(JTA) — A European rabbinical group has created a union of mohels, or ritual circumcisers, in an effort to standardize ritual circumcision and combat attempts to ban the rite.
The Union of Mohalim in Europe seeks to “unite approved mohalim across Europe under a single banner, ensuring that all communities can be assured of the high level of training and regulation,” according to a statement released Wednesday by the Conference of European Rabbis.
In the coming weeks, the Vienna-based union will compile a list of “all fully certified mohalim,” the statement said, and members will be offered opportunities to review halachic, medical and legal issues and receive full certification.
The union is being run by a committee overseen by Chanoch Ehrentreu, president of the European Beth Din, or rabbinical court. Dr. Joseph Spitzer of London is the medical director.
Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister of Vienna, the union’s president, said the new body “enables us to approve qualified European mohelim and to promote best practice in an area where we know our opponents will seize upon any opportunity to challenge us.”
In December 2012, German lawmakers passed a law that guarantees parents the right to circumcise boys for religious reasons. The vote followed a court ruling in Cologne that defined ritual circumcision as causing “bodily harm.” The ruling led to partial bans on circumcision in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and intensified the heated debate over the issue in Scandinavian countries and beyond.
“The ongoing debates about infant circumcision in Europe mean that this additional layer of protection could not come at a more important time,” Hofmeister said.