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Jewish Men Discuss Circumcision. What do we really think?Salem-News.com
Reform Judaism: more and more Jews are questioning traditional circumcision.
(TEL AVIV) - The practice of circumcision is something I've been aware of from a very young age. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and my family is Orthodox... Whether it's the Victorian-era doctors, bent on perpetuating their own sexual repression, or during the Maccabean Period where the Jewish priestly ruling class instituted the more severe form of brit milah that is practiced today, which includes brit peri'ah (complete foreskin ablation), we are made to suffer and cause our children to suffer in an endless cycle of trauma. It's high time we stop.
- Jonathan Friedman, On Circumcision, Authority and the Perpetuation of Abuse.
“I'm 37, and have been sitting on a mountain of grief and rage for 17 years, since I discovered what was stolen from me while reading a critique of circumcision in a hip, underground, alternative Jewish newspaper I found at a campus Hillel, of all places… In the Torah, God also commands us to stone people to death, burn animal sacrifices, and take slaves from neighboring nations. Jews have given up those unholy practices, why shouldn't we give this one up too? The majority of Swedish Jews are intact, and guess what? They're still Jewish! Judaism, whether a cultural, ethnic, or religious identity, does not require circumcision. Jewishness is solely defined by parental lineage or conversion, not by genital cutting. Today, there are Jewish baby welcoming ceremonies for all genders free from genital cutting…
- Matthew Taylor, The case against circumcision, MondoWeiss, August 4, 2011.
"Let me ask you, Bent, since you are the head of the Jewish community in Denmark. What should I do if I want my foreskin back? I never wanted a stranger to touch me in the crotch without my permission. I would NEVER IN LIFE allow anyone to cut some of my penis. And how would you advise my parents, who did not considered that they had agreed to a mutilation, surgery without clinical indication (and without anesthesia) on their own son"
- Leo Milgrom, Can you give me my foreskin back?, (English translation from Danish by Google.)
"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.”
- Brian Levitt, Jewish Intactivist
“…It is accepted that he that is not circumcised, but is the son of a Jewish mother, is a Jew. Numerous scholars of Judaism have clearly pointed out that this damaging surgical ritual is inconsistent with all other tenets of the Jewish religion to protect the integrity of the individual and do no harm to another person. The Law Commission would be doing all Jews great service, in fact, to finally recognize the universal harm, the permanence, and the impossibility of informed consent of non-therapeutic circumcision on any infant boy, regardless of religion. To fail to do so, to create a "special exception" for Jewish boys, would be tantamount to governmental discrimination against infants born into the Jewish faith by assuming that their pain is less (it is not) and that they will simply learn to accept their harm. Our pain is real, we are part of the larger society, and we need and expect full protection under the law.”
- Brian Levitt, Jewish Intactivist, Statement to the United Kingdom Law Commission
I am 21 years old, Jewish, and opposed to circumcision My Jewish identity was always very important to me growing up. I went to synagogue a lot, spent my summers at a Jewish summer camp, had a bar mitzvah, and in high school was part of NFTY (North American Federation of Temple Youth). I went to Israel for a semester in high school. When I was a child and teenager, I was always proud to be Jewish, to be a part of G-d’s chosen people, to be in a culture that valued life and not death. I’m also a person who finds the idea of permanent body modification disturbing. I feel G-d made us the way we are for a reason. Every organ has a purpose. Even our imperfections are a sign of our individuality. When I found out I was circumcised, I was horrified... How could a religion of tikun olam do something destructive to their newborns?
No matter what, I can’t cut my kids. I will never know the advantages of being intact—how much difference this really makes—but I do know skinning a baby’s penis is wrong. I will give my sons the choice I never had. My boys will feel proud of what they are—Jewish and intact! "
- Al Rubenstein, Me But Not My Son: A Young Jewish Man Breaks Rank on Circumcision.
“I wish I hadn’t been circumcised. I could show you studies that I believe demonstrate the deleterious effects of the procedure on infants, the costs to the adults that had the procedure done earlier in life, and the falsity of the supposed health benefits of circumcision, but I won’t. There are dedicated organizations that can convey that information far better than I could. What I have to offer you is my personal experience... I grew up going to shul [synagogue], celebrating the holidays, going to Sunday School, having a Bar Mitzvah [the Jewish coming-of-age, at 13 for boys], and even going to a Jewish Day School, yet today I am in almost complete control over the extent to which Jewish culture and Jewish religion play a role in my daily life. The exception is circumcision…”
- Shea Levy, To the Mohel Who Cut Me. “I’d heard how my uncle had fainted during my bris and what a horrible event it was. This was the thing everyone would talk about at the Passover seder… The ban on circumcision that’s on the ballot in San Francisco is a triumph for intactivists… I'm totally for it. San Francisco has often lead the country in elevating our consciousness. It has already helped spread awareness of this human rights crime to other states and hopefully will lead people everywhere to be more compassionate, thoughtful and rational not only towards their own fragile newborn children but to other fellow men and women as well.”
- Jason Paige, Jewish Singer, Blood, Sweat & Tears Lead Singer Protests Infant Circumcision, by Rebecca Wald, J.D.
From Orthodox to Reform Judaism, more and more Jews are questioning traditional circumcision.
Groups of Jews who chose to keep their sons intact are starting up in the United States, Israel and elsewhere. Both Reform Judaism and Humanistic Judaism formally welcome intact Jewish males. Many Jewish Intactivists feel that if true Jewish morals were adhered to, circumcision surgery would be impossible.
Hundreds of thousands of . Most Eastern European and South American Jews remain intact, and many Western European Jews have bypassed circumcision, seeing it as a needless, violent leftover of a bygone history. Some Jewish scholars and Rabbis believe that it is time to interpret the covenant in a symbolic and metaphoric way. Some other Jewish scholars think that surgical circumcision is against the ethics of Jewish law. Some Jews who were raised in the Orthodox tradition such as Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Mark Reiss, MD, and have become especially vocal Jewish intactivists. Some religions like Buddhism and Hinduism consider surgical circumcision a violation of another person and the holy body, and a terrible misdeed.
The human body is a delicate biological eco-system and surgery on any part of it has an effect on the whole system. The intact male foreskin is an innate part of the human anatomy with a valid protective purpose. The presence of the Intactivist movement has thankfully brought these issues to the forefront of the American consciousness.
Judaism has evolved enormously over the last two hundred years. Jews were active in the early civil rights, peace, women’s, gay rights, and environmental movements, making huge advances for human rights in many areas. The prevalence of female Rabbis and the acceptance of gays and lesbians in most Jewish communities shows just how quickly Judaism can evolve on issues of fundamental human rights. Many Jewish Americans and Israelis are active leaders in the worldwide Intactivist movement.
Learn More About the Jewish Inactivist and Genital Wellness Movement
Jewish Intactivist Link List
Jewish Intactivist Media and Groups
BeyondtheBris.com * Jewish Intactivist Articles & Opinions.
Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision * A Movie by Orthodox Intactivist, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon
Jews Against Circumcision
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, PhD.
Gonnen (Protect the Child)
The Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation (Intact Son)
Af-Mila: An Israeli Jewish Intactivist Journal
Circumcision as Preventative Surgery
Intactivist Medical Group
Rabbis on Interpreting a Symbolic Covenant Ritual
Rabbis On Creating A Jewish Covenant Without Circumcision
Intactivism Active Within Humanistic Judaism
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick: Eliminating The Cruelest Cut * The Vice President of the Association of Humanistic Rabbis writes on Intactivism.
Rabbi Jeffrey Falick: A Resource Guide To The "Intactivist" (No Circumcision) Movement *
Rabbi and Professor Howard Eilberg-Schwartz on a Jewish Religious Intactivism (See the second half of the article.)
Rabbi Nathan Segal * A Progressive Rabbi urges us to move to peaceful covenants.
Welcomming Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents.
Worldwide list of Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies *
Norm Cohen: A Brit B’lee Milah Ceremony *
A Brit Shalom Ceremony *
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming Ceremony *
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony *
Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights Law.
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? * Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin * Published in Mothering Magazine.
Intact & Jewish * Published on the Natural Parents Network
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision * A Childbirth educator chooses intact.
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin * Published in Tikkun.
The Naming * Published on Very, Very Fine.
Hebrew Scholar Vadim Cherny: How Judaic is circumcision? * It’s not at all, he finds.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). * Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.
Moshe Rothenberg: Being Rational About Circumcision and Jewish Observance *
Miriam Pollack: Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power * Originally published in Tikkun magazine.
Miriam Pollack: Circumcision : A Jewish Feminist Perspective * Published in Jewish Women Speak Out.
Eli Ungar-Sargon & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethical Problems of Circumcision * At the Manhattan Jewish Experience.
Eli Ungar-Sargon: Outlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews? * Published in the Jewish Daily Forward.
Lisa Braver Moss: The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments *
Jenny Goodman, MD: An Alternative Perspective * A Jewish doctor in the UK urges us to keep our sons intact.
A Progressive Case for Bris without Milah. *
Intact America: Profile of Orthodox Intactivist Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon *
Intact America: Profile of Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack *
International Jews Also Favor Outlawing Circumcision of Minors *
Judaism, Human Rights and the History of Circumcision *
The Intactivist Movement Within Judaism. * Published on Saving Sons.
Jewish mom: Circumcision spiritually wounds * From a lecture by Miriam Pollack.
Today’s Jews Reject Circumcision and Choose Peaceful Welcoming Covenants * An Intactivist Midwife.
Intact America: Profile of Jewish Scholar and Intactivist Leonard Glick, MD, PhD. * A Jewish history of circumcision.
American Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors *
Regretting Circumcision: Women’s Perspectives * Published on Dr. Ron Goldman’s site.
Progressive, Jews speak out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors. * Intactivism and Human Rights.
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