Jewish Practices Can Evolve

By REBECCA WALD — Sometimes Jewish practice finds itself on a collision course with modern science. How is this handled? Can long-standing Jewish practices evolve? The answer can be found in the life and work of Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler who passed away last week at the age of 95.  Tendler’s life and legacy have…

A Brit Shalom and (also) a New Beginning

By REBECCA WALD — A few weeks ago I traveled to northern California to attend the brit shalom of the grandson of my friend and colleague Lisa Braver Moss. It was a magical day full of spiritual and personal significance. The ceremony the family chose came from the book, Celebrating Brit Shalom, which Lisa and I co-authored…

I was a Soviet Jew who chose to get circumcised after making Aliyah to Israel. Now I regret it.

By YAKOV ZISSER — I was born in Siberia, Russia, in 1957. My parents and grandparents were originally Latvian Jews. As an independent country, Latvia had a small Jewish population where Jews had schools and participated in culture and politics. However the Soviets occupied Latvia in 1940. On the eve of Germany’s invasion of Latvia, in…

A Different Take on Brit Milah During Coronavirus

Forgive me, but I am getting more than a little tired of reading the myriad “heartwarming” stories about how brit milah is carrying on despite the Covid-19 pandemic. About how loved ones far and wide now watch the cutting take place on Zoom, and how mohels are donning surgical masks. To counter these trite pieces…

Why Question Circumcision?

Many of us grew up hearing that circumcision is “just a snip,” the removal of “a little extra piece of skin,” “no big deal,” and “healthier.” Did you grow up hearing these things? If so, it’s only natural for you to believe them—especially when you haven’t been exposed to any evidence to the contrary. When…

Retrospective: Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.

Robert S. (Zalman Shaul) Mendelsohn, M.D. (1926-1988) was a practicing American pediatrician who authored several bestselling books on healthcare, appeared on TV and radio, and wrote a syndicated medical advice column. Beloved by many for his practical advice, Mendelsohn encouraged people to take a judicious approach to their medical care. He was a proponent of…

Proposed Circumcision Ban Highlights Israelis’ Changing Views

An Israeli anti-circumcision group will take their message to the steps of the Danish embassy.  September 14, 2020Danish parliament is scheduled to vote on a bill that would prohibit parents from circumcising boys. It’s already illegal in Denmark to cut the genitals of minor girls for religious reasons. The goal of the bill is humanitarian in…

Brit Milah: A Shameful and Traumatic Practice

© 2019 Getty Images GUEST CONTRIBUTION As the victim of an Orthodox Jewish bris, I am sharing my story to hopefully convince others to spare their children this trauma. Given my religious upbringing, a bris was considered a normal event and not something to be hidden. As a child, I was told how the mohel came over to…

Rabbi Opposed Circumcision, Promoted Brit Shalom

Rabbi Nathan (Natan) Segal, one of the first American rabbis known to conduct naming ceremonies without circumcision for Jewish male infants, died on July 23, 2019, surrounded by family. He was a staunch opponent of brit milah and wrote passionately against the practice.  Rabbi Natan Segal Born in Chicago in 1949, Segal was an ordained rabbi and…

Talmudic Scholar Offers Context, Teaching on Jews Opting Out of Brit Milah

By REBECCA WALD Earlier this week, Rabbi Tzvee Zahavy penned a fascinating and important piece on the trend of Jews forgoing circumcision for their sons.  Rabbi Tzvee Zahavy, Ph.D.  “I observe that it is trendy now in some progressive communities in Israel not to circumcise baby boys,” Zahavy writes, noting he has “a devout Jewish friend who…