Israeli woman appeals rabbinical ruling she must circumcise son

Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:19pm EST
 
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By Maayan Lubell

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An Israeli woman appealed to the Supreme Court on Wednesday against a rabbinical ruling that ordered her to circumcise her one-year-old son, the Justice Ministry said, in the first case of its kind.

There is no law in Israel making circumcision obligatory for Jews, but a rabbinical court that was presiding over the woman's divorce case ruled last month that she must fulfill her husband's wish in the matter.

It fined her 500 shekels ($142) a day until she did so.

Circumcision is one of Judaism's most fundamental decrees. It symbolizes the covenant between God and the Jewish people and nearly all Jews in Israel abide by it, performing the ritual when their son is eight days old.

Traditionally, the circumcisions are performed by a mohel, a religious man trained in the procedure, and are carried out in a festive ceremony called a "brit" -- Hebrew for covenant.

Rabbinical courts in Israel have jurisdiction over matters of marriage and divorce and operate under the Justice Ministry. But in her appeal, the woman, who has not been named, said the rabbis had no jurisdiction over her son's circumcision.

"This is precedent-setting," said Amnon Givoni, an attorney for the Justice Ministry's Legal Aid department, which is representing the woman along with two other lawyers.

"Performing or not performing circumcision is a serious matter and it should be discussed deeply ... and separately from the matter of the couple's divorce."   Continued...

 
A "mohel", or ritual circumciser, prepares his equipment before performing a circumcision in Neve Ilan near Jerusalem, in this September 24, 2012 file picture. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Files