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Dec-02-2012 14:07printcomments

In Israel, Some Rebel Against Circumcision

"The main issue which still troubles me a little is the social one, that one day he may come to me and say 'Mom, why did you do that to me? They made fun of me today'" - Gali, a nursing mom in Israel

Sad baby - circumcision
Courtesy: tyjna.com

(TEL AVIV ) - A report this week by The Indian Express cites how in Israel, more and more Jewish parents are saying no to the blade.

"It's such a taboo in Israel and in Judaism," said Gali, nursing her six-week-old son, about the decision not to have him circumcised.

"It's like coming out of the closet," the young mom said, who chose to use only her first name because she didn't want to deal with repercussions from her religious family.

While trends are changing rapidly, it is a fact that nearly all baby boys in Israel are circumcised. It isn't a matter of anything but a national, religious culture. It is also reported that most Israeli-Arabs also keep with a practice that is widespread in the Muslim world.

Jewish circumcisions are done when the baby is eight days old. The majority are performed by a mohel, a religious man trained in the procedure carried out in a festive religious ceremony called a "brit", Hebrew for covenant.

But an increasing minority fear it is a form of physical abuse.

"It's the same as if someone would tell me 'it's our culture to cut off a finger when he is born'," Rakefet Kaufman said. She did not have her son circumcised.

"People should see it as abuse because it is done to a baby without asking him," she said.

When Gali learned that she was carrying a baby boy, her instinctive reaction was that the boy would be circumcised, but then she started to consider what it really meant, after a conversation with a friend whose son was uncircumcised.

"She asked me what my reason was for doing it, was it religious? I said no. Was it for health reasons? No. Social? No. Then it began to sink in. I began to read more about it, enter Internet forums, I began to realize that I cannot do it."

Breaking With Tradition

"The phenomenon is growing, I have no doubt," said Ronit Tamir, who founded a support group for families who have chosen not to circumcise their sons.

"When we started the group 12 years ago we had to work hard to find 40 families ... They were keeping it secret and we had to promise them we'd keep it secret," she said. "Then, we'd get one or two phone calls a month. Nowadays I get dozens of emails and phone calls a month, hundreds a year."

Tamir says it is easier for Jews in Israel to break religious taboos these days.

"People are asking themselves what it means to be Jewish these days," she said, and that leads some to question rules of all kinds, including circumcision.

According to the article by The Indian Express:

    In societies around the world who circumcise boys for non-religious reasons, out of habit or tradition or because of the perceived health benefits, the practice can be controversial.

    Rates of circumcision in Europe are well under 20 percent, while in the United States, according to 2010 statistics cited by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than half of newborn boys continue to be circumcised.

    The American Academy of Paediatrics said in August that the health benefits of infant circumcision - potentially avoiding infection, cancer and sexually-transmitted diseases - outweighed the risks, but said parents should make the final call.

    But where the decision is ultimately a matter of personal choice for many families around the world, for Jews who question the tradition, it is more complicated.

    "It is the covenant between us and God - a sign that one cannot deny and that Jews have kept even in times of persecution," said one well-known mohel who has been performing circumcisions in Israel for more than 30 years. He asked not to be named to avoid being connected to any controversy.

    He pointed to the Book of Genesis, where God said to Abraham: "And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins; and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you."

    It is this covenant that, the mohel said, that "keeps the people of Israel together".

    The Bible goes on: "And the uncircumcised male child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."

    Scholars have differed over the years what this means in practice.

Continue reading the article here

Special thanks to The Indian Express

Source: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/in-israel-some-rebel-against-circumcision/1037918/0

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