I sometimes joke – to my wife’s chagrin – that my son’s circumcision was the high point of my life, even topping the greatest of all days, my wedding day. Yet, there is truth to this joke. As I watched my eight-day-old son during his circumcision, I felt his very essence being linked to a chain which has remained intact since the covenant of Abraham more than 3,000 years ago.
Jewish circumcision survived the ancient Greeks’ dictates in Israel, which banned circumcision by penalty of death. It survived the Holocaust, when mothers sometimes performed the circumcision on their newborn sons with whatever means available just to keep them within this most revered Jewish practice.
So when I hear about a German court ruling banning circumcision, I get sick to my stomach. Germany? Out of all places!
While talk of a prohibition on circumcision is not limited to Germany – Denmark, Norway, Austria, and Switzerland are all debating a similar ban. The movement garnered international attention after a German court ruling restricting this ancient practice, a ruling which was then overturned by higher courts.
Interestingly, this debate – which even took place in San Francisco not too long ago – is gaining momentum within very secularized liberal societies that pride themselves on tolerance.
The irony in all of this is that the same seculars who preach tolerance happen to be intolerant of other people’s religious observances, and sometimes even of any mention of religion or God altogether. Furthermore, and almost laughable, those secular European societies which espouse the value of multiculturalism do not respect ancient religious practices – hence the circumcision ban.
These voices within secular society today are guilty of the exact dogma they attribute to religion – intolerance. I believe this is called hypocrisy – but, then again, who am I to judge?