German Jews wont be punished for circumcisions

Germany’s Jews and Muslims will not be punished for breaking the law if they carry out circumcisions on young boys, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said.

“It is absolutely clear that we want to have Jewish and Muslim religious life in Germany,” Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said July 13, according to Reuters. “Circumcision carried out in a responsible manner must be possible in this country without punishment.”

Before her announcement, Europe’s main Orthodox rabbinical body held an emergency meeting in Berlin after a Cologne court ruled that the religious ritual could be considered a criminal act. The rabbis urged Jews in Germany to uphold the commandment to circumcise newborn sons, despite the court ruling.

The ruling related to the case of a Muslim boy taken to a doctor with bleeding after circumcision. The Cologne court said the practice inflicts bodily harm and should not be carried out on young boys, but could be practiced on older males who give consent. The ruling by the Cologne Regional Court applies only to the city and surrounding districts.

Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, welcomed Merkel’s statement, saying he is “grateful to Chancellor Merkel for making it clear that religious freedom will not be compromised in Germany.”

The rabbinical conference announced that it is joining with the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany to create an association of mohels, or ritual circumcisers, to be supervised by the Association of Jewish Doctors and Psychologists.

The German Medical Association has advised doctors to not perform circumcisions until the legal questions are resolved, according to Reuters. — jta