Charges filed against prominent Berlin rabbi for vowing to continue circumcisions

After appearance on popular TV show, Yitshak Ehrenberg becomes the second German rabbi to be charged for defying controversial Cologne ruling

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg on the Anne Will show in July. (screenshot, via YouTube)
Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg on the Anne Will show in July. (screenshot, via YouTube)

One of Germany’s most prominent rabbis has been charged after publicly vowing to continue to perform circumcisions, The Times of Israel has learned.

The office of Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg, who has been serving the Berlin Jewish community since 1997, on Wednesday confirmed in an email that criminal charges had been filed against him. Ehrenberg has received a letter from the prosecutor’s office because of comments he made on a nationwide broadcast television show, an aide confirmed. At this point it is not known who filed the complaint and what exactly the letter states.

Ehrenberg could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ehrenberg is the second Jerusalem-born Orthodox rabbi living in Germany who is being investigated amid the current controversy surrounding circumcision. In June, a Cologne court declared the ritual illegal. As a direct consequence of that ruling, a German citizen earlier this month filed a police complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, from the Bavarian town of Hof, who said he had performed hundreds of circumcisions in recent years.

On July 11, Ehrenberg — a well-known figure among German Jews and a member of the executive committee of the European Rabbinical Conference — participated in a debate on “Anne Will,” a popular talk show dedicated to the Cologne ruling and its implications [link in German].

“I don’t even want to go into this discussion,” Ehrenberg said after a proponent of a ban said that the act was tantamount to causing the child bodily injury without his or her consent. “We’re talking about religion,” said Ehrenberg. “This ruling will kill Judaism in Germany.”

After more than an hour of lively discussion, host Anne Will allowed Ehrenberg the last word. The rabbi first appealed to his congregants not to have their children circumcised in a hospital but in a synagogue or at home. Then he concluded: “Circumcision is a basic law for us Jews. There is no Judaism without circumcision, and therefore — we will continue.”

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