Holland says some top mohels may be breaking the law
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Holland says some top mohels may be breaking the law

Health ministry in the Netherlands cracks down on Jewish people performing circumcision without qualifications. 

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Circumcision is a fundamental belief in Orthodox Judaism
Circumcision is a fundamental belief in Orthodox Judaism

Two of the best-known mohelim — circumcisers — in the Netherlands are to be called in for questioning by the Dutch Health Ministry as part of a crackdown on people who carry out circumcisions without medical qualifications.

Herman Loonstein is a well-known lawyer who has performed about 2,000 circumcisions. He and Meir Villegas Henríquez, another mohel, are due to be questioned by the ministry’s inspection team.

A ministry spokesman told Dutch TV: “It is not correct that anyone may perform circumcision because circumcision is a religious freedom or because they are proficient in it. Of course, we will hold to account the people who break the law. We will speak with Mr. Loonstein.”

Jaap Sijmons, a lecturer on medical law, said that the law forbids any operation, including circumcision, by anyone not registered as a medical professional. However, this appears to be an interpretation as the law does not explicitly forbid such practices. Instead it only lists some non-medical professionals who are allowed to perform invasive treatments. Circumcisers are not on the list.

For his part, Mr Loonstein says that he does not recognise the Health Ministry’s authority to intervene when it comes to brit milah. He declared: “If they approach me, I would ask what’s their business with me. I have nothing to do with the Health Ministry’s inspection”.

 

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