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German Rabbi faces criminal charges over circumcision

Rabbi David Goldberg accused of committing 'bodily harm' in first case since German court ruling banning religious circumcisions in May; 'This sends Germany back to its dark days, we'll have to circumcise in secret' he says in response

Ynet
Latest Update: 08.22.12, 14:12 / Israel Jewish Scene

A German rabbi has been criminally charged for performing a circumcision, committing what the indictment calls "bodily harm," media outlets reported on Tuesday.

 

The lawsuit against David Goldberg, who is a mohel and the Rabbi of the city of Hof Saale in Bavaria, is the first known case following the anti-circumcision ruling issued by a German court in May.

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According to media reports, the charges were filed by a physician from the city of Hessen, and was based on the court ruling which stated that performing a religious circumcision ritual can be considered a crime.

 

A Bavarian radio station reported that the doctor was among the signatories of a letter sent to Angela Merkel, which claimed that "religion should not be allowed to permit harming of the helpless." 

 

'Sends Germany back to dark days'

Rabbi Goldberg said in response that while he is not intimidated by the criminal charges, the indictment sends Germany back to its dark days.

 

"It constitutes anti-Semitis," he said in a conversation with Ynet, "It's already been said that this the first time since the Second World War that Jews are being targeted for performing circumcisions, and this definitely send us back to those days.

 

"My colleagues and I will continue to circumcise, but we will probably have to do it in secret. Fortunately most circumcisions are held inside private residences and no one other than the parents needs to know what is going on," he said.

 

Rabbi Goldberg noted that he has yet to receive the complaint filed against him, but said he does not personally know the plaintiff. "We don't know each other and don’t live in the same area, but he is known to battle against circumcisions. He probably decided to target me specifically because I am more familiar as a mohel and have an internet site."

 

The rabbi noted that since the court ruling, "the topic has been discussed nonstop on the radio and television, which has reawakened anti-Semitic feelings.

 

"I get a lot of emails and phone calls from people I don’t know who protest the act of circumcision. On the other hand, there are a lot who support me – including catholic priests," he said.

 

Rabbi Goldberg was born in Israel and has lived in Germany since the early 90s. He has served as the chief rabbi of Hof Saale since 1997 and has circumcised some 3,000 babies. 

 

In May, a German court in the city of Cologne ruled that non-medical circumcision is a "serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body."

 

The ruling came after a Muslim doctor performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy. Two days later the boy's mother brought the child to the emergency room because he was bleeding.

 

The ruling stirred a storm among Jewish leaders, who urged the German government to draw up a new law stating clearly that circumcising boys for religious reasons is legal.

 

 

 

First Published: 08.22.12, 10:14

 

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