June 27th, 2012

On the decision of the District Court of Cologne concerning circumcision of boys

The Central Council of Jews in Germany regards the decision of the District Court of Cologne saying that circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to bodily harm as an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination.

The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Dieter Graumann, said: "This court decision is an outrageous and insensitive act. Circumcision of newborn boys is an inherent part of the Jewish religion and has been practiced worldwide for centuries. This religious right is respected in every country in the world."

The Central Council of Jews in Germany calls on the German Bundestag to clarify the legal situation and thus protect religious freedom against attacks. According to Jewish tradition, male infants are circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Circumcision (brit milah) is given great importance in Judaism as this ritual reminds of the covenant made by God with Abraham. By removing the foreskin, the child is brought into that covenant. Circumcision can be postponed for serious, e. g. health, reasons. It is performed by a doctor or by a special religious official, the mohel, who is required to have medical skills.

Frankfurt/Berlin, 26. June 2012/6. Tammuz 5772