Israeli Woman Appeals Order to Circumcise Son

Rabbinic Court Set $148-a-Day Fine for Refusal

By Reuters

Published December 18, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

An Israeli woman appealed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday against a rabbinical ruling that ordered her to circumcise her one-year-old son, the Justice Ministry said, in the first case of its kind.

There is no law in Israel making circumcision obligatory for Jews, but a rabbinical court that was presiding over the woman’s divorce case ruled last month that she must fulfil her husband’s wish in the matter.

It fined her 500 shekels ($142) a day until she did so.

Circumcision is one of Judaism’s most fundamental decrees. It symbolizes the covenant between God and the Jewish people and nearly all Jews in Israel abide by it, performing the ritual when their son is eight days old.

Traditionally, the circumcisions are performed by a mohel, a religious man trained in the procedure, and are carried out in a festive ceremony called a “brit” – Hebrew for covenant.

Rabbinical courts in Israel have jurisdiction over matters of marriage and divorce and operate under the Justice Ministry. But in her appeal, the woman, who has not been named, said the rabbis had no jurisdiction over her son’s circumcision.

“This is precedent-setting,” said Amnon Givoni, an attorney for the Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid department, which is representing the woman along with two other lawyers.

“Performing or not performing circumcision is a serious matter and it should be discussed deeply … and separately from the matter of the couple’s divorce.”

In their ruling last month, the presiding rabbis said the woman was using her refusal to circumcise her son as leverage against her husband.

The couple began divorce proceedings when the baby was one month old and in the time that has passed, the ruling said, the woman has been standing in the way of her husband, who wants to fulfil one of the most important Jewish edicts.

Jewish law, the rabbis said, puts the onus on the father to see his son is circumcised.

But the mother says circumcision is tantamount to physical abuse. “I don’t believe in religious coercion,” she told Channel 2 News last month, facing away from the camera so her identity was not revealed.

The rabbinical court had no immediate comment, but in a statement it issued after its ruling last month, it said that it was acting in the child’s best interest.


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!
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • 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.