Israeli chief rabbi confident Germany will resolve circumcision crisis

Following a visit to Berlin, top rabbinical figure says the ban stemmed from a misunderstanding and not from anti-Semitism

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Yona Metzger speaking in Berlin on Tuesday. (photo credit: AP/Markus Schreiber)
Yona Metzger speaking in Berlin on Tuesday. (photo credit: AP/Markus Schreiber)

One of Israel’s chief rabbis said Wednesday he is confident that the German parliament will pass legislation permitting Jewish religious circumcisions after a recent court ruling outlawed the practice.

In an interview with Israel Radio on Wednesday, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who recently returned from Berlin, said he had the impression that German politicians were intent on resolving the issue as soon as possible.

Metzger traveled to Germany earlier this week to take part in talks aimed at resolving a furor over circumcision that began in courtroom in Cologne and recently led to charges brought against a mohel (religious circumciser) in Hof.

Jewish and Muslim groups in Germany were thrown into turmoil after a June ruling that circumcisions constitute a “severe and irreversible interference into physical integrity.” Although not a ban on circumcision, the ruling did pave the way for prosecution of those performing the operation for “non-medical” reasons as well as the parents of children put under the knife.

Metzger, who represents Israel’s European-descended Jews, said he believes the Cologne judge’s decision was made in innocence and was not born out of anti-Semitic sentiments.

In the months since the ruling politicians and legislators have been searching for ways to allow Jews and Muslims to continue the ancient practice of religious circumcision.

Metzger added that he finds it hard to believe that Rabbi David Goldberg will be brought to trial after a doctor pressed charges against him for performing a circumcision in the northern Bavarian town of Hof.


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