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Open letter to Jewish religious leaders

Open letter to Jewish religious leaders

date of release of the Appeal - spring 2019

Public debate on the conditions for consent to circumcision

To the attention of :
Haïm Korsia, Chief Rabbi of France
Delphine Horvilleur, Floriane Chinsky, Yann Boissière - rabbis of the Liberal Jewish Movement of France


Droit au Corps has just sent the French government an appeal titled “To open a public debate on the conditions of consent to circumcision”. We wanted to inform you as early as possible. We believe that it is in everyone’s interest that such a debate be initiated in a calm atmosphere and within the framework of a shared ethic that gives priority to alleviating suffering in the world.

Considering :

  • the findings made by the symposium on the future of circumcision, organized in 2015 by the Association des Médecins Israélites de France and the Fonds Social Juif Unifié, and taking into account that the Bar Mitzvah is held at the age of 13 ;
  • the position of circumcision in Islam, and that Ishmael was 13 years old at the time of his biblical circumcision ;
  • the studies recognized by the World Health Organization, according to which circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection from women to men in the case of vaginal penetration. Although they are controversial, these studies make it questionable to prohibit this option for individuals at the age to have such relations (which a non-negligible number of young people explore from the age of 13, according to available statistics);
  • that from the age of 13, a young person is considered sufficiently responsible for his or her actions to be put in prison (in France);

it seems to us that all the conditions are in place for a public debate on the conditions for consent to circumcision, which would allow a consensus to be reached among all parties, a balance point that can alleviate as much suffering as possible.

We draw your attention to the fact that this appeal targets particularly the circumcision of newborns, an age when effective anesthesia entails a higher risk of death. We ask you to call for an end to a religious practice particularly harmful at this age, and to consider, for example, an evolution to the alternative ritual of Brit Shalom, which can be celebrated at 8 days, in accordance with tradition but without risk or pain. This would be to your great credit and would in no way call into question the principle of circumcision delayed until the age of consent, a practice that is compatible with Judaism.

We are at your disposal for any further information.

With kind regards,

Droit au Corps

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