By ERAN SADEH
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.
After my son was born, I made an appointment with a medical doctor, a director of the neonatology department in a big medical center in Tel Aviv, who also has a private circumcision clinic. I was very impressed by this doctor’s credentials. However, when I read on his website the instructions for parents regarding the preparations they would need to make before coming to the clinic—applying a generous layer of EMLA cream on the base of the boy’s penis and covering it with an adhesive plastic wrap to prevent the cream from soaking into the diaper—that stopped me in my tracks. I just wanted to bring my boy to the clinic and let the doctor do the whole thing.
This triggered some reluctance, and the next thing I did was to look for recommendations on this doctor. I wanted to see what other parents were saying about him. Minutes into my research I accidentally came across websites which oppose circumcision. The first anti-circumcision text that caught my eye was the following paragraph from The Guide For The Perplexed by Moses Maimonides:
“As regards circumcision, I think that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. Some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man’s formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskin to that organ is evident. This commandment has not been enjoined as a complement to a deficient physical creation, but as a means for perfecting man’s moral shortcomings. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; it does not interrupt any vital function, nor does it destroy the power of generation. Circumcision simply counteracts excessive lust; for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment: the organ necessarily becomes weak when it loses blood and is deprived of its covering from the beginning. Our Sages (Beresh. Rabba, c. 80) say distinctly: It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him. This is, as I believe, the best reason for the commandment concerning circumcision.”
To this day, I distinctly remember the horror and physical reaction in my body to reading this. Even now I am shaking and crying when I write this. This text for me cracked the thick wall of not wanting to know anything about circumcision. And from that moment, I found myself gulping every piece of information I could find.
I read with disgust a description of the Jewish ritual procedure, including the peri’ah, which is scraping the remaining inner lining of the foreskin from the glans, done with the mohel’sfingernails (which he elongates and sharpens especially for that task), and the metiztzah b’peh (where the mohel puts his mouth over the bleeding penis and sucks the blood).
I learned about the foreskin anatomy and its functions. I read testimonies by intact Israeli boys about their experiences growing up in Israel, who said it was no big deal. I read the statements by medical associations regarding circumcision, saying there was no medical indication for routine infant male circumcision. And I cried. I cried because I was torn and terrified. I thought on my son who was born only a few days earlier. On one hand I felt, how can I possibly put him through this? How can I do this to him, now that I know? How can I let anyone bring a knife to his penis and deliberately damage it? On the other hand, I did not want to make him different. To cause him to suffer socially and later with girls. No way.
I got up from the computer, and paced for a few moments. Then I went back and kept on reading. The next day I told my wife that I had doubts. She told me: “You don’t want to cut? We will not cut.” And that was it for her. My wife has a son from a previous marriage. She circumcised him in the United States with a traditional mohel. She couldn’t even stay in the room when it took place. She went out the house and walked and cried until it was over. The circumcision did not go well. When her son was one year old, he had to undergo surgery to correct the outcome.
As for me, I needed several months to let the fear go, the fear of making my son a freak and sentencing him to a life of ridicule. Thanks to Kahal—a group of Israeli parents who did not circumcise their sons—I had the chance to meet face to face with other parents who have made the same decision I did. I came to realize that my fear was completely exaggerated and was mostly comprised of demons in my head, culturally fortified to perpetuate this ancient rite.
For the first time in my life, I felt a strong urge to take a public stance. To make a change. To help parents who do not want to circumcise but are too afraid to even consider leaving their sons intact. To protect children from damage to their bodies; from pain, and suffering, and risk.
A few days ago I made a new informational video titled Eight Reasons Why An Intact Penis Is Better Than A Cut Penis. The video is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Click the small captions button on the bottom right corner of the film to turn on the English subtitles. I’d love to hear your comments about it.
Eran Sadeh is 43, secular, and the father of two children, a boy and a girl. He is the founder of Gonnen Al Ha-Yeled (Protect the Child) and has appeared in media interviews speaking about the harmfulness of childhood circumcision.
Thank you so much for publicly sharing your story, Eran. The video you created is also a powerful educational tool. I hope that others are inspired by your courage and also speak out publicly. Best wishes to you & your family!
Congratulation for your decision. Peace
If more Jewish and Muslim parents were like you with your strength of character, clarity of thinking and empathy, this would certainly be a happier and more peaceful world.
All I can say is BRAVO! What a wonderful father you are to save your son from genital mutilation while living in the contry which is the very heart of it!
Thank you for speaking up!
Thank you so much for sharing this story with the world.
It's a savage deed that perpetuates itself because so many people want to believe that the world we inherited has no flaws.
Awesome Article! Thank you so much for putting it out there, you are helping so many baby boys and future men!!!!
I don't believe in circumcision. It is a sadistic ritual. And God doesn't make mistakes. He made man that way for a reason.
Although I did not know then what I do now about the barbaric practice of circumcision I too spared my son from enduring a second-class sex life when he was born in 1986. Sadly my own parents did not spare me and were themselves both dead and gone before my eyes were opened to the truth. The world would be a much better place if more people had an open mind such as yours and could see what is staring them in the face. My thanks to you for making your excellent video and for your efforts to end the cruelty and injustice that millions of boys continue to suffer.
I feel sorry for your child, what would happen if he wants to become a baal teshuva. what happens when at school he learns of bris? You might be causing more anguish to your son by this act. You have now made more decisions for the child and taken away more rights including the continuation of the covenant between your child and G-d.
You might think the ritual is outdated and so on, yet we have been doing this for almost 5000 years. We have outlived all our enemies because we have kept true to our religion, it is unfortunate that you are thinking of yourself only, you are not thinking of your child's future and what repercussions your child will face because of this.
Dont for one second think there wont be any repercussions and the sad thing is you will not need to face them, your son will and you and your wife will be to blame no one else.
You and the others that hold on to this warped lala land holier than thou opinion will be to blame when the child has to go through circumcision later on in their life, or worse this is where Judaism in your family ends!
No one will be to blame except for yourselves. Hope you can live with it and with the possible rebellions and unforeseen repercussions that you have caused and no one else.
Ignorance is not bliss, and do not for one second think there will not be any repercusssions
I would imagine you feel the same way about mothers who pierce their toddler daughters' ears?
8)Now you're being inconsistent, as you write: "You and the others that hold on to this warped lala land holier than thou opinion will be to blame when the child has to go through circumcision later on in their life, or worse this is where Judaism in your family ends!" Firs you've claimed that "Dont for one second think there wont be any repercussions and the sad thing is you will not need to face them, your son will and you and your wife will be to blame no one else." So make your decision: who is it to be blamed? The real answer is that no one it to be blamed except those who perform harmful ritual's on their children. Eran is to be praised, not blamed. Additionally, Judaism, as all religions and ideologies, and as all traditions, can be flexible: the Jews used to circumcise, but in the future, I hope they cease. They may keep other traditions such as lightening Shabbat candles and eating matzot on Passover, all-the-while not performing harmful rituals on their children. There's no contradiction in this.
9) You write: "Ignorance is not bliss, and do not for one second think there will not be any repercusssions". Eran is not being ignorant. Someone else is, *ahem*.
And to the one who asked: "I would imagine you feel the same way about mothers who pierce their toddler daughters' ears?" – I can't speak in Eran Sadeh's name, but: 1) such a practice is not welcome in my opinion, people should be allowed to choose for themselves; 2) piercing is not as nearly as harmful as circumcision, so the comparison doesn't hold.
Chops, let me answer your accusation one-by-one.
1) You ask: "what would happen if he wants to become a baal teshuva". The answer is very simple: if the Eran's child decides to become religious, and reaches the age of 18, he could ask to be circumcised. That's no problem. My hope is that he won't be brainwashed into this, though.
2) You ask: "what happens when at school he learns of bris?" First of all, it is not a subject taught in school. Secondly, what do you think would happen? Assuming the child wouldn't know already what circumcision is and why it is a breach of humans' rights, he could ask his parents and they would explain what it is.
3) You write: "You have now made more decisions for the child and taken away more rights including the continuation of the covenant between your child and G-d. " On the contrary: the child could always circumcise, but once someone loses their foreskin, it is lost forever. Eran has granted his child more rights than average Israeli boys are given.
4) You write: "yet we have been doing this for almost 5000 years." That's ignorance of Judaism: the Jews, according to the Biblical legend, don't exist fore 5,000 years. According to the legend, Abraham, the so-called first Jew, was born 3824 years before 2012 AD, which invalidates your very claim. But that's irrelevant: people have lived in caves for thousands of years, and fortunately they abolished this "tradition".
5) You write: "We have outlived all our enemies". Well, all nations which exist today have outlived all of their enemies, so that's irrelevant. Also, we haven't really "outlived" anyone: many proponents of Orthodoxy claim that "we have bypassed the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Germans, they all had ceased but we have survived". That's just incorrect: of all them still exist.
6) You write: "because we have kept true to our religion". Nope. We have faced much suffer due to the Jewish religion. If anything, anti-Semitism has preserved the Jewish culture: does it mean that now you'll become anti-Semitic? Please.
7) You write: "it is unfortunate that you are thinking of yourself only, you are not thinking of your child's future and what repercussions your child will face because of this." Except it is the exact opposite: by keeping his child intact, Eran thinks solely about his child's rights, health, and well-being. Parents, who order the mutilation of their children because they believe that this is how they remain true to their deity, are the ones who disregard the rights of their children for the sake of feeling loved by a deity, completely egotistic rationale.
7) You write: "Dont for one second think there wont be any repercussions and the sad thing is you will not need to face them, your son will and you and your wife will be to blame no one else." These false threats don't fool anyone: the majority of the people in the world, including many Jews, including a certain and an increasing amount of Israeli Jews, are keeping their children intact. Stop maintaining the vicious circle: if all people stop circumcising, as is ought to be, then your accusation doesn't apply.
Thankyou Eran for sharing your story. And congratulations on having the courage to put your child before blind tradition.
@Chops – "Ignorance is not bliss". I presume that you are referring to your own ignorance. Eran has not put himself before his child, nor has he taken any rights away from him. What a ridiculous thing to say.
He has allowed his son a choice. If his son wishes to be circumcised later, that can still be done. Your way would be to take that choice (and right) from the child forever all because he "…might be causing more anguish…" – where is your evidence?
Your justification that we should continue doing something simply because it's been done for a while presumably means that you support trading in slaves and sacrificing babies by placing them into the arms of fire-heated bronze statues.
You, Sir, are a barbarian.
The people of this organization are living evidence that being anti-circumcision does not mean being antisemitic. They are also not self-hating Jews, because they too are also loyal to their Jewish blood.
Charging someone with antisemitism because he is anti-circumcision is like charging someone with sinophobia because he or she is opposed to people spitting, littering, and pirating. Yes, this stuff happens a lot in China, but being against it doesn't meant that you also hate Chinese people. There are even loyal Chinese that hate those stuff too. Obviously, they are not self-hating.
Thanks for speaking our, Eran in Germany and everywhere! <3
As a fellow Jew that decided to leave her sons intact, thank you for your input. It is empowering to make that decision, stick by it and pass the power on. Only a weak-minded Jew conforms to this ancient butchery after learning the truth behind circumcision.
Shalom wonderful father! The courage to break free of the group mindset that has existed a few thousand years can be traumatizing to say the least. But for the love of your boy you did it, and what was an agonizing choice became a path to a deeper understanding of G-d, freedom, responsibility, and true courage. I'm am a Gentile with Dutch parents so my brother and I were never clipped. To my horror and pain, my brother and his converted to Christianity Jewish wife had both of their sons circumcised. What was my brother thinking??? Perhaps he was worried that if his sons were different than other boys that they may feel left out or made fun of even though increasingly more parents are choosing not to butcher their boys so this excuse would show a sad weakness in him if true. Whatever the reason I can find no justification for it. I've never talked to them about this but if it ever comes up all I want to ask is, "Why???" My own boy is intact the way G-D made him and who am I to say that either G-d or evolution did it wrong and I know better! Once again, good work Eran and greetings to all my brothers and sisters here on this forum who love their children more than tradition or fear.
well done Mr., whoever you may be, a jew, muslim, or christian. it was god's intervention that you reconsidered about your son's circumcision. he will be thankful to you for ever. god bless you. fight the brutal practice of circumcision. you will be seated next to god almighty in heaven. fools only let their children circumcise.
go to hell
That is some serious fear mongering. Sorry you have such anxiety. His boy will be Jewish and fine. Judaism is not about cutting penises. Circumcision is about controlling men and Rabbinical power. If they can get you to harm your children, they can get you to do anything.
The main and benifit which the others cannot have of circumcision is that they reduce sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as HIV, HPV, chlamydia, syphilis in the male and their partner(s).
• Almost complete elimination of invasive penile cancer
They never suffer with urological problems
No one would like to gift cancer to their sons or themselves
And more it don't decrease pleasure of intercourse but decrease the lust and dogness of a person that he will not be damn thirsty for sex
It give more pleasure of intercourse than others and this is proved and authentic thing u can check anywhere
Yes, circumcision has been promoted by many quacks to cure whatever ales ye', however your claims are unsubstantiated, never peer reviewed and promoted by known quacks.
Psychologically people who have been circumcised react in one of two ways. Rationalize, normalize, and deny they have been harmed; ridicule those who disagree with your denial.
What this man has done, realize the error, accept reality and that science has proven it is harmful, and stop it, speak out against it.
These are the choices we must make.
Your 9 point reply is awesome.
1. While serving in the IDF, he takes a daily shower in the washroom of his barracks. Fellow soldiers who are jocular bullies taunt your son saying "Hey buddy, your putz is weird." He replies "We were all born that way to please the ladies, not your eyes."
2. The first time he goes to bed with a woman he is dating, she notices how his penis skin moves while doing foreplay on him. She says "Hey buddy, your putz is weird." She might go on to ask "Are you really Jewish?" After the first time they do PIV without a condom, she turns to him saying "Good God does it feel good with you." He smiles quietly.
Are (1) and (2) compelling reasons to do a bris without anesthesia to a week old infant??