The Chief Rabbi has protested to the German Ambassador in London over the Cologne court ruling on circumcision.
In a letter to Georg Boomgaarden, Lord Sacks wrote of his “shock and dismay” at the decision, which would “render the Jewish practice of circumcision illegal and those who perform it liable to imprisonment.
“That a German court, within living memory of the Holocaust, can ban a central practice of Judaism defies belief.”
He warned that if the ruling stood, the damage to Germany’s reputation would be “irreparable”.
The Cologne court acquitted a doctor who had carried out a circumcision on a four-year-old Muslim boy only because he had been unaware that it was a potentially criminal action. It stressed that the interests of children took precedent over religious freedom.
On Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour last week, a longstanding Jewish opponent of circumcision, Dr Jenny Goodman, claimed that it caused pain and damage to babies. She alleged that most UK Jews circumcised their children for reasons of cultural identity rather than in obedience to divine command.
The case for circumcision was put by the Muslim Council of Britain’s Shaykh Ibraham Mogra.