In a strongly worded letter, B’nai Brith demanded that the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) drop its proposal that would ban CPSM members from performing circumcisions outside of a medical clinic or hospital.
If enacted, this would constitute a significant infringement on the important Jewish lifecycle event of Brit Milah.
Jewish circumcisions are typically family events hosted in homes or synagogues, involving a celebratory meal, blessings and speeches. None of these can practically take place in a medical clinic or hospital.
In correspondence with B’nai Brith, the CPSM has clarified that pursuant to Manitoba law, non-CPSM members can also perform ritual circumcisions and would not be bound by the proposed Standard of Practice. But the main mohel, or Jewish circumciser, in Manitoba is a CPSM member, and the mooted change would have the effect of preventing any future Manitoba mohel from performing traditional Jewish circumcisions while maintaining a medical practice, which is standard across Canada.
There is no evidence that the CPSM specifically consulted the Jewish community about the proposed change, despite its obvious impact on Jewish life in Manitoba. It is also not clear what prompted the proposed restrictions, and B’nai Brith is not aware of equivalent strictures in any other province.
“The CPSM does not appear to have considered the serious impact upon the Jewish community of this proposed change,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “The time is now for Canadian Jews to speak up against attempts to restrict this fundamental Jewish religious and cultural practice.
Over the past few years, B’nai Brith Canada has strongly protested bids by Nordic countries such as Iceland and Denmark to ban male circumcision outright. Following international outrage, neither country has in fact legislated such a ban.
“While this may appear to be a minor change to some, it would threaten to fundamentally change the lives of many Manitoba residents. We are also concerned about a potential slippery slope toward more critical blows to Jewish life that we have seen in other Western countries.”