Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Department of Things Germany Shouldn’t Be Banning

Religious circumcision.

Print Email
Isaac's circumcision from the Regensburg Pentateuch, made in Germany circa 1300.(By Rachel-Esther/Flickr.)

This is probably not the best idea:

A Cologne district court ruled on Tuesday that parents may not have their sons circumcised for religious reasons. The ruling has angered Muslims and Jews. Non-medical circumcision is a “serious and irreversible interference in the integrity of the human body,” the court declared, essentially criminalizing religious circumcisions performed by Jews and Muslims, the Financial Times Deutschland newspaper reported.

I must confess to having mixed feelings about circumcision: There’s a compelling argument that it’s a violation of a child’s rights to bodily integrity, but not an ironclad one. Combine the ambiguity about the rights question with the potential medical benefits of circumcision, and it’s an entirely unsettled question. We don’t override religious freedom protections for unsettled questions.

And certainly not in Germany.

German Court Criminalizes Religious Circumcision [Jewish Press]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Afrayedknot says:

What’s that sound you hear? It’s Andrew Sullivan having a massive orgasm over this.

hang on, wait a minute. Let’s not rush to judgment here. Circumcision is NOT a Jewish or Muslim issue. it is part of the Abrahamic Laws that govern, among others, Christians. Especially in the US, where fundamentalism demands circumcision, the rite of passage for young boys is indeed a cruel and ritualistic practice of sacrifice to a god. To have a German court state the obvious is NOT a crime, nor should this be seen as an anti Semitic expression. Germany has moved (thank God, pun deliberate) to a post religious society, in which religion is subordinated to the Law. When considering the VICTIM of an action, it is quite logical to ban barbaric practices from the Stone Age. If that child does want to self mutilate his (or her? why not her?) genitals at age 18, fine.

The real hypocrisy is this: the people who are anti abortion are almost universally pro circumcision, and those who are “pro choice” are often often anti circumcision.

Protect the weakest in our society from those that would damage them. That is one of the basic reasons for a government. seems to me that the 7 day old infant finally has a voice and that voice says: NO, do not cut off the skin from my penis unless I allow you to do so.

Vive L’Allemagne!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Department of Things Germany Shouldn’t Be Banning

Religious circumcision.

More on Tablet:

Klinghoffer at the Met

By Paul Berman — John Adams’s masterpiece is about an American Jew murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but the real opera is off stage