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Rabbi calls for national body to monitor circumcision

He claimed criticisms of circumcision were reaching “greater levels of intensity than ever before”

    A prominent rabbi has called for a national authority to be set up to regulate the practice of circumcision.

    Jonathan Romain, rabbi of Maidenhead Reform Synagogue, said such a body could be accredited and serve faith groups other than Judaism.

    “Ultimately circumcision is a medical procedure and so whether done for religious or health reasons, it should be monitored and safeguarded like any other medical procedure,” he said.

    Rabbi Romain called for  “a national audit, so that we can have a true understanding of how many circumcisions take place and crucially, whether there are any issues, or problems, or complaints.”

    He claimed criticisms of circumcision were reaching “greater levels of intensity than ever before,” and a national regulatory body would help to quell concern.

    Rabbi Romain said much of the criticism was focused on the process of Muslim circumcision, which he described as “often unregulated and undertaken by those with little training or medical knowledge”.

    He also said a climate of concern about child abuse in general and protecting children from adult harm was a reason to have a regulatory body.

    “The appalling revelations about what has been happening in schools, churches, football clubs heightens awareness of the rights of children and how they have been breached, and which some are also applying to religious procedures .”

    He said greater transparency and clarity over circumcision as a whole was needed in order to better protect both children and religious communities.

    A national body would help to “weed out untrained circumcisers and give parents confidence in standards of safety”, he said.

    Records of how many Jewish babies are being circumcised are not kept by Milah UK, which promotes the practice in the UK, nor by the religious denominations.

    The rabbi’s comments come after he caused controversy earlier this week by suggesting more Jews were opting to hold naming ceremonies for their baby sons instead of following the tradition.

    The Initiation Society, which registers Mohelim, works closely with the London Beth Din, to ensure those who carry out the procedure have undergone formal training -  both medical and in Halachah.

    They also ensure mohelim registered with the society are insured.

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