Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jewish Intactivism Part II
The following compilation was graciously shared with me:

The Circumcision Referendum: More American Jews are Becoming Intactivists

"We're seeing [circumcision's] decline, and we're seeing Rabbi's like me and others in other communities saying these practices are not warranted and we're seeing a generational shift away from them. One of the things that I think that's also critical is the growing popularity, and I think a rightful popularity of natural medicine and natural childbirth ideas. And I think that this is clearly seen as inconsistent - circumcision, male infant circumcision, female infant circumcision or genital mutilation - not consistent with natural childbirth, natural health. To the extent we see within nature patterns of evolved health and wellness. This is clearly not one of them. Inflicting a wound on an infant is clearly not one of those... If circumcision is ever wanted, it's not warranted at this point.“
- Rabbi Binyamin Biber

"The code of the Jewish law is called "halacha" (the way). Within the Code, there is a provision that if a mother loses a son because of circumcision, she is NOT obligated to circumcise her next son. I extrapolate from this, the inter-connection of my human family, that enough deaths and maiming have occurred because of circumcision. Therefore - circumcision is no longer a requisite! Just as we no longer practice the animal sacrifices in the traditional temple, so let us not sacrifice an important piece of our mammal in the temple of tradition."
- Rabbi Nathan Segal, One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision

“Mutilation of the divinely made human body is as far from Judaism as anything could be… Torah mentions circumcision only cursorily. Circumcision is conspicuously absent from the Sinai commandments, and from the subsequent listings of rules… Deut30:6 mentions circumcision metaphorically at most, “circumcise your heart.” No less likely is the meaning, “tame your pride.”
- Israeli Linguist Vadim Cherny, How Judaic is the circumcision?

“All attempts to justify a custom such as this by means of one or another symbolic explanation collapse in the presence of the baby, in agony under the mohel’s knife.… there is enough of worth in Judaism to guarantee its survival, even after it rids itself of this disturbing custom. It may even be strengthened this way.”
- Israeli Professor Hanoch Ben-Yami, 
Letters, Azure, Summer 5767 / 2007, no. 29

"…the ritual and religious consequences of not being circumcised [in Judaism] amount to nothing. There is absolutely nothing that an intact Jewish male today cannot do. Contrast this with - I'm talking from the Orthodox [Jewish] perspective - non-Sabbath observance. Jews who are not Sabbath observant are not trusted in Halachic courts of law, they cannot be witnesses at people's weddings, they cannot be trusted with issues of Kashrut, making sure that things are Kosher... Here's an issue that is very easy to solve. You don't even have to argue for the eradication of male circumcision in the Jewish tradition for everyone to be happy. All you have to do is say that this will be a decision that an individual makes at an age when they can make the decision.”
- Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, 
Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blane & Laurie Evans

“AS AN INCREASING NUMBER OF AMERICANS – including a sizable number of American Jews – question the act of male circumcision, a group of San Francisco activists are advocating to ban circumcision… Many of the leading activists against circumcision around the country are Jewish.
- Jersualem Post, Challenging the Circumcision Myth, 04/10/2011

"I am confident that my people have such an abundance of life-enhancing, life-affirming and mind-opening traditions, that our identity and sense of cultural self-heed will happily survive our outgrowing of circumcision, a cruel relic which has always felt to me like an aberration at the heart of my religion."
- Dr. Jenny Goodman,
Challenging Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective

"Without compromising either our children’s identity or the survival of our people, we can invite all of our Jewish children, our baby girls and our baby boys, into a brit b’lee milah, a covenant without circumcision, and school them in the wisdom, love, and beauty of the Jewish tradition. Unlike Christianity, which teaches that a child is born into original sin and must be redeemed, Judaism teaches that the soul is pure — only the penis needs “redemption.” The truth is that the whole baby is pure, body and soul, including his tender genitals, and it is both a mitzvah and our most sacred duty to protect him."
- Miriam Pollack, Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power, Tikkun 26(3), 2011.

“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, some people feel it’s a religious thing, it’s about health, it’s about cutting off the foreskin makes your penis less likely to get cancer. 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.”
- Howard Stern, Talk Radio Host
Howard Stern, Jewish Intactivist by Rebecca Wald,, March, 2011

“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.” - Sandford Borins, Ph.D., The Circumcision Referendum: A Liberal Jewish Perspective
Sandford Borins, Ph.D., is a professor of Management at the University of Toronto.

“So it’s quite obvious that to question any aspect of Judaism, including circumcision is not anti-Semitic. It is very much in keeping with Judaism’s rich tradition of discussion and debate…So what if parents don’t want the milah, but still want the brit? Several different alternative rituals have been created by parents and rabbis of all branches of Judaism. They’re typically called a Brit Shalom, so rather than covenant of cutting, it’s a covenant of peace. They tend to involve all the traditional aspects of a traditional bris, including all the same participants and blessings, just without the actual circumcision. Some will simply use the same naming ceremony used for girls. It’s not particularly common, but it is being used more often now than in the past. Support groups exist for parents of intact Jewish boys.

Cars now bear bumper stickers which read, “Jews embracing wholeness. Saying no to circumcision”. Even in Israel, there are Jewish organizations that oppose brit milah. 
One non-profit organization in Israel working to stop circumcision took its case to the High Court of Justice in 1998 and maintained in its petition that “in a modern democratic society there is no place for the ‘barbaric’ ceremony which mauls a child who does not have any say in the matter." The movement is largely made up of Reform parents, but it is visible in other areas as well. Moshe Rothenberg is a Conservative Jew living in an observant Jewish community in Brooklyn, yet he did not circumcise his son. (Rothenberg).  The Af-milah newsletter is an Israeli newsletter dedicated to ending brit milah.  Those who question and refuse to have a brit milah aren’t necessarily doing it because they have assimilated or because they’re anti-Semitic. Some feel this way after careful study of Jewish texts and observances.”
- D.A. Huffman-Parent, Brit Milah : Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics?

Read the Voices of Over 50 Jews who Oppose Circumcision (Black texts are links, too. All links open in a new window).

Jewish Intactivist Groups in the USA:
Beyond the Bris Milah (Florida)
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Orthodox Intactivist (Chicago & LA.)
Jews Against Circumcision (San Jose)
Jews For the Rights of the Child (East Bay)
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective (Massachusetts)

Intactivist Rabbis and Religious Intactivists:Rabbi Jeffrey Falick: Eliminating The Cruelest Cut 
* "Mom, why did you circumcise me?" by Jewish Movie Producer and Intactivist Michael Schaap.
Israeli Torah Scholar Vadim Cherny: How Judaic is circumcision?  It’s not at all, he finds.
Profile of Orthodox Intactivist Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon
Brit Milah: Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics? Written by a Jewish parent.Rabbi Nathan Segal Calls for an End to Circumcision A Progressive Rabbi urges us to move to peaceful covenants.
Jonathan Friedman: On Circumcision Authority, and the Perpetuation of Abuse Published on Beyond the Bris.
Jewish Scholar and Intactivist, Leonard Glick, MD, PhD. A Jewish history of circumcision.Shea Levy: To the Mohel Who Cut Me Published on Beyond the Bris.Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Diane Targovnik: How "Cut" Saved My Son's Foreskin : A Movie Review Published on Beyond the Bris.
Jewish Mamma: Today’s Jews Reject Circumcision and Choose Peaceful Welcoming Covenants An Intactivist Midwife.
The Naming Published on Very, Very Fine.
Lisa Braver Moss: Evolving Jewish Practices Published on Beyond the Bris.
Eli Ungar-Sargon & Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethical Problems of Circumcision At the Manhattan Jewish Experience.
Miriam Pollack: Circumcision : A Jewish Feminist Perspective Published in Jewish Women Speak Out.

The History of Circumcision: Voices of Progressive  Jews who Oppose Circumcision:
Howard Stern: Jewish Intactivist Published on Beyond the Bris.
The History of Circumcision: Leonard Glick , MD, PhD. explains how he came to write Marked In Your Flesh.
Some Jews speak out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors. Intactivism and Human Rights.Jewish mom: Circumcision spiritually wounds, breaks bonds and trust Published in the East Valley Tribune.Sarah Rockwell: Lucking Into Bris Shalom Published on Beyond the Bris.
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision A Childbirth educator chooses intact.
Michael S. Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin Published in Tikkun.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin Published in Mothering Magazine.
Intact and Jewish Published on the Natural Parents Network.
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism.

"In Europe today, human rights groups have mounted a grass roots campaign opposing circumcision, comparing it to the brutal mutilation of African women. The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights wants to outlaw Bris Milah. And an article published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (April 2000), written by obstetricians, gynecologists, and midwives from hospitals in France, claimed:

“The [African] women we interviewed considered their daughters’ mutilation and their sons’ circumcision to be similar. Male circumcision is also a form of genital mutilation because it involves removing a healthy part of an organ. How can we convince mothers that they should not mutilate their daughters while they continue to have their sons circumcised?”

A group of Israelis petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to outlaw circumcision on the grounds that it is criminal assault. Shockingly, this campaign even has adherents in Israel. In February 1998, a group of Israelis petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to outlaw circumcision on the grounds that it is criminal assault. A joke? No. Case number 5780/98 is a real case, and the court has already held hearings.

Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin, Executive Director of the Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation in Tel Aviv, says that a campaign is urgently needed to end Bris Milah. “Why are they discriminating against me as victim of Jewish male genital mutilation?” he decries. “Are my human rights, bodily integrity and suffering less important than those of African girls?!”
- Circumcision: Beautiful or Barbaric? by Rabbi Shraga Simmons.

1 comment:

  1. wow, I am so impressed! Thank you for all your hard work and diligent research.