Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Commends Congressional Letter Urging Germany to Safeguard Religious Freedom and Retract Circumcision Ban


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 9, 2012
Contact: Nathan Diament 202-513-6484

Today the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, representing close to 1000 synagogues — commended Congressional leadership for spearheading a letter to Germany urging the government to protect religious freedom by not outlawing circumcision.

Yesterday, Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA), Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) sent a bipartisan letter signed by twenty members of Congress to German Ambassador Peter Ammon.  The letter expressed deep concern over the District Court of Cologne’s decision to ban circumcision approved by parental consent, applauded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s opposition to this verdict, and urged the legislature to protect those who choose to exercise their religious freedoms.

Circumcision, or Brit Milah, is a fundamental ritual and sacred rite of passage for both the Jewish and Muslim communities.  Throughout history, the prohibition of Brit Milah has been tantamount to rejection of the Jewish community’s existence.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy, stated:
“We commend this bipartisan Congressional effort – particularly lead authors Representative Waxman, Representative Lowey, and Representative Berman – to safeguard the universal value of religious freedoms.  We are grateful for the recognition that the court ruling imperils religious freedom and Jewish practice, and urge the German government to respond accordingly.”