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Circumcision a Barbaric Custom: Minsk Mohel Sentenced to Three Months’ Imprisonment for Death of Chi

Jonah Radunski, the Mohel and Shochet, who has been on trial at Minsk, the capital of White Russia, on a charge of killing the infant son of a Jewish worker named Tchertock, has been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment.

The Prosecuton Rosenhaus, frankly admitted that it was not Radunski who was on trial, but the Jewish religion and Jewish clericalism. The Jewish religion is no less dangerous than other religions, he said, in demanding the imprisonment of the accused. It is no accident, he asserted, that the Pope joined with the Rabbis abroad in denouncing the Soviet regime. It is no accident that the American Rabbis and the Rabbis of other bourgeois countries were among the leaders of the anti-Soviet campaign.

The Prosecutor went on to accuse Radunski of counterrevolutionary conduct in the course of his trial, alluding to a statement that he had made that he was a declassed Jew, which, he contended, was tantamount to speaking in a manner calculated to imply that a great wrong had been done to him by the Soviet Government.

The Prosecutor delivered a long harangue on the subject of circumcision, claiming to trace its origin back to the Egyptians from whom, he said, the Jews had taken over “this barbaric custom”. The Talmud, he said, had taught theerite of circumcision as something peculiar to the Jewish people, while actually circumcision was “a purely primitive and barbaric custom”.

The Prosecutor laid the guilt for the death of the Tchertock child upon Radunski, and demanded that the court should pass on him the maximum sentence.

On the whole, however, the trial resolved itself into an onslaught not on circumcision alone, but on “all Jewish religious customs dating back to medieval and ancient times”, rather than a trial of the individual Radunski.

An array of medical specialists was called in by the State, who testified that circumcision was weakening the young Jewish generation, and that it frequently caused death a few weeks after the operation. All the medical authorities called emphatically denied the claim that circumcision is a health measure. Dr. Churgin, who in 1921 gave Radunski a testimonial certifying that he was a skilful and hygienic Mohel, explained his action to-day to the court by saying that other Mohelim were far less hygienic than Radunski, and he had therefore welcomed him as less dangerous to new-born children than the others. He emphatically declared, however, that he himself had always been opposed to circumcision, and that he was thoroughly convinced that it was wrong from the physical point of view.

Radunski has been given a fortnight in which to appeal against his sentence before the Supreme Court of White Russia.

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