New campaign in support of circumcision

A cross-communal campaign group is to be launched to defend religious circumcision in Britain.

There is widespread support from across the spectrum of synagogal groups and religious bodies to speak out in favour of brit milah.
A German district court’s ruling last month that the religious practice constituted a criminal act was widely attacked by Jewish and Muslim organisations across Europe.

Preparations for the British defence group have been taking place for months. It is understood the campaign will officially start work once funding has been secured.

The group will follow the model of Shechita UK, the campaign group set up in 2003 to unite communal bodies and present the case for religious slaughter to government and the public.

Professor David Katz, a long-term adviser to the Board of Deputies on circumcision, said: “There is obviously a campaign against brit milah in the UK as there is elsewhere in Europe. The Jewish community needs to present a united front. We should be ready to counter the arguments.”

Prof Katz called on synagogal bodies to “cough up” and predicted that a sum in the low tens of thousands would be needed to launch the group.

Approaches had already been made to the Muslim community to discuss circumcision standards and the need for defensive steps, he said.

There is cross-communal consensus on the issue. The Reform Movement condemned the German ruling and acknowledged that brit milah is a “touchstone issue for the Jewish community, Progressive and Orthodox alike”.

Organisations such as the Secular Medical Forum already present a challenge to brit milah in the UK, said Professor Katz.

The SMF had “applauded” the German ruliing and claimed religious groups were “unwilling…to place the safety of children above religious interests”.

Last updated: 9:54am, July 13 2012