Merkel liaison pledges to safeguard circumcision

German government aide writes Jewish group to pledge it will ensure Jews can perform circumcisions.

Merkel reuters 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Merkel reuters 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
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.
Dr. 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.”
For 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 society.
Meanwhile, Denmark’s government has commissioned an investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its health code.
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.
Non-medical 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 investigation.
He added that a doctor is always present during a brit mila, which is carried out by a mohel, or ritual circumciser.
Denmark, a country of 5.5 million citizens, has a Muslim minority of 210,000 and some 8,500 Jews.
JTA contributed to this report.