicts CAN be varied.

  21. Well for us it is..I m circumsized like everyone of my brothers and relatives…But it is wrong for a country like Germany(with it s history)to create a anti-jewish law like this…c`mon…You can see that..

  22. Circumcision is practiced all over the world, many cultures practice circumcision for religious and cultural reasons. This ban does not only affect Jewish people. I think Germany is making a huge mistake by disrespecting the rights of their minority population, who want to uphold this ancient custom.

  23. We are talking about a cultural practice that is important to many people around the world, a practice that doesn't hurt anyone, but has actually been shown to slow the transmission of several STDs. Do some scholarly research about the benefits of male circumsicion first, and respect other people's rights to freedom of religion, speech and expression.

  24. So lets not pierce little girls ears either, since it mutilates their ears. You are entitled to your beliefs and I'm entitled to mine. Its called cultural relativism. Look it up in your dictionary.

  25. Bryce Hughes, I believe abortion is also legal in Germany. If we are talking about someone consenting to what is about to happen to them, isn't it ironic that abortion is legal but male circumsicion is considered barbaric? If you are so concerned about protecting the wishes of a child, what about late term abortions? Do you think the unborn children would consent to that? You can't have your cake and eat it too.

  26. How dare you call this a cosmetic procedure. It is an age old Covenant not only between G-d and Jews but between Father and son. I consider the foreskin a badge of persecution that I have faced in many western countries. This is a fu ndamental part of Judaism and by your tone I fear you have no respect for it's practitioners.

  27. Jaden Carver you are a self hating arrogant prig. Where has it been proven that G-d does not exist, it can only be said that at this time Science can neither prove or disprove the existence. You have aright to your beliefs and disbeliefs but do not take that right away from others. I am very proud of my circumcision, but as a Jew it is not question of right or wrong but Just IS. Take your condescending attitude elsewhere.

  28. 100,000 jewish people living in Germany? Give me a break! You wont catch me living in Poland where my parents were born….I would NEVER live in Germany, I have been in Israel, England and Italy but I wouldn't even take a trip to Germany and spend one dollar there….These jewish people there should come to America or Israel..Here even the Gentiles are circumsized due to cleanliness reasons…My son had a mohel (Jackie Masons brother) and he is fine…This ban is ridiculous…funny, here in America most want their sons to have it done regardless of their beliefs for health reasons.

  29. Self hating? Since when? this is news to me! I'm so glad you can telepathically communicate and analyze my entire personality via facebook comments! Did your imaginary God give you that power? [cuz it doesn't work lol]. Science has effectively disproved 'God' as he is described by the Torah/Bible. Evolution bitches – no Adam and Eve, so you guys will 'metaphoricalize' that story right? Cuz you know it's like… not possible since evolution occurs in populations, and a single man/woman would have to breed incestuously resulting in genetic diseases, poor adaptation to foreign diseases, etc – so yeah. Adam and Eve + Evolution = No more Abrahamic religions.

  30. I believe the minimum original human population had to be like 50 individuals – at a minimum to ensure survival of the species. And the whole 6000 years? Proven false too. Earth is several billion years old, proven by science. There are KNOWN CIVILIZATIONS older than 6000 years that had writing! The idea is seriously ridiculous.

  31. Paul Besterman It IS a cosmetic procedure – it's a medical term meaning unnecessary, which it is. Fits the definition – sorry. Why would we respect it's practitioners? In NY not to long ago one of your 'practioners' KILLED 2 babies [HUMAN BEINGS], and gave 11 others herpes that they will carry for the rest of their life… tell me please why ANYBODY should respect a person who KILLS HUMANS and SPREADS DISEASE.

  32. Actually, health reasons is not the primary reason in the USA – The most common reason given by parents is "to look like the father" – the health reasons are entirely negligible so the ol' fallback is 'i want my baby to look like me!' – hopefully none of these daddies lost their fingers or something – probably want to chop of their fingers too so they would match.

  33. So, in laymans terms – a population of ape-like creatures got separated from the group – they moved to an environment that was experiencing rapid change from year to year. The apes that were smarter were able to predict these changes (rain seasons, etc) and that gave them an evolutionary advantage because they would know when to stay and when to leave any specific place. Eventually this continued to evolve to become intelligence. If it had been only one man and one woman, they would have to reproduce incestiously, and their children too, and their children [cousins with cousins], the genetic diversity would be insanely low, disease would creep in and because they don't have much genetic diversity would easily wipe them out… over… and over… and over again. Anyway – you probably aren't going to read this anyway so I'll stop here. But yeah, science does disprove any/all abrahamic religions [unless of course you ignore like 90% of it or take what is obviously meant to be literal 'metaphorically']

  34. Self hating was by your own admission in regards to your cut unless that was someone else diatribe I read. There are many inconsistencies in the genesis story not least 2 versions of the creation there are many theories as to why this is that I do not even bother myself with but first of course there was incestuous relationships how could this population of 50 that you seem to have pulled out of the air come about surely there was only the first Hominid breeding with whatever followed by H 2 then H3 your logic is questionable. Your devotion to science is as equally obeisant as some of the religious folks you complain about. I have never heard of known civilizations (that being the operative word) before 3000 BCE which would be about 5012 years ago,but would welcome more information. Now instead of quoting science as the answer try using your imagination and open up your mind to the possibility that there is a spiritual world that is beyond reason and where true inspiration both Artistically and Morally comes from . Now I ask you are you a Jew or not? if not then i recommend you take your scientific data and apply it to an anthropological study in comparative religion and it's importance to cultures other than your own and gain some wisdom compassion and empathy for others viewpoints.

  35. Hans Christian Rasmussen there are many medical reasons for it not least of which is the distinct lack of cervical cancer in women partnered with circumcised men, now if your not a Jew or a Moslem stay out of our affairs. the same as we prefer not to with Christian ones.

  36. Jaden Carver ,I pray you repent from your harsh words denying the existence of Yahuah and His Son Yahusuah..Just because you don t believe in Their Existence and Divine Nature does not mean They don t exist..

  37. There is actually in the US an organisation of men, mostly gentiles i expect, who feel that they have been traumatized by undergoing the process, and who are strongly opposed to it. They provide information to those who want to have the process surgically reversed (it is possible whith plastic surgery)

  38. Michael Deonarine I don't have to believe they don't exist, it's a proven fact the bible is erroneous. Any argument towards 'divine nature' as you say it has yet to be determined, but any who worship scripture and believe it to be truth must do so out of logical fallacy. Pray all you want, it doesn't do anything, and thus doesn't hurt me. It interests me not if you wish to waste your time doing so.

  39. Paul Besterman "The oldest known cave art comes from the Cave of El Castillo in northern Spain. "One motif – a faint red dot – is said to be more than 40,000 years old." – Art more than 3000 years old is very easy to find. Morality is an evolutionary construct – it comes not from the divine, but from the need for social species to survive among each other. Art is an expression of perception, it too has no divine origin.

  40. Jaden Carver This is my last post back to you Because I now know you are just a conceited fool. in your earlier post you stated there were civilizations older than 6000 years that had writing and you then hold up cave painting as proof, Really ?
    " Morality is an evolutionary construct – it comes not from the divine, but from the need for social species to survive among each other. Art is an expression of perception, it too has no divine origin."
    These words are a very sad indictment of your nihilism and louche attitude. Goodbye, it is nice not knowing you .

  41. Paul Besterman Yeah, cave paintings – it does the trick! You resort to insult which points at how poorly your argument truly is. I posses none of the character traits your insipid insults imply, but your lack of intelligence is apparent.

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