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November 05, 2007



Thank you very much for being open to discussion. It's not uncommon for people to be dismissive, so I really appreciate it.

Here's some more from the Jewish perspective:

Jewish Circumcision Resource Center

Jews Against Circumcision

"I guess it depends on many factors: religious, cultural, philosophical etc."

I think it boils down to individual rights. Only by considering circumcision benign (a myth that is, thankfully, fading) can those other considerations take precedence.

"What makes it all so hard is the idea of the Covenant and how to deal with that - it's pretty specific."

Interestingly, it's not quite a specific as some think. Apparently it was a far less severe tissue removal for a very long time, as described here:

""Originally only the tip of the foreskin was cut, called milah. This practice lasted about 2000 years. During the Hellenistic period, many young Jews concealed their circumcision by drawing their foreskins forward. The rabbis of the time decided to change the requirements of the procedure so that a circumcised male could not possibly be altered to appear uncircumcised. This was the start of periah, removing the entire foreskin.""

I think if it can take that kind of drastic change in the direction of being more destructive to the sex organ, it can take an equal or greater change towards being less destructive or not at all.

This idea that adults can decide which parts, functions, and sensory capabilities of their (male) children's sex organs they get to keep has just got to change, even though old habits are sometimes slow to change, as is the female genital cutting in numerous cultures.

Thanks again for being open to discussion.

Cynthia Samuels

Thanks for letting me know about this. I haven't heard much about it and will certainly learn; I understand the argument and on its face it's tough to argue -- I guess it depends on many factors: religious, cultural, philosophical etc. I know that this isn't comparable, but many many small children's ears are pierced before their first birthdays - the "early" tradition is not an isolated one.
What makes it all so hard is the idea of the Covenant and how to deal with that - it's pretty specific.

I'm always thinking that men can't understand the feelings of childbirth so perhaps a woman can't understand the reactions men have to this obligation. The trouble comes if you really believe it's an obligation. No wiggle room there.
I think it would be great to have a conversation about this on here - I hope others will join in.


"I always thought it as barbaric. I have come to see the ceremony as one of the loveliest in Judaism."

And how exactly did cutting off part of another person's sex organ (which they have a human right to keep) get any less 'barbaric', and swing all the way to 'lovely'?

However lovely aspects of it may be, it's stone soup. One can have all the same feeling of community, family, etc., but have a non-cutting ceremony. It's called Brit-Shalom, and even the baby can enjoy it! This is increasingly popular, because it's increasingly obvious to both the secular and the religious that everyone deserves the right to decide something as important as this for himself.

There is also now ample evidence that circumcision removes the most sensitive parts of the organ. The genitals of a child, male or female, belong to that person only, and honest, consistent ethics demands they remain unaltered, unharmed, uncut until intellectual maturity allow an informed choice.

Religious practices change. Things done in the past become recognized as presently outmoded, unethical, or improper. Jews have rich tradition, and ample opportunity to continue it without hurting babies. I am confident that there will be a movement from within, slowly, to phase out the mutilation. PLEASE be a part of it!

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