Tag Archives: Jewish

German Court Rules Religious Circumcision on Boys an Assault

by AFP

Circumcising young boys on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm, a German court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision that the Jewish community said trampled on parents’ religious rights.

The regional court in Cologne, western Germany, ruled that the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”, a judgment that is expected to set a legal precedent.

“The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.

The case was brought against a doctor in Cologne who had circumcised a four-year-old Muslim boy on his parents’ wishes.

A few days after the operation, his parents took him to hospital as he was bleeding heavily. Prosecutors then charged the doctor with grievous bodily harm.

The doctor was acquitted by a lower court that judged he had acted within the law as the parents had given their consent.

On appeal, the regional court also acquitted the doctor but for different reasons.

The regional court upheld the original charge of grievous bodily harm but also ruled that the doctor was innocent as there was too much confusion on the legal situation around circumcision.

The court came down firmly against parents’ right to have the ritual performed on young children.

“The body of the child is irreparably and permanently changed by a circumcision,” the court said. “This change contravenes the interests of the child to decide later on his religious beliefs.”

The decision caused outrage in Germany’s Jewish community.

The head of the Central Committee of Jews, Dieter Graumann, said the ruling was “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination.”

The judgment was an “outrageous and insensitive act. Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practiced worldwide for centuries,” added Graumann.

“This religious right is respected in every country in the world.”

Holm Putzke, a criminal law expert at the University of Passau, told the Financial Times Deutschland that the ruling was “enormously important for doctors because for the first time they have legal certainty.”

“Unlike many politicians, the court has not allowed itself to be scared off by charges of anti-Semitism or religious intolerance,” added Putzke.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that nearly one in three males 15 or over is circumcised. In the United States, the operation is often performed for hygiene reasons on infants.

Thousands of young boys are circumcised every year in Germany, especially in the country’s large Jewish and Muslim communities.
The court specified that circumcision was not illegal if carried out for medical reasons.

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Rosh Hashanah

I got this from MyJewishLearning. It is a fabulous website with a lot of good resources for those who are wanting to learn about things considered Jewish or to get a Jewish perspective. This is basic information on Rosh Hashanah which this year falls on September 29th and 30th.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is a fall holiday, taking place at the beginning of the month of Tishrei, which is actually the seventh month of the Jewish year (counting from Nisan in the spring). It is both a time of rejoicing and of serious introspection, a time to celebrate the completion of another year while also taking stock of one’s life.

The High Holiday Period
The two days of Rosh Hashanah usher in the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah), also known as the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim), which culminate in the major fast day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The Days of Awe represent the climax of a longer process. Starting at the beginning of the previous month, called Elul, the shofar is traditionally sounded at the conclusion of the morning service. A ram’s horn that makes a trumpet-like sound, the shofar is intended as a wake-up call to prepare for the Tishrei holidays. One week before Rosh Hashanah, special petitionary prayers called Selichot are added to the ritual. Rosh Hashanah itself is also known as Yom Hadin or the Day of Judgment, on which God opens the Books of Life and Death, which are then sealed on Yom Kippur.

History
The origins of Rosh Hashanah may be sought in a royal enthronement ritual of biblical times, though the Bible itself never mentions the “New Year” or “Day of Judgment” aspects of the holiday. Even though Rosh Hashanah falls in the seventh month, later rabbinic tradition decided to designate it the beginning of the year. Although the origin of this tradition may have been adopted from the Babylonians, the rabbis imbued it with Jewish significance as the anniversary of the day on which the world was created, or of the day on which humanity was created. Another explanation can be found in the significance of Tishrei as the seventh month, hence the Sabbath of the year.

At Home
The challah (traditional bread) that is eaten for the Rosh Hashanah season is round, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life. The challah is traditionally dipped in honey, symbolizing the hopes for a sweet New Year. The same is done with apples, which are made even sweeter with the addition of honey. Some people avoid eating nuts at this time, since according to a somewhat convoluted Gematria (mystical numerical interpretation) the Hebrew words for nut (egoz) and sin (het) have the same numerical value.

In the Community
Three unique sets of prayers are added to the morning service during Rosh Hashanah. These are known as Malkhuyot, which address the sovereignty of God, Zikhronot, which present God as the one who remembers past deeds, and Shofarot, in which we stand in nervous anticipation of the future.
Each of these sections culminates in the blasts of the Shofar, the most potent symbol of the holiday. The shofar is alluded to in the most memorable Torah reading for the holiday, the Akedah or Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22). The story and the shofar serve as reminders of the covenant between God and the people of Israel, carrying with them the message of sacrifice, hope, and continuity. Among the popular traditions associated with the holiday is a ceremony performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah called tashlikh, when people throw crumbs or pieces of bread, symbolizing their sins, upon flowing water.

Theology and Themes
This is the time of year during which we are to atone for both our individual–and on Yom Kippur, our communal–sins committed over the course of the previous year, before God literally closes the books on us and inscribes our fates for the coming year. God’s rule over humanity and our need to serve God are stressed time and again over the course of the holiday

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