Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Jewish Intactivism Part IV

Jewish Opposition to Traditional Circumcision - Jews Write on Foreskin Rights 

"My grandmother also refused to follow the circumcision tradition and chose to leave her son—my father—intact. This is remarkable given that she made this choice as a Jewish woman in America in the 1920s when Jewish circumcision was the unquestioned norm. As a single parent, she devoted her life to caring for her son. She knew that circumcision would sever the bond between them, and cause him excruciating pain, physically and emotionally. She refused circumcision in New Jersey and left her son intact because she was a very strong-minded individual who followed her mothering instincts....

We must continue to educate about the harmfulness of circumcision for newborns so those who are resistant to change this old ritual will realize it’s cruel, unhealthy, and causes a severe blow to the psyche of our speechless baby boys. The bris ceremony can be replaced with a ceremony called brit shalom, the covenant of peace, which celebrates the complete intact child. As some rabbis begin to abolish brit milah, I am hopeful that even religious Jews will understand it’s time for change, and that they will not be less religious for choosing to part with Jewish circumcision."
"Hundreds of thousands of Jewish males around the world remain intact. Most Eastern European and South American Jews remain intact, and many Western European Jews have ceased circumcision, seeing it as a barbaric remnant of pre-civilized times. Both Reform Judaism andHumanistic Judaism welcome intact Jews.
Increasingly young Jewish parents are choosing not to circumcise their newborn sons. Many of these parents want a welcoming covenant ceremony that affirms their Jewish faith without damaging their son's body. This movement exists in the United StatesIsrael, and around the worldIntactivists are those who believe that child circumcision is a violation of human rights and civil liberties, and a growing number of Jews are adopting this position. Jewish leaders, Rabbis, and scholars are evolving tradition to create a covenant without circumcision."
Circumcision of boys amounts to bodily harm, German court rules (June 27)

As a liberal Jewish woman, I agree 100 per cent with the German court’s decision [to ban circumcision].
Maimonides knew, centuries ago, that circumcision impacted men’s sex drive, making sex and masturbation more difficult and less pleasurable, in addition to leaving penises weaker. According to him, circumcision’s job is to cause pain to boys’ members in order to accomplish the objectives stated above; it’s not about any covenantal accord referred to in scripture at all.
It’s also interesting to note that the first people to be circumcised in the Torah are teens and adults capable of making the decision on their own terms, something that makes sense given a comment in the Talmud that somebody ready for circumcision is akin to a groom.
On first glance, they’re not similar at all, since eight-day-old infants are vulnerable and deserve to be protected from anything unnecessary that can hurt them and grooms are older, capable of independent decision-making.
However, if we return to the Scripture and think about everything in a marriage context, perhaps the similarity is this: if someone ready for circumcision is akin to a groom, he has to be capable of rational decision-making and ready to live with the consequences of his actions.
Circumcision will always be a hotly debated topic but in the long run, it, like any genital surgery, deserves to be chosen by the people who have to live with its effect."
Amy Soule, Hamilton, The Spec

"Since the risks and damage greatly out ways any once thought to be real benefit, the only real reason to do this unnecessary procedure is religion. And it is wrong for the person who's foreskin is in question to not have any say in the matter. If an adult male is so dedicated to his faith that he would like to have his penis mutilated, he is free to do that. But the unnecessary mutilation of a baby's penis without his permission is simply wrong.
I know what a sensitivities subject this is to religious and non religious Jews alike. This is a core part of their Jewish identity. When I first came across these facts, I was encouraged to research the matter on my own so that I could prove all these claims wrongs. I was sure that all the new information I had just learned was part of sum anti-Semitic conspiracy. But the more I read, the more i learned it was all true and the more horrified I became by the practice.
- Ami Horowitz, My Views on Traditional Male Circumcision (Formerly Orthodox Jewish/Secular Blogger)

"I cannot support circumcision with any conviction, just because it has always been held in high regard. It remains a barbaric, bloody act, which fills the father with anxiety and subjects the mother to morbid stress. The idea of sacrifice, which once consecrated the procedure, has certainly vanished among us, as it should. It is a brutal act that does not deserve continuation. No matter how much religious sentiment may have clung to it in the past, today it is perpetuated only by custom and fear, to which surely we do not want to erect temples."
Rabbi Abraham Geiger, an influential Rabbi in the early Jewish Reform movement.

"As a Jewish grandfather, I want to assure young couples about to bring a child into the world, that there are other members of the Jewish "older" generation, including other Jewish physicians, and even some rabbis, who feel as I do. If your heart and instincts tell you to leave your son intact, listen!"
- Mark D. Reiss, M.D., American Circumcision and Brit Milah in 2003, Kol Nidre address at Shul of Marin,DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.
org. (Dr. Reiss also keeps a list of Rabbis and other Jewish leaders who perform welcoming ceremonies without circumcision.) 

"The changing attitude of Israelis toward the axiomatic character of circumcision is evident during meetings for the Kahal organization. Kahal offers support to parents who are undecided about whether to have their sons circumcised, and to those who decide against circumcision. Twelve years ago, when the organization was founded, meetings were held every three months and involved about 40 families. Presently they are held every two months, and there are about 20 parents at each meeting, most of whom are agonizing over circumcision.
One of the founders of Kahal is Ronit Tamir, 46, a software engineer from Tel Aviv who is the mother of three children: two daughters aged 16 and 10, and an uncircumcised son, aged 12. Tamir says that Kahal was originally founded as a support group for families with uncircumcised children. “But after a year we found that those who were most interested were the still-undecided parents, not the veteran parents. In fact, we learned that uncircumcised boys have no problems at all, certainly not social ones, so their parents are not in need of support.”
Her experience with parents over the years shows that after the stage of soul-searching before the first child, “they no longer remember what all the fuss was about. The subject is usually forgotten when the baby is about half a year old.” Tamir adds that, contrary to expectations, not all the parents involved are “Tel Avivians, bohemians, hippies or weirdos.” In fact, according to her information, most are not from Tel Aviv at all but from Rishon Letzion."
- Netta Ahituv, Even in Israel, more and more parents choose not to circumcise their sons, Haaretz (Israel), Jun.14, 2012.

"Halachah (Jewish law) evolves over time as new insights develop. In the talmudic era, for example, deaf people were classified with the mentally incompetent and weren’t even counted toward a minyan. We learned more, and Jewish practices changed accordingly...More and more parents — including Jewish couples — are deciding to leave their baby boys intact. That’s because the harmfulness of circumcision is now coming to light. "
- Lisa Braver Moss, Evolving Jewish PracticesBeyondtheBris.com, June 9, 2011.

"Many of the progressive Jewish reformers of the 19th century rejected the practice of circumcision as barbaric. Even the legendary Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism and one of modern Jewry’s most iconic figures, refused to circumcise his son for this reason....
With all this in the balance, our minds were made up by a reluctance to make the decision on Isaac’s behalf. Now, I’m no woolly liberal; children are born to a particular set of parents in a particular cultural context, and there is no point in running away from that. But this was a potentially very painful operation. Wouldn’t it be best to leave it until he was old enough to decide for himself? Some people believe that any unnecessary operation imposed upon a child amounts to mutilation. A respect for Isaac’s right to choose, combined with our other hesitations, led to our decision not to have him circumcised."
- Jake Wallis Simons, How could I inflict the pain of circumcision on my son?, Telegraph (UK), 22 Jul 2012.

"As 21st century Jews, we are always working to adjust our lives and actions to the constantly expanding moral arc of human rights. A greater number of AmericanIsraeli, and worldwide Jews are beginning to question milah (the surgical circumcision) aspect of the bris. Is it wishful thinking to hope that Judaism in the modern age moves to a symbolic interpretation of circumcision, as it has already done for all other violent commandments from the Torah? Jewish law is constantly evolving to expand human rights and ethical treatment of others. Jewish law regularly reinterprets violent decrees in metaphorical and symbolic ways, so as to avoid harming others. That an individual has the right to all of their original body parts is a moral truism. Some Jews even feel that circumcision is a violation adequate enough to warrant legal restriction. Increasinglyforward thinking Jews are adopting peaceful covenant ceremonies that abolish the surgical circumcision in favor of a loving welcoming instead."
Jewish Intactivism in the USA, The Whole Network, 12/19/2011.
Jewish Intactivist Resources

Some American Rabbis Explain their Opposition to Circumcision.
Rabbi Binyamin Biber with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon * 
Rabbi Steven Blane with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon *
Rabbi Nathan Segal * A Progressive Rabbi urges us to move to peaceful covenants.
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

Jewish Intactivist Media.
BeyondtheBris.com * Jewish Intactivist Articles & Opinions.
Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision * A Movie by Orthodox Intactivist, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. *
Rabbis and other leaders who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies. *

Jewish Intactivist Groups.
Jews Against Circumcision * Jews For the Rights of the Child * Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, PhD. *Gonnen * Kahal * Af-Mila: An Israeli Jewish Intactivist Journal *
The Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation *

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights Law.
Jewish Questioning of Traditional Circumcision * Part 1.
Jewish Questioning of Traditional Circumcision * Part 2. 
Jewish Questioning of Traditional Circumcision * Part 3.

The Moral Problems of Circumcision & the Search for Jewish Alternatives.
Jewish Rationales for Abolishing Circumcision * by Jews Against Circumcision.
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.
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.
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.
The Measure of His Grief by Lisa Braver Moss
 * A new book exploring Jewish intactivism.
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. * 
Moshe Rothenberg: Being Rational About Circumcision and Jewish Observance * 
Brit Milah: Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics? * Written by a Jewish parent.

Leaders in the Jewish Movement to Abolish Circumcision.
Intact America: Profile of Orthodox Intactivist Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon * 
Intact America: Profile of Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack * 
Intact America: Profile of Jewish Scholar and Intactivist Leonard Glick, MD, PhD. * A Jewish 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.
Regretting Circumcision: Women’s Perspectives
 * Published on Dr. Ron Goldman’s site.
Progressive, Moral Jews speak out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors. * Intactivism and Human Rights.
The History of Circumcision: Leonard Glick , MD, PhD. explains how he came to write Marked In Your Flesh. * 
American Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors * 
International Jews Also Favor Outlawing Circumcision of Minors * 
Judaism, Human Rights and the History of Circumcision * 

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents.
Worldwide list of Rabbis who lead covenant without cutting ceremonies * 
Song for an Intact Jewish Boy’s Welcoming Ceremony * 
Brit B'lee Milah Ceremony * 
A Brit Shalom Ceremony * 
Norm Cohen: A Brit B’lee Milah Ceremony *

Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact.
Dear Elijah: A Conservative Jewish Father's Letter to His Intact Son * Published on Peaceful Parenting.
Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? * Envisioning an Intactivist Judaism.
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.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin * Published in Mothering Magazine.
Intact & Jewish * Published on the Natural Parents Network.

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