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German Government Backs Religious Circumcision

German Government Backs Religious Circumcision

Members of Hanover, Germany’s Jewish community celebrate the circumcision of a local baby boy. (File photo)
Members of Hanover, Germany’s Jewish community celebrate the circumcision of a local baby boy. (File photo)

After months of debate, Germany’s cabinet decided to back a law supporting the religious practice of circumcision, seemingly ending a state of confusion that erupted this spring when a Cologne court ruled that the procedure constituted bodily harm.

The pending legislation, which was prepared by the office of Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, will amend current law to allow religious circumcision of a baby boy with parental consent, providing that parents have been informed of the risks and that there are no medical contraindications. A religiously-trained circumciser, known in Judaism as a mohel, can perform the procedure so long as the child is under the age of six months.

The decision follows a whirlwind of meetings in August between the justice minister, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Berlin Jewish Community Rabbi and Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Yehuda Teichtel, and other communal officials.

“This is, without a doubt, very positive news,” said Teichtel. “This enables the continued growth and development of Jewish life in Germany.”

Back in July, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office directed her government to find “legal certainty” on the issue. The proposed legislation now goes to the German parliament for confirmation.

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