German Officials Prosecute Rabbi for Performing Circumcisions

Religion Today

German Officials Prosecute Rabbi for Performing Circumcisions

In Germany, officials have pressed charges against a Jewish rabbi for performing circumcisions, WORLD News Service reports. The action comes in the wake of a court ruling in Cologne that banned all circumcisions but those done for "medical" reasons. After the ruling, a physician filed a complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves as a mohel (ritual circumciser) for the Jewish community of Hof in northern Bavaria. Goldberg, 64, has performed more than 3,000 circumcisions on infant boys, a procedure that is required under Jewish ceremonial law. The German court ruled that when medically unnecessary, circumcision represents a "severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity." Many religious leaders have argued that prosecuting Goldberg represents a major violation of religious liberty. Activists in San Francisco also attempted to ban religious circumcisions in a citywide vote in 2011, but a judge forbade the initiative, noting that state law prevented localities from regulating healthcare providers. Princeton University professor Robert George, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, has called on Americans to defend Jews' right to maintain the practice, saying that banning religious circumcision is, "in effect, to forbid Jews from being Jews."


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