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Israeli Officials: Stop Circumcision Dispute in Germany

President Peres, Deputy PM Yishai upset by charges against mohel
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: August 23rd, 2012 in News » World
Rabbi David Goldberg

Following the charges filed against a German rabbi for performing ritual circumcisions, Israeli leaders are asking German officials to step in and resolve legal issues surrounding the country’s laws on the practice.

An unnamed doctor in Germany is suing Rabbi David Goldberg, the Chief Rabbi of Hof in Bavaria and one of the few Orthodox mohels in the country, for performing the Jewish ritual on infant boys.

However, reports indicate that the complainant is likely Dr. Sebastian Guevara Kamm from Giessen in the German state of Hesse.

The charges come just two months after the Cologne District Court banned ritual circumcisions, saying they equate to “bodily harm,” making Goldberg the first person to be targeted for legal action following the June ruling.

The court ruled that non-medical circumcision is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” back in June.

Gerhard Schmitt, the local chief public prosecutor, will be in charge of reviewing the charges and deciding whether or not to open a case against Goldberg. Schmitt told The Globe and Mail it was too early to indicate whether or not the case had merit.

“Charges have been filed but no investigation is yet under way,” he said. “It really has to be examined in detail – this is a very, very complex issue.”

Goldberg told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that the complaint was anti-Semitic and that he would continue to perform circumcision procedures regardless.

Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a letter to German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday asking him to resolve the German legal issues surrounding the religion practice, which is valued by both Judaism and Islam.

“Circumcision has constituted a central aspect of our nation's Jewish identity over thousands of years. The value of religious freedom for the Jewish community must be preserved,” Peres wrote Gacuk in the letter.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Eli Yishai also wrote German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday, asking her to intervene.

“As deputy prime minister, interior minister and leader of the largest religious party [in Israel], but mostly as a Jew, I turn to you to ask you to prevent this phenomenon from continuing,” he wrote.

Yishai pointed out that the ability to perform circumcision is necessary for German Jews to proudly live Jewish lives.

“Circumcision is one of the most important commandments for the Jewish people, and the first given to one of the fathers of our nation, Abraham, as a sign of his eternal treaty [with God],” Yishai wrote. “Even in times of slavery and exile, Jews made sure to fulfill this commandment, and did so happily.”

Related articles: Germany, circumcision, Rabbi David Goldberg, Muslim, Jewish, Bris, ban, court, Cologne, Jews, Bavaria, Shimon Peres, Angela Merkel, Joachim Gauck, Eli Yishai, Dr. Sebastian Guevara Kamm, Gerhard Schmitt
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