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Jun-20-2011 19:34printcomments

A Message to Jewish Americans on Circumcision

There are psychological effects of circumcision, too. Some Jewish men are very dissatisfied, angry, or distressed about being circumcised," - Dr. Ronald Goldman

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(BOSTON) - The Jewish Circumcision Resource Center, an educational organization in Boston that is connected with the Circumcision Resource Center, released a statement on circumcision intended for Jewish Americans. The statement, which is signed by a Statement Task Force of Jews who are actively involved in the issue, raises questions about Jewish circumcision and encourages Jews to engage in critical thinking about the practice.

"We want Jews to know that in this country and abroad, some Jews do not circumcise their sons. Circumcision is a choice, and now that we know the serious harm caused by circumcision, there are strong reasons to forgo it," said Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., Executive Director. Dr. Goldman is the author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective, endorsed by five rabbis.

Dr. Goldman also suggests that Jews think about the ethics of causing significant pain and cutting off a natural, healthy body part that has important functions. "There are psychological effects of circumcision, too. Some Jewish men are very dissatisfied, angry, or distressed about being circumcised," said Dr. Goldman.

The Center's statement also seeks to assure Jews that as the subject of circumcision gets more critical attention from Jews and others, the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center will reject any statement or action from circumcision opponents that may be disrespectful or insensitive to Jews and others.

The Center's primary intended audience is those Jews who generally evaluate an idea not solely based on its conformance with the Torah, but also in light of its agreement with reason and experience. For those Jews who decide against circumcision, there are over a dozen rabbis who will lead an alternative welcoming ceremony for baby boys called a brit shalom.

The full text of the statement follows:
The Jewish Circumcision Resource Center of Boston supports Jews who believe that circumcision is unethical and that it is not a necessity for full engagement in Jewish life. We seek to encourage critical thinking about circumcision and dispel various cultural misunderstandings about the practice.

We have learned much from Jewish Americans who have contributed books, films, and research to raise awareness about the history of circumcision in this country, about foreskin anatomy and physiology, and about the serious harm caused by foreskin removal. Consequently, a growing number of Jews in the U.S., South America, Europe, and Israel are making the decision not to circumcise their infants.

Our essential message is that all Jews do have a choice; we can be fully identified and affiliated as Jews, and fully engaged spiritually in a Jewish context, without circumcising our infants. Some families have chosen brit shalom, a beautiful welcoming ceremony for infant boys and girls without genital cutting. We acknowledge the profound place that circumcision has in Jewish tradition and practice. However, we are compelled to question genital cutting out of deep caring and compassion for all infants and children.

Unfortunately, there may be statements and tactics by individuals opposed to circumcision that are insensitive and even offensive to many Jews. We regret this and absolutely reject all statements or actions, often based on ignorance, that are disrespectful of any religion or ethnic group.

Our core principles are simple and unambiguous: infants are people; their bodies belong to them alone. Every person should have the right to make an informed decision about the removal or alteration of any normal, healthy, functioning body part when he or she is older. We advocate preservation of normal, healthy, functioning body parts for all infants and children, male and female, regardless of the culture, religion, or personal beliefs of parents or other adults.

While it may make Jews uncomfortable to question circumcision, the general silence around circumcision leaves some Jews with continuing intellectual, emotional, ethical, and spiritual conflicts about the practice. Some mothers reveal great distress about permitting and watching the circumcision of their sons. Recent information supports their feelings. Studies show that infants experience significant pain and trauma during and after circumcision (lack of crying indicates trauma-induced withdrawal), and behavioral and neurological changes in infants have been observed.

Some dissatisfied men report wide-ranging physical, sexual, and psychological consequences of circumcision, partly because the foreskin has significant physiological and sexual functions. These crucial facts, along with frequently ignored issues such as the various surgical risks of circumcision and its disrupting effects on the mother-infant bond, are changing many Jewish Americans’ attitudes toward circumcision.

We ask that our fellow Jewish Americans, whatever their beliefs and attitudes regarding other Jewish traditions, join us in asking these questions: Has removal of infant foreskins really promoted commitment to Jewish identity in America? Are there not other less problematic and potentially much more effective approaches to ensuring that our children, male and female, will grow up to become proud contributing participants in Jewish life in America?
Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.
Executive Director of the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center

Author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective and
Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma
Leonard B. Glick, M.D., Ph.D.
Cultural anthropologist
Author of Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America

Lisa Braver Moss
Author of The Measure of His Grief
Writer specializing in health, family, and parenting issues
Miriam Pollack
Author of Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective
and "Circumcision: Identity, Gender, and Power"

Writer and speaker
Mark Reiss, M.D.
Executive Vice President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision
Creator and administrator of Celebrants of Brit Shalom
Rebecca Wald, J.D.
Founder of the Beyond the Bris project

Tina Kimmel, PhD, MSW, MPH
Maternal Child Health Epidemiologist

Moshe Rothenberg, MSW
Certified teacher and social worker, Brit Shalom ceremony leader
Paul Fleiss, M.D.
Author of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Anonymous June 24, 2011 3:16 pm (Pacific time)

Here is an interesting new angle for an article:

What happens to a baby boy’s foreskin after it’s removed in the hospital? Naturally, you might think that it is disposed of with other “medical waste,” but as I recently learned, that’s not always the case. There is, in fact, big money to be made in the foreskin business, not just the money gained from the removal, but from what becomes of the foreskin after the fact. Laura Hopper, a midwife who blogs at Alternative Birth Services recently wrote that wrinkle treatments are being made using American babies’ foreskins. Hopper quotes two articles, both detailing the use of baby foreskin in the cosmetic industry. From Acroposthion:

The most disturbing and alarming controversy is in the unethical trafficking of neonate foreskins. Not only do parents of North American baby boys have to pay between $200 to $300 to obstetricians to circumcise their boys that no sooner are the circumcised foreskins cut off that they are sold on to bio-engineering and cosmetics companies by the hospitals.

The resale value of neonate foreskins is astronomically dizzying in that from one boy’s foreskin can be grown bio-engineered skin in a lab to the size of a football field. That’s 4 acres of new skin or around 200,000 units of manufactured skin, which is enough skin to cover about 250 people and sells at $3,000 a square foot. Considering that there are 1.25 million neonate foreskins circumcised each year in the U.S alone this translates to one of the most lucrative trades, if not THE most lucrative trade in human body parts ever in the history of humanity.

Editor: I am horrified, but thanks so much for bringing our attention to this.

June 22, 2011 4:36 pm (Pacific time)

Real, "circumcision" is of the heart.

Coincidence June 22, 2011 9:45 am (Pacific time)

Q: How come the same website that denies the Jews their right to self-determination also attempts to redefine their religion?
Q: The same hatred of Jews that drives the vitriolic anti-Israeli rhetoric is also behind the support for the ban on circumcision. The Antisemitism behind the anti-circumcision proposal has been exposed and is out there for all to see:

Editor: We are not in the denial business, it is Israel that denies the right of return to the Palestinians, who are entitled to this.  You clearly hate all who are not Jewish and that friend is a sickness.  We are exactly the same toward people of all faiths and you are embarrassing to all of the good actions people are making in the Jewish community.  Lie long enough about people's intentions and you will have a negative impact, that is guaranteed.

Ron Low June 22, 2011 8:33 am (Pacific time)

It's great to see an open discussion about this. Just because some people have done it since antiquity doesn't make it right. Not one national medical association on earth (not even Israel's) endorses routine circumcision. Hundreds of thousands of men (Jewish and otherwise) are enduring a tedious multi-year process of non-surgical foreskin restoration to undo just some of the sexual damage of childhood foreskin amputation.

jimmy June 21, 2011 2:46 pm (Pacific time)

To: "Message to Goyim" Why don't you come out from behind your veil and let us see you for who you are... A scared little boy that mommy and daddy left home alone with the computer logged in..

rock solid jew June 21, 2011 11:18 am (Pacific time)

who needs jews like these today we remove circumscions tomorrow the sabbath, thanks for your concerns..interesting that the orthodox family have 5+ children while the rest of the world can hardly handle two.

AR June 21, 2011 3:02 am (Pacific time)

I wonder if the editor of this site prefers circumcised or uncircumcised?

Editor: Oh you're suggesting what?  If I were homosexual I would have a preference but I am a married 'breeder' and haven't a personal 'preference'.  However I write very similar content, albeit not from a Jewish perspective.  This is it; one third of the sexual feeling a male is meant to have comes from tissue that doctors routinely cut off and let fall to the hospital floor. 

We equally seem to abhor the idea of female circumcision and are aware of the fact that it devastates a woman's chance at sexual pleasure.  Well, every one of you (us) who allows this terrible procedure to take place, is committing a crime one third the severity of cutting off a girl's clitoris. 

God made us a certain way and there is a wide belief that God ultimately called this practice off.  I would prefer to have never been circumcised and I am sorry I had it done to all but one of my own sons, it is a terrible thing to have done.  So I guess it all comes down to ancient archaic dangerous (over 100 babies die from circumcision in the US every year) fundamentalist behaviors like this, I would prefer the practice didn't exist and I wouldn't mind if it were made illegal. 

Message to Goyim June 20, 2011 9:10 pm (Pacific time)

Tim King is Cxxxx

Editor: Hey you can't write that kind of stuff here, and besides, this article is not written by me.

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