The Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem rejected an appeal Monday by a Netanya woman fined NIS 500 ($140) per day for refusing to circumcise her son, as is required by Jewish law (halacha).
The penalty was initially levied by a rabbinical court in Netanya earlier this year at the request of the woman’s estranged husband who has demanded that the circumcision take place. The two are reportedly undergoing divorce proceedings, and the court stated that it believes her refusal was part of some ploy to save her marriage.
The woman’s lawyer claimed that the rabbinical court had no authority to order the woman to circumcise her son, who is now a year old.
“I’ve been exposed to a lot of material regarding circumcision and I have decided not to circumcise my son,” the woman, who has not been identified, told Channel 2 News Monday evening.
“I have no right to cut his organ and mutilate him. And the court has no right to force me to do so,” she went on, vowing that she would not pay the fine, which has so far reached NIS 2,500. “I don’t have the means; I’m not working,” she said.
The woman intends to take the case to the Supreme Court, according to the report.
The court also addressed the current anti-circumcision sentiments around the world — specifically in Europe where some countries have pushed forth a ban on the Jewish (and Muslim) practice — and expressed concerns about the precedent this incident could set should an Israeli Jewish woman be allowed to forgo the custom.
In October, an overwhelming majority of Council of Europe assembly members passed a landmark resolution against non-medical circumcision of boys.
The resolution, which states that circumcision is a “violation of the physical integrity of children,” is unprecedented among an organization of the caliber of the council. While the intergovernmental organization is not part of the European Union and cannot pass binding legislation, it is widely influential.
In France, the Council of Europe resolution galvanized the Jewish community, which sent a letter to President Francois Hollande urging him to reject the resolution. A petition gained more than 8,000 signatures, among them leading politicians, artists and celebrities.
On October 30, Hollande replied with a letter eschewing the resolution and assuring the community the practice is protected under French law.
Also last month, government advisers on child welfare from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland issued a joint resolution in favor of banning the ritual circumcision of minors.
JTA contributed to this report.