German state declares circumcision legal

Berlin is first German state to rule circumcision legal since July court ruling in Cologne criminalized it, but leaves Mohels out.

September 5, 2012 17:49
1 minute read.
Rabbi listens to debate on circumcision in Germany

Germany Circumcision (R370). (photo credit: REUTERS)

One of Germany’s 16 states has declared circumcision legal.

Berlin, Germany’s capital and itself a state, is the first to declare the practice legal following Cologne court ruled in June that non-medical circumcisions on children amounted to a criminal offense, according to DPA, a German news wire. National legislation is also pending to legalize circumcision.

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The state has authorized only doctors, and not mohels, to perform circumcisions. National legislation could authorize mohels. The state also required that parents be informed of the procedure’s medical risks before consenting, and that doctors do everything possible during the procedure to reduce pain and limit bleeding.

June’s court ruling has led many doctors to stop performing circumcisions in order to avoid being prosecuted. So far, two rabbis have had complaints brought against them based on the ruling, though one complaint was dropped last week.

In late August, prosecutors dismissed a criminal complaint lodged against popular Berlin Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg for causing bodily harm while performing circumcision, according to a prosecution document obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

A complaint was filed against the Jerusalem-born Ehrenberg on July 12 – for performing circumcision and for his statement on a German talk show supporting the continuation of brit mila – and dismissed as unfounded in an August 15 letter.

The prosecution’s dismissal document concluded that there is no proof to establish that the rabbi’s conduct met the “condition of a criminal” violation.

Benjamin Weinthal contributed to this report.

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