Miriam Pollack is widely recognized within the anti-circumcision community as both a proud Jew and a dedicated opponent of genital cutting. She boldly, yet gently, speaks her mind, which has at times put her at odds with the two communities she holds most dear: the Jewish community and the community of intactivists.
Eli Ungar-Sargon Debates “Kosher Sex” Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Ethics of Jewish Circumcision
Introductory remarks from a July 18 debate at The Manhattan Jewish Experience a debate between documentary filmmaker Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, author of the book "Kosher Sex."
By ELI UNGAR-SARGON
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. My name is Eli Ungar-Sargon and I’m an independent filmmaker. 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.The film will be coming back to New York at the end of September, so if what I say here tonight intrigues you, come up to me afterwards and I’ll send you an email with more details about the screening.
Infant male circumcision is physically harmful, medically irresponsible, and morally wrong. It is also true that infant circumcision has been a central Jewish practice for at least 2500 years. I’ll come back to the religious side of this issue a little later, but for now, let’s focus on the practice divorced from its religious significance.
Nowadays, we have similar naming ceremonies for baby girls, minus the genital cutting. In Hebrew, the term brit milah refers to ritual circumcision. Why not eliminate the cutting, and peacefully give baby boys a name which welcomes them into Judaism? The term brit shalom, “Covenant of Peace” is used to denote an alternative non-cutting naming ceremony. Other terms include brit b’li milah (covenant without cutting), brit chayim (covenant of life) and brit ben (covenant for a boy). Brit bat being the term for a girl’s naming ceremony.
at 10:40 PM
|Talking genital integrity: performer Jason Paige sits |
down for an interview with Beyond the Bris.
By REBECCA WALD
Jason has a circumcision complication known as a skin bridge. A remanent of his foreskin became fused to the head of his penis as an infant during the healing process. Sometimes skin bridges can result in painful erections and severe disfigurement. In Jason’s case, it's a relatively minor complication that prompted him to learn more about "what goes down" during a circumcision procedure, and ultimately to oppose the practice.
It also inspired him to record a music video titled “Circumcision” and sung to the tune of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious.” In the parody, Jason wears a black tee-shirt with white letters that ask: “Guess Where I’m Pierced?”
Jason says the lyrics are a culmination of his coming to understand what happened to him through stories he’d heard growing up. “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,” he says.
While many You Tube performers are amateurs, Jason happens to be one of the most talented vocalists of our time. He jokingly describes himself as the most famous person you’ve never heard of. The designation fits. Although many won’t recognize the name Jason Paige, almost everyone in America has heard his incredible voice—one way or another. Jason has shared stage and studio with the biggest names in music. He was the rap soloist for the song “Black or White” during Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden. He has sung with music legends of every stripe, including Foreigner, Meatloaf, The Scorpions, Frankie Valli, Aerosmith, Enrique Iglesias, Liza Minelli, Ashanti, Ray Charles, Luther Vandros, Mark Anthony, Ricky Martin, Usher, Chaka Khan and Patti LaBelle (just to name a few). He is currently touring with the rock group Blood, Sweat and Tears as their “front man” or lead singer.
Jason is also a voiceover artist and sound-alike, which means he can make his amazing voice sound like just about anyone. He sings over 100 commercial jingles each year. Highlights include Pepto Bizmol’s “Nausea Heartburn Indigestion,” Mountain Dew’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Taco Bell’s “Think Outside The Bun,” Subway’s “Eat Fresh,” Bounty’s “Quilted Quicker Picker-Upper,” and the U.S. Army’s “Be All that You Can Be.” Jason also has the quirky distinction of being the voice most heard and imitated on You Tube. He sang the original “Pokemon” theme song, a Billboard #1 single played by millions on Guitar Hero. It ranks as the all time, number one most viewed You Tube video.
Jason wishes his “Circumcision” parody would go viral on You Tube like his Pokemon theme song. “I wanted to tell the story of my botched circumcision as I had understood it at the time. I want to enlighten through comedy, though entertainment, and through music. I want to get people to wake up to the human rights violation that is circumcision. I decided put on it on video—instead of just singing it in cabaret environments, clubs and for friends—so that it can gain wide exposure,” he says.
Jason wasn’t much aware of the Jewish movement against circumcision until he was contacted by Beyond the Bris. Today he can see himself becoming more involved in this issue. He’s already recorded a new a cappella version of his “Circumcision” song, which has an added third verse. It can be heard on Jason's ReverbNation site. He also hopes to one day shoot a music video in L.A. “I’ve actually expanded the song a little further through more research and managed to include a couple of more lines from Stevie [Wonder],” he says.
Jason pulls no punches when it comes to the prospect of outlawing circumcision. “The ban on circumcision that’s on the ballot in San Francisco is a triumph for intactivists,” he says. “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's mom, Charlie, has also come to |
oppose the procedure when performed
on non-consenting children.