UK Jewish groups welcome scrapping of plan to ban brit milah in Finland

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

UK Jewish groups welcome scrapping of plan to ban brit milah in Finland

Former Board President and co-chair of Milah UK, Jonathan Arkush, said: 'Larger Jewish communities have a responsibility to smaller ones to help them in a time of need'

Jonathan Arkush
Jonathan Arkush

Lawmakers in Finland have removed language against non-medical circumcision of boys from a bill on female genital mutilation – following a push by Jews in the country and the UK groups.

The measure calling to “clarify” Finland’s ban on the genital mutilation of women passed Friday in the Parliament, after an intervention from the Board of Deputies and Milah UK.

Amendments would have potentially limited or outlawed the non-medical circumcision of boys, Yaron Nadbornik, president of the Central Council of Finnish Jewish Communities, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. His organisation reached out to Milah UK, a London-based advocacy group, which involved representatives at the Foreign Ministry, Nadbornik said.

The European Jewish Congress also was involved in efforts to eliminate the amendments added by the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, which is headed by Leena Meri of the populist the Finns Party.

The move was welcomed by former Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush, who is Co-chair of Milah UK . He said: “Larger Jewish communities have a responsibility to smaller ones to help them in a time of need. But more than that, we know that if a self-described liberal democracy like Finland bans Milah, the threat to us here in the UK becomes greater. We want to thank the Finnish Jewish community, his excellency the ambassador, and all those who worked to ensure a common sense way forward on this core religious freedom.”

Yaron Nadbornik, President of the Central Council of Finnish Jewish Communities, said: “We thank Milah UK and the Board of Deputies for their support during this anxious episode for the Finnish Jewish community. The support of international partners has helped ensure a way forward for us to work towards securing our religious freedom for now.”

Finland is an EU member state and subject to the rulings of the European Court of Justice.

Jews and Muslims have vocally objected to attempts to ban non-medical circumcision of boys in Europe by coalitions of right-wing anti-immigration parties and liberal ones that view the custom as a violation of children’s rights.

The new Finnish law does state the issue of circumcision of boys should be “clarified” in the future, but Nadbornik said a ban “has been averted for the time being.”

Some 50,000 Finns who wanted their Scandinavian nation’s penal code to have a specific law against female genital mutilation signed a petition leading to the bill. Mutilation had been punishable under laws against aggravated assault.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: