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.