Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Legality of Ritual Circumcision In Germany Remains Problematic

In Germany, the questions surrounding religious circumcision of young boys by Jewish and Muslim families have become even more complex in recent days.  The New York Times reported yesterday that German officials have been meeting in Germany with Israel's chief Ashkenazi rabbi  Yona Metzger since Monday seeking a way to provide legal protection for religious circumcisions in the wake of a trial court ruling in June by a court in Cologne that held it illegal for parents to decide to circumcise boys who are too young to give their own legal consent. (See prior posting.) Rabbi Metzger said he is confident that a solution will be found, but rejected compromises such as requiring that the procedure be performed by a doctor (with a mohel merely in attendance) or requiring use of anesthesia. Meanwhile in the city of Hof in the state of Bavaria, a local doctor filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors against a local rabbi, David Goldberg, who performs ritual circumcisions.  The complaint cited the Cologne court ruling.  It is unclear whether prosecutors are moving ahead with the case.

UPDATE: The Forward (8/31) reports that a complaint against a second rabbi filed with the prosecutors office in Berlin was dropped on Aug. 15 as unfounded. The complaint was filed against Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg after he defended circumcision on a television talk show. The prosecutor's office said: "Even if a non-medical circumcision were to take place it would not meet the elements of severe bodily harm."