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Jews for the Rights of the Child: Jewish Intactivists Support Outlawing CircumcisionSalem-News.com
“Intact Genitals are a Human Right” – Protest by Jews for the Rights of the Child
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The last 100 years have been marked by the declaration and protection of universal human rights, and a marked increase in the quality of life, both in America and worldwide. With these improvements, higher expectations regarding a child’s right to bodily autonomy have become socially accepted and legally mandated. Many argue that since female children in the U.S. are protected by a 1996 law banning female circumcision, this law should be expanded to include the protection of male children as well. The groupsJews Against Circumcision, Jews for the Rights of the Child and the Israeli Organization Against Genital Mutilation have all endorsed laws that would outlaw child circumcision.
There are an increasing number of Jews who are vocal in questioning both the ethics and the legality of circumcision surgery. Jews in the Reform movement have already been advocating for an end to circumcision during the past 170 years. Influential Jews including radio personality Howard Stern and filmmaker Eli Ungar-Sargon also called for laws against circumcision. What follows is a collection of statements from Jews who question the ethics and legality of forced infant circumcision.
“Good afternoon. My name is Brian Levitt… I am Jewish, the eldest of 3 children and the son of a doctor… I feel deeply harmed by circumcision, and this view has only been confirmed over time. I do not feel closer to Judaism because of my circumcision. On the contrary, I deeply wish one thing had nothing to do with the other. The genital cutting of infants has driven me away from my religion, and I'm far from alone in this view. Eventually my father understood these issues, and even apologized for having allowed my brother and I to be circumcised at birth… There are hundreds of thousands of men who resent their infant circumcision. There are tens of thousands of intact Jewish boys and men around the world who thank their lucky stars they were not circumcised.”
Jewish Mother and Childbirth Educator Kathryn Mora Testifying in Support of the MGM Bill at the Massachusetts State House.
"I am a Jewish mother against circumcision and in support of passing Bill 1777. For years I was a certified childbirth educator and now a journalist and filmmaker. I continue to educate people that childbirth is a natural event rather than one filled with unnecessary drugs and other medical intervention, and circumcision is an unnatural event. These are two clear-cut examples of interfering with nature."
“The human right to body integrity would, in this instance, override their religious right.…non-fundamentalist Jews, who constitute a very large number of Reform, Conservative, and even some Orthodox Jews, believe that human ethics are an essential element in the Jewish tradition. … This should give pause to any non-fundamentalist religious Jew, and it is a black eye for the liberal movements that they have not taken this issue more seriously. Perhaps a law prohibiting circumcision is just what these Jews need to start a serious discussion about the problem of brit milah.”
“I happen to agree with you that foreskin removal should be illegal. It is a mutilation… I agree with you that men should not be circumcised... I don’t know where this circumcision came from… There’s been all kinds of myths. I think it’s nonsense. That if you’re born that way, it seems to me it’s a mutilation to cut it off. The same way in Africa they sometimes cut off a woman’s clitoris and they think that’s justified. I think our foreskins were cut off in order to desensitize us, and I think it was a bunch of religious nudnicks who decided they didn’t want us going around fornicating so they cut off some of our penis skin.”
"Laurie Evans, the Jewish director of New York's National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource CentersNOCIRC), told the Committee that under Jewish law, the son of a Jewish mother is Jewish, whether circumcised or not, and that despite great pressure she had kept her son intact. She said that many Jewish mothers confide to having been horrified by their boy's circumcision ceremony. She said that initially the ceremony involved removing only a small amount of foreskin, not all of it, and that several Jewish organizations recommend a peaceful birth ceremony instead. She urged the panel to watch a circumcision and raised the issue of botched circumcisions. The second Jewish mother to speak,Kathryn Mora, testified she had been devastated that her son was taken from her in the hospital and circumcised without her consent."
“Jewish baby boys are human and have rights too, and those rights are violently trampled by his (and my) religion, in the case of brit milah. We must all learn to take the blinders off and somehow stop this heinous practice -- yes, by a law, if necessary.
“In Massachusetts, two Jewish mothers testified in favor of a law making circumcision illegal. Moreover, several Jews and Jewish organizations throughout the country are backing a proposed national law against circumcision. Jewish groups such as Jews Against Circumcision and the Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation have endorsed the proposed American MGM bill, which would rewrite the U.S. Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1996 so that boys are also protected from genital mutilation.”
Intactivist Jewish Voices - Many Jews Question Circumcision
Some International Jews Also Favor Outlawing Child Circumcision
“What about religious freedom? Certainly, the ability to freely practise one's religion remains a vital component of any liberal democracy. But should this trump an individual's right to their bodily integrity? And shouldn't such a principle be extended to all those who, by virtue of their age, are too young to decide on which body parts they would or would not like to keep?...
Rebecca Steinfeld, is a PhD. candidate at Oxford University. She served as an under-35 director and as an associate of the Board of Deputies for New West End Synagogue.
“It seems to me that for liberal Jews the choice comes down to this. Do we want to in some way circumscribe the sexual possibilities of our sons by performing a body modification when they are infants so as to bear witness to the covenant? Are there not other ways to bear witness?
Are there not other ways to maintain our distinctiveness from the society around us? Despite having circumcised my two sons, the more I think about the issue, the more likely – were I a resident of San Francisco – I would support the referendum.”
Jewish Religious and Historical Issues
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