Anti-circumcision call gets London Jewish rep. fired

Board of Deputies member, Rebbecca Steinfeld, removed from position after referring to circumcision as "male genital mutilation" in op-ed article.

June 26, 2011 04:19
1 minute read.
A brit mila in France.

brit mila_521. (photo credit: SERGE ATTAL / FLASH90)


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LONDON - A London synagogue representative on the Board of Deputies of British Jews has been removed from her position after penning an article titled “Time to ban male circumcision” which refers to circumcision as “male genital mutilation.”

The New West End Synagogue, a modern-Orthodox synagogue in west London, rescinded Rebecca Steinfeld’s position as the Under-35 Observer on the Board of Deputies, after an article in the Guardian last week asked whether the differences between male and female circumcision are really so straightforward as to justify a distinction in the law.

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“If we oppose female genital mutilation, has the time not come for us also to oppose male-genital mutilation?” the article stated.

Under-35 observers were introduced by the Board two years ago in order to encourage younger people to get involved in community politics.

In a letter to the community representative organization’s chief executive, Jon Benjamin, the synagogue’s main Board Representative Dori Schmetterling said: “Further to our earlier discussions, I confirm that the Executive of the Board of Management of the New West End Synagogue has decided that Rebecca Steinfeld’s position as the Under-35 Observer at the Board of Deputies is rescinded, effective immediately.

“This means that if she appears at this Sunday’s [Board of Deputies] meeting, she is not our representative in any form,” he added.

A PhD student at Oxford University, her doctoral thesis examines the nature of, and motivations behind, Israel's various fertility policies from the state's establishment in 1948 up until 2010.

Her supervisor is the anti-Zionist British/Israeli historian Prof. Avi Shlaim.

Steinfeld said she was “disappointed” by the decision.

“All voices have an important place in our community and should be heard,” she told community newspaper Jewish Chronicle.

“The Board of Deputies, as a representative organization of all British Jews, has a duty to allow for the free expression of a spectrum of views, rather than merely being an echo chamber for those in agreement with one another.”

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