Re­luc­tant mo­helsskew birth fig­ures

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

THE BOARD of Deputies says it is be­ing ham­pered in the col­lec­tion of Jewish birth statis­tics be­cause not all mo­he­lim (cir­cum­cis­ers) are pro­vid­ing fig­ures for brits per­formed each year.

The num­ber of births is based on the an­nual cir­cum­ci­sions per­formed by mo­he­lim reg­is­tered with the re­spec­tive Or­tho­dox and Pro­gres­sive so­ci­eties.

But Daniel Vulkan, the Board’s re­search and in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, who helps to com­pile its de­mo­graphic re­ports, said there were a num­ber of mo­he­lim who ei­ther had not re-reg­is­tered with the Or­tho­dox-run Ini­ti­a­tion So­ci­ety, or had never been mem­bers.

“We don’t know how many there are,” he said. “But a few who have left con­tinue to op­er­ate in­de­pen­dently. I think it is a prob­lem be­cause some of those who haven’t re-reg­is­tered carry out fairly large num­bers of cir­cum­ci­sions, based on fig­ures in the past.”

From anec­do­tal ev­i­dence, he said, “the rea­son they aren’t re­new­ing their mem­ber­ship is be­cause the pre­mi­ums are go­ing up”.

Mem­ber­ship of the so­ci­ety is £275 a year, which in­cludes in­sur­ance.

But Alex Minn, sec­re­tary of the Ini­ti­a­tion So­ci­ety, ar­gued that the num­bers of those who had not re-reg­is­tered “could be counted on one hand”. He also be­lieved that they were more likely to be those who per­formed only one or two cir­cum­ci­sions a year. But Mr Minn con­ceded that mo­he­lim were not al­ways “very prompt” in re-reg­is­ter­ing. “Some­times we have to send as many as three re­minders,” he said.

The Board — which re­ported 3,205 Jewish births in the UK for 2005 — is now try­ing to gather data for births for 2007. Over the past cou­ple of years, there has been grow­ing de­bate, in par­tic­u­lar, over ex­actly what pro­por­tion of Bri­tish Jewish ba­bies are to strictly Or­tho­dox par­ents.

Mr Vulkan ex­plained: “Each year we try to col­lect the num­ber of cir­cum­ci­sions car­ried out around the coun­try. We as­sume that the ra­tio of male to fe­male births in the Jewish com­mu­nity is broadly the same as the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion, so from the cir­cum­ci­sions we cal­cu­late the num­ber of births over­all.”

ChanochKes­sel­man,ex­ec­u­tiveco-or­di­na­tor of the Union of Or­tho­dox He­brew Con­gre­ga­tions, the um­brella body for Lon­don’s strictly Or­tho­dox com­mu­ni­ties, said that most ap­proved mo­he­lim be­longed to the Ini­ti­a­tion So­ci­ety.

“Of the 36 cer­ti­fied by us, there may be just three or four who are not mem­bers of the so­ci­ety — and they are ones who prob­a­bly don’t do gen­eral com­mu­nal cir­cum­ci­sions.

“There are some who have learned to be mo­he­lim and do it just for their fam­ily be­cause they want to keep the pre­cept that a fa­ther should circumcise his son,” he said.

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