Tolerant Denmark Debates Circumcision Ban

Some See Practice as Violation of Children's Rights


By Paul Berger

Published August 20, 2012, issue of August 24, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 3)

At the center of the Danish debate is Morten Frisch, an epidemiologist from the Statens Serum Institut, in Copenhagen. His recent study concluded that circumcised men reported “frequent orgasm difficulties” and that their female partners suffered “a range of frequent sexual difficulties.”

Frisch has been joined by Jews who also oppose circumcision. Under the headline “Can You Give Me My Foreskin Back?,” Leo Milgrom, 32, wrote an open letter to Denmark’s chief rabbi, Bent Lexner, saying that “it is wrong to maintain a practice that unnecessarily cuts parts off small children.”

Pointing out that modern Jews ignore many of the 613 commandments, Milgrom suggested it was time to end ritual circumcision. “I would never in my life permit anybody at all to cut something off my penis,” Milgrom wrote. “And how,” he asked Lexner, “would you advise my parents, who didn’t even consider or reflect that they said yes to a mutilation, an operation without any clinical justification and without a painkiller, on their own son?”

Herbert Pundik, a senior, Israel-based correspondent for Politiken, said circumcision has become a regular topic of debate in Denmark. “The fact it does excite attention, this is a positive thing,” said Pundik, who was Politiken’s chief editor for almost 24 years. “I’m not against circumcision, but am very for the fact that it should be discussed.”

The controversy in Denmark was ignited by a recent court ruling in Cologne, Germany, which found that the botched circumcision of a 4-year-old Muslim boy violated the child’s right to physical integrity.

The German Medical Association advised its members to halt nonmedical circumcisions out of fear that they would be prosecuted. German politicians had to step in to reassure Jews and Muslims that the right to circumcise their children would not be infringed.

On July 15, Anders Jerichow, president of the Danish PEN society and a senior correspondent and editor at Politiken, wrote an editorial lauding the German political response, calling religious freedom one of the “most important and fragile columns of democracy.”


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!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • 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.