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L.A. Jewish Groups on Local Anti-Circumcision Ballot Measure: “Great Concern”

by Jonah Lowenfeld

June 1, 2011 | 7:13 pm

In a succinct written statement, a coalition of Los Angeles Jewish groups expressed “great concern” about a proposed ballot measure that that would prohibit the circumcision of male minors in Santa Monica.

The two-paragraph statement was jointly drafted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, the Anti Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee and was made available to the Jewish Journal late on Wednesday, June 1.

“For many, male circumcision is a religious decision that is squarely within the legal rights of parents to make for their infant sons,” the joint statement said. “For thousands of years, Jews around the world have engaged in this important religious ritual.  The covenant of circumcision is fundamental to the practice of Judaism.”

The groups’ measured words come amidst a rash of media attention being paid to the progress of two separate ballot initiatives aiming to outlaw circumcision in two California cities. Last month, city officials in San Francisco announced backers of a similar ballot measure aiming to prohibit male circumcision in that city had collected over 12,000 signatures in support of the measure, qualifying it for inclusion on the November 2011 ballot.

Meanwhile, the backer of the Santa Monica ballot initiative only received the official city-approved language describing her proposed measure on Friday, May 27. She’ll need to collect about 6,000 signatures in the next 180 days to put the question to voters in the beach city at its next election in November 2012.

Which is why Los Angeles’s Jewish leaders are, for now, officially expressing nothing more than “great concern” about the Santa Monica measure.

“We will be meeting on Monday with selected community leaders to discuss strategy moving forward,” Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive vice president of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California said.

Read the complete text of the statement below:

Jewish Community Criticism of Proposed Ballot Measure Prohibiting Male Circumcision

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the American Jewish Committee express great concern about a proposed ballot measure in Santa Monica, which would make circumcision before the age of 18 a misdemeanor offense carrying a $1000 fine.

For many, male circumcision is a religious decision that is squarely within the legal rights of parents to make for their infant sons.  For thousands of years, Jews around the world have engaged in this important religious ritual.  The covenant of circumcision is fundamental to the practice of Judaism.  The Jewish community is deeply troubled by this initiative, which would interfere with the rights of parents to make religious decisions for their own families.  Historically, people of all religions, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds sought a new life in the United States in pursuit of religious liberty.  Further, male circumcision is a widely accepted general practice in this country and of key importance to multiple faiths.

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