Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jewish Intactivist: Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon

Jewish Intactivist: Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon


Raised an Orthodox Jew in Massachusetts and then Israel, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon has emerged as one of the leading intellectuals of American Jewish Intactivism. A filmmaker, his movie “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision” helped to introduce the subject of Intactivism to Jewish audiences in the United States. His movie received good reviews including within the Jewish press, and in the Jewish Intactivist community

His article, 
Outlawing Circumcision Good for the Jews?, appeared in the Jewish Daily Forward. Ungar-Sargon was chosen as Intact America’s Intactivist of the Month. He writes and blogs about these issues regularly. He is one of a group of Jews, including scholar Dr. Leonard Glick, and Dr. Mark Reiss who sit on the board of Intact America, an organization working to make circumcision against the law in the United States.

Ungar-Sargon publically 
debated Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author of “Kosher Sex” on the subject at The Manhattan Jewish Experience. Ungar-Sargon has lead a movie tour holding events with Rabbis ranging from the Orthodox to the Reform and Humanistic talking about the ethics of genital integrity.

Ungar-Sargon is one of more than 200 Jewish leaders, mostly Rabbis and Cantors, who will officiate at bris covenant ceremonies and he is regularly quoted in articles on these subjects. 
Though he considers himself an artist and moviemaker, rather than an intactivist, Ungar-Sargon has found himself a leading voice on one of the most heated ethical issues in Judaism today.   

“I should mention [that] I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. When I was 13 years old, my family moved to Israel to seek better religious education for myself and my [five] siblings…. The only ritual religious consequence of being an intact Jewish male is that you're not allowed to eat from the Paschal Lamb, which was a sacrifice that was brought when the temple was around, and hasn't been brought since the temple was destroyed—and we don't know when the temple is going to be rebuilt. That's it!

So, I think [that] as more people become aware of this information and leave their boys intact, we're going to have a situation where there are lots of intact Jewish [men], some of [whom] are going to be religious and are going to be participating in everything [in which] circumcised Jewish men are participating.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, 
A Conversation with Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon. 

"…the ritual and religious consequences of not being circumcised amount to nothing. There is absolutely nothing that an intact Jewish male today cannot do. Contrast this with - I'm talking from the Orthodox 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, NYC Q&A with Rabbi Steven Blaine & Laurie Evans.

“My first feature-length documentary, “Cut” is an exploration of male circumcision and Jewish identity. I made the film, because I think that circumcision is a really interesting example of a problem that we don’t often discuss openly. Namely, what we as people who care about living both moral and Jewish lives are supposed to do when our own ethics conflict with Jewish law.”
Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Eli Ungar-Sargon Debates “Kosher Sex” Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethics of Jewish CircumcisionBeyondtheBris.com, Thursday, July 21, 2011.

“There are really no practical religious ritual consequences - and I’m speaking about this from an Orthodox perspective too - to not being circumcised… The only exclusion in Jewish law – even from an Orthodox perspective, for an intact Jewish male is the Pascal Lamb, the Korban Pesach which hasn’t been brought in 2,000 years, and it won’t be brought again until the Temple’s rebuilt ostensibly. If it’s even brought when the Temple’s rebuilt, if the Temple’s rebuilt.“Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, Georgetown University, Washington DC Q&A with Ryan McAllister & Rabbi Binyamin Biber, September 22, 2011.

“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. …there is a Jewish tradition practiced by virtually all Jewish parents today that is morally wrong. 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.”Eli Ungar-SargonOutlawing Circumcision: Good for the Jews?, Forward, the Jewish Daily, May 20, 2011. 
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Intactivist Movement Spreads in Israel

Jewish Intactivism. A Jewish Male Human Rights Movement!
Expanding the Rights of Mankind.

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