FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS JOINS WITH OTHER NATIONAL JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS IN COURT FILING IN LANDMARK CIRCUMCISION COURT CASE
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – through its Institute for Public Affairs, joined with other national Jewish organizations in filing a “friend of the court” brief with the Oregon State Supreme Court urging the court to allow James Boldt to complete the conversion of his son Mikhail to Judaism by having him circumcised, one of the most ancient practices of the Jewish faith. The brief, was filed last week in the case of James H. Boldt v. Lia Boldt by American Jewish Congress, American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Ritual circumcision has been a fundamental part of the Jewish religion for thousands of years. Through it, Jewish men enter into the covenant between the Jewish people and God. James H. Boldt and Lia Boldt were divorced in 1999. Since 2002 Mr. Boldt was awarded “sole and legal custody” over Mikhail. Since that time James Boldt formally converted to Judaism and began teaching his children about Judaism. Mikhail learned Hebrew and began taking classes in the Jewish School at the synagogue. To finalize Mikhail’s conversion James Boldt arranged for Mikhail’s circumcision. Lia Boldt, is seeking to have the Court’s 2002 ruling awarding custody of her son Mikhail to the father James reversed, or amended to prohibit the circumcision. She claims that this practice is not only unsafe for the child, but carries “grave and drastic consequences.” Routine male circumcision is precisely the type of religious and medical decision that is squarely within the rights of a custodial parent and that discretion to make that decision has been granted by Oregon law and by constitutional right to the custodial parent. Any decision to single out circumcision as a basis for questioning the fitness of the custodial parent would violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion.
Nathan J. Diament, director of the Union’s Institute stated:
Ritual circumcision is one of the foundations of our faith. The fact that the courts have ruled previously that James Boldt should have full custodial rights of the child gives him the power to make religious and medical decisions on behalf of his own child. We trust that the court will preserve the religious freedom of the Jewish people to be able to practice their beliefs in this important case.
[Ed. Note: The brief filed is available here]