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Daily Israel Report

German Rabbi Sued for Performing Circumcision

A doctor sues a German rabbi in the city of Hof for performing a circumcision on a baby and “physically harming” him.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/22/2012, 2:13 AM

Preparing for circumcision
Preparing for circumcision
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A German rabbi has been sued after performing a circumcision on a baby, the Jüdische Allgemeine magazine reported.

The report said that the proceedings were launched against the rabbi of the city of Hof in Bavaria, Rabbi David Goldberg. The lawsuit claims that circumcision inflicts “physical harm” on an infant.

Chief prosecutor Gerhard Schmitt confirmed in a conversation with journalists that legal proceedings against Rabbi Goldberg are in place. The complainant, according to the report, is a doctor from the city of Hessen, who is basing his claims on a recent court ruling which said that circumcision for religious reasons may be considered an illegal act.

The district court in Cologne recently banned the practice of circumcision, outraging Muslims and Jews and sparking an emotional debate in the country.

The court ruled, on the basis of one infant who did not receive proper care, that non-medical circumcision, practiced by most Jews and Muslims, causes bodily harm and therefore is a crime.

The practice is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court decided.

Muslims and Jews later banded together to ask the German parliament to overrule the court ban on circumcision. There are approximately four million Muslims and 150,000 Jews living in Germany.

Germany's lower house of parliament recently passed a resolution to protect the religious circumcision of infant boys.

The resolution, jointly filed by Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, their liberal coalition ally (FDP) and the opposition Social Democrats (SPD), demanded that “the government present a draft law in the autumn ... that guarantees that the circumcision of boys, carried out with medical expertise and without unnecessary pain, is permitted.” The new law would overrule the Cologne court decision.

The local Jewish community has contacted Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yona Metzger, and asked him to work to accelerate the passing of legislation that would allow circumcision in Germany.

Rabbi Metzger is expected to address decision makers in Germany, among them members of the Bundestag, including senior ministers and members of the Ethics Committee which has the authority to decide on the issue.