Why Are Some Rabbis Secretly Choosing Not to Circumcise Their Sons?


When circumcision critic Lisa Braver Moss learned that half the boys attending her synagogue preschool had not been circumcised, she was stunned. Soon after, Lisa discovered that even some rabbis were secretly choosing to leave their boys intact. In this short but groundbreaking new video, Lisa Braver Moss uncovers the “don’t ask/don’t tell” policies that are keeping the exploding Jewish movement to reject circumcision shrouded in secrecy.

Simply Uncut: The Intersection Between Today’s Simple Living and Pro-Intact Movements


By REBECCA WALD

I recently watched “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.” Available on Netflix, the film profiles Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus —two great guys whose podcasts I’ve been enjoying for some time. They call themselves The Minimalists and put a modern spin on the age-old concept of doing more with less.

In my early 20s, I was an avid reader of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) who wrote of the benefits of living a simple life close to nature. Ideas that ring true tend to turn up everywhere. Thoreau was by no means the first — or only — simple living advocate. Ancient Indian texts, Zen philosophy, and a great many other religious and cultural movements have extolled the virtues of pairing down. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about the “ascetic ideal.”

Today, 21st century incarnations of the simple living paradigm abound. Books, blogs, documentary films, and online communities are devoted to topics such as de-cluttering, tiny houses, anti-consumerism, downsizing, efficiency, conscious consumption, homesteading, slow living, and frugality — just to name a few! I enjoy dipping into all of this. While I am by no means a minimalist, much of what is being discussed appeals to me, no doubt for the same reasons that it appeals to so many others.  

Living the simple life means embracing what is essential and valuable and doing away with (or at least minimizing) the rest. It means looking critically at those things we are being “sold” to evaluate whether they add value to our lives or get in the way of our happiness. Choosing people and experiences over things provides opportunities to spend more time connecting with loved ones while also connecting with the outdoors.     

Just as today’s simple living movement is gaining in popularity, so too is the American trend to look critically at routine infant circumcision. The non-therapeutic circumcision of babies is among the most discussed topics on the web. Circumcision rates in the U.S. are at historic lows. Millenials “get it” and are (or will) be opting their kids out in record numbers. Interestingly, simple living and questioning circumcision share common ground.      

Infant circumcision not only adds unneeded suffering to a baby’s first days of life, it also adds unneeded complexity. The procedure must be planned for, the wound must be cared for, and — of course — the bill must be paid. Circumcision is just one more thing we’re encouraged to buy for our babies. If a complication arises, as it often does, there is added stress, late night phone calls, trips to the doctor, and expense. Revision surgeries are common and comprise the bread-and-butter of many American pediatric urology practices.

Circumcision’s defenders often cite “health benefits” although the studies are conflicting and largely inconclusive. Pointing to the alleged health benefits is a socially acceptable justification for circumcision that is hard to argue. Everyone wants children to be healthy, right? I’ve always suspected that those who point to the health benefits are really motivated by other, less socially acceptable, reasons. Like fashion.

Circumcision is a matter of fashion. People who are only familiar with the circumcised penis believe this is how all penises should look. It’s not much different than society’s expectation that women shave their armpits. Isn’t it a matter of style or fashion when people say a baby “should look like his father” or look the way others in the community expect?

Simplicity movements eschew jumping on the bandwagon of style in favor of substance and functionality. The natural penis functions the way nature intended, being capable of giving and receiving more pleasure than the penis whose erogenous tissues have been forever stripped away.  

Being more thoughtful, more intentional, and less easily sold — this is the crux of today’s minimalism movement and also the crux of today’s pro-intact trend.

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Book for Jewish Families Skipping Circumcision Continues to Gain Traction

It's hard to believe that this May marks the two-year anniversary of the official release of "Celebrating Brit Shalom," a book of alternative bris ceremonies for Jewish families who have decided not to circumcise their newborn sons. 

Written with my delightful co-author and partner in crime, Lisa Braver Moss, we knew from the start that our book would be targeted to a niche audience of progressive Jewish parents opting out of the circumcision ritual, and to rabbis open-minded enough to meet this ceremonial need. 

Today we measure our success quite differently from most other book authors. We were never expecting to sell millions of books — or even thousands. After all, the number of Jewish families expecting sons, who don't wish to circumcise, and do wish to have an alternative bris is quite small. With such a narrow intended audience, way back when, we turned to Kickstarter to help fund our project. And we remain deeply thankful to all those who saw the value of what we were doing and supported us. 

So how are we doing two years after the book's release? I think pretty well. Every month we sell books — no longer to the friends and family who initially supported us and bought our book as a Kickstarter reward, but to those for whom the book was truly written: Jewish families expecting a son and planning to keep him intact. 

Our book sales are by no means through the roof. So far, this May, we've sold just three units. Other authors would likely be hanging their heads low over this number, but Lisa and I view this as an enormous success. Think about it. So far, this month, that's three Jewish families who are not only opting out, and choosing alternative bris, but who also found our book and followed through with a purchase. 

"Celebrating Brit Shalom" also continues to be a topic of conversation, thanks to Lisa's knack for public speaking, and her belief that Jewish parents shouldn't be pressured to go against their heartfelt instinct to protect their boys from the pain and lifelong physical and emotional consequences of circumcision. 

Last May, Lisa spoke at Temple Sinai in Oakland California. This June, she'll be speaking again. This time at the JCC East Bay in Berkeley

Video: Groundbreaking Brit Shalom Talk at Temple Sinai in Oakland CA




Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin's remarks may be the first of their kind, publicly acknowledging the importance of making Jewish families feel welcome in congregational life when they have made a different choice about circumcision. The rabbi's remarks precede a talk given by Lisa Braver Moss at her synagogue, Temple Sinai, in Oakland California. 

Following a brief presentation about her own experience as a young Jewish mother when her sons were born, Lisa reads excerpts from the book Celebrating Brit Shalom (co-authored with Rebecca Wald). Lisa then leads a Q&A session followed by a unique performance of Songs for Celebrating Brit Shalom, the music written to accompany the ceremonies in the book. Choir members and others from the Temple Sinai musical community join Lisa, her husband Mark, and their son Reuben, who wrote the music, in this debut performance.

Jewish Circumcision a Symptom of Larger Problems

By ROSS GLAZIER
I believe that we can complain about circumcision until we all pass out (or on) but until we connect circumcision to much larger issues that are poisoning our world we will be unable to end it.

I think that rigid religious doctrine and rigid religious ritual are both traps. Rigid religious doctrine is a trap because no doctrine or sacred text can ever contain everything that can be known or discovered. Medieval Catholic doctrine could compel Copernicus to publish posthumously and even silence Galileo, but no religious doctrine can change the facts that the Earth orbits the Sun and that Jupiter has moons.

A Circumcision Activist Is Born

By Nicole Katz-Lahey

I've always been an extremely passionate person. When I was a kid my passions were sports and animals. If I did something, I did it with every inch of my being. I'm now a mother of three and, true to my personality, I have to be the best mother I have it in me to be.


When I was pregnant for the first time, my mom asked me if it was a boy can we plan a bris. I replied with "No" but that we could just do the baby naming part at home. She was a little concerned and asked if we would circumcise him. I let her know that I wanted it done in a hospital. I didn't want to be stressed out or upset on the day that I was to be celebrating my child. 

Jewish Doula Educates on Normalcy of Foreskin

By LO MARET

I grew up in a secular Jewish family. Like many Jewish families where religion is not the focus, we still observed some traditions, like the High Holidays. However, as a young girl, I began questioning all forms of organized religion and this is perhaps the first step I took in choosing to leave my son intact.

Upcoming Temple Sinai Event for Celebrating Brit Shalom

The oldest Jewish congregation in the East San Francisco Bay region, founded in 1875, will host a groundbreaking discussion surrounding the choice to skip circumcision by Jewishly observant families. The Reform synagogue, Temple Sinai of Oakland California, has a long history of welcoming Jews of all stripes. They recently added language to their website indicating the Temple offers naming ceremonies for non-circumcising Jewish families. 

"Carmen Sandiego" Creative Muses About His Long-Lost Foreskin: An Interview With Sean Altman

Sean Altman uses satire and melody to spread the message that people of all         backgrounds should consider foregoing circumcision for their newborn sons.



By REBECCA WALD

“Moishe Pipik”—directly translated from the Yiddish this phrase means “Moses Bellybutton.” It’s an illusive, archaic, Jewish expression that might be used to describe a prankster, one who pushes the boundaries of acceptable mischief. Sean Altman is a modern-day Moishe Pipik, a contrasting player of wisdom (Moses) and humor (bellybutton), with a voice as rich, silky and complex as a Jewish grandma’s chicken soup broth.

Genital Integrity Awareness Week Speaker Discusses Intersex and Circumcision



Genital Integrity Awareness Week, or GIAW, has been celebrated annually during the last week of March since 1992. During the week, gatherings are held in cities and towns across the United States, with the largest gathering in Washington, D.C. There is a large demonstration/march on the West Lawn of the Capitol—as well as many informal get togethers with those in the genital integrity movement. During one such get together at GIAW 2014, Sandy Roman shares his thoughts about the circumcision issue (video courtesy of Circumcision Resources).  

Jewish Parents with Intact Children

When Brian and Sarah Kirkell saw a protest outside the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) Conference in Washington DC they shared their story of how they came to protect their son's genital integrity, and educate their daughter about genital autonomy too.

All Penises Welcome! Celebrating Brit Shalom Brings Its Message of Inclusion to Union for Reform Judaism

This adorable miniature diorama showing a brit shalom ceremony, crafted by Lisa Braver Moss, was front and center at our booth during the Union for Reform Judaism's Biennial. It served as a perfect icebreaker to get the conversation going.

By REBECCA WALD

Being so involved in the circumcision issue, it’s easy for me to forget that many are still unaware of the anatomical facts, or even the controversies surrounding the practice. This was evident during my recent trip to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial, held this year in Orlando, Florida. “Why would any parent want to opt out?” “Hasn’t it been proven healthier?” These were among the many questions that Lisa Braver Moss and I encountered during the five day event.

Erica Jong on Circumcision: What's Missing?

By REBECCA WALD


When it comes to Jewish circumcision, Erica Jong has a bad case of dysentery. You know, in the Woody Allen sense, where commentary and dissent merge? It’s a bug that Jong can’t seem to shake. 

For those too young to remember, Jong is best known for her 1973 breakout novel Fear of Flying. Back then, John Updike’s review in The New Yorker placed Fear of Flying alongside J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye and Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. Over the past 40 years, Jong has written dozens of other books of fiction, nonfiction and poetry.

Let's Be Audacious—Celebrating Brit Shalom Headed to Huge Rabbi Gathering

The Union for Reform Judaism conference will be a great
place to engage in dialogue with Jewish leaders about meeting
the ceremonial needs of families that opt out of circumcision.


A 4000-plus convergence of Reform rabbis and congregational leaders is taking place in Orlando this November and Celebrating Brit Shalom will be on hand. 

Celebrating Brit Shalom is the first-ever book specifically for Jewish families opting out of circumcision. Brit shalom is an alternative to brit milah for parents who want to give their boys a formal welcome to Jewish life, minus the circumcision. 

Metzitsah B’Peh Must Be Banned


Brochure highlights danger of oral-gential contact during ritual
circumcision but laws are needed to protect vulnerable babies. 

By REBECCA WALD

One topic I’ve never before addressed on Beyond the Bris is the practice of metzitsah b’peh. This very ancient practice takes place during traditional religious circumcision, just after the mohel has removed the foreskin.

Delving into Genesis Code: An Interview With Jamie Metzl



Imagine a world in the near future where sex is just for recreation. A world where hopeful parents-to-be (even those of relatively modest means) go to IVF clinics to pre-select embryos based on their genetic desirability—and where genetic enhancement through various techniques is possible. This is the world of Jamie Metzl’s newest book, Genesis Code: A Thriller of the Near Future (Arcade Publishing, 2014). The book imagines a “space race” of sorts between the United States and China, where the superpowers are racing to create a generation of Ubermensch, individuals who possess exceptionally high intelligence.

Celebrating Brit Shalom: The Debrief


Marilyn Milos, RN, references "Celebrating Brit Shalom" at
the 2015 Birth Keeper Summit in Berkeley, CA.

By REBECCA WALD

Well, it's official. Drumroll please! As of today the Oakland-based indie publishing company, Notim Press, has officially released Celebrating Brit Shalom, a book I've co-authored with my wonderful colleague and friend Lisa Braver Moss.

The Weirdest Sculpture Ever—And Then I Saw What It Could Do. Incredible.




By REBECCA WALD

Italian artist Vincenzo Aiello has made what he says is the first-ever recreation of the male foreskin. Calling it an art piece, he's offering these ultra-realistic sculptures of "HuFo" to backers of his Kickstarter crowd-funding effort.

Unlikely Advocate for Boy Facing Circumcision


Jonathan Friedman is the last person some might expect to be lead activist in a high-profile circumcision case. After all, the Brooklyn-born yeshiva graduate was raised to believe in the centrality of circumcision.

Navigating Gender Stereotypes and the Circumcision Imperative

By B.J. EPSTEIN
It’s a well-known phenomenon that a pregnant body is seen as a public one, and can become a war zone of sorts. People feel able to comment on any aspect of the woman’s body and behavior, and to ask questions or give advice about how to raise the forthcoming child. It’s frustrating, intrusive, and often upsetting. Sometimes, however, it can also lead to useful opportunities for challenging other people’s beliefs.

Though Mom Under Gag Order, Protesters Hope to Voice Her Message: Don't Circumcise My Healthy Son

In May, a peaceful protest on behalf of the boy and his mom in front
of the Court that upheld the circumcision order earlier this November. 


A group of concerned Floridians will be taking to the streets in protest on Sunday, Nov. 23, to raise awareness about the distressing case of a healthy four-year-old boy that a family court judge has ordered circumcised against his mother’s wishes.

The child’s parents—who never married—are in conflict about the procedure. Beyond the Bris has been covering the case, which is detailed here. Following that report, the Broward/Palm Beach New Times posted an article of their own on developments in the case.

Upheld: Healthy Florida Boy to be Circumcised Against Mom's Wishes

The above photo is from the Facebook community "Chase's
Guardians," which has more than 3000 "Likes" and is trying
to raise funds for a possible appeal to the Florida Supreme Court.


The fight to save her four-year-old son from non-medically necessary circumcision recently got a lot tougher for a South Florida mom. On November 6 an appellate court upheld a ruling allowing the boy’s father to have him circumcised—despite his mother’s deeply held belief that the procedure will be painful, damaging and emotionally harmful to him.

New Documentary Film on Wilhelm Reich In the Works

Jewish psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) wrote passionately against the practice of infant circumcision calling it "one of the worst treatments of children." Now there is a new documentary film in the works about Reich's life—and an active Kickstarter campaign to help fund what promises to be a very important project.

Bris Without Cutting Officiant List Tops 200

The movement to name newborn Jewish boys without the surgery of circumcision has reached a milestone—200 celebrants (officiants) are available to perform the ceremony. More than 120 of these are rabbis.

Genital Autonomy Symposium 2014

The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights, “Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change,” will be hosted at the University of Colorado—Boulder on July 24-26, 2014.

A Beautiful Brit Shalom in America

Courtesy of Amira Gaynor

"When we planned this Brit Shalom for our son, we struggled to find appropriate Jewish content for the ceremony. It was difficult to figure out which content honored the Jewish tradition of welcoming a Jewish boy to the community without honoring/performing the circumcision. Having a Jewish resource to guide the ceremony would have been a valuable resource. I wish "Celebrating Brit Shalom" had been available four years ago!" 

Thank G-d, It's a Girl

By EMILY KAPIT
I was not scared of labor and delivery; in fact, I was looking forward to it. I had a great team of supporters (husband, doctor, a doula), was prepared to labor using hypnobirthing, and really excited to meet our little one. I was, however, utterly terrified of a piece of paper, tucked inside an envelope with three simple words on an index card: It's a ____.

Circumcision Not Matter for Rabbinical Courts, Israel's High Court Rules

Israeli Mother Opposes Circumcision for Young Son

By REBECCA WALD

Today Israel’s High Court of Justice issued an unprecedented ruling—rabbinical courts in that country no longer have the authority to determine whether boys will be circumcised should divorcing parents disagree on the matter.

Brit Shalom Families—Where's the Controversy?

By LISA BRAVER MOSS

"You know I love you, Lisa, but about circumcision — well, can't we just agree to disagree?" 

As a Jewish woman who opposes circumcision, I often get this kind of conversational preempt from friends and family. It's an occupational hazard of writing about such a highly-charged topic: people seem to think I'm looking for a fight.

Circumcision Is Best, But Families Opting Out Should Be Embraced—An Interview With Conservative Rabbi Joshua Ratner

"Jewish families who want to be part of congregational Judaism—whether or not their sons have been circumcised—should be not only included in Jewish life but embraced!"

Rabbi Joshua Ratner
Beyond the Bris: Can you talk a little about your background? What branch of Judaism are you associated with? 

Rabbi Ratner: I grew up in a warm, loving Jewish home in San Diego. I attended Conservative and later Orthodox Day School but never thought I would become a rabbi. I was a huge fan of the TV shows "LA Law" and "Perry Mason" and assumed I would someday become a lawyer. I left home for Columbia University and there found myself fascinated by the study of different cultures and religions. I wound up graduating with a degree in comparative religion and spent some time after college studying in Israel. Nevertheless, I continued with my plan to become a lawyer and wound up practicing law—first in New York, and later in Connecticut—for about five years.

Improving Conversation on Jewish Circumcision




Infant circumcision is a highly charged topic—add in the element of religion and it's a potential powder keg. Yet the movement to end the non-therapeutic sexual cutting of children depends on thoughtful and respectful conversation. Saving Our Sons is wonderful grassroots organization that educates the public about the harms of infant circumcision. Beyond the Bris is so thankful to them for publishing a guest post by Rebecca Wald, Talking Jewish Circumcision (Especially When You Aren't Jewish).

A Wonderful "Misadventure"—Brian Leaf's Newest Yogi Book

By REBECCA WALD


I recently discovered author Brian Leaf and I’m so glad I did. He is the voice of my generation of naturally-minded parents. He is caring, sensible, smart and funny. I’d like to think that if our paths had crossed, we would be friends.

Leaf is an accomplished writer with 12 books already to his credit, including two humorous biographies. He’s also a frequent Mothering.com blogger. I’ve just read his second biography, Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi (2014). It’s really, really good. That means a lot to me on a personal level. Now that I have three kids, I rarely get to sit down with a book. When I do, I have high hopes since this may be the only book I get to read for the next year—or decade—given that my youngest is still an infant. Thanks, Brian, for not letting me down!

Kickstarter Campaign Launches for First Book on 'Brit Shalom,' Alternative to Jewish Circumcision



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oakland, California — Lisa Braver Moss and Rebecca Wald, both known for their writings questioning Jewish circumcision, have launched a 45-day Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the completion of a book to serve Jewish families who decide not to circumcise. They are hoping to raise $8,200 to complete the project with their campaign, which begins June 17th.

Jewish Voices Against Circumcision — In Their Own Words

Brian Levitt holds his newborn photo
in protest of infant circumcision. 

Jewish feelings about circumcision—for and against—are complex. The following quotes, all of them by Jewish people and all of them real, demonstrate the diversity of thought when it comes to questioning the ancient ritual. If you are Jewish and would like to add your quote, send Beyond the Bris a note and we'll include your statement in a future posting.

Is Superman Circumcised? Howard Stern Weighs In


By REBECCA WALD

Superman has captured the imagination of every generation of American kids since 1938 when he first appeared in Action Comics #1, but leave it to satellite radio celebrity Howard Stern to tackle the really hard questions concerning this American superhero.

Why I Didn't Choose Circumcision

BY Brian Leaf
I'm a bit depressed. Our midwife gave me a book about circumcision. I've started the book and can't put it down. I'm not sure that I'll ever fully recover.

The book tells me that the foreskin is like an eyelid protecting the sensitive mucous membrane underneath. Circumcision removes this protective skin, so the skin underneath keratinizes, meaning it hardens and desensitizes, like a callus. Therefore, the book posits, circumcision removes length and girth from the penis and decreases enjoyment of sex.

You do not say these things to a man. I'm trying to climb out of the hole. I tell myself that most men in the United States are circumcised, so it's a level playing field. It just means that uncircumcised men are heroes and that we are at a disadvantage when we leave the country.

Now, keep in mind that whether or not sex is less pleasurable without a foreskin is, of course, very difficult to test. Nobody is lining up for a double-blind controlled study: Have sex. Rate it on a scale from 1 to 10. Then lose the foreskin, heal, have sex again with the same partner, and rate it again from 1 to 10. Any takers?

So it's difficult to test the reduced-pleasure hypothesis. And people don't talk about it much, so we don't gather much anecdotal evidence, either. Unless you are a professional sex worker or my friend Adeline, you probably rarely talk about sex, especially the specifics. I don't even know which of my friends have a foreskin and which don't. Maybe I'll ask the question on Facebook: "Share or Like if you have a foreskin."

We all know about circumcision's Jewish roots in the covenant between God and Abraham, but whom do we have to thank for the mass popularization of circumcision? When did it cross the gentile line? In Victorian England, of course. Yes, the same folks who made sex and farting socially unacceptable. Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow owe Queen Victoria big-time. What if nudity, masturbation, and farting weren't funny?

In the 1800s, germ theory was gaining attention and people believed circumcision could fight the ultimate germ demon, smegma. Sounds like a Batman villain. They incorrectly believed smegma to be a breeding ground of bacteria. This is hogwash. Smegma is actually found in most animal genitalia and, in fact, serves to clean and lubricate the genitals, moistening the sensitive mucous membrane between the foreskin and the penis. The word smegma itself is Greek for soap.

Circumcision was the new snake oil. It was touted to prevent or cure syphilis, epilepsy, hernia, headache, clubfoot, alcoholism, gout, and, god forbid, masturbation! As I read older parenting books, I am absolutely astonished at how often people bring up masturbation. They were obsessed. "We must stop this epidemic!" I suppose things have changed. Just last night I watched Seth Rogen masturbate right on screen at the cinema.

Lots of folks, these days, defer the decision of whether or not to circumcise to the thinking of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Seems sensible. But the AAP is about as reliable on the matter as Steve Martin's Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber. The AAP has flip-flopped its position at least four times. In 1971 the academy officially concluded that it was not a medical necessity. In 1989 they announced that there were good medical reasons for it. In 1999 they were neutral, stating in a report that the health benefits of the procedure were slim. And most recently, in 2012, the AAP changed their official stance, saying that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.

One of the founders of the American Medical Association, Lewis Sayre, in the late 1800s started recommending circumcision to cure paralysis and gross motor problems. He believed that a tight foreskin threw off the nervous system. "Hmm, this patient is paralyzed. Must be a tight penis."

All this is another perfect example of why we must, in parenting as in life, gather data, but ultimately stay grounded and follow our own hearts and intuition.

In the end, my wife and I chose not to circumcise. People ask me, "What will you tell your son when he asks why his penis is different from yours?" I don't understand this concern. Why must his penis match mine? Our hair color is different. We have different noses and his teeth are better than mine. Should he get braces and a retainer to mimic my overbite?

Brian Leaf is the author of Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi. He has studied, practiced, and taught yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda for twenty-three years. Visit him online on facebook at www.facebook.com/Misadventures.of.a.Yogi. The above essay is excerpted from the new book Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi ©2014 by Brian Leaf. Published with permission of New World Library. 



Belly Casts Give Confidence, Celebrate Beauty of the Natural Form

Kirsten Seinfeld puts finishing touches on a belly cast.

Our bodies are beautiful—and perfect—the way they are. This is the message of the pregnancy belly cast, a commemorative keepsake of motherhood that’s become very popular. Check out belly cast Google images, or Pinterest, and you’ll see dozens of belly cast examples, often created right at home by moms- and dads-to-be. They range from whimsical (adorned with feather boas and butterflies) to humorous (the round belly is painted like a baseball) and irreverent (a monkey’s nose becomes the protruding belly button).


Fort Lauderdale artist Kirsten Seinfeld would like to elevate the pregnancy belly cast to high art. She envisions one day having a show with twenty bellies, or more, on display in a gallery. She’s already well on her way, with dozens of casts hanging in her living room. Seinfeld is known in South Florida as the go-to girl for an incredible belly cast—and she's been known to give moms a price break if she can do two castings, one to keep for her private (future gallery) collection.

Is Brit Shalom an Acceptable Alternative to Jewish Circumcision?


Foot washing replaces circumcision in
the alternative brit pictured above. 

Is there an alternative to circumcision? This question was recently posed to two rabbis in The Jewish Chronicle Online’s “Rabbi I Have a Problem” section. At issue, an outraged uncle whose niece had decided not to circumcise her newborn son and instead held an alternative brit. Despite the growing popularity of Brit Shalom, one has to wonder: was this question really sent in by a reader or dreamed up by an editor on a slow news day? Regardless, I appreciated the response of both rabbis who weighed in. 

In New Book, Jewish Actress Alicia Silverstone Writes on Decision Not to Circumcise

Apparently Alicia Silverstone isn’t so clueless. This Jewish mom stood up to some family pressure and decided not to circumcise her newborn son. She writes about the experience in her new book The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning (2014).

Silverstone was raised in a traditional Jewish household, where candles were lit on Friday nights. She went to Hebrew school and has fond memories of her bat mitzvah. As an adult, her ties to Judaism remain strong.

“Judaism turned me into who I am today, and I definitely feel I live a very spiritual life. I got that from my parents,” she has said.

“Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision” Goes Digital, Earns Entry Into Pasadena Film Festival


“Cut,” a documentary film that challenges Jewish circumcision, is an official selection at the 2014 Pasadena International Film Festival. The film will be shown on February 13 at 3:30p.m. at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, CA. A special thank you goes out to Danielle Gladding, who made this possible.

For those who would like to own a copy of this incredible film, now is a great time. Previously, the film was only available as a DVD. Eli Ungar-Sargon, the film’s director, has recently teamed up with an online distributor to allow for digital purchase. The film can now be downloaded for $9.99.

“We’re just very excited to be able to make ‘Cut’ available to the world in a convenient way and at a reasonable price,” Ungar-Sargon says.




Jewish Psychologist to Debate Circumcision in Europe

Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.
Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Circumcision Resource Center, a nonprofit educational organization in Boston, has been invited by the Council of Europe to participate in an interdisciplinary dialogue about circumcision at a meeting in France on January 28.

There is a growing European debate about circumcision. In October the Council of Europe, an organization of 47 member States, overwhelmingly passed a non-binding resolution that called circumcision, among other procedures, a violation of the physical integrity of children according to established human rights standards. Circumcision is uncommon in Europe except among Jews and Muslims.

Circumcision In Israel Not Taken For Granted Anymore


The drawbacks and potential benefits of infant circumcision are now being publicly debated in Israel, the consequence of a pending High Court case there. I wrote about some of the ethical issues last week.  The unusual case stems from a rabbinical court ruling where a mother was ordered to circumcise her nearly one-year-old son or face fines.

Ethical Issues in Israel's Bizarre Circumcision Case


By REBECCA WALD

Jewish mother Elinor holds up a sign of protest against the
rabbinical court ruling that she must circumcise her son.

An Israeli mother ordered to circumcise her eleven-month-old son, or face a daily accruing fine, has today taken her case to the High Court of Justice, the court of last resort in that country.

The strange case stems from a divorce proceeding. When it comes to matters of divorce, the Israeli judicial system is very different from the American system, as this case illustrates. In Israel there is no civil marriage and rabbinical courts have jurisdiction over Jewish divorce. So when the father in this case demanded that his son undergo brit milah—religious circumcision—during a divorce-related hearing, the court cited the importance of upholding the biblical covenant.

Why This (Jewish) Mom Skipped Circumcision

By REBECCA WALD


Every mom is different and brings her own style when it comes to raising her kids. I didn’t circumcise my son and feel it was 100% the right choice. At the same time, I don’t condemn parents who circumcise. I recognize that good people can experience the world in different ways due to their circumstances and their natures and can come to different conclusions.

Choosing to leave my son with the penis he was born with was a decision very much in keeping with how I see myself as a parent. Some see parenting as a dictatorship (albeit benevolent) where the parent always knows best. Children are viewed as blank slates that must be taught not simply how to navigate themselves in the world, but also such things as morals and spirituality.

Judaism, Bris Milah, and Human Rights: A Torah Perspective




By YECHIEL WEISS


There can be no doubt that bris milah is an important mitzvah. While the Torah does call for circumcision at eight days, there are indeed prominent Jews in the Tanakh who were circumcised later in life. Avraham Avinu was circumcised at 99; tradition holds that he kept the entirety of the written and oral Torah well before matan Torah, meaning he performed the majority of mitzvahs in his life while in an uncircumcised state.