Middle East

Monday 28 July 2014

Israeli court orders mother to circumcise her son

Robert Tait, Jerusalem

Published 27/11/2013|21:29

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AN Israeli mother has been ordered by a religious court to circumcise her son against her will or face fines of £90 (€107) for every day the procedure is not carried out.

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The unprecedented ruling has been handed down by one of Israel's rabbinical courts, which have legal jurisdiction over religious issues -- including marriage and divorce -- concerning the country's Jewish majority.

It was issued by a panel of three rabbis after the boy's parents filed for divorce. The father insisted during the proceedings that his son be circumcised, as required under Jewish religious tradition.

The mother, whose name was given only as Elinor, said her son had been born with a medical problem that prevented him undergoing ritual circumcision on the eighth day after birth, as is customary in Jewish law.

"As time went on, I started reading about what actually happens in circumcision, and I realised that I couldn't do that to my son.

"He's perfect just as he is," 'Haaretz' newspaper quoted her as saying.

In their ruling, the three rabbis wrote: "Circumcision is a standard surgical procedure that is performed on every Jewish baby boy, so when one of the parents demands it, the other cannot delay it except where it is proven to be medically dangerous.

The judgment was upheld by a higher rabbinical court after the mother appealed against the decision. The appeal ruling warned that a verdict in her favour could trigger "a flood of (similar) cases", giving a "terrifying dimension" to divorce proceedings.

The judges added: "Removal of the foreskin prepares the soul [of the baby] to accept the yoke of Heaven and study God's Torah and commandments."

Rabbinical courts are part of Israel's judicial system and are enforced by the police in the same way as those of civil courts.

The mother plans a further appeal to Israel's supreme court. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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