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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Brit Mila’

The First Brit Milah at Oz veGaon

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

About two months after Givat Oz veGaon was established, in memory of the three youths Gilad Sha’er, Eyal Yifrah, and Naftali Frenkel, may they be avenged, a moving event was held on the hill – the first brit milah (circumcision) ceremony in the forest, which is situated facing the Gush Etzion junction.

David and Ilana Brenner, residents of Elazar in Gush Etzion, invited their guests, relatives, and the mohel to Givat Oz veGaon, where the ceremony was conducted. The baby, who became part of the renewed history of Gush Etzion, was named Oz Michael.

The baby’s grandmother, Naomi Brenner, one of those expelled from Yamit, emotionally summed up the event: “We felt a special atmosphere here, in the place that is named after the precious boys who fell. A brit symbolizes continuity. We look at one another here with joy, and the desire to be in Eretz Israel.”

The baby’s grandfather, Igor Tofeld, added: “This isn’t just a moving event because we gathered in this place. This is our first grandchild, and I am very happy that Ilana and David chose this location. This symbolizes that the people of Israel lives, and that with all that has happened, we will be victorious.”

The mohel, Rabbi Hayyim Moshe Weisberg, too, expressed his emotion at performing the first brit at a new Jewish site.

Oz veGaon was first settled by members of Women in Green and the Zionist Midrasha, the night after the murder became known. In the days and weeks that have passed since then, many youth and visitors from all over Israel have come to the hill, that is next to the site of the kidnapping. They renovated and restored the site, and started to establish the infrastructure needed to turn it into a regional tourism center.

“The preserve was established to continue life in Eretz Israel, give a living soul and provide a constant Jewish presence at another location in Gush Etzion. It therefore was only natural for the family to conduct their first son’s brit here, in the Oz veGaon preserve, and to call their baby Oz Michael,” say the heads of Women in Green, Yehudit Katsover and Nadia Matar. They add that “the phrase ‘In your blood live’ [recited during the brit ceremony] received redoubled significance here.”

The two, as well as the activists and supporters from among the nearby communities and the members of the Gush Etzion Regional Council, call upon the public at large “to conduct events at the site, to enjoy the beautiful forest and the facilities that have been established, and to strengthen the Jewish presence.”

Rabbis, Pols Slam Brit Mila Decision

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Haredi politicians blasted a Supreme Court decision Sunday that granted a mother the right to refuse her son’s circumcision.

The case in question stems from divorce proceedings currently before the Israeli family court. Last year, the civil court ruled that both parents must agree to the traditional brit mila procedure, but the father challenged the ruling in the rabbinical court. The latter ordered that the baby be circumcised, and levied a NIS 500 fine against the woman for every day she refused to submit the baby to be circumcised.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote, “the Jewishness of a Jewish boy is one of the matters that can be included in divorce, for if we rule otherwise, [this would mean that] a parent cannot include a cardinal and essential subject regarding his decision about the life of his child in the separation arrangements from his spouse – which in my eyes is inappropriate.”

In the political arena, reaction to the ruling came fast and furious. Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef called the ruling a landmark “yet another worrisome escalation in the ongoing trend, in recent years, to limit the authority of the Rabbinical Court. “

In addition, MK Aryeh Deri, leader of the Sephardi Haredi party Shas, called the ruling a “scandal.”

“Our forefathers, who sacrificed their lives for this commandment for thousands of years, did not dream that the state they hoped for would prevent a Jewish father from circumcising his son.”

On the Ashkenazi side of the spectrum, MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism) claimed that “In the political climate that the present government exudes, with new anti-religious bills being presented on a weekly basis, it is only natural that the High Court would continue with its rulings that contradict the Jewish heritage and our right to exist here as Jews, and contribute to the division of the nation.”

 

Council of Europe Executives Advise Inaction on Male Circumcision

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Council of Europe has climbed down from along and weak limb by issuing a letter that in effect neutralizes a resolution by its parliament that equated mutilation of female genitals and non-medical circumcision of boys for religious purposes.

The Council called them “by no means comparable.”

The Council of Europe’s leadership sent a letter to the parliament that advised it against further attempts by members to target ritual circumcision.

European rabbis praised the Council of Europe’s leadership.

Rabbi Mendel Samama of the Conference of European Rabbis said the letter was a “sign of real progress on the issue of religious circumcision in Europe.”

The letter was in reaction to a controversial resolution passed by the council’s parliament last year that said the circumcision of boys was a “violation of the physical integrity of children.”

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, called the letter a “significant step” that he said is “particularly pleasing in light of a worrying trend across Europe where liberal extremes have taken precedence over the basic human right of religious practice.”

Norway Wants to Limit Circumcisions to Hospital Rooms

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Norway’s health minister said Wednesday the countryman no intention of banning religious circumcisions but should restrict the religious practice to be carried out only in hospitals.

“If the children are circumcised in hospitals by competent personnel, we will prevent complications,” Health Minister Bent Høie told the Aftenposten newspaper. “This is the most realistic way to ensure the little guys against damage. All the other proposals risk exposing the boys to injury.”

He said that stories last year that the government would ban circumcision were totally untrue, but Anne Lindboe, Norway Children’s Ombudswoman, said last year, “This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky.”

“A ban on something that is so common for religious or cultural reasons would not be for the good of the children,” he was reported as saying by Norway’s English-language The Local newspaper.

Jewish boys traditionally are circumcised in a ceremony in the synagogue or in a banquet hall, where a festive meal immediately follows the ceremony.

The health minister’s attempt to make sure that circumcision is carried out under hospital sterility also would turn the rite into a totally sterile ceremony.

There still are voices in Norway calling for banning circumcision of babies or young boys.

He estimated that some 2,000 ritual circumcisions would be carried out in Norwegian hospitals annually, and said that the government had yet to decide who would bear the cost.

Swedish County Eyeing Ban on Circumcision

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

A county in Sweden is moving ahead with plans to ban the non-medical circumcision of boys, its leading elected official said.

Per-Ola Mattsson, the commissioner of Blekinge County, said he will up bring up a ban on the practice with the county’s health board in February, according to a Swedish publication.

Mattsson, who is also chairman of the Public Health Board of Blekinge, told the Dagens Medicin medical news site he opposes the practice because minors “have no possibility to say ‘no’ to the surgery and therefore the county should not perform these procedures.”

In Sweden, non-medical and medical circumcision may be performed only by licensed professionals, as per legislation from 2001. Under the legislation, Jewish ritual circumcisers, or mohelim, receive their licenses from the country’s health board, but a nurse or doctor must still be present when they perform the procedure. Representatives of the country’s Jewish community told JTA they are pleased with the arrangement, as it does not prevent them from performing the ritual.

However, the rightist Sweden Democrats Party submitted a motion in parliament in September in favor of banning ritual circumcision, and the children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — last week released a joint declaration proposing a ban on circumcision.

Court Suspends Rabbis’ Order to Require Woman to Allow Son’s Brit

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Israel’s Supreme Court has suspended a Rabbinical Court (Beit Din) order that a woman in divorce proceedings allow her baby son, now one year old, to be circumcised. The woman also was ordered to pay a fine of $150 for each day the brit mila is not performed.

She originally objected to circumcision because she said her son was not medically fit but since has said that a brit mila causes suffering.

The woman appealed the Netanya Beit Din’s decision to the secular judicial system, which put the rabbis’ order on hold until the judges reach a decision on whether the Beit Din has authority to order a circumcision.

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

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-mom-to-ask-high-court-to-block-rabbis-circumcision-order/2013/11/26/

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