By Dan Pine

In response to a proposed ballot measure that would ban all circumcision in the city of San Francisco, several Bay Area Jewish organizations have issued a condemnation.

The Anti-Defamation League, the S.F.-based Jewish Community Relations Council, the Board of Rabbis of Northern California and the American Jewish Committee together issued a statement expressing “great concern” about the proposed measure, which would make the practice of circumcision on anyone under age 18 a misdemeanor carrying a $1,000 fine.

The statement went on to defend the practice of circumcision on religious grounds, stating “For thousands of years, Jews around the world have engaged in this important religious ritual, which is of fundamental importance in the Jewish tradition. The organized Jewish community is deeply troubled by this initiative, which would interfere with the rights of parents to make religious decisions for their own families.”

San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield is spearheading the effort to get the measure on the ballot next year, and is currently collecting signatures. At least 7,100 signatures are needed to qualify a proposed measure for the ballot.

Schofield’s intention is to ban the practice of male circumcision, including for Jewish religious purposes, in the city.

He has argued that since female circumcision is illegal, male circumcision on boys under the age of consent should be as well.

“People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else’s body,” Schofield said in a recent interview with CBS. “It’s a man’s body and…his body doesn’t belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It’s his decision.”

While the proposed measure has drawn international media attention, the Jewish agencies signing on to the statement feel it will go down to defeat should it make it to the ballot.

“San Francisco has a tradition of embracing the diversity and respecting the religious customs of its citizens,” it reads. “We trust that the voters of San Francisco will see this proposed initiative as an affront to that tradition and to their freedom.”

See Related: Circumcision Ban Archive


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