FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS WELCOMES OREGON SUPREME COURT RULING IN ‘CIRCUMCISION CASE’ ALONG WITH OTHER NATIONAL JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS
Four national Jewish organizations, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, today welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court of the State of Oregon affirming the right of parents to circumcise their children. The Union joined with the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League in issuing the statement.
The Oregon Court emphasized “the decision to have a male child circumcised for medical or religious reasons is one that is commonly and historically made by parents in the United States,” and that “the authority of the custodial parent to make medical decisions for his or her child … is implicit in both case law and Oregon statutes.” A brief supporting that result was filed jointly in the case by the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Union of Orthodox Congregations of America.
The case, Boldt v. Boldt, concerns a custodial father who, after converting to Judaism, wished to enable his son to undergo a ritual circumcision. The boy’s mother opposed the circumcision, and was supported by anti-circumcision activists who used this case as an opportunity to urge the abolition of all circumcision of children. Had the mother and her amici prevailed on her primary claim–that a parent could never consent to circumcision–the long-standing Jewish tradition of circumcising males when they are eight days old would have been in jeopardy.
The groups added that while the Oregon Supreme Court had taken note of conflicting parental claims about the 12-year-old child’s wishes, it did not hold those wishes to be determinative. Rather, it charged the trial court with resolving whether, in fact, the child’s wishes were in opposition to the father’s, and if so, whether overriding them would adversely affect the child’s relations with his father. That is, the groups noted, a holding tailored to the unusual circumstances of this case, and does not materially weaken the impact of the court’s decision allowing parents to circumcise their children.
UOJCA public policy director Nathan J. Diament added that “the Court’s ruling is an important protection for the religious freedom of American Jews and our ability to freely practice our faith.”