Monday, July 22, 2013

Jewish Men Discuss Circumcision. What do we really think?

The Intact Male Foreskin and Human Rights:
Groups of Jews who chose to keep their sons intact are starting up in the United StatesIsrael and elsewhere. Both Reform Judaism and Humanistic Judaism formally welcome intact Jewish males. Many Jewish Intactivists feel that if true Jewish ethics were adhered to, circumcision surgery would be outlawed.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish males worldwide remain intact. 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 Jonathan FriedmanEliyahu Ungar-SargonMark 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. Theintact 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 human rights issues to the forefront of the American consciousness. Many Jewish Americans and Israelis are active leaders in the Intactivist movement.
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. The intactivist movement is quickly gaining worldwide social acceptance.

Jewish Men Discuss Circumcision:
  
"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, Testimony at the California Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearing on Circumcision.


“…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, Consultation Paper No. 139 20, November 1996.


"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.
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JEWISH INTACTIVIST LINK LIST
Jewish Intactivist Resources and Groups
Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective By Ron Goldman, Ph.D.
Beyond the Bris by Rebecca Wald.
Jews Against Circumcision
Cut: A Movie by A Orthodox Intactivist

Israeli Intactivist Groups (Mostly in Hebrew)
Protect the Child
The Israeli Association Against Circumcision / Intact Son
Kahal (Israeli Group for Parents of Intact Sons)

Peaceful Covenant Texts for Jewish Parents. 
100+ 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

Judaism, the Foreskin and Human Rights.Rabbis on a Covenant without Circumcision
Jewish Law, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 1.
Jewish Law, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 2.
Jewish Law, the Foreskin, and Human Rights | Part 3.

Jewish Parents' Experiences Keeping their Sons Intact.
Humanistic Judaism is Increasingly Intactivist
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..
Michael Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut: Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin | Published in Tikkun. 
Sarah Rockwell: Lucking Into Bris Shalom | Published on Beyond the Bris.
Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision | A Jewish Childbirth Educator keeps her sons intact.
Stacey Greenberg: My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin | Published in Mothering Magazine.
Intact & Jewish | Published on the Natural Parents Network.
The Naming | Published on Very, Very Fine
Diane Targovnik: How "Cut" Saved My Son's Foreskin : A Movie Review | Published on Beyond the Bris.
Circumcision Questions (letter from an intact Jew). |  Published in the Northern California Jewish Bulletin.





Jewish Intactivism

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