Jewish groups increased pressure on the German government Wednesday to speed up the passage of new legislation protecting the practice of bris milah after a doctor filed a complaint with prosecutors accusing a rabbi of causing a child bodily harm.
A debate in Germany over the Jewish and Muslim practice of ritual circumcision started after a regional court in Cologne ruled in June that the practice amounted to causing criminal bodily harm to a child.
It calmed after the German government pledged to draft new legislation protecting the practice, but flared again this week after a doctor filed the latest complaint with prosecutors in the southern city of Hof.
German Justice Ministry spokeswoman Anne Zimmermann told reporters Wednesday that a draft law should be ready by the fall.
“We take this request very seriously, of course, and will submit a draft as soon as possible, but also examine all aspects with due diligence,” she said.
Earlier in the week, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger met with German government officials in Berlin in efforts to find a solution to the crisis.
According to Die Welt newspaper, Rabbi Metzger said that a proper bris milah does not cause suffering: “We give the infant a drop of sweet wine and then he falls asleep,” he said, adding that in the rare case of complications, doctors and not mohelim are usually to blame.
Meanwhile, former Chief Rabbi Rav Yisrael Meir Lau denounced the Germans for their opposition to circumcisions. “It is an amazing thing (to see) German speakers discover they are sensitive to a baby’s cry…I did not experience this in my childhood,” he noted with open cynicism.
The Jewish child’s life was meaningless to the Germans in his time, Rabbi Lau added, “to be treaded upon by every Gestapo (officer’s) boots and the German people cooperated or watched from the sidelines.”
In an interview with ‘Kol Chai’ radio Rav Lau added: “We do not need a license from them (Germans) to live as Jews. If this is the state of affairs we have no reason to be there (Germany). Perhaps it is all for the best and the Jews who are there will understand that they don’t belong there.”
Rav Lau also attacked the proposal by which German doctors would train mohalim. “This is anti-Semitism,” he claimed, adding: “Our mohels have vast experience. Rabbi Goldberg (the rabbi currently being sued in Germany) circumcised over 3,000 children, he says without fault.”
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