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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Putting the Bris before the Cart. I mean, Horse.

Last night I got an email from a close friend. Her accidental pregnancy is what played a big part in my first two years in chicago–without her fertility, there wouldn’t have been a maternity leave for me to temp, temp to perm, job to job, chicago to london. I owe her a lot and she is a fantastic person, a mother to two boys, and now a Doula.

It is no surprise, or shouldn’t be, that she is also anti-circumcision. But it was news to me. I hadn’t been thinking much about a bris, other than the one Jill is planning, or circumcision. Seems silly to decide what to do with my son’s foreskin when my dating life is still in shambles.

She sent me a link to Jewish Circumcision and one plainly called Circumcision. Then I had to think about it. It is a 3000 year old tradition, the covenant between Abraham and God, between the people of Israel and Adonai.

I am struck by the tradition’s ability to stay something that most (although not all, according to them) jews do. I read in Five Years in the Warsaw Ghetto, that men would have their pants ripped off in the streets to see if they were Jews. If they were circumcised, they were murdered. What blows my mind is that we kept circumcising. That the covenant it symbolizes was more important than the danger it might put our men in.

The website really pissed me off and I was puzzled by my reaction. I think one reason is the attitude of, “Most american jews don’t follow ANY of the jewish laws, so why bother with this one?” Or “You’re having a doctor do it, so it isn’t even ritual–it doesn’t even count.” I personally know a rabbi who trains doctors in the ritual practices–doctors who double as mohels.

Most of the 15 points on the info page make me cringe. Making a leap between choosing circumsion and stopping intermarraige for instance. 6. The biggest threat to Jewish survival is assimilation. There is no evidence that circumcision slows it. Despite circumcision, about half of all Jews who married in recent years chose a non-Jewish spouse.

Will somebody from Jewlicious take a stab at this website please? I am still not saying I’m for or against circumcision, but I’m not a fan of the damn site. I don’t know what I’ll do when I have sons, but by then I’ll also have a husband with opinions and we’ll have a Rabbi to talk to. I at least want to read a solid argument by a Rabbi or learned Jew against circumcision and not bullet points making shallow references to a deep well of information.

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