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The State of the Foreskin in Israel - More Israeli Jews Keep Their Son's Intact for Moral and Ethical Reasons - Israeli's Rejecting the Brit Milah or Bris

In Israel, opposition to circumcision has happened in just two decades, and now these “rebels” number in the tens of thousands, according to Ronit Tamir, founder of Kahal, a support group for parents who choose not to circumcise their children.
Jewish World, 3/11/10.

'AS AN INCREASING NUMBER OF AMERICANS – including a sizable number of American Jews – question the act of male circumcision, a group of San Francisco activists are advocating to ban circumcision, or what they call male genital mutilation... Many of the leading activists against circumcision around the country are Jewish.'
- Jerusalem Post, Challenging the Circumcision Myth, 04/10/2011

'In the Jewish state live today tens, maybe hundreds of parents who decided, for ideological reasons, to spare their sons from the Brit Milah and leave them whole the way they were born. In addition, there are quite a few adult men who never underwent a circumcision, not to mention the thousands of new immigrants who were not circumcised.
This phenomenon is getting public attention, perhaps for the first time, after the establishment of the Association Against Genital Mutilation. The organization was founded by human rights activists who see the Brit Milah as a barbarous and primitive act that must be banished forever—and quickly.
Movements against circumcision have appeared recently in the US and in Europe, claiming that it must be banned not only because it is barbaric, but also because it is harmful to health. One study found that the pain treshold of baby boys who underwent circumcision was lower than that of boys who were not circumcised. “Many more boys die from circumcision than from genital infections,” claims one of the organization’s founders, Rafi Rozen from Eilat.
The organization counts in its midtst tens of activists, among them parents who chose not to circumcise their sons. The members meet every other week and exchange ideas and opinions. They plan to be more active in the future, going to centers for natural birth to try to convince parents not to circumcise their sons.
Jonathan and Limor Enosh from Tel Aviv have been convinced already. They gave birth three months ago to their son Tzof and decided to spare him from Brit Milah. “For a long time my wife and I were opposed to circumcision, thinking it was a cruel and painful act,” says Jonathan. When Tzof was born, we told our families that we weren’t going to circumcise him.'
“I told our families that whoever believes that the Brit makes a child Jewish is wrong,” tells a woman from Jerusalem whose two sons, ages 7 and 14, were not circumcised. “There is no need to cut off anything to be Jewish. A majority of parents do the Brit because they fear that their sons would be different from the rest, but the whole circumcision thing is superfluous. I decided not to take part in a deed that could lead to long-term mental trauma and physical harm, as well as reducing their pleasure in bed.
'Also the singer and literary critic Menachem Ben didn’t arrange a Brit Milah for his sons—in spite of his firm belief in God and the Bible. “It is possible to do a Brit Milah at a level specified in the Torah: ‘And you circumcised the foreskin in your heart,’ ” he claims with insistence. “I circumcised my sons my own way, without cutting, by reading verses from the Bible.”
- Itamar Eichner, Every Circumcision is Unnecessary, Yediot (Israel) - May 6, 1997

'According to modern scholars, circumcision is not even mentioned in either the earliest, 'J', version of Bereshth ('Genesis') nor the next three rewrites by other authors. Most importantly, the story of Abram is there in its entirety, except the part about the Covenant being 'sealed' with circumcision. The parallel Covenant story of 'a smoking kiln and its blazing torch' passing between the halves of animals and birds sacrificed by Abram is in J. Many biblical scholars agree on this point, and it is in accord with the mitzvot against desecrating the body.... It has even been suggested that early Judaism forbad circumcision!'
Case for Bris without Milah.

'Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon, who was brought up Orthodox, produced a documentary called “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision,” which examines male circumcision
from a religious, scientific and ethical perspective. He also interviews his Orthodox father and his brother in the film. Another American Jew who works against circumcision is Laurie Evans, the director of the New York Hudson Valley chapter of NOCIRC ( http://www.nocirc.org ). “I went to a brit and couldn’t believe I was standing in a room of people who usually question so much, but didn’t think of the baby. It was one of the worst days of my life. I feel our religion is in our heart and soul, not in our genitals.”
When Evans’s children were born, she wanted to be more involved Jewishly, despite not being brought up to be practicing. She still maintains some of the Jewish customs, but her difficulty with circumcision has created a fissure between her and Judaism. “It’s hard for me to accept that we don’t accept tattooing and we like questioning, but this can’t be talked about. I see it like foot-binding in China.”

Israeli Research About Circumcision
'An Israeli research project in the early-1990s sought to measure changes in sexual satisfaction after circumcision among Russian immigrants who got themselves circumcised after immigration to Israel. The research was carried out by Dr Avi Teper and Dr Eliezer Shalev, from the Women's Department, Ha-emek Hospital, Afula. They mailed a questionnaire to 108 males, 76 of whom replied.
The circumcised immigrants reported a significant decrease in sexual satisfaction. Before circumcision 54 per cent reported 'great sexual satisfaction', but afterwards the number was only 24 per cent. The proportion of those reporting 'medium satisfaction' rose from 30 percent to 61 percent. There was no change in the number reporting 'small satisfaction'. Since 68 per cent of the respondents sought circumcision as the fulfilment of their dream to become full Jews and 10 percent because of Jewish tradition, it is possible that some of them denied they felt any adverse consequences from the operation. The remainder sought circumcision because of social pressure, and one for a medical reason.
Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin and R. Blustein, 'Challenges to circumcision in Israel: The Israeli association against genital mutilation', in George C. Denniston, Frederick Mansfield Hodges and Marilyn Fayre Milos (eds) Male and female circumcision: Medical, legal and ethical considerations in pediatric practice, New York, Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 1999, pp. 343-50'

“You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves” (Leviticus 19:28)

Rabbi Steven Blane: 'It is a violation of Torah law to physically assault or harm another person (Exodus 21:18-27). Jewish law recognizes a newborn infant as a person if the infant has been born after a full-term pregnancy.
With circumcision though, we generally overlook the humanity of the newborn infant and his awareness, perception, sensitivity, and meaningful responsiveness, though these abilities have been thoroughly documented by the latest research.'
- Rabbi Steven Blane

'There is no reason for tying [genital cutting] to a humanistic Jewish birth celebration. Despite its historic importance, it is simply inappropriate in the same way that female segregation is inappropriate.'
– Rabbi Sherwin Wine

'Circumcision harms the developing brain: Recent studies published in leading medical journals have reported that circumcision has long-lasting detrimental effects on the developing brain, adversely altering the brain's perception centers. Circumcised boys have a lower pain threshold than girls or intact boys. Developmental neuropsychologist Dr. James Prescott suggests that circumcision can cause deeper and more disturbing levels of neurological damage, as well.'
- Paul M. Fleiss, MD., MPH., Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California Medical Center.

'Laurie Evans is the director of the New York Hudson Valley Chapter of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers. She said that as a Jewish woman, it was difficult to stand up to her family.
'Once I witnessed a bris (ritual Jewish circumcision), understood the function of the foreskin and the long, lasting harm of circumcision, I had to follow my conscience and leave my son intact,' Evans testified.
'My son is now 20, is grateful, as he understands just what he was spared,' Evans said. 'When I realized how many parents were uninformed about this surgery, I founded and became director of the New York Hudson Valley Chapter of NOCIRC.' - WND, March 05, 2010

“I should like to suggest to my fellow Jews that perhaps the time has come to redeem the foreskin itself, rather than sacrifice it. Surely some substitute might be found for this rite, ... that would be preferable to this assault upon and mutilation of a newborn infant...' - George Wald, M.D., Harvard University Professor, Nobel Laureate in Physiology and Medicine

'as recently as the mid-nineteenth century, in Eastern Europe and Russia there was a widespread move to stop the practice... Led by women--what a surprise!--who thought the practice barbaric and patriarchal, the movement eventually even convinced Theodore Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, who refused to allow his own son to be circumcised.'
- Prof. Michael S. Kimmel, TIKKUN, Volume 16, Number 3, May/June, 2001. Michael Kimmel is the author of Manhood in America and, most recently, The Gendered Society (Oxford University Press). He teaches sociology at SUNY Stony Brook.

'Betty Katz-Sperlich is a Jewish woman living in New Mexico, USA. A registered nurse, she is co-founder of Nurses for the Rights of the Child ( http://www.nurses.cirp.org ). She refused to circumcise her son, now aged 13.
'I've been called anti-Semitic by non-Jewish people. But as a Jew, how could I not speak up against Jewish circumcision? I would be letting Jewish babies down.'
Jenny Goodman, from north London, also refused to circumcise her son. ( http://www.cirp.org/library/cultural/goodman1999/ ) She is a doctor and a psychotherapist as well as a Jewish feminist. 'I know at least a dozen non-circumcised boys whose parents are identified as Jews,' she says. She adamantly opposes circumcision, claiming that it is physically and psychologically damaging to the child and violates human rights: 'It also violates the most important of medical ethics, above all do no harm.' ( http://www.nocirc.org/symposia/fourth/goodman.html )
Opposition to male circumcision in the UK had its first big breakthrough 18 months ago with the controversial Channel 4 documentary It's a Boy!, by Jewish director Victor Schonfeld. It slammed the practice of Jewish circumcision as unnecessary and barbaric, with potentially horrific consequences. Mr. Schonfeld claims that public consensus against it in the UK is growing.'
Nursing Times, 2/19/1997, p. 12-13. (UK)

'[Jewish] Former KGO radio host Dr. Dean Edell has condemned it, appearing in a video ( http://www.nocirc.org ) produced by NOCIRC, a national anti-circumcision group... To Edell, “ludicrous” is cutting off a sensitive part of a baby boy’s anatomy on the chance it might benefit him later in life.
Trained as an ophthalmologist, Edell has been a prominent medical reporter, with the syndicated radio segment “Medical Minutes,” his longtime KGO and syndicated show and countless appearances on local TV news. The affable Sonoma doctor said he understands Jewish resistance to any infringement on circumcision.
But to him, that doesn’t make it OK.
“I think it’s an unnecessary operation,” he said. “If a law like this were to pass, it wouldn’t upset me much. I can’t imagine it being enforced heavily, but it does make a statement. I don’t like government intruding in our lives, but I think the operation has proven not to have medical support.”
He’s right, in that circumcision rates among the general public have slipped — according to one survey, by health care data analysis company SDI Health, the number dropped from 56 percent of newborn boys in 2006 to 32.5 in 2009. The numbers are even lower in some places, such as the Bay Area.
“Infant girls have many times more [urinary tract infections]. You don’t alter a child’s genitals. How many preventive procedures do you do? You don’t do 100 surgical operations to prevent a single case that probably could be prevented if we had effective hospitals and antibiotics.”
- San Francisco Sentinal, 6 May 2011

'When one takes an affected male and guides them through their circumcision by enactment and psychodrama it brings up horrendous repressed emotions. This pseudo-religious-cultural ritual may affect a male’s feeling of safety, self worth, and wholeness and induce shock, terror, fear and loss as their first genital actualization. This associates suffering with an organ that is supposed to be actualized by sensations of pleasure. This causes confusion of the pain-pleasure reflexes in a manner that is not healthy for infant, adolescent or adult sexuality. This method should be rejected as a needless operation from a realistic standpoint.'
- David Little, Hahnemann's Advanced Method, Volume 2, Constitution and Temperament In Homoeopathy, Chapter 2, Lesson 20.

Growing numbers of American Jews are now leaving their sons intact...Increasing numbers of intact boys are going to religious school, having bar mitzvahs, and taking their place as young adults in the Jewish community....As a Jewish grandfather, I want to assure young couples about to bring a child into the world, that there are other members of the Jewish “older” generation, including other Jewish physicians, and even some rabbis, who feel as I do. If your heart and instincts tell you to leave your son intact, listen!'
- Dr. Mark D. Reiss, M.D., executive vice-president of Doctors Opposing Circumcision ( http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org ), speaking to Rabbi Nathan Segal's Congregation (Shabbos Shul, the Shul of Marin County) on Kol Nidre eve. (USA)

'...it would be anti-Semitic of us if we didn't defend Jewish babies along with other children. We respect what is beautiful in every religion or culture and speak out against what is brutal. All cultures and religions are capable of evolving.'
- Mary Conant, R.N. and Betty Katz Sperlich, R.N. (a Jewish mother), founding members of 'Nurses for the Rights of the Child' ( http://www.nurses.cirp.org ), America's largest union of Nurses who refuse to participate in circumcisions.

Howard Stern, Jewish Intactivst by Rebecca Wald, J.D.
Satellite radio talk show host Howard Stern told millions of listeners this Tuesday that he felt male infant circumcision should be illegal in the United States, declaring it a “mutilation.”
“I agree with you that men should not be circumcised. . . I don’t know where this circumcision came from, some people feel it’s a religious thing... There’s been all kinds of myths. I think it’s nonsense. That if you’re born that way, it seems to me it’s a mutilation to cut it off. The same way in Africa they sometimes cut off a woman’s clitoris and they think that’s justified. I think our foreskins were cut off in order to desensitize us, and I think it was a bunch of religious nudnicks who decided they didn’t want us going around fornicating so they cut off some of our penis skin.”
Many times during the interview, Stern said he agreed with Low that circumcision should be illegal.
Stern wrapped things up by telling Low, “I happen to agree with you that foreskin removal should be illegal. It is a mutilation.”
- Howard Stern, Jewish Intactivst by Rebecca Wald, J.D.

WND, MARCH 05, 2010
'(Georgeann Chapin, R.N.) said there already is a federal law outlawing female circumcision, and she believes boys should have the same protection. She also doesn't believe there should be any exceptions for religious belief.
'All babies should be protected and we believe that people's faith is in their heart. There are many Jews who are devout with their religion, but there are lots of religious practices that people leave as they become more aware really of the reason for it,' Chapin said.
'Human sacrifice is in the Bible, and we don't do that. Many people practice religion and their customs selectively,' she said.
'Religious practices change over time, so Intact America ( http://www.intactamerica.org ) is primarily focused on medical circumcision but no, we don't believe there should be an exception for religious circumcision,' Chapin said.' - WND, March 05, 2010

'I believe circumcision is a major mistake (male or female)...The code of the Jewish law is called 'halacha' (the way). Within the Code, there is a provision that if a mother looses a son because of circumcisim, she is NOT obligated to circumcise her next son. I extrapolate from this, the inter-connection of my human family, that enough deaths and maiming have occured because of circumcision. Therefore - circumcision is no longer a requisite! 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 Natan Segal, One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision, February, 2007, http://www.rabbinathan.com/writings/circum.shtml

'Interestingly, a large percentage of the active intactivists (those who believe that all human beings deserve their basic right to bodily integrity) are Jewish men and women. Jewish physician, Dr. Fleiss ( http://www.mothersagainstcirc.org/fleiss.html ) , and historian, Dr. Hodges, wrote the excellent book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision and Dr. Ronald Goldman (also a Jewish man) ( http://mgmbill.org/hearing.htm ) authored both Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective and Circumcision, The Hidden Trauma : How an American Cultural Practice Affects Infants and Ultimately Us All. ( http://www.jewishcircumcision.org )'
- http://www.drmomma.org/2009/06/circumcision-jewish-fathers-m....

'The more I talk to Jews, the more I learn how divisive this is within the Jewish community. The Jewish community is as diverse as any. I get emails from Jews, even Orthodox Jews, who are against circumcision. And I have gotten some support from Muslim men.”
- Lloyd Schofield ( http://www.sfmgmbill.org )

'NEW YORK (Reuters) - In most respects, Michelle Chernikoff Anderson is a rabbi's dream congregant....like an increasing number of Jews in the United States, she has decided not to circumcise her son, rejecting the traditional notion... 'I see circumcision as a blood ritual that I can let go of,' said Anderson, who lives in Southern California.... At the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center in Boston, director Ron Goldman maintains a list of 400 names of Jews who refuse to circumcise their sons.'
- Jewish 'intactivists' in U.S. stop circumcising, REUTERS, 2007.

Calendula Arnica

'Coming from a European background... where many Jews reject a brit milla as an archaic and barbaric ritual... This author grew up in France in a traditional Jewish family. Not a single male of her generation or her children's generation within her large family (or in her circle of Jewish friends) was ever circumcised.'
- Nelly Karsenty, Humanistic Judaism, 1988; 16(3): 14-20.

One Rabbis' Thoughts on Circumcision, by Rabbi Natan Segal, February, 2007

Uncircumcised Israeli Parents' Group, Kahal (in Hebrew)

Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation

Gonen Al Hayeled (Protect the Child) (in Hebrew)

'BUT CHOOSING TO LEAVE A SON INTACT IS NOT JUST a choice being made by American Jews. Increasingly, Israeli Jews are making this choice. Kahal ( http://www.kahal.org ) was established in June 2000 by parents in the Tel Aviv area who decided not to circumcise their sons. The community is not a formal organization and includes only parents with intact sons.
Raquel Lazar-Paley is a parent who chose not to circumcise her son and she says she has several friends in the Haifa area who made the same decision. Goldin says the fact that there are an increasing number of parents in Israel who decide not to circumcise their sons is just another indication of the growing rift there between the religious and secular.'

Jews Opposing Circumcision

Brit Shalom, a Holistic, Peaceful Celebration: http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html

CIRP: Jewish Perspective

Miriam Pollack from Jewish Women Speak Out

The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments by Lisa Braver Moss

Ending Circumcision In The Jewish Community? By Moshe Rothenberg, CSW.

The Case Against Circumcision by Paul M. Fleiss, MD., MPH.
[message edited by Homeopathy International 1 on Sun, 08 May 2011 23:30:09 BST]
  Homeopathy International 1 on 2010-07-05
This is an internet forum. Assume posts are not from medical professionals.
Published in YNET JEWISH WORLD, 2008
But the new parents insist: Yes to a party, but no to a brit....the decision to give it a pass is becoming increasingly trendy in Israel.

'I've managed to stand up to the religious, overbearing establishment,' is an old, familiar motto. Only this time, instead of getting married in Cyprus or holding a non-religious funeral at a kibbutz, we've decided to keep the boy in one piece, without performing 'barbaric' incisions in his body. What's wrong with that?

We have here caring, well-informed parents who are unwilling to swallow every nonsensical argument that an over-zealous circumciser tries to shove down their throat at the neonatal ward.

And even I, a mitzvah observing person, don't have a problem with the ever-rising number of uncircumcised Israelis.
- Tali Farkash. It just doesn't cut it. YNET Jewish World, Friday, December 19, 2008.


Jewish Community Opposition to Circumcision
'Within the Jewish community, there is growing disagreement about circumcision. Some feel that circumcision contradicts other aspects of the Jewish religion. The Torah forbids the torture or causing of pain to any living creature, especially physically assaulting or harming another person (Exodus 21:18-27). Jewish law specifically forbids body modification, including the cutting or marking of the human body (Lev. 19:28). Jews are also required to help those who are helpless, such as newborn infants, and are exempt from performing religious duties that would cause harm to others.' - Ryan McAllister, Ph.D.


Published in the JERUSALEM POST, 21 November 2002.
By Hilary Leila Kreiger.

Kasher says, 'I don't see any reason why I should cut my son's genitals. There is no reason and I don't think I have the right, even as a parent, to cut a normal part of his body just because other people do it.'

Kasher thinks that's only just the beginning, even though right now his movement is a fringe one. He foresees a time when the practice will be relegated to history books. 'Eventually I think religious people, too, will stop doing it. But it will take years.'

But perhaps not in Europe. If certain members of the Swedish parliament get their way, theirs will become the first country to outlaw the procedure. A bill introduced in the nation's Riksdag last month would forbid circumcision on any boy under the age of 15 except in cases of medical necessity.

'Hopefully they will succeed and they will be the first nation in the world to recognize circumcision for what it is - a crime,' enthuses Avshalom Zoossmann-Diskin, who leads the Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation (http://www.britmila.org.il ).

The issue, according to opponents of circumcision, includes the moral ramifications of cutting one's child and the psychological impacts stemming from the trauma. They claim that the level of discomfort experienced by the child increases his later response to pain and hurts the bond between the baby and his mother.

Americans - who unlike Europeans routinely practice non-religious circumcision - perform the operation on approximately 60 percent of the male population, down from nearly 90 percent a generation or two ago.

'It's something that came into Judaism from other religions and other tribal [customs] and it will pass from Judaism [too],' Udi says.

Kasher of Af-Mila agrees. 'It's going to vanish by itself, from the people,' he says.

A group of 35 American Jews that claims members from secular to Orthodox tries to find ways of reconciling Judaism to a circumcision-free life. The organization, Jews Against Circumcision (
http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org), was started, as founder

Gillian Flato of California puts it, because information against the practice 'must come from within.'

Brought up Conservative and now a Reform Jew, Flato says that what makes you Jewish is whether your mother is Jewish, not whether you are circumcised.

Besides, 'There's a lot of contradiction in Halacha,' Flato says.

'Part of Halacha says you cannot harm another person. But ripping off the foreskin is harming another person.'
Homeopathy International 1 8 years ago

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