Religious Circumcision
       Jews have been questioning circumcision for some time. The brit milah is supposed to be performed out of deep and abiding faith.  
         "We do not demonstrate our acceptance of the Covenant by following all of God’s commandments. We don’t keep kashrut, we don’t keep Shabbat. Brit milah is supposed to be a sacrosanct act of faith, the most important mitzvah (commandment). We don’t actively attempt to keep the other mitzvot...like most present day American Jews. If you explain [to your son] that he was circumcised because he is Jewish, he may feel that you are hypocrites if you do not live an Orthodox life."  [Bivas]


Redaction of the Decalogue:
Circumcision and the Sacrifice

Photo: Allan Tannenbaum/Sygma
Image: Life Magazine, p. 18, Oct, 1991

       "Can a Jewish argument against circumcision bemade?"  
The Jewish Roots ofAnti-Circumcision Arguments by Lisa Braver Moss
Religious Traditionsand Circumcision by Gerald A. Larue
Circumcision: A Sourceof Jewish Pain by Ronald Goldman
Questioning JewishCircumcision - Jewish Associates of CircumcisionResource Center


     “We are convinced that most American Jews do nothave a bris out of deep and abiding faith.   Most Jews do it out ofrespect for tradition, making it a cultural and not a religious act. ...AJew might never set foot in a synagogue but will circumcise his son.”[Bivas]

       “What about the hypocrisy of those Jews whoask so little of themselves as Jews in the form of participation in Jewishcommunal or religious activities, but who find it so easy to demand so muchof their sons?” [Karsenty]

"It's not religious law that makes me a practicing Jew but the love for my people and my culture." Moshe Rothenberg from  Prime Cut, about Michael Rovinsky, a Mohel with a website, a beeper & an 800 number
Being Rational About Circumcision & Jewish Observance
(by Moshe Rothenberg - includes a Bris Ceremony without circumcision)

       Early Christians were Jews. It was later proclaimedthat Christians were saved only through the grace of Jesus Christ. [Acts15:7-11] “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anythingnor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” [Galations 5:6]

Paul's Answer toCircumcision
A Brief Survey of the Book of Galations


Romans 2:25-28 The Jews and the Law

       Circumcision has value if you observe the law,but if you break the law you become as though you had not been circumcised.If those who are not circumcised keep the law's requirements, will they notbe regarded as though they had been circumcised? The one who is not circumcisedphysically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you havethe written code and circumcision are a lawbreaker.

       A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardlynor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if heis one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit,not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.


".....Jewish men themselves are highly active in the anti-circumcisionmovement....Most people don't know it's not circumcision which confers uponone their Jewishness. While circumcising an infant son might arguably makea parent (not the child) a more observant Jew, Jewishness itself comes (exceptfor converts) simply from having a Jewish mother. The circumcision most AmericanJewish males receive from a doctor doesn't satisfy religious requirements.Moreover, some Jews reject ancient practices that violate human rights andhave adopted more humane Bris ceremonies appropriate to both sexes.AlternativeBris Support Groups exist here in the United States.

We impugn no religion, but assert that an intact body is a universal humanright. Indeed, we affirm the rite of circumcision for religious purposeswhen the participant himself willingly chooses it. We as circumcised menof all religions have experienced genital abuse against our wills. We havethe right and duty to speak out against a practice that we feel has harmedour violated us, even if it confronts religious tradition. We affirm theuniversal human right to be free from genital alteration and we support menin their efforts to educate their respective cultures about this issue."

an excerpt from a NOHARMM pamphlet, National Organization to Halt the Abuseand Routine Mutilation of Males. P.O. Box 460795 San Francisco, CA 94146.


AlternativeBris Support Group - FatheringMagazine
The Historical Role of Jews in the American Medical View ofCircumcision


Rationalesfor Jewish Circumcision
fromMoses Maimonides, "The Guide of the Perplexed"
Here is an excerpt:  "With regard to circumcision, one of thereasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexualintercourse and a weakening of the organ in question, so that this activitybe diminished and the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. "

Origin of Non-ReligiousCircumcision

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Books of Interest:

Jewish Women Speak Out, Kayla Weiner, Ph.D. andArinna Moon, M.A., ed. $18.95 plus $3 S/H. Miriam Pollack, Dept. N, 1815Virginia St., Berkeley, CA 94703.

Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma, Ronald Goldman,Ph.D. 1996. $18.95 + $3 shipping/handling. Circumcision Resource Center,POB 232, Boston, MA 02133. Master/Visa orders, call 888­445­5199.

Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma, Rosemary Romberg.1985. Bergan & Garvey, S. Hadley, MA. (out of print)

VIDEO:  It's A Boy!, a film by VictorSchonfeld
Available at Filmakers Library: "Many Jews accept without question the ritual circumcision of theirsons. In this disturbing and powerful film, made by a Jewish journalist,director and concerned parent, the realities of the procedure and its possibleafter effects are revealed.  The core of the film is the story of oneeight-day old boy and his circumcision which goes horribly wrong. This isclearly an issue that Jews cannot ignore."
•"It should be seen by everyone." Jewish Chronicle
•"Controversial and powerful film..." Sunday Times


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References:

Bivas, Natalie Krauss, in her letter written toprovide information and help Jews who have doubts about circumcising theirsons.

Karsenty, Nelly, A Mother Questions Brit Milah,as published in Ruah Hadashah.

Last Revised:  11/17/98

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