BERLIN – The German government will ensure that Jews can perform circumcisions,
a top aide to German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote the European Jewish Association on Sunday.
The letter was sent to
Menachem Margolin, director of the Rabbinical Center of Europe.
Rufolf Teuwsen, the chancellor’s representative to Churches and Religious
Communities, wrote in the letter that the “German government sees a special
obligation to cultivate Jewish culture and religion. The chancellor is
grateful that Jewish life has, once again, found a home in Germany.”
this reason, the German government is working hard to find a solution to the
circumcision problem, the letter continued.
Teuwsen stressed that
religious freedom is an essential part of Germany’s democratic
Meanwhile, Denmark’s government has commissioned an
investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Saturday
told the Copenhagenbased Politiken daily: “We will examine the public health
recommendations followed in this area.” The paper reported that the government
has commissioned a study on this question.
Last month, Politiken
published an exposé that said the country’s National Board of Health did not
monitor the conditions under which circumcision takes place.
circumcision of minors has been the subject of a heated debate in Denmark over
the past few months. Several politicians have called for a ban on the practice,
prompting angry reactions from Jews and Muslims.
Venstre (the Liberal
Party of Denmark), the nation’s largest political party, will decide whether to
seek a ban on such circumcisions based on the results of the study, a party
representative told JTA.
Denmark Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner told Politiken
he did not think the launch of the investigation reflected distrust on the
government’s part. He said the government was welcome to carry out its
He added that a doctor is always present during a brit
mila, which is carried out by a mohel, or ritual circumciser.
country of 5.5 million citizens, has a Muslim minority of 210,000 and some 8,500
Jews.JTA contributed to this report.