In The Times of Israel today there is a report that a German Judge ruled that circumcision damages the bodily integrity of a child and any parent who has one performed for non-medical reasons can be punished by the court.
I found this interesting because I am teaching a modern Jewish History course this summer and we are heavy into the subject of the development of Liberal Judaism. One of the main points I have made throughout the class is that German culture is absolutely toxic to Judaism. Judaism and German culture are irreconcilable. Of course, this puts me at odds with the founders of the liberal Jewish movements as they worked very hard to reconcile German culture with Jewish practice. It did not work out so well.
The Liberal Rabbis of Germany, such as Abraham Geiger, had no problem changing Shabbat to Sunday, repealing the kosher laws, adding choirs and organ music to the worship service, preaching their sermons in German, and eliminating all of the visible signs of a Jew... like the yarmulke and tzitzit. But for some strange reason, the ritual of circumcision was left intact.
To be sure there was a vigorous debate about the practice. It was universally recognized to be a superstitious, barbaric, and ancient practice. There was absolutely no rational argument to support it at the time. Today we try to justify it with medical reasons, but the science confirming this is far from definitive.
Abraham Geiger, who was one of the defining intellectual forces of what later became the Reform movement, would not let go of circumcision as a Jewish practice, even though he could find no rational reason to keep it. According to the Virtual Jewish Library: while he considered circumcision a "barbaric, bloody act," he opposed the call of the radical Frankfurt Reformverein to abolish it.
Germany is not he only place where circumcision is under attack. Here in the US, there is a comic book hero called Foreskin Man who battles evil moyels circumcising helpless young children. Let's face it, circumcision is pretty drastic and kind of strange.... yet it seems to be one of the most important aspects of our religion. It was so important that even Abraham Geiger, who had no problem discarding parts of our tradition that conflicted with his scientific view of the world, still held on to it.
It has been banned before. You only have to read the book of Maccabees in the apocrypha of the Catholic bible to see evidence that the practice was banned under Antiochus Epiphanies. The Romans banned it as well. Whenever you want to get rid of Jews, circumcision has to go.
I have always been amazed by the story of circumcision in the Torah. I can just imagine Abraham walking into his tent and addressing all of his servants.
"Hey guys, I just had this funny conversation with God and guess what we are going to cut off today?"
...and the tentative replies...
"yeah right... what?"
"Uhhhh... Is he serious?"
"I sure hope not."
A couple of years ago, I taught a seventh grade class and we were discussing the subject of tattoos, Jewish law, Auschwitz and Jewish burials. One of my students asked why tattoos were not allowed by Jewish law. I replied that with one notable exception, you are not supposed to permanently alter the body that God gave you.
"What's the exception?"
One student starts laughing and one by one they got it. Hilarious.
Circumcision = Judaism. Don't ask me to explain it, because I can't.
Germany does not = Judaism. Can't explain that one either, but it is just obvious to me that it is true.