Former Board president Jonathan Arkush to co-lead brit milah group
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Former Board president Jonathan Arkush to co-lead brit milah group

Barrister who decided not to run for a second term as communal leader will replace Simon Hochhauser as joint head of Milah UK

Jonathan Arkush, former President of the Board of Deputies
Jonathan Arkush, former President of the Board of Deputies

Former Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush is to re-enter Jewish communal life by replacing Simon Hochhauser as joint head of Milah UK.

Arkush, a barrister who decided not to seek re-election at the Board in May, will take over from the former United Synagogue president at the campaign group in the summer, joining immunologist Professor David Katz as co-chair.

Milah UK was set up to promote and protect the right of the Jewish community to carry out religious circumcisions, and has worked with European Jewish groups in recent years to guard religious freedoms across the continent.

In February, Arkush appeared on BBC’s Newsnight with Emily Maitlis after Iceland’s politicians voted to ban the non-medical circumcision of boys under the age of 18.

“As a Jewish father myself, of a son, I absolutely thought about it, as did my wife,” he said. “We had no doubt whatsoever. We wanted our son brought up in traditional Jewish religious values and complying with what we understand to be a divine commandment in the Torah.”

He added: “I would not have wanted my son to have grown up with other Jewish boys, going into the changing room at the swimming pool, and being different.”

Also on the programme was Dr Antony Lempert, a GP of Jewish heritage and chair of the Secular Medical Forum, who said: “Any operation should have a valid medical reason. In the absence of that the person should be in a position to give consent”.

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