Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0778-8304
  • E-ISSN: 2665-9484



Over the course of the nineteenth century, the rite of circumcision became a hotly debated issue in several Jewish communities across Europe. All European countries followed their own path in the circumcision debates, depending on the country’s political and social environment. The Dutch circumcision debates concentrated exclusively on the medical and hygienic improvement of the rite. Between 1820 and 1890, the quickly expanding medical knowledge had far reaching effects on the rite of circumcision in the Netherlands: the rite was centralized, circumcisers were examined on surgical skills, strict surgical protocols applied to the circumcision procedure, and ultimately, the traditional rite of circumcision was altered to meet the latest medical standards. The growing influence of medicine on the religiously important circumcision led to a heated discussion within the Dutch Jewish community; the circumcision debates offered an arena in which different factions within the Dutch Jewish community fought over the balance between the religious and medical aspects of circumcision. This article discusses the course of the Dutch circumcision debates of the nineteenth century, the influence of international circumcision debates and the changing perception of circumcision within the Dutch Jewish community.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): brit milah; circumcision; Judaism; Netherlands; rituals
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