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Monday
Sep122011

Jewish Intactivist Community - Today’s Jews are Questioning Circumcision

"I believe circumcision is a major mistake...  Just as we no longer practice the animal sacrifices in the traditional temple, so let us not sacrifice an important piece of our mammal in the temple of tradition." 
- Rabbi Nathan Segal, Rabbi of Shabbos Shul.

“Mutilation of the divinely made human body is as far from Judaism as anything could be… Torah mentions circumcision only cursorily. Circumcision is conspicuously absent from the Sinai commandments, and from the subsequent listings of rules… Deut30- 6 mentions circumcision metaphorically at most, “circumcise your heart.” No less likely is the meaning, “tame your pride.” 
- Israeli Scholar Vadim Cherny, How Judaic is the circumcision?

Over the last hundred years, a Jewish and Israeli movement to stop circumcision has emerged. Jews have formed groups opposing circumcision, written articles and books presenting opposition and alternatives to circumcision, and most importantly, more and more of us have kept our own sons intact. Throughout history, a large percentage of Jews in different regions never circumcised. As Jews, our opposition to circumcision is due to modern notions of an individual’s right to their own body, new historical information about the non-Judaic origin of circumcision in Egypt and Africa, scientific discoveries about the damage caused by circumcision, and a desire by individuals to live a higher level of spiritual ethics. We acknowledge the moral, ethical, and physical problems of circumcision surgery and choose peaceful covenant ceremonies for our children instead.

All Jews have long given up corporal punishment, animal sacrifice, and other violent practices from the same time period of circumcision, activities that are no longer considered spiritual. It is time for Judaism to give up the violent surgery of circumcision, and to step into a new era of moral and peaceful welcoming covenants. Our movement includes Jewish Rabbis, scholars, parents, intellectuals, Israelis, and educators. Our opposition to circumcision is a logical extension and application of Jewish ethics and morality. Jews are disproportionally active in both the intactivist community and other human rights causes of our age. It is time for us as Jews to adopt peaceful covenants to welcome our new babies into the world.

Religious and Moral Rationales for Jewish Intactivism
מ Israeli Scholar Vadim Cherney: How Judaic is circumcision?  (Israel)
מ Defying Convention - An Interview With Miriam Pollack (U.S.)
מ Jewish Parents are Swapping Brit Milah for Peaceful Covenant Ceremonies (U.S.)
מ Brit Milah - Inconsistent with Jewish Ethics? (U.S.)
מ A Case for Bris without Milah. (New Zeeland)
מ Eli Ungar-Sargon and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Moral Problems of Circumcision (NY)
מ Moshe Rothenberg: Being rational about circumcision and Jewish observance (NY)
מ Lisa Braver Moss: The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments (U.S.)
מ Jenny Goodman, MD: An Alternative Perspective (UK)
מ Rabbi Nathan Segal: One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision (CA)
מ Redefining the Sacred by Miriam Pollack (U.S.)

"Circumcision... is a poor way to introduce a newborn male into the world and into the Jewish community. This presentation will focus on my experience as an active Jew living in an observant Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York, who chose not to have his son circumcised. I will present the brit (literally "covenant") b'lee milah (without circumcision) ceremony that my wife, a full participant in the decision, and I held on the eighth day of our son Sammy's life."
- Moshe Rothenberg, Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community.

Today’s Jews are Acknowledge the Harm of Circumcision and Choose Peaceful Welcoming Covenants
מ The New Jewish Movement to End Brit Milah - Part 1 (Worldwide)
מ The New Jewish Movement to End Brit Milah - Part 2 (Worldwide)
מ The New Jewish Movement to End Brit Milah - Part 3 (Worldwide)
מ Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors (Worldwide)

"Just like so many parts of the scriptures are homophobic, misogynistic, racist, classist. We're letting all those go away, all those really frightening passages about stoning adulteresses to death and so forth. Most people, Jews and Muslims, I suppose, don't take those seriously anymore and it's easy. There's no question. They don't struggle with it. It's just ink on a page. It just becomes a story, an allegory of the past, and they might not even think about whether that did ever happen, but it’s passed from history into mythology. So, I'm hoping and affirming that circumcision will also pass into mythology."  
- Tina Kimmel, PhD, MSW, MPH, Jewish Intactivist, Director of
NOCIRC, East Bay Area 
Maternal Child Health Epidemiologist, co-founder of
Jews for the Rights of the Child

Individual Jewish Intactivists - Men / Father’s Voices
מ Howard Stern - Jewish Intactivist by Rebecca Wald (U.S.)
מ Moshe Rothenberg: Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community? (NY)
מ Shea Levy: To the Mohel Who Cut Me (U.S.)
מ Michael S. Kimmel: The Kindest Un-Cut - Feminism, Judaism, and My Son's Foreskin (U.S.)
מ Jonathan Friedman: On Circumcision Authority, and the Perpetuation of Abuse (NY)

“Jewish parents are known for our devotion to our kids, so questioning circumcision comes naturally. Jewish practice has evolved over the millennia to keep up with modern ethics and scientific understanding. We now know that infants feel pain and that traumatic experiences in infancy can have lasting consequences. We also have an understanding of the function and purpose of the foreskin. Given these and other factors, I feel that the time has come for the covenant to evolve into a symbolic welcoming ceremony.”
- Rebecca Wald, host of BeyondtheBris.com, a blog for Jewish parents.

Individual Jewish Intactivists - Women / Mother’s Voices
מ Stacey Greenberg: My Son - The Little Jew with a Foreskin, Mothering Magazine (U.S.)
מ Diane Targovnik: How "Cut" Saved My Son's Foreskin - A Movie Review (U.S.)
מ Natural Parents Network - Intact and Jewish (U.S.)
מ Jewish Women’s Feelings - Jewish Intactivism
מ Laura Shanley: A Jewish Woman Denounces Circumcision (U.S.)
מ Sarah Rockwell: Lucking Into Bris Shalom (U.S.)
מ Jewish mom - Circumcision spiritually wounds, breaks bonds and trust (U.S.)
מ Female Intactivists - Women’s Perspectives
מ Miriam Pollack: Circumcision - A Jewish Feminist Perspective (U.S.)
מ The Naming at Very, Very Fine (U.S.)

"…as a progressive reform Jew I was raised to believe that any conflict between human rights and Jewish law and/or tradition, is always resolved in favor of human rights, and that this does not diminish Judaism, but in fact makes it stronger… So when does circumcision become a bad idea?  If a single child suffers from it directly, or indirectly from complications, or God forbid a single child should die (which is not common but does happen) isn't that enough warrant a re-evaluation? ... I believe it is time for the Reform movement to consider how contemporary medical and ethical studies on circumcision put the practice at odds with its cherished values of human rights and social justice -- values which, in my opinion, are truly what defines and are central to Judaism."
- Thomas Wolfe, Why do we need an alternative Brit Milah (Bris) ceremony?

Sample Peaceful and Ethical Covenant Texts
מ List of Intactivist Moyels & Rabbis by Dr. Mark D. Reiss (50+ Intactivist Moyels & Rabbis)
מ The Bris Shalom (Intact Jewish Baby Welcoming) Ceremony
מ Bris Shalom (Intact Jewish Baby Welcoming) Ceremony by Norm Cohen
מ Brit B'lee Milah (Covenant Without Cutting) Ceremony
מ Sample Intact Jewish Boy Welcoming Covenant #1
מ Sample Intact Jewish Boy Welcoming Covenant #2
מ Song for an Intact Jewish Boy Welcoming Ceremony
מ Our Son's Bris Shalom, or Welcoming Covenant By Brenda Platt
 
“There are tens of thousands of intact Jewish boys and men around the world who thank their lucky stars they were not circumcised.”
- Brian Levitt, Jewish Intactivist, co-founder of
Jews for the Rights of the Child,
Testimony at the California Senate Judiciary Committee Public Hearing on Circumcision.

Jewish Intactivists in the USA
מ Beyond the Bris Milah - Jewish Intactivist Blog (U.S.)
מ Jews Opposing Circumcision (U.S.)
מ Jews for the Rights of the Child (USA) *New Group
מ Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision - A Film by Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon (U.S., Israel)
מ Dr. Ron Goldman: Questioning Circumcision - A Jewish Perspective (U.S.)

"We are educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric, primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision has no place in modern Judaism.” - Jews Against Circumcision

Jewish Intactivists in Israel
מ Gonnen - Protect the Child (Israel)
מ Af-Mila- Israeli Jewish Intactivists (Israel)
מ Intact Son - the Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation (Tel Aviv)
מ Kahal - Giving Up Brit Milah (Tel Aviv)

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