Bavaria, Germany – Rabbi David Goldberg of Hof, a 64-year-old mohel, is the first person to be criminally charged in Germany for performing a circumcision since the Cologne district court ruled this past June that “circumcisions for religious reasons constitute illegal bodily harm” to infants.
Rabbi Goldberg, originally from Jerusalem, has been the rabbi of Hof since 1997 and has performed over 3,000 circumcisions. Hof is home to about 400 Jews.
According to the Juedische Allgemeine paper, (http://bit.ly/O29I07) Rabbi Goldberg was charged after a doctor from Hesse reported him. Rabbi Goldberg said he only found out about the charges when members of the press contacted him. Hof’s chief prosecutor verified that charges were filed.
After the Cologne ruling, Muslims and Jews in Germany expressed outrage causing the Bundestag to pass a joint resolution calling for the government to guarantee the legal right for circumcisions to be performed. The resolution stated, “A medically professional circumcision of boys, which does not cause unnecessary pain should be generally permissible.”
Cologone Rabbi Yaron Engelmayer said the court’s ruling has “enormously” impacted the Jewish community. “De facto it looks as if doctors across the country are afraid [to perform circumcisions]. The mohels are inquiring, and we tell them: without circumcision, there is no Judaism. Therefore it is hard to imagine how the courts could criminalize a correctly performed Jewish circumcision ceremony. It would be too harsh a sign, especially from Germany.”