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Thursday, July 10, 2014

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Circumcision complaint against rabbi dropped

Tags: International
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Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg

BERLIN — Prosecutors in Berlin dismissed a criminal complaint lodged against a rabbi for performing circumcisions. 

The Jerusalem Post reported on Aug. 30 that the complaint for “causing bodily harm” against Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg was dropped Aug. 15 as “unfounded.” 

An opponent of circumcision lodged the complaint last month after Ehrenberg defended the practice on a television talk show.

The charge against Ehrenberg was the second time a rabbi in Germany was accused of the practice.

The two complaints came after a Cologne court ruled in May that non-medical circumcisions on children amounted to a criminal offense. Prosecutors are still considering the first complaint, against Rabbi David Goldenberg from Hof.

The city of Berlin, which also is one of 16 federal German states, is considering not implementing the June Cologne court decision, according to the Jerusalem Post.

“Even if a non-medical circumcision were to take place, it would not meet the elements of severe bodily harm,” the prosecutor’s office in Berlin wrote in a letter explaining the dismissal of the complaint, the Jerusalem Post reported.

In related news, after an attack on a rabbi in Berlin, Gideon Joffe, the head of the Berlin Jewish community, said he would “not recommend that any Jew go around in parts of Berlin with a kippah”.

Last week, Rabbi Daniel Alter of Berlin was violently attacked while picking up his daughter from a piano lesson. He currently is recovering from surgery for a broken cheekbone. The attackers, reportedly youths of Arab background, asked Alter – who was wearing a kippah – if he was Jewish, before hitting him in the face. They then allegedly verbally threatened Alter’s 6-year-old daughter. 

Many Jewish religious leaders in the country advise congregants against openly wearing Jewish garb in public; men routinely wear baseball caps or other hats over kippahs when in public. Concern about openly wearing the skullcaps grew following an antisemitic attack on the Chabad Jewish kindergarten in Berlin in 2007.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany said the attack proved once again that violent antisemitism is a reality for Jews in Germany. Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, decried the attack as being against all Berliners.

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