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Circumcision. A medical procedure?
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Photo: Gil Yohanan
Weinstein. 'Rabbinical court exceeded its authority'
Photo: Gil Yohanan

AG: Rabbinical court cannot force circumcision

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein offers support to a woman refusing to circumcise her son as part of divorce proceedings, says the issue should be decided in a civil court.

Israel's attorney general has offered significant support to a mother refusing to circumcise her son in his response to a petition she filed against the High Rabbinical Court.



AG Yehuda Weinstein noted Tuesday that under the circumstances, "the court exceeded its authority when it ordered the circumcision of a toddler who is more than one year old, and therefore the petition should be accepted." He added that "it is doubtful whether the court's decision was based on the principle of the child's welfare."


The attorney general submitted his opinion at the request of the Supreme Court. He further noted that the decision on the circumcision issue should be made with the help of external elements like a medical expert, a social worker, the attorney general's representative or a legal guardian. Weinstein said that under the circumstances of the case in question, because this was not done, the court made a wrong decision.


Weinstein ruled that in a case in which the circumcision is close to a medical treatment, like in the case of a baby over the age of one, and requires surgery – it should not be part of divorce proceedings.


According to Weinstein, the decision on whether the circumcision should be conducted should be made by "the legal authority discussion medical treatments of a minor, the civil court, even if the battle over the circumcision is the result of a dispute between the parents."


The attorney general further stated that "the petition against the rabbinical court should be accepted, as the rabbinical court exceeded its authority."


Rabbinical Court: Issue subject to our authority

The child's mother petitioned the High Court of Justice in December through the Justice Ministry's Civilian Legal Aid Department, after being forced by the High Rabbinical Court to circumcise her one-year-old son, at the request of the child's father. She demanded that the court cancel the precedent ruling and a fine of NIS 500 (about $140) imposed on her for every day of delay in circumcising the boy.


Speaking to Ynet, the woman said her husband pulled out the "circumcision card" when they were already in the middle of the divorce proceedings. "He is more secular than I am," she says, adding that they had mutually agreed not to circumcise the baby.


"The objection to circumcise my son came after I was exposed to all the information on the issue, and studied and investigated it. I realized that it was healthier not to circumcise, regardless of the divorce proceedings… He didn't object, there was a one-year silence, and then it was raised for the first time in the rabbinical court. I began trembling, I was in total shock."


In its ruling, the High Rabbinical Court judges protested the mother's objection to circumcise the child, stating that they had not encountered such an incident as part of a divorce case for decades. They warned against a precedent that would turn the matter into a tool in similar battles.


The mother, however, sees it as an attempt to justify religious coercion. Her attorney, Marcella Wolf, referred to the ruling as "a speculation done by the court itself.

The claim was raised earlier neither by the husband nor by the wife. They tried to bind the two things together in order to buy legal authority, because there is no such thing."


The judges thought otherwise, noting that "delaying the circumcision may stop this person from marrying according to Jewish Law – and this is undoubtedly an issue subject to the court's authority."


פרסום ראשון: 02.12.14, 20:09
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