|Foot washing replaces circumcision in |
the alternative brit pictured above.
Orthodox Rabbi Naftali Brawer called a brit without circumcision “newfangled” and “a synthetic ceremony highlighting the absence of brit.” However, Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain had a different take. He said, “some Jews feel genuinely ambivalent about [circumcision] because they question why the miraculous gift of life needs altering eight days later if it was so perfect in the first place.” As for the niece in question, “far from abandoning Judaism, she made a deliberate effort to induct her son into it,” Romain said.
The rabbis divergent views on Brit Shalom demonstrate the fundamental difference between Orthodox and Reform Judaism. The Orthodox believe the Torah comes directly from God, as understood by the rabbis of long ago. God is seen as a giver of laws whose literal words are to be obeyed. For this reason, Orthodox Jews will seek to understand, debate and discuss why God commanded circumcision, but the wisdom of the act will always be beyond challenge. The pious circumcise their sons as act of pure faith, trusting and believing that God knows what is best.
Reform Judaism sees the Torah as a holy document but doesn’t view Jewish practice as rigid and unchanging. For this reason, the acceptableness of the Brit Shalom service is more likely to be upheld by those of this branch. Parents who wonder how to find a rabbi that performs Brit Shalom can consult Dr. Mark Reiss, M.D.'s ever-growing list of Brit Shalom celebrants.