Solution to Circumcision Concerns in Germany?

By JTA

Published August 21, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi said in Berlin that medical training for mohels, or ritual circumcisers, could resolve concerns in Germany regarding circumcision of male children.

In meetings Tuesday with government officials and Berlin’s Jewish community, Rabbi Yonah Metzger noted that mohels could be trained and certified by German doctors. But he emphasized that the Chief Rabbinate in Israel has to make final decision on whether a mohel is up to par.

The suggestion echoes that of the Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis, which in July announced that Germany’s mainstream Orthodox rabbinical body, the ORD, would create an association of mohels to be supervised by the Association of Jewish Doctors and Psychologists. This project already “is in the works,” Israel Meller, ORD administrator, told JTA Tuesday.

At issue is a ruling in May by a Cologne district court, which said that the circumcision of male infants may be done for only medical reasons. All other circumcisions of a minor would be considered inflicting bodily harm, according to the ruling. The case involved the circumcision of a Muslim boy, but affects both Jews and Muslims.

Although ritual circumcision remains legal, some hospitals have ceased offering the procedure while the debate rages. Meanwhile, mohels continue to perform ritual circumcisions at private homes or synagogues, far from the public eye. Germany’s parliament has indicated it will step in with a law to protect ritual circumcision for Jews and Muslims.

Germany currently has an estimated 10 Jewish mohels, including women, who also are medical doctors specializing in urology. It is not clear whether they would receive the OK from a traditional rabbinate, however.

Jewish tradition requires that boys be circumcised on the 8th day after birth; postponement is possible in the case of illness.

Metzger addressed the Jewish community at the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin on Monday, in a talk sponsored by the Jewish Community of Berlin, the Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Educational Center of Berlin, several Chabad-related educational institutions in Berlin, Keren Hayesod and other local Jewish associations.

On Tuesday, the rabbi was accompanied by Berlin Chabad Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal in meetings with government officials. According to Die Welt newspaper, Metzger said that a proper brit milah does not cause suffering: “We give the infant a drop of sweet wine and then he falls asleep,” he said, adding that in the rare case of complications, doctors and not mohels are usually to blame.


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!
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • 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.