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Vote: Most influential Jewish story of 2012
By CHAVI MOSKOWITZ
24/12/2012
Circumcision in Germany, Sephardi Jews, anti-Semitism in Germany, Claims Conference anniversary; Siyum HaShas.
 
The year 2012 was full of moments that began to alter the status of Jewish life around the world, for better and for worse.

Earlier this summer a heated debate regarding ritual circumcision in Germany began, due to post-procedure complications during the circumcision of a young Muslim boy. This led to the ruling that the doctor who had performed the circumcision had caused unnecessary and intentional harm to the child. As ritual circumcision is central to Judaism this led to protest and fear of antisemitism further infringing on the basic religious freedoms afforded to those living in Germany. After six months of back and forth a law was finally passed a law in mid December that will protect the right to perform religious circumcision in Germany.

In an unprecedented decision of this exact nature, Spain will offer Jews, able to successfully prove their Sephardi origins, automatic citizenship as of November. Since their expulsion in 1492, a certain nostalgia that might plague the once Jews of Spain will be remedied as they are invited back to their ‘homeland.’ The Sephardim may return on the condition that they promise loyalty to the constitution and to the king of Spain, a tall order considering the country’s history of antisemitism. In any case, the invitation for Jews of Spanish descent to return to the origin country of their ancestors is a small step towards easing the anti-Semitic tradition of Spain.

This year Hungary’s latent anti-Semitism started to show its true colors. Marton Gyongyosi, deputy leader of the far-right Jobbik party, suggested that the government draw up a list of Jews in Hungary who posed a “national security threat.” More disheartening yet it the fact that after making such requests, Gyongyosi was not asked to step down. The moral compass of the Hungarian parliament has been called into question and boundaries must be placed in order that anti-semitism does not become commonplace.

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In 1952 West Germany was pledged, under the Luxembourg agreements, to provide payments to Jewish Holocaust survivors that met a certain criteria. The intention of the Luxembourg agreements was to give recognition to those that had helped the Jews survive the Holocaust, and to those Jews that had survived and to assist them financially. This year marks the 60th anniversary and a renewed commitment of the German government and the Claims Conference to aid these survivors in their last years of life.

Siyum HaShas, a celebration of the completion of a seven and a half year cycle of Talmud study, brought almost 90,000 people to MetLife Stadium on August 1. Said to be the largest celebration of Jewish learning since the destruction of the Second Temple. The gathering made a particularly important statement which is that despite the rise in anti-Semitism worldwide this year, those committed to their Judaism refuse to stop participating in the traditions that define them.

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