President Shimon Peres on Thursday appealed to his German counterpart, Joachim Gauck, to make every effort to resolve the question of the legality of circumcision in Germany, following the filing of criminal charges against a rabbi for performing brit milah ceremonies.
In the letter, Peres emphasized the importance of safeguarding the German Jewish community’s freedom of religion and worship, the President’s Residence said in a statement.
“The custom of brit mila has been a fundamental aspect of our Jewish identity for millennia, characterizing the Jewish people since the first time God spoke to Abraham,” Peres wrote.
On Wednesday, the Juedische Allgemeine weekly newspaper reported that a doctor had filed a criminal complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves in the community of Hof, in Upper Franconia (northern Bavaria), for allegedly performing circumcisions in contravention of a ruling issued in June by a Cologne court.
Peres emphasized that he regarded favorably the efforts of the German government to find a solution to the circumcision quandary.
“Dear Mr. President,” he wrote, “I’m confident that, by adhering to its values, Germany can remain committed to safeguarding the rights of its Jewish community to practice its religious customs freely.”
Earlier on Thursday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called for an urgent solution to the dispute.
“We must ensure the possibility to keep Jewish and Muslim traditions without legal non-certainty,” Westerwelle said. “We must not jeopardize Germany’s image as a country with religious tolerance.”
Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.