A German pastor who defended Jews’ rights to ritual circumcision will receive the highest award of the Central Council of Jews in Germany in ceremonies in Berlin Thursday evening.
The awarding of the Leo Baeck Prize will honor Nikolaus Schneider, 66, president of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany – the country’s main Protestant body – for his support for Jewish life in Germany, his dedication to Israel and his “unconditional solidarity in the circumcision debate” that embroiled the country in 2012.
Schneider defended the right of Jewish circumcision during last year’s attempt by activists to bar ritual circumcision, helped by a May 2012 ruling that criminalized non-medical circumcision in Cologne.
Schneider decried the Cologne ruling as criminalization of an age-old religious practice and said that this “attack on Jewish identity” upset him “greatly, given history, and our German history with Jewry.”
Last December, Germany passed of a law affirming the right to religious circumcision of boys and setting medical standards to be met by mohels.