Berlin Circumcision Move Not Enough: AJC

Jewish Group Slams Restrictions on Rite in German State

By JTA

Published September 07, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The American Jewish Committee condemned a decision earlier this week by the state of Berlin that places restrictions on circumcisions.

The decision affirmed the legality of circumcisions but placed limitations on who could carry them out. It said that only doctors, and not mohels, could perform circumcisions. The state also required that parents be informed of the procedure’s medical risks before consenting, and that doctors do everything possible during the procedure to reduce pain and limit bleeding. Some Jews object to the use of anesthesia during the religious rite.

“We are shocked that the Berlin Justice Ministry ignored the advice of AJC and other Jewish organizations and instead chose to turn a 4,000 year-old religious ritual into a criminal offense,” Deidre Berger, director of AJC Berlin, said in a statement Thursday. “It is illogical that practitioners are legally liable for a procedure recommended by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

That ruling made Berlin the first of Germany’s 16 states to declare the medical practice legal following a Cologne court ruling in June that nonmedical circumcisions on children amounted to a criminal offense, according to the German news agency DPA.

AJC Berlin, in an expert statement filed Aug. 30 with Berlin authorities, warned that conditions to legalize circumcision were medically unnecessary, an undue burden on parents and a violation of their rights to religious freedom and parental choice.

June’s court ruling has led many doctors to stop performing circumcisions in order to avoid being prosecuted. Two rabbis have had complaints brought against them based on the ruling, though one complaint was dropped last week.


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!
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • 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.