German court bans religious circumcision

The World Union for Progressive Judaism, representing 1.8 million Jews in 45 countries and 1,200 communities on six continents around the world, expresses its shock and outrage at the recent German court decision outlawing the practice of circumcision on religious grounds. Since the rule of the Assyrian–Greek King Antiochus Epiphanes circa 165 BCE, various governments have imposed bans on circumcision in attempts to eliminate or delegitimize the practice of the Jewish religion. The fact that not 70 years after the Holocaust, Germany joins this ignominious company, is nothing less than shocking.

The notion that parents do not have the right to initiate their children into the sacred rites of their respective religions is an affront to human liberty.  This is all the more true when the religious practice arguably has significant health benefits for the child.

The healthy lives led by millions upon millions of circumcised Jewish males over the course of history, renders the court’s argument that circumcision causes irreparable bodily harm, absurd.  In addition there is very strong medical evidence that there are significant health benefits to circumcision:  Lower incidence of HIV, less risk of other urinary tract infections, less incidence of penile cancer, and far lower rates of cervical cancer among women whose sexual partners have been circumcised.

For 4000 years Jews have considered male circumcision an essential part of our Covenant with the Almighty.  We urge the courts and the government of Germany to act with all due haste to reverse this decision and the fundamental threat it represents to the foundation of our religious beliefs.

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, President

Michael Grabiner, Chair

Leslie Bergman, President, European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ)

Dr. Philip Bliss, Chair of Advocacy Committee

Sonja Guentner, President, Union of Progressive Judaism (UPJ), Germany

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