Religious tensions are running high in Germany. Last month, a Cologne court provoked outrage by ruling that ritual circumcision constituted “a violation of physical integrity”, and was illegal. German Chancellor Angela Merkel assured Jews and Muslims that the practice would be allowed to continue “without punishment”, and a cross-party motion was hurriedly passed last week to protect religious circumcision.
The debate surrounding the practice is a heated one. Jews are less physically identifiable than many other racial minority groups; circumcision, for men at least, has for centuries been a fundamental marker of Jewish identity. There is also a health argument for circumcision, though the advantages are minimal in countries with modern sanitation and health care facilities. The Hebrew word for circumcision is brit, which means a “covenant” between man and God. For Jews, what a covenant with God really means is a covenant with one’s heritage, one’s past. Continue reading on the Telegraph website