Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Germany Seeks Circumcision Resolution ; Israeli Ashkenazic Rabbi and Officials Try to Find Legal Protection for Rite

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Germany Seeks Circumcision Resolution ; Israeli Ashkenazic Rabbi and Officials Try to Find Legal Protection for Rite

Article excerpt

German officials have been meeting with Israel's chief Ashkenazic rabbi for the past two days as they seek some sort of legal protection for Jews and Muslims who circumcise infant boys as a religious rite, officials said Tuesday.

German officials have been meeting with Israel's chief Ashkenazic rabbi for the past two days as they seek some sort of legal protection for Jews and Muslims who circumcise infant boys as a religious rite, officials said Tuesday.

The effort follows a June 26 ruling by a court in Cologne that equated the practice with inflicting bodily harm on boys too young to consent. The ruling brought a wave of international criticism as an infringement on religious freedom and created legal confusion: Although the court's ruling was not enforceable outside its jurisdiction, it was disruptive enough that many hospitals in Germany, and even in Austria and Switzerland, recommended that doctors refrain from carrying out circumcisions until legal clarity could be created.

German lawmakers passed a resolution weeks after the court ruling asking the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to draft legislation by the autumn to ensure that the practice could be carried out safely.

"Jewish and Muslim religious life must continue to be possible in Germany," read the resolution, which is supported by the leading opposition and governing parties.

The rabbi, Yona Metzger, told reporters on Tuesday that he was confident that a compromise could be found on the issue, but he insisted that mohels, or those who carry out ritual circumcisions according to the Jewish rite, be allowed to continue with the practice.

He said proposed compromises that would allow doctors to perform the right in the presence of mohel, or the use of anesthesia during the practice, were seen as unacceptable because of the sacred significance of the rite, passed down as a decree from God, for Jews. …

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