Dutch health ministry says mohels are breaking the law

Some of the Netherlands’ most frequently used circumcisers of Jewish infant boys are breaking the law, the Dutch Health Ministry said.

The statement to the NOS broadcaster had to do with an expose about two Jewish circumcisers, or mohels, who perform the procedure regularly but do not have a medical degree or title. The Netherlands has a handful of mohels, and some of the more popular ones are not recognised as medical caregivers.

The expose focused on Herman Loonstein, a well-known lawyer who has performed about 2,000 circumcisions, and Meir Villegas Henríquez, both of whom will be called for questioning by the Health Ministry’s inspection team in the aftermath of the report, a ministry spokesperson was quoted as telling NOS.

“It is not correct that anyone may perform circumcision because circumcision is a religious freedom or because they are proficient in it,” the spokesperson said. “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, told NOS 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 professionals who are allowed to perform invasive treatments. Circumcisers are not on the list.

Loonstein, who has never been the subject of a complaint over circumcision, according to the expose, told NOS that he does not recognise the Health Ministry’s authority to intervene when it comes to Jewish circumcision, or brit milah.

“If they approach me, I would ask what’s their business with me. I have nothing to do with the Health Ministry’s inspection,” he told NOS.

related

Subscribe to EJC newsletter

Get EJC's bi-weekly newsletter, including the latest statements and news from the European Jewish communities, direct to your inbox.

European Jewish Congress will use the information you provide on this form to contact you. We will treat your information with respect and will not share it with others. By clicking Subscribe, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

browse by community