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Monthly Report: October 2012
Tishrei - Cheshvan 5773
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By Shira Sorko-Ram
What could be more bizarre than a religious ritual that circumcises a baby eight days old? Nothing, as far as a German judge in Cologne is concerned who recently declared that circumcision (brit milah in Hebrew) is “a violation of physical integrity” and as such is a criminal act. The judge went on to say that “the child’s body is permanently and irreparably changed by the circumcision.” This change, opined the judge, “conflicts with the child’s interest of later being able to make his own decision on his religious affiliation.”
One could suppose this assault on circumcision came out of the blue, but sadly, that is not the case. Attacks on Jewish religious traditions have been an unfortunate part of European history since Roman times. And now, once again there is a concerted effort to criminalize God’s commandment to the Jewish people. One visiting rabbi in Berlin to discuss the ban called it “perhaps the most serious attack on Jewish life in Europe since the Holocaust.”
This legal decision would make perfect sense to a godless judge and a nation that no longer considers the truths of the Bible a core value. In fact, the majority of German people support the ban on circumcision. The editorial page in the Jerusalem Post reported that 56% of Germans believe that circumcision should be illegal.
A Bavarian professor, Dr. Holm Putzke, applauded the ruling. “After all the knee-jerk outrage has subsided,” he wrote, “it is to be hoped it will set in motion a discussion about religiously motivated violence against children.”
Dr. Frank Montgomery, president of the German Medical Association told the BBC: “It leaves doctors in a legal quagmire. What rights do parents have over their children’s religion,” Montgomery wondered, adding that “with baptism in Christianity, you pre-construct the religious position of little children by baptizing them.” To play it safe, Dr. Montgomery gave orders that German doctors not perform circumcisions.
Soon after the Cologne decision, a German doctor, Sebastian Guevara Kamm in the Bavarian city of Hof, filed a complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, an Israeli native who serves as Chief rabbi in that city. Dr. Kamm filed a complaint claiming the mohel (Jewish ritual circumciser) causes a child bodily harm.
Dr. Goldberg said he had been performing circumcisions for 40 years in Germany, and would continue. He added he could only assume the complaint against him had an anti-Semitic motivation. “I can’t see any other reason for it.” But Kamm responded that he felt “duty bound to protect children.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, considered a good friend of Israel, urged her government to legislate around the ruling saying it would make Germany a “laughing stock.” However, legislation takes time - at the least, many months.
Moreover, this decision by one judge in Cologne - and whose authority is valid only in that city, has caused a ripple affect that is spreading throughout Europe. Already, the Jewish Hospital in Berlin, which has been performing ritual circumcisions for 250 years, has stopped. Hospitals in Austria and Switzerland are perplexed as to whether or not circumcisions should be allowed in their countries.
In the Jewish community, there is incredulity and alarm at the German court’s decision. Jonah Sievers, the chief rabbi of Lower Saxony, said that when he first heard it, he “thought it was just impossible.”
Now politicians in Denmark, Norway and Finland are reported to have come out in favor of outlawing the practice in their nations.
Some European countries may have issues with a growing, often radical, Muslim population that is resisting integration. Britain’s chief rabbi sees the ruling as a blow primarily directed at Muslims, with Jews as collateral damage. But restricting the rights of Muslims and Jews to carry out a religious ceremony symbolizing purity and man’s covenant with God is surely not the way to proceed.
ACTIVISTS PUSH FOR BANS IN THE U.S.
By no means is this wave of protests over Jews circumcising their children limited to Europe. In San Francisco, a ban on circumcision qualified for the 2011 ballot in San Francisco, and a similar campaign began in Santa Monica, California. The San Francisco measure which was later struck down in part for violating the religious freedoms of Jews and Muslims would have made circumcising any male under age 18 a crime punishable by a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
The attempt in Santa Monica also failed, and even though activists in Massachusetts worked hard, they too were not able to pass a law against the Biblical command to the Jewish people.
Though anti-circumcision activists in the U.S. have not succeeded in getting their proposals on the ballot, they have no thought whatsoever of stopping their efforts to make circumcision illegal.
Matthew Hess, a San Francisco man with a mission, explained, “The end goal for us is making cutting boys’ foreskin a federal crime.”
Hess is the author of an online comic book, “Foreskin Man.” The “hero” rescues babies about to be cut by the grotesque Jewish villain called Monster Mohel. These comic books are vile, and are on a par with the sleaze spewed out by Nazis and extremists throughout the Arab and Islamic world.
Another anti-circumcision crusader, Jena Troutman, who wants to outlaw circumcision in all America explained, “I am just a mom trying to save the little babies.” Ms. Troutman said she considered putting religious exemptions in the measure, but then decided, “Why should only some babies be protected?”
What I have observed in my lifetime is that when an anti-God or anti-Bible or anti-Semitic movement begins, it will not stop as it is driven by unseen evil spirits who have secured a foothold in an individual or group of people. As long as Christians sleep, as long as the Church does nothing, Satan will use the energies of these deceived people who see evil as good and good as evil, until they reach their goal.
BENEFITS OF CIRCUMCISION
There are numerous medical reports on the web explaining that on the eighth day when circumcision takes place it also happens to be the day when the infant’s potassium level, which helps blood to clot, peaks.
Secondly, despite rare media reports and rabid blogs to the contrary, ritual circumcision is a very safe procedure. International health organizations have long promoted circumcision as an important strategy for reducing the spread of the AIDS virus.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, circumcision has fallen out of favor with American parents over the past few decades, with rates falling from about 80% in the 1970s to 55% in 2010.
The Los Angeles Times recently cited a study predicting that as the number of circumcisions goes down in the U.S., the cost of health care will steadily climb because of sexually transmitted diseases.
Why? Because circumcision has been proven to be the second most effective means - after condoms - of stopping the transmission of HIV-AIDS, with the British Medical Journal reporting that circumcised men are eight times less likely to contract the infection. Research concludes male circumcision also reduces the risk of cervical cancer in women by 20%, and reduces men’s risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, including herpes, syphilis and various cancers.
Even the Washington Times reported that “declining U.S. circumcision rates could add more than $4 billion in health care costs in coming years because of increased illness and infections.”
Yet it is important to recognize that while medical studies have shown health benefits to circumcision, Jews do not circumcise their sons for that reason, but because of the covenant that it represents with God. “While the American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its position several times, the Jewish people have always been steadfast in their commitment to brit milah,” says Dr. Avraham Steinberg, author of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics.
JEWS OF ALL PERSUASIONS UNITE AGAINST ATTACK ON THEIR RELIGION
Israeli journalists who are completely secular understand the importance of parents’ religious freedom to circumcise their sons. Haaretz’ Bradley Burston wrote: “My parents had me circumcised because they had come to believe that it was an act of faith and an expression of religious devotion, a profound tie to thousands of years of tradition. It was their right to choose, and their responsibility ...To criminalize so fundamental an act and commandment of Jewish and Muslim faith is to deprive millions of people not only of their freedom of religion, but of their rights and duties as human parents. If the intactivists [anti-circumcision activists] succeed in criminalizing belief, God help us all.”
The New York Times explained it thus: Jewish groups see the ballot measures as a very real threat, likening them to bans on circumcision that existed in Soviet-era Russia and Eastern Europe and in ancient Roman and Greek times. The circumcision of males is an inviolable requirement of Jewish law that dates back to Abraham’s circumcision of himself and his sons in the Book of Genesis.
“Jews say the proposed ban is an assault on religious freedom that could have a widespread impact all over the country. Beyond the biblical, there are emotional connections: checking for circumcision was one of the ways Jewish children could be culled from their peers by Nazis and the czar’s armies.”
Israeli President Shimon Peres told German President Joachim Gauck in a recent letter that circumcision is “at the core of Jewish identity.” A Jewish citizen of Germany said, “Banning circumcision is tantamount to saying no Jewish life is possible in Germany. I don’t think Germany can afford to take that position.”
Knesset member Danny Danon summoned the German ambassador to Israel, telling him, “Circumcision is one of the pillars of Judaism, and the last time it was restricted was in Germany during its darkest hour.”
Pinchas Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow and the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said the court’s decision was part of what he saw as growing infringement upon religious freedom in Europe. “Circumcision is existential,” he stated. “Without it there can be no Jewish community.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told CBN News, “The Jewish people’s commitment to brit milah outlived Stalin, Hitler and all the other tyrants who understood the importance of brit milah to the Jewish people. In the former Soviet Union, Jews put their lives on the line in order to get a brit milah,” the rabbi said.
“People are shocked that it has reached this level because there has never been this kind of a direct assault on a Jewish practice here... This is something that American Jews have always taken for granted - that something that was so contested elsewhere but here, we’re safe and we’re secure.”
The truth is that only if we who are believers understand the spiritual forces at work can we comprehend how people who do not fear the God of the Bible can rise up across the world with one goal in mind - to destroy the Jewish people.
Itsik Issan, CFO of Maoz Israel delivers a word of encouragement to the soldiers, tellling them that Maoz
contributors are praying for Israel’s warriors and are honored to supply them with the needed protective gear.
Shira Sorko-Ram stands by the pile of equipment Maoz donors purchased for these soldiers in the field.
Prayer groups throughout the congregation pray for the salvation and healing of members and for the lost.
Even though we are convinced that the prayers of our readers and contributors are critical to the work of the Lord in Israel, we also know that we who are living here in the land must be strong intercessors to see the breakthroughs that God has promised our people.
Therefore we at Congregation Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv have times of prayer in every regular Sabbath service.
Our elders pray as we prepare our hearts to receive the Lord’s Supper.
As we worship, we long to see His Face.
The congregation prays each week for our believing soldiers, both present and those on duty.
Maoz is partnering with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America to purchase shelving for the MJAA’s new humanitarian aid warehouse in Sederot - the Israeli city under constant attacks by Hamas rockets.
Sederot is a city of fallen rockets, bomb shelters and children who must walk to school, knowing that any moment they may have to literally run for their lives.
This 15,000 square foot warehouse will soon be filled with shipments of 42 cargo containers - each containing some $150,000 (£95,000, €117,000) worth of donated goods by private businesses.
These goods will then be delivered to centers around the whole southern area of Israel. The first stock will be survival kits for use in bomb shelters for families living under the poverty line, as well as other wartime aid.
However, the goods cannot be placed in the warehouse until it is fitted with floor-to-ceiling palletized shelving. That’s where Maoz comes in.
Jo Kaplan, Executive Director of the Joseph Project.
The type of palletized shelving Maoz will purchase for the Sederot warehouse.
Think about the people whose stories are told in scripture. God used the rich and the poor, the famous and the obscure, senior citizens and children, widows, orphans, people of great faith and even people whose confidence in God was shaky. Wherever you are, and whoever you are, God can use you too, in ways you may not have imagined!
God's Word provides a guide for your life, a roadmap to the future, and a secure inheritance. Aren't you glad that God wrote down His plans for you and charted your path? You can do the same for your loved ones and for generations of Jewish people who are waiting to hear the Good News of the Gospel.
Estate planning is not just for the well-heeled or elderly. It needn't be complicated. And most importantly, it is the opportunity of a lifetime to make your greatest gift to bless Israel and at the same time to ensure that your family has what they need for the future.
Dear Maoz Partner,
Israelis across our nation are preparing for war. We pray that will not happen.
But the same Scriptures that promise that all Israel will be saved, also foretell that Israel will not have peace until our people open their hearts to the Only One who can save them.
And so we have water and long-term staples in our bomb shelter. We have flashlights and candles, and a gas burner to heat water.
However, in Israel there are many who can’t stock up on staples in case there is a war because 20% of the population is now under the poverty line. And in the cities of the south where rockets continually hit, the poverty is chronic and debilitating.
Businesses are few - and therefore unemployment high - because of the constant rocket attacks from Hamas.
These people have no other place to go. Many are immigrants who had no idea they were leaving Russia or Eastern Europe only to find themselves in Israel under constant fire.
Many, especially the children, suffer post-traumatic stress disorder.
These are the people we want to help.
In partnership with the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America’s large new warehouse in Sederot, Maoz has committed to raise $50,000 to provide floor-to-ceiling shelving for the entire storehouse. That’s 258 10-feet-long (3 meters) shelves that can hold 3 pallets of humanitarian aid each.
The first containers arriving will deliver survival kits for use in the community bomb shelters.
The people in the south of Israel already use their bomb shelters continually. Even as we write this letter, all schools were dismissed today in Beersheva, Ashdod, and of course Sederot and other neighboring areas, because rocket attacks were launched exactly at the time children were boarding buses to go to school.
Two homes were completely destroyed.
This is our opportunity to help and bless the oppressed families of southern Israel.
Together, we will see the shelves of this warehouse be fitted against its walls and filled with goods to bring HOPE and LOVE! We will help those in need today, and we continue to bring hope for Eternal Life at the same time.
Thank you for your help in bringing God’s chosen people back to Him!
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
P.S. No gift is too small! Help us today!