Late last month a German court banned circumcision of young boys – even for religious purposes. Last year, the City of San Francisco briefly had a circumcision ban on the ballot before a judge forced its removal from consideration.
But Genesis 17:11-12 commands us:
You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin and that shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout the generations, every mal among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days.
Jews continue to circumcise our sons on the eighth day as we have since the time God commanded Abraham. Even in the darkest times in Jewish history – through crusades, expulsions, and inquisitions – and in the darkest places – in ghettos and death camps – we have followed this commandment. Rabbi Ephraim Oshry, a Lithuanian rabbi who survived the Holocaust and was able to write down and recover his answers to the horrifying, painful Jewish legal questions that arose in the ghettos and the camps, published a book called Responsa from the Holocaust. In it, among the heart-rending stories, he tells of a woman who asked if she could circumcise her son before the eighth day because, though he was born healthy, she knew she could not keep him warm and nourished enough to live out a full week.
Leaving aside the disgraceful imagery of a German court (of all countries) attempting to impose such a ban, those who would try to stop Jews from circumcising our sons should understand that our people have performed the commandment of milah (ritual circumcision) in far worse conditions than under threat from a court.