A Call for Sensitivity in Discussing Circumcision


I am a young woman who is proud to be deeply invested in the movement to defeat institutionalized circumcision. However, as I have previously confessed, I once agreed with and actually defended this unnecessary surgery and its imposition on non-consenting infants. 

Since I used to be pro-cutting and am now adamantly opposed to it, I remember which messages I used to scoff at, and which messages actually got me to listen. I couldn't identify with the horror of the procedure until I learned about it in a non-judgmental manner. 

Bris Prep: What Happens During a Bris That You Might Not See


I have a friend, an educated man, who insists that circumcision during a bris involves nothing more than pulling the foreskin forward over the glans and snipping off the “excess” skin with a single cut. He is a grandfather who served as a sandak and held his grandsons during their ritual circumcision procedures. How could it possibly involve anything more, since he watched it take place before his own eyes?

Uniting the Next Generation of Parents Against Circumcision


As a nineteen-year-old woman, I only have one friend who is already a parent. She is an incredible mother to her young daughter, whose sex protected her from the circumcision debate. The rest of my peers are college-aged adults who spend an appropriately smaller amount of their free time than I do pondering infant welfare and debating a common practice that was probably performed on themselves or on their brothers. Yet in a few years, these people and I will become the newest generation of parents in America.

Circumcision Decision: Jewish Couples in Crisis


Back in the days when I was dating, before I met my wonderful husband, I would mention my views about circumcision early in a relationship, namely that I was against it and had no plans to circumcise any future sons. I figured I could marry someone with different interests or even political views, but when it came to circumcising a child, that was a deal-breaker. 

Facebook Campaign Protests AAP Circumcision Policy


The AAP, who as recently as 2010 embarrassed themselves by recommending that physicians offer their patients a form of female genital cutting, find themselves on the wrong side of history once again. Their task force report is an insult to both reason and science and has destroyed what little credibility they may have had left on the subject.

Although we are a marginal voice within the Jewish community, there have always been Jewish opponents to Brit Milah. It makes me proud that some of us are leading the current movement against this cruel and unusual practice both within the Jewish community and in the world at large.

Even as the world abandons the unethical practice of infant male circumcision, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently revised its policy statement to more strongly recommend it. In response to this step backwards, people of conscience all over the world have been protesting the AAP’s misguided decision by posting on Facebook photographs of themselves with the words “AAP” on one hand and “No Ethics” on the other.

As a proud Jew and an opponent of infant male circumcision, I wanted to join this protest in a meaningful way. It is my belief that a deep concern for ethics lies at the core of the Jewish tradition and it is this concern, along with the ability to adapt to new information, that gives meaning and relevance to my heritage in the 21st century.

Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon is a documentary filmmaker. His film "Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision looks critically at the ancient ritual from a Jewish perspective. The "Wash Your Hands Clean of the APP" Facebook the campaign was started by the Whole Network.

Circumcision Resource Center Responds to Revised AAP Statement


The Circumcision Resource Center, headed by Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., has issued a response to the American Academy of Pediatric's revised policy on circumcision. The AAP pronouncement, issued today, strengthens the organization's stance in favor of circumcision, but stops short of recommending the procedure for all male infants.

Parshat Lech L'cha: Why Infant Circumcision in Judaism Isn't Kosher

Then God said to Abraham, “You must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. For the generations to come every male among you who is eight days old must be circumcised, including those born in your household or bought with money from a foreigner—those who are not your offspring. Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant. Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh, will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.” (Gen. 17:9-14)
I realize I may be making myself enemies, within and without, writing this essay, but here we go: I’m opposed to circumcision. To me, it echoes one too many abusive procedures, on top of the whole consent problem. An eight-day-old child cannot consent to any kind of procedure. 

Eight Reasons Why an Intact Penis Is Better Than a Cut Penis


Shalom. I’m Israeli, I’m Jewish and I’m an Intactivist, which means I strive to end male circumcision performed on infants and children in Israel and around the world. My journey to Intactivism began seven years ago when my son was born.

My wife and I had no doubts about circumcision. Although I hated it, and knew I was only doing it because it was a social dictate, I felt that putting my son through a surgical procedure to make his penis look “normal” was a must. The thought of not circumcising didn’t even cross my mind.

The German Circumcision Dilemma: Expanding the Debate and Proposing a Way Forward


A German court in Cologne recently ruled that circumcising young boys represents grievous bodily harm. The court found the child’s "fundamental right to bodily integrity" was more important than the parents’ rights. According to the court, the religious freedom "would not be unduly impaired" because the child could later decide whether to have the circumcision.

Attachment Parenting, Avoiding Circumcision: My Jewish Family Traditions


I was born in Newark NJ at Beth Israel Hospital in the 1950s and was raised in Livingston NJ. My parents were Jewish. My father always taught me to question, and so throughout my life I have questioned all that has come before me to make sure I am following what I believe to be the truth. I published my first book in 2010, Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods.

The book focuses on parents following the needs of the child. Home birth, long-term breastfeeding, weaning when baby is ready to wean, skin-to-skin contact, holding baby, the family bed, and modeling emotional poise are all aspects of attachment parenting, which lead to superior physical, mental, emotional and spiritual development of the child. I devote a chapter of my book to circumcision facts and the harms of circumcision surgery.

Novelist Lisa Braver Moss Writes on Circumcision Jewish Practices for Huffington Post


Novelist and Beyond the Bris contributor Lisa Braver Moss has written a powerful essay for the Huffington Post on metzitzah b’peh, which is practiced by some Orthodox mohels during the bris. As a direct result of the ritual, several New York infants contracted the herpes virus. Two died and two suffered permanent brain damage.  

Healthy Eats and Natural Parenting Unite in “Creating Healthy Children” Book


Author and lecturer Karen Ranzi
at Nuage Cafe in Parkland Florida.
In her new book Creating Healthy Children: Through Attachment Parenting and Raw Foods (2012) Jewish author, lecturer and mom Karen Ranzi combines two subjects that are close to her heart in an informative compendium of sound parenting advice and great raw food recipes that even picky toddlers will devour. 

“I began writing my book emphasizing only raw food nutrition. However, I realized that one cannot raise a healthy child through good food alone,” Ranzi says. “Attachment parenting is crucial. The mothers of today’s civilized world must return to their roots and learn to listen to their maternal instincts in order to be present to raise their children,” she says.

"What to Expect When You're Expecting" Highlights Circumcision Controversy


The question of whether to circumcise is front and center in the new film “What to Expect When You’re Expecting ” which has an all-star cast that includes Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew Morrison, Chris Rock, and Dennis Quaid. The comedy-drama (heavier on the comedy) follows five expectant couples as they prepare to face parenthood.

“What to Expect When You’re Expecting” is well done, with solid acting and a fast-paced script that keeps the audience laughing. For circumcision critics, it is a slam-dunk in terms of pop-culture attention to this issue. Jules (Cameron Diaz) is an LA celebrity who is determined not to circumcise her son despite the protestations of the baby’s father Evan (Matthew Morrison). When a tabloid magazine prints that Jules won’t be circumcising on its front cover, the couple’s tensions over the issue escalate. The circumcision issue is not merely addressed in passing. It is a major plot point in the film.

Choosing Brit Shalom Over Brit Milah


Twenty-five years ago my husband and I did something few Jewish parents had. We held a brit shalom ceremony for our son as opposed to a brit milah. We invited guests without saying there would be no circumcision. Dr. Dean Edell (who is Jewish and opposed to circumcision) sent a camera crew for our brit shalom and later used clips from it on different TV programs.

We had a friend who was a rabbi in education, but without a pulpit. It was novel for him to do a brit without mila, but he was willing to do it and risk it. There was also a rabbi in Marin County who was known to do a brit shalom. He was known as a hippie rabbi. He also was willing to do this for us. So we had two rabbis.

Genital Autonomy "Zine" Makes Debut

Social activist and New Yorker Jonathan Friedman has recently published a “zine” on male infant circumcision titled “Genital Autonomy: Why Circumcision Must Be Stopped.” This is a significant project because it is introducing a wide audience to the harms of circumcision in an innovative way—and also in a way that is, at the same time, steeped in historical tradition. In the following interview, Jonathan talks about his project and how those interested in preventing infant circumcision can get involved.

Beyond the Bris:

What exactly is a “zine” for those who may be unfamiliar with the term?


A zine is a pamphlet. Perhaps the most famous example is Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” Zines are made to be mass-produced, which is really easy with photocopiers. The word “zine” is short for magazine, and is pronounced “ZEEN.”

Me But Not My Son: A Young Jewish Man Breaks Rank on Circumcision

Some young Jewish men thinking ahead to fatherhood have decided they
will reject circumcision for their sons while also embracing their Jewishness. 

I am 21 years old, Jewish, and opposed to circumcision. I attend college in Indiana. I grew up in a small Southern town where my family was one of a handful of Jews. My parents were born and raised Jewish. I was circumcised when I was eight days old by a mohel at a brit milah.

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.

Bringing a Jewish Circumcision Alternative (Brit Shalom) to New York Metro Families


Using his voice for good: In addition
to performing brit shalom celebrations,
Moshe Rothenberg sings to benefit
social causes. Above he performs in a
NYC benefit for the people of Darfur. 
The Jewish opposition to circumcision was just beginning 24 years ago when my wife Yehudit and I decided to leave our newborn son intact. We were not the only Jewish parents of our generation to reject circumcision, but we were among the first.

I performed my son’s birth ceremony and it was beautiful. We called it a brit b’lee milah or “covenant without circumcision.” The gift of life came unencumbered by any cutting and joy permeated the room. All three of Samuel’s living grandparents refused to attend his brit because they knew no circumcision would be taking place. This only made what Yehudit and I had decided to do more powerful. There was no going back.

Samuel was accepted and welcomed everywhere he went, in and out of the Jewish community, and within all of the relationships we had among the different Jewish denominations, including our Orthodox Jewish friends. To my knowledge, no one ever teased Samuel while he was growing up about his being in a distinct minority as a Jew with an intact penis. He never seemed to take note of the fact that his penis looked different than mine. (Not noticing or not caring is very typical for intact boys with circumcised fathers.) Nor has my son ever expressed negative feelings to me about being intact. Today, as an adult, Judaism is very important to our son.

Beyond the Bris on Beyond the Sling (Mayim Bialik's New Book)


Jewish mother and actress Mayim Bialik has just released her new book on attachment parenting titled Beyond the Sling. I applaud her work in bringing sound natural parenting principles to a broad audience. Mayim’s down-to-earth and straightforward exposition of attachment parenting will resonate with many of today’s parents, and parents-to-be, who are interested in raising children in a way that is in harmony with the way nature functions.

Attachment parenting has always made a lot of sense to me, although I don’t consider myself an adherent to any particular method when it comes to raising my kids. I gave birth to both of mine with a midwife in a birthing center. No drugs! I breastfed them each for at least two years, and nursed them together (tandem nursed) for about six months. I wore them in slings a lot of the time when they were very small. I kept them close in my bed when they were infants but eventually they moved to their own beds. (Very often we all end up just sleeping together anyhow.) Despite being Jewish, I also refused to circumcise my son. I didn’t want to subject him to the pain; figured if he was born with a foreskin, he probably needed it; and didn’t want to risk diminishing his sexual sensitivity in adulthood.

Refusing to Circumcise: A Mom's Difficult Demand

Couples in crisis: whether to circumcise a child can become a contentious
issue, regardless of religion. If it is important to you, discuss your
circumcision stance before getting into a serious relationship. 

The birth of my twin sons two years ago changed me forever. I discovered a passion and an intense female power that I had no idea existed. I also discovered I would risk everything—my marriage, my chosen faith, EVERYTHING—to keep my innocent babies intact.

I grew up Catholic in the 1970s, when most American boys were circumcised. That is what I thought was normal. Had I been a boy, my parents would have circumcised me. In my 30s, I chose to convert to Judaism. This was before I met my husband. It’s difficult to describe this powerful, heartfelt calling in words, but my Jewish friends always say I have a “Jewish soul.” I found myself immersed in a liberal, spiritual community that felt like home. I also found myself working in the Jewish community as an educator.

Progressive Rabbis on Creating a Covenant without Circumcision

Rabbi Steven Blane

Heads up on a new Intact News article that quotes five rabbis who perform peaceful Jewish welcoming ceremonies and also believe the time has come for Jews to abolish circumcision. These Rabbis represent a range of Jewish movements and include influential Jewish Studies scholar Howard Eilberg-Schwartz and Rabbi Steven Blane, Dean of the Jewish Spiritual Leader’s Institute. 

Rabbi Blane, Rabbi of Congregation Havurah Sim Shalom, and Dean of the Jewish Spiritual Leader's Institute, states in part: "It seems very silly that people who are not Jewish would engage in circumcisions. It makes no sense to me either. And neither does today from where I'm at, neither does a brit milah work for me….