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Brit ceremony to become illegal in Europe? Photo: AP
Brit ceremony to become illegal in Europe? Photo: AP
 
 

EU Jews fear anti-circumcision laws

Rabbis, Jewish organizations launch struggle aimed at thwarting initiatives to ban religious ritual in Britain, Holland and Finland

Kobi Nahshoni
Published: 11.06.11, 14:06 / Israel Jewish Scene

After the kosher slaughter ban – the circumcision ritual is in danger too: European rabbis and senior Jewish officials have been acting in recent months against an initiative to ban circumcision in three countries.

 

Rabbi Menachem Gelley of London, vice president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), revealed the issue during the organization's 27th annual convention which concluded in Warsaw last week and dealt with ways to protect Jewish rights in the continent.

 

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According to Gelley, a senior dayan (judge of a Jewish religious court) in the British capital, a large group of members of the country's biggest doctors' organization – the British Medical Association (BMA), have launched a battle against circumcision and are trying to recruit the entire organization.

 

Meanwhile, human rights and medical organizations in Holland and Finland are trying to ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18 without the approval of a doctor.

 

Protecting Jewish rights

Rabbi Gelley told Ynet that so far, the move's opposers have managed to block one legislation attempt, but that the threat on circumcisions remains.

 

He called on his fellow rabbis and Jewish officials to take part in the battle, for instance by setting up an official organization of authorized circumcisers which will be recognized in European countries and will serve as a significant force in thwarting the move.

 

The CER convention, led by Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of Moscow, was attended by some 200 rabbis and dayanim from across the continent, and leaders of Jewish organizations from 30 countries.

 

The event was sponsored by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and others, and supported by two leaders of Israel's Lithuanian Orthodox public, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman and Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky.

 

Participants included Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who delivered a Torah lesson on social justice.

 

Another issue discussed during the meeting was the de facto ban on kosher slaughter passed by the lower house of the Dutch parliament. Before the meeting, senior organization rabbis met with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, who they said supported Jews' right for kosher slaughter and strongly criticized the Dutch parliament.

 

Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich, a member of the convention's executive committee, said the Polish president compared the move to a similar law approved in Poland in the 1930s, which was inspired by the Nazi regime and began the annihilation of Jews and the setting up of concentration camps in the country.

 

Jewish show of force

During the annual meeting, the CER demonstrated its strong ties with European heads of state and other senior officials, with a festive dinner attended by representatives from the Presidency of the European Union and the Polish government, as well as the ambassadors of France, Britain, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Holland and Lithuania.

 

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek sent a letter to the participants, noting that this was the CER's first convention in Poland since World War II.

 

"The German concentration camps were set up on this soil, which was occupied at the time. The murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust serves as the murder of our joint history as well. Today, we Europeans are trying to honor the ethical obligation of our past," he wrote.

 

"I'm glad that since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Jewish life can once again flourish in my country and all over Europe, and your convention in Warsaw today is the best evidence of this prosperity.

 

"Jewish faith and culture have left their mark on Europe. Let us continue our joint past to create a joint future."

 

 

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