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July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘circumcision’

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.”

Signs Of The Covenant

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

This week’s portion begins by discussing a mother’s status after childbirth. The Torah tells us she becomes temeiah (commonly translated as spiritually impure) “as at the time of her menstruation (niddah).” In the very next sentence, the Torah says that if the child born is a male, circumcision is to take place on the eighth day.

This is not the only time the laws of niddah intersect with circumcision. Consider the first time circumcision is mentioned in the Torah. There, God commands Abraham to circumcise all males of his household (Genesis 17:9-14). Precisely at that time, God also reveals that a child will be born to Sarah, Abraham’s wife (Genesis 17:19). When Sarah hears the news, she laughs. The Torah explains her laughter by pointing out that Sarah had aged and was no longer menstruating. In the words of the Torah, “Sarah was old, well on in years, the manner of women had ceased to be with Sarah” (Genesis 18:11). Here again, there is a confluence between circumcision and niddah.

Circumcision is also prominent in the Moses narrative. While on his way to Pharaoh to demand that the Jews be freed, Moshe finds himself in a terrible predicament: one of his sons is close to death. Tzipporah, Moses’s wife, steps in and saves the child by circumcising him. She then declares, “a bridegroom’s bloodshed was because of circumcision” (Exodus 4:26). Note how circumcision is here linked to the blood of bridegroom. By definition, blood, for a groom, hints to the menstrual blood of the bride as well.

Additionally, the sentence from which it is deduced that the blood of circumcision was placed on the door posts of Jewish homes for the Exodus from Egypt deals with blood of birth (dam leidah) which as noted is treated as dam niddah – the blood of menstruation. (See Rashi on Exodus 12:6 and Ezekiel 16:6)

Many wonder what is the counterpoint for circumcision relative to women. These texts seem to teach that the laws of niddah, the laws of family purity, comprise that counterpoint. Interestingly, milah and niddah are not only mentioned together but they have similar meanings. The Hebrew for circumcision is milah, which according to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch comes from the word mul, meaning “opposite.” Niddah has a comparable meaning – “separate.”

The repetitive linkage of the male circumcision and the female status of niddah gives us a clear message. While it is too often the case that sexuality is exploited and perverted worldwide, the Torah stands apart, insisting on an opposite approach – one of holiness. The words mul and niddah charge male and female alike to sanctify life even in the most powerful and intimate realms.

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.

NY Newborn Contracts Herpes after Metzitzah B’Peh

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

A newborn in New York who underwent his ritual circumcision rite is undergoing treatment for neonatal genital herpes, according to the Forward, contracted after metzitzah b’peh, in which the ritual circumciser places his mouth directly on the child’s circumcision wound to revive the shocked blood stream.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issued a health alert about the baby’s case on Jan. 28. The baby was treated for the genital rash five days after his circumcision.

At least 11 boys contracted herpes between 2004 and 2011, according to New York City health officials. Two died from the disease and two others suffered brain damage.

In September 2013, the city’s Board of Health voted 9-0 to require mohels to obtain signed consent forms from parents; the Haredi Orthodox Jewish community opposes the forms. Several months earlier, the city had struck an agreement with city hospitals to distribute pamphlets about the ritual’s dangers to the mothers of newborns.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said shortly after taking office on Jan. 1 that he would leave the signed consent forms in place while looking for a more effective solution, according to the Forward. The Haredi Orthodox community had expected de Blasio to do away with the forms.

Pittsburgh Rabbi Denies Botching Circumcision

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, who was accused last week of botching a circumcision of an 8-day-old boy who was rushed to the hospital after his penis had accidentally been cut off, told a court that is not at fault.

The incident revived worldwide publicity at a time when anti-circumcision lobbies have succeeded in convincing some European officials to back the prohibition of non-medical circumcisions.

Rabbi Rosenberg admitted that the baby boy had been injured, but the lawsuit against him does not specify the wounds. The parents said through the lawsuit that they rushed the baby to a hospital for surgery and leech therapy that helps the body to accept reattached parts.

The suit charged Rabbi Rosenberg with causing a “catastrophic and life-changing injury.”

In his lawyers’ response to the lawsuit, the court was told, “Rabbi Rosenberg performed the Bris Milah in a careful and competent fashion, with the care and skill normally exercised by Mohels under the same or similar circumstances” and “denies that he is liable to plaintiff,” the Pittsburgh Tribune reported.

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/court-suspends-rabbis-order-to-require-woman-to-allow-sons-brit/2013/12/19/

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