Lawmakers Object to German Circumcision Ban

Bipartisan Group of Congresspeople Write to Ambassador

By JTA

Published August 10, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A bipartisan group of 20 Congressmen sent a letter to the German government expressing “deep concern” over a recent German court decision to effectively ban circumcision on young boys.

Howard Berman (D-Calif.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), authored the letter, which was addressed to Peter Ammon, the German ambassador to the United States.

The District Court of Cologne court recently ruled that the right of a child to be protected from bodily harm took precedence over the interests of the parents or religious freedom. Accordingly, the court said, the circumcision of a minor for non-medical reasons could be considered a criminal act.

The letter by the congressmen called the June 26 court decision “an affront to religious freedom.”

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which represents about 1,000 congregations, praised the letter. Circumcision, it wrote in a press release, is “a fundamental ritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities. Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection of the Jewish community’s existence.”

The letter to the ambassador also “applauded the strong opposition voiced by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle” and called on them to pass legislation that would safeguard religious freedom.

“Europe has experienced a troubling uptick in measures that violate religious freedom by undermining core religious tenets, such as the Dutch initiative to ban ritual slaughter and this new effort in Germany to outlaw ritual circumcision,” Waxman said in a press release. “We must ensure that Germany follows through on its commitment to resolve this controversy.”

Berman added in the release, “A not so veiled assault on tenets central to religious expression is underway in Europe’s courts and legislatures. We must let it be known to our friends in a clear and unequivocal voice that such measures are harmful assaults on religious freedom and should not continue.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.