Genital Integrity is a basic human right.

A educational blog about routine infant circumcision and intactivism.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Beautiful Brit Shalom story from a MDC Momma, shared here with permission:

Brit Shalom- A Covenant of Peace
Hi all... I am 33 yo old mom to 13 yo Zachary and 16 mo Julian. I was raised in a very traditional Jewish family- I attended hebrew day school, hebrew high, had a bat mitzvah, went to synagogue every Saturday, celebrated Shabbat every Friday..... so, when I had my first son, I didn't consider NOT circumcising him and had a brit milah in which he was circumcised.

When I was pregnant with my 2nd child, I prayed that I would have a girl because I knew that I would NOT circumcise this child and didn't want to deal with the issue of circumcision with my family. Needless to say, I had a boy. I am at a point in my life where I strongly reject any organized religion but embrace god/goddess/spirit/humanity. My parents, however, are very traditional and feel very strongly about the "tradition" of circumcision. My dad sat down with me and explained, in great detail, how important circumcision was to him, and why he felt it played such an important role in Judaism. In response to that conversation, I did a lot of research and prepared the following presentation for him, called Brit Shalom, or Covenant of Peace. I am very happy to say that I am so PROUD of how well my dad responded, how he respected me and my decision, and especially that he held my son in his Talis during Julian's Welcoming Ceremony, in which he was NOT circumcised. I love you dad

A Covenant of Peace

According to Jewish law (halakha):

Most Jews never question circumcision and believe it is anti-Semitic to do so. Judaism is, however, a religion of questioning. It is not similar to Christianity where the epitome of faith is blind faith without questioning.

Gil Mann, a Jewish Columnist comments:
“Questions about faith are not unique. They are very Jewish. For thousands of years, Jews have struggled with many of the same questions. Questioning about God is very much part of our tradition. We’re called People of Israel. The word Israel in Hebrew means wrestler or struggler with God. So if you struggle with questions about God, you’re living up to your namesake.”

A Jewish prayer book, Gates of Prayer, contains a meditation called “Doubt”.
“Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the handmaiden of truth. Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge. It is the servant of discovery. A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief. Doubt is the touchstone of truth. It is an acid which eats away the false… Those who would silence doubt are filled with fear. The house of their spirit is built on shifting sands. But they that fear not doubt, and know its use, are founded on a rock. They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge. The work of their hands shall endure. Therefore, let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help; it is to the wise as a staff is to the blind. Doubt is the handmaiden of truth.”

Many parents insist on the Brit Mila because it is commanded in the Torah. However, they overlook many other laws that were commanded as well. The 613 mitzvot contain many regarding animal sacrifice which is no longer practiced today. There are also the mitzvot against imprinting any marks on one’s body or making cutting in one’s flesh. Cutting off part of a baby’s genitals flies in the face of these mitvot.

Exodus and Leviticus both set forth harsh laws as well, many which have been abandoned.

• He who strikes his mother or father shall be put to death (Exodus 21:15)

• He who insults his father or his mother shall be put to death (Exodus 21:17)

• If a man commits adultery with a married woman, committing adultery with another man’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death (Leviticus 20:10)

Other examples which are expected to be followed meticulously include:

• Once a tree is planted, its fruit must not be eaten for 5 years (Leviticus 19:23)

• You shall not put on a cloth from a mixture of 2 kinds of materials (Leviticus 19:19)

Leviticus 18:19 demands “Do not come near a woman during her period of uncleanliness to uncover her nakedness. Leviticus 20:18 states “If a man lies with a woman in her infirmity and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has exposed her blood flow; both of them shall be cut off from among their people.”

Many of these laws have been disregarded by contemporary Jews. Typically, only Orthodox Jews follow laws regarding menstrual purity, which, like brit milah, are commanded in the 613 mitzvot. In fact, Unlike the Sabbath and kashrut, the laws of family purity are virtually unknown to non-Orthodox Jews. It is, however, important to note the similarity between the consequences of both not circumcising and having intercourse with a menstruating woman. One who fails to circumcise the flesh of his skin “shall be cut off from his kin” where as one comes in contact with menstrual blood as well as the menstruating woman “shall be cut off from among their people.” Whereas the family purity laws have been abandoned by the majority of Jews, the circumcision law, however, has not even though their consequences are extremely similar.

While many circumcise because it is commanded in the Torah, the procedure they are doing is not actually biblical. Jewish babies today do not undergo the same procedure Abraham & Jacob did. Originally, only the small piece of foreskin that hung over the glands was cut which actually left the majority of the foreskin intact.

Rabbis sought to prevent Jews from hiding their circumcisions and therefore their Jewish identity by drastically altering the required procedure for brit milah.

In about 140 CE, Jewish law was altered so that radical circumcisions called Periah must be performed. Periah consists of the complete stripping and shearing of the foreskin. While many turn to the Torah as proof that the brit is required, the brit that is performed today is not the same as what God required of Abraham. Prior to 140 CE, circumcision was much milder and only removed a sliver of the foreskin. Metzitzah- sucking the baby’s blood from the wound- was a long standing and essential part of the ceremony until about the end of the 19th century.

In Genesis, circumcision is referred to as “the covenant between me and you and your offspring to follow which you shall keep.” However, a covenant is a mutual pledge, which an 8 day old infant is too young to understand. Therefore, by entering a child into that covenant they are taking away the child’s free will, and he is not allowed to decide for himself how to act.

“The Jewish view is that humans have the free moral will to choose the Good and this free moral will can be more powerful than the evil inclination. Indeed, Jewish ethics required the idea than humans decide for themselves how to act (“The Difference Between Judaism & Christianity”).

Advocating Circumcision Today (ACT), a Jewish organization states “another form of sacrifice by circumcision is the self-sacrifice involved. Many mitzvoth require sacrifice, sometimes even fasting and abstinence from food and drink. The greatest sacrifice, however, is that of a part of the body.” The brit milah, however, is not a self sacrifice.

Two of the greatest strengths of Judaism are its rationality and its commitment to learning and scholarship. Another is the tradition of gemilut Chasidim, acts of loving kindness, and the prohibition of deliberately causing pain.

This concept of sacrifice is in opposition with the Torah. Jewish law also forbids causing Tsa’ar Ba’alei Chaim, or pain in living things. However, circumcision is very painful. A sop of wine or even modern anesthesia during the operation is no solution to the pain problem. The wound continues to sting whenever urine enters it until it heals- 10 to 14 days later.

Gil Man writes “A bris is the oldest ritual in Judaism. For countless generations, our people have followed this tradition and wouldn’t want to be the person to break the chain. However, Judaism advocates an attempt to repair the world, tikun olam, which is a central purpose of Judaism. Much of the pain in the world is a result of repeating old harmful patterns of behavior by breaking a chain of pain; foregoing circumcision contributes to our healing. As we heal from our pain, we will be better able to reach our ethical and spiritual potential. Certainly tradition keeps Judaism alive but so does inquiry, dialogue, and well thought out alteration.”

Even in Israel there are Jewish organizations that oppose brit milah. One non-profit organization in Israel working to stop circumcision took its case to the High Court of Justice in 1998 and maintained in its petition that “in a modern democratic society there is no place for the barbaric ceremony which mauls a child who does not have any say in the matter”. The movement is largely made up of Reform parents, but it is visible in other areas as well. Moshe Rothenberg is a Conservative Jew living in an observant Jewish community in Brooklyn, yet he did not circumcise his son. The Af-milah newsletter is an Israeli newsletter dedicated to ending brit milah. Those who question and refuse to have a brit milah aren’t doing it because they have assimilated or because they are anti-Semitic, but feel this way after careful study of Jewish texts and observances.

Whether or not it conflicts with other Jewish principles, circumcision is still considered a quintessential Jewish act, a symbol of the covenant between God and the Jewish people and a primary emblem of Jewish identity. Questioning circumcision, however, is also a Jewish tradition. Thus, a decision not to circumcise an infant, but to observe the covenant through a symbolic ceremony instead of a traditional one, can also be a Jewish decision which follows with traditional Judaism. Parents who refuse are not merely disregarding a Jewish tradition, but are embracing the Jewish tradition of questioning and understanding.

Circumcision is a poor way to introduce a newborn male into the world and into the Jewish community. In addition, it completely excludes females from participating in a sacred ritual (thank God). From the start it relegates females as being less important than males as historically there has been no equivalent ceremony to welcome newborn Jewish female babies. That Judaism is a very patriarchal religion is no secret and that little boys are given such prominence in Jewish life and ritual is not surprising. For Jewish feminists, a brit milah is a girl’s first major experience of exclusion. The exclusion continues: women are often excluded from meaningful participation in religious life. Women may be called “Queen” or may be put on a pedestal but an Orthodox man still thanks God every morning for not having been created a woman.

Circumcision cannot be claimed as a symbol of Jewish identity. By Jewish law, any child born to a Jewish mother is a Jew. Furthermore, Judaism did not invent circumcision. According to anthropologists, the practice was well established in Egypt over 6,000 years ago. Muslims also circumcise and 60% of non-Jews in the U.S. are circumcised. Therefore, how can circumcision be claimed as either the source of Jewish identity or of its strength?

Many people invoke the power of “tradition”. Yet no-one would deny that some traditions, such as slavery, segregation, and female circumcisions are bad traditions that should be changed.

“A voice from heaven should be ignored if it is not on the side of justice”
- Isaac Bashevis Singer

One might reasonably ask why it is that the vast majority of Jews who show no particular attachment to the details of the Jewish covenant so tenaciously defend this particular commandment. Many committed Jews, especially women who feel that they have been left out of meaningful participation of religious life, are creating new rituals and adding to, subtracting from, or enriching existing ones.

Many parents are seeking an alternative to circumcision while still welcoming him into the covenant of Abraham. Several alternative bris ceremonies have been created which fulfill the spiritual and communal obligations without its traumatic effects. These ceremonies lovingly welcome a Jewish boy into the community while maintaining his bodily integrity and his human rights.

Norm Cohen, director of NOCIRC, has written an alternative bris ceremony to use which holds very closely to the traditional ceremony. “We’re working within the Jewish faith and the concepts of Judaism to make it more humane.”

Some Jews may question alternative rituals, but according to Rabbi Eugene Cohen, 80% of American Jewish circumcisions already do not meet the ritual standards. In addition, the religious ritual should be performed with the “appropriate mindset”. But this cannot be forced. Many Jews circumcise their sons with great emotional conflict, reluctance and regret. “The alternative ritual allows for congruence of intention, attitude, action and feeling.”

In the name of Ahavat Yisrael- love of Jews, love of all people, love of God- we must not do anything hurtful to another human being, including and especially our children. It is essential to evaluate an idea not solely based on its conformity with the Torah, but also in light of its agreement with reason and experience. I raise questions about Jewish circumcision with the understanding that these questions and doubts can cause feelings of grief. I respect these feelings and acknowledge the profound place that circumcision has in Jewish tradition. However, I am compelled to break the silence that supports circumcision and raise these questions out of deep caring and compassion for my son.

• “Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective” by Ronald Goldman
• The Kindest Uncut” by Michael S. Kimmel
• The Israeli Association Against Brit Milah
• “A Delicate Ritual” by Blair Pollock
• “Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community” by Moshe Rothenberg
• “The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments” by Lisa Bramer Moss
• “The Joy of Brit Shalom” by Brandy Sinco
• “Redefining the Sacred” by Miriam Pollock

Welcoming Covenant

Introductory Blessing & Prayers

Candle lighting
Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha-olam borei mo’rei ha-eish
Let us bless the Source of All, who creates the illuminations of the flame

Parent There is a new light in our hearts and in our home. These candles celebrate the birth of our child. These candles celebrate his emergence into light.

Kiddush Baruch kol khai olam
Precious is every living thing in the world

B’ru-kheem ha-kha-yeem ba-adam
Precious is the life of humankind

Blessings In every birth, blessed is the wonder
In every creation, blessed is the new beginning
In every child, blessed is life
In every hope, blessed is the potential
In every transition, blessed is the beginning
In every existence, blessed are the possibilities
In every love, blessed are the tears
In every life, blessed is the love

Parent With each child the world begins anew. By this ceremony, we formally welcome you to our world and our family. As we name you today, we undertake our traditional responsibilities as your parents to take you forward into the world as we know it, to love you, to guide you, to educate you, and to cherish you.

Reader We dedicate you to Chuppah- to never ending growth as a human being, capable of giving and receiving love. With loving family and friends, you will never be alone.

Reader We dedicate you to Ma-asim tovim- to a never-ending concern for family and community, justice and charity. While you care for others, you will never be alone.

Reader As you begin your journey through life, we pray that you will find sustenance in ma-yim cha-yim, the living waters which Judaism offers to all who draw from the well of this tradition. May we learn and grow in these traditions together.

Speaker We are gathered here today following a century which has given us profound and unprecedented insight into our humanity, in which we have learned that each of us is fully human from the moment we are born, able to feel and able to remember all the richness of each and every moment’s experience.

But this century has also given cruelty of unprecedented proportion. Given both the insight and the brutality of our century, we are inevitably led to conclude that there must be no more bloodshed in God’s name. We continue where Abraham left off: We shall do the child no harm.

Parent Here we are, ready to enter our child into the covenant with history, in the tradition of the many peoples he was born into and will be raised and nurtured by.

We thank God for the birth of this beautiful child into the world and into this family. We offer ourselves this day as caretakers of his spirit and his higher mind. May we fulfill with strength our role and may the spirit of this family, from generations past and into the future, burst forth to bless and sustain this child.

Speaker Baruch ha-ba b’shem Afonia- Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

All Baruch ha-ba
Blessed is the newborn

Reader Blessed is the Universe which makes children whole and beloved as their birthright, which keeps the laws of the world in their flesh, and seals our offspring with the mark of holy promise.

Parent In celebrating this child, we celebrate ourselves and our communities. We thank you God for the birth of our son. We dedicate his life to You, that he may grow in love to become a man strong and wise. May we be the father and mother that You would have us be. Give us patience and wisdom. May our home be blessed and guided by Your will. Thank You for Your faith in us that such a glorious child has been placed in our hands. May he learn from us happiness; may he learn from You everything.

Speaker And now, to you, the parents, I say on behalf of all of us, your prayers are our prayers, that you might have a home that is full of love for you and your children. May he grow to reflect the best in both of you and extend unto the world he touches the love he receives from his mother and father.

Hine Ma-Tov

Speaker Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha-olam asher kidushanu b’mittzvotav v’tzi-vanu al ha brit
Blessed it is that we are made holy with commandments and are charged concerning the covenant

Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha-olam asher kidushanu b’mittzvotav v’tzi-vanu l’hak –niso b’vrito shel Sara v’Avraham
Blessed art Thou, Great Spirit of the Universe, who has commanded us to welcome our son into the covenant of Sarah and Abraham and into the human family

Baruch ata Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha-olam she-heh-cheyanu, v’kiy-manu v’higiyanu lazman ha-zeh
Blessed are you, our Source, light of the Universe, who has given us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season

K-sheym she-nlchnas la-brit, keyn yi-kahnes la-Torah la-Chupah u-l’mah’asim tovim.
As this child enters the Covenant and the community, so may he enter the ways of wisdom, the canopy of love and the doing of good works

Baruch ata Adonai , Elohaynu melech ha-olam bo ray p’ri hagafrn
Blessed art Thou, O Lord Our God, who creates the fruit of the vine.

(Parents sip and then places drop of wine on baby’s lips)

Parents As we prepare to give you your name, we wrap you in this tallit. Praise be the powers of the Universe, which have honored us by sending this child to bless our home and family. We in turn honor this child by bestowing on him the name of :

Name of child
Explanation of names

We have chosen _________ as your Hebrew name in remembrance of ___________. May you always be beloved by your family, be brave as you face the wonders of the world, and be able to spread your wings like a bird to pursue your dreams.

Speaker Lord of all creation, we thank Thee for this child, created in thine image; whole, complete and perfect. We have welcomed him into Thy covenant of peace. Bestow upon him Thy watchful care that he may grow and flourish in the life which Thou hast given. Be Thou with his loving parents and all his family. Grant them all strength and health and length of days. Uphold them in kindness and crown them with Thy favor.

May the Lord bless you and keep you
May his countenance shine upon you and be gracious upon you
May the Lord turn His face upon you and grant you peace

All Amen

Speaker We make a toast with the traditional Kiddush and before we proceed to break bread together, may I invite all who care to, to extend their good wishes to this child.

S’udat Mitzvah, the Celebratory Meal

Blessing over the bread
Baruch ata Adonai, Ehloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz
Let us bless the Source of All, who provides us with the staff of life

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

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Gay Rights Advocates March Against Male Genital Mutilation

Movement to ban medically unnecessary infant male circumcision is highlighted at the nation’s largest gay event.


SAN FRANCISCO, California – In a show of support for male sexual rights, twenty activists marched against the controversial practice of infant circumcision during the 36th Annual LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco on Sunday. The participants carried banners, handed out information, and wore black t-shirts reading “Stop Male Genital Mutilation”. The parade contingent was greeted with cheers by onlookers who lined up to watch the procession.

The Male Genital Mutilation Pride Parade contingent was sponsored by, a San Diego, California, based group seeking to amend current federal and state female genital mutilation laws to be gender neutral. Michael Keith, the coordinator of the contingent, said that legislators need to take action to protect infant boys from being circumcised for medically unnecessary reasons. “We’re here to do more than just educate the public”, said Keith. “We’re also here to tell lawmakers that we demand action. It has been nearly a decade since the enactment of U.S. laws that protect girls from genital cutting, and during that time more than 10 million American boys have had their penises forcefully mutilated by circumcision. It is long overdue for Congress and state legislatures to enact similar legislation that protects males.”


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

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INTACT BABY CARE-It's so easy!

Lot's of parents have heard that foreskins are unhygienic and caring for an intact child is more time consuming or complicated. The truth is actually the exact opposite. Not only do you avoid wound care (gauze, vasoline) when you leave your baby intact, but care is amazingly simple: Wipe off the outside like you would a finger. That's it.

But, what about pulling back the skin to clean?

When babies are born, the foreskin is fused to the glans much like your fingernail is attached to your fingertip. At the tip of the foreskin is the preputial sphincter that is designed to be open just enough for him to urinate freely, but closed enough to keep all of the 'yuckies' out. Over time, the natural adhesions (synechia) that attach the foreskin to the head of the penis break down, and the opening of the foreskin becomes progressively more 'stretchy'.

Most boys discover they can comfortably retract their own foreskins between the ages of toddlerhood and adolescense, although some may not be able to retract until their teens and that's perfectly normal as well. Nobody should ever try to retract a baby or young child's foreskin before it's developmentally ready to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns, "Most boys will be able to retract their foreskins by the time they are 5 years old, yet others will not be able to until the teenage years. As a boy becomes more aware of his body, he will most likely discover how to retract his own foreskin. But foreskin retraction should never be forced. Until separation occurs, do not try to pull the foreskin back — especially an infant's. Forcing the foreskin to retract before it is ready may severely harm the penis and cause pain, bleeding and tears in the skin."

So, the number one rule for intact baby care is: Leave it alone.

Just like the vaginas of little girls don't need to be stretched or douched, the foreskins of baby boys are self-cleaning.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Truth about the Plastibell Method

(Click above image to watch video.)

There is a huge myth regarding the Plastibell among MANY parents. I can't count the number of times I've read a parent's claim that their son had this great/new/painless/cut-free type of circumcision, where they just put a 'little ring' on it and the foreskin falls off days later. WRONG. They still do a dorsal slit to fit the bell and ring on, then they have to tightly tie suturing string around the ring (which crushes the skin/blood vessels the same way a gomco or mogen does), and then the 'excess skin' is trimmed away.

IMO, it's not anymore humane or safe than a mogen or gomco, and there's the added risk of necrotizing fasciitis" (extremely graphic) because of the ROTTING SKIN against an open wound. In addition, while a baby circed by the plastibell method's glans is JUST as RAW as a baby circed by any other method, the plastibell aftercare does NOT include vasoline or petroleum jelly. Parents see this as an advantage, because it's one less thing they have to worry about, but what it means for the baby is their sore, raw, oozy glans is constantly exposed to urine with NO protection.

Also, plastibells are known to generally produce looser circumcisions, which is good in one sense because baby gets to keep a little bit of his foreskin at least...but it also means a higher chance of penile adhesions...which of course a lot of doctors still unnecessarily lyse (rip back) during office visits with no anesthetic.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

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In Awe of His Perfection

I remember so vividly, calling from the bathroom to my husband, who had just crawled into bed, "You know honey, I haven't had any braxton hicks contractions today, but I just have a water is going to break." Oh, the powers of women's intuition! I finished brushing my teeth, layed down beside him, and tried to get settled. I hadn't even fallen asleep yet when I felt a very strong, low kick...I turned over and felt a gush, and jumped out of bed exclaiming to my husband that it was finally time.

Labor was a beautiful challenge...and I had incredible support from both friends and family. Time didn't exist, only the present, I was so 'in the moment'. Hours seemed like minutes. And before I knew it, he was being tumbled onto my belly, wide-eyed and wet, completely silent...he hadn't even taken his first breath. I used my finger to clear his mouth, rubbed his back and the soles of his feet, until he began to breathe, and his skin color warmed. Tears well up in my eyes even now as I write this, because I can picture his face like it was yesterday...those dark, shiney eyes staring into mine full of innocent wisdom and the purest trust, how he recognized my voice, and my first words to him, "Welcome to the world, little one!"

I looked him over head to toe and marveled at his beauty and every little, precious detail. His skin was so incredibly soft, his little lips so pink, little fingers, hands, and toes. How can something that happens every few seconds on this planet be so miraculous?_His birth had been long awaited, and the pregnancy deeply wanted after our first had ended in the grief of miscarriage. Because of this, I was all the more greatful for the healthy, flawless, amazing child in my arms. I finally felt "lucky" again...and I have never been more proud of myself or my body, I felt so strong and powerful...and blessed.

I was truly in awe of his perfection. And even from those very first moments I felt something else...a very strong bond to my child---my child!---I was a mother, and my protective instinct was fierce...How primal! My son didn't leave my sight, even for a moment, during our stay at the hospital.

Thinking back to it now, I can't imagine handing him to a nurse or doctor to leave my room, and be out of my sight, even for a few minutes. Nor can I imagine, following along with them into a little room, with a sterile counter covered in gauze, needles, iodine, clamps, and other impliments of surgery. My baby was perfect, everything was there, everthing completely developed and purposeful and complete and precious...I loved every part of him, all of him.

My heart aches, to imagine his little newborn body, helpless and trusting, unwrapped and exposed to the chill of hospital air after being inside me, so warm and cozy and safe for so long...out of my arms, undiapered, his back against a rigid, plastic board molded into the shape of a baby...having his legs stretched and pulled away from his body, and then put snugly into velcro straps to restrain them.
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Colorado NoCirc


(Printables are located in grey boxes.)

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Some people have trouble with "ethics", beyond what they learn in Sunday school. But most people can recognize certain values when they hear them. Let's look at some in a special way that highlights what psychologists call "cognitive dissonance" -- when the mind and reality do not match up -- as they relate to circumcision. Nearly everybody will be able to relate to the ethical principles below, while understanding what happens in real life that violates the principles:

"We hope our baby doesn't have any birth defects."
…except for aposthia (lack of foreskin) which we would sort of like.

"We'd never submit our baby to a surgical procedure without a diagnosis."
…except for circumcision, which doctors let us decide about.

"It is not OK to hurt babies."
…except when they 'have to be' circumcised.

"We'd never unnecessarily place our baby at risk of infection or injury."
…except to get him circumcised.

"We'd never permit healthy tissue to be removed from our baby."
…unless it is his foreskin.

"It is our job to protect our baby from pain."
...except from his circumcision.

"We must aid and comfort our baby when he is injured."
…except during his circumcision which we'll pretend doesn't hurt.

"We'd never take the easy way out of caring for our baby."
…unless it is a boy. Then we'll have his penis altered so we won't have to take care of the great unknown: foreskin.

"We'd never allow anything to impair our baby's bonding with his mother."
…except for the pain of circumcision.

"We want our baby to grow up happy with his body."
…but we'll jeopardize his self-esteem by cutting the center of his male body image: his penis.

"We'd never let our child feel robbed of something if we could prevent it."
…except for his foreskin which we hold to be worthless (and we don't care what he might think).

"We'd never place our child at a disadvantage where he could be ridiculed."
…except we'll alter his penis so it doesn't look like or function like the vast majority in the world.

"We wouldn't want our baby to doubt our commitment to him.
…but we'll let a stranger cut off his foreskin, and we'll let him grow up knowing that we couldn't or wouldn't protect him from this invasion of his body.

"We'd never do anything to make our baby doubt our love."
…except we'll have part of his body destroyed by circumcision.

"We'd never do anything to our baby just because it was done to us."
…except we'll circumcise him so he'll be just like his Daddy.

"We don't hold with tribal markings just to make children feel part of a clan as they do in primitive cultures."
…except we'll circumcise our boys in the (vain) hope that they'll all look alike in the locker room.

"We would not compromise our baby just to bend to societal pressures."
…except we'll circumcise him because the grandparents expect it, and what would the neighbors say?

"We'd never impose our will on our child against his future wishes."
…except we'll rush to circumcise him before he can even formulate his wishes.

"We'd never compromise our baby's future happiness."
…but we will remove an erogenous part of his body.

"We'd never make an irreversible decision to alter our child's appearance in a way he might one day regret, such as tattooing."
…unless it is to alter the appearance of his penis in a way -we- want.

"We want our baby to grow up a -human- being."
…but we'll teach him, by circumcising him, that human rights don't amount to much.

"We'll love our baby in all his glory."
…except for his foreskin which we'll have cut off and thrown in the trash.

"God made our baby with love, care and wisdom."
…except for his penis which needs to be 'fixed'.

"We hold that all parts of our baby's body are sacred.”
…except for his foreskin which is ours to alter as we will.

"It is wrong to deprive someone of a healthy part of their body."
…unless it is the male foreskin.
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Jewish children are just as deserving of the basic human right to genital integrity as any other person on this planet. And they are just as entitled to make their own decisions about faith and genital cutting when they reach maturity. Religious beliefs, IMO, should be lovingly shared and taught...not permanently carved into flesh of babies, which is quite literally what genital cutting does.

Would it not be incredibly hypocritical---if not anti-semetic---to advocate against medicalized RIC on the basis of it being damaging and a violation of human rights and then to turn around and make an exception for ritual circumcision? Wouldn't it be discriminatory to exclude Jewish infants from the right to genital integrity and protection from such a harmful act?

And what about the related (but less common) practice of metzitzah b'peh? Health officials are so determined to skate around the issue of religious freedom they have now enacted new guidelines to make the practice of a mohel putting a baby's penis IN HIS MOUTH and SUCKING BLOOD out of the wound safer, rather than illegal.

I'm not sure I've ever heard of a more obvious case of religious freedom being put before the health and wellbeing of children. In no other situation would an adult putting an infant's penis in his mouth be deemed anything less than sexual abuse.

The guidelines advise mohels conducting oral-suction circumcision about how to correctly wash their hands and clean their fingernails, and says mohels should "rinse mouth thoroughly with a mouthwash containing greater than 25 percent alcohol" for at least 30 seconds.

I know this is going to sound inflammatory, but to me it's akin to the state setting guidelines that if a priest ritually devirginizes a little girl he please wash his hands and put on a condom first.

Case in point: We're talking about innocent, vulnerable, non-consenting minors here. That's the difference, and why this is an issue of human rights, not religious freedom.

Fortunately, religions are constantly evolving and Judiasm is no different. Many Jewish families are now choosing to forgo the ritual and are instead welcoming their babies without the operation.

Pro-Intact Jewish Links:

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: Communicable Disease

Neonatal Genital Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Infection After Jewish Ritual Circumcision: Modern Medicine and Religious Tradition

Pictures-VERY graphic

New York Times: Fear rabbi gave tots herpes, Probe death of baby after circumcision

Rabbi probed for circumcised infants’ herpes: Baby died from disease after undergoing procedure.

Risky Circumcision: Old Jewish practice causes herpes

The Jewish Week: City Risking Babies’ Lives With Brit Policy: Health Experts

Urinary Tract Infection Following Jewish Circumcision


Circumcision: A Jewish Feminist Perspective, by Miriam Pollack

The Kindest Un-Cut

Bris Backlash

Circumcision Choices

Jewish Circumcision Resource Center

(translated by Shlomo Pines. University of Chicago, 1963)

The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments

Brit Shalom-Covenant of Wholeness

Mothering Magazine: “My Son: The Little Jew with a Foreskin”

InterfaithFamily.Com: “Why I Am Not Having My Sons Circumcised”, by Dawn Friedman

RitualWell.Org: “Struggling with Circumcision”, anonymous
Originally published in Reconstructionism Today, Vol. 11, No. 3, Spring-Summer 2004.

Bris B’lee Milah

Bris Shalom

Bris Shalom Ceremony

Jewish Circumcision Referrences

Brit without Milah

Circumcision for Religious Reasons

Jews Against Circumcision

Circumcision: A Source of Jewish Pain

Bris Shalom Celebrants/Providers in the US

Alternative Bris Support Group


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Attention, CHRISTIANS!

Galatians 5:1-6, Galatians 6:12-16, 1 Corinthians 7:19, Romans 2:29, Colossians 2:8-12, Philippians 3:2-3, and Romans 12:2

Christian Parents and the Circumcision Issue (Pamplet)

Should Christians be Circumcised?

Christianity and Circumcision: A Call for Christian Action, by Van Lewis

The Morality of Circumcision, by Father John Dietzen

Circumcision: A Biblical Perspective, by Susan Crawford Beil

NoHarmm, “Circumcision and the Christian Parent”

CIRP: “Answers from the Bible to Questions About Circumcision”

“The Holy Bible, Circumcision False Prophets, and the Christian Parent” by George Hill

“Christian Parents and the Circumcision Issue”, by James E. Peron, MS, Ed.D, from Many Blessings, Volume 3, Spring 2000

“What the Bible Really Says About Circumcision”, by laura Jezek

“Why Christians Need Not Be Circumcised”

Christians for Wholeness


Catholics Against Circumcision

Catholic Teachings on Circumcision (Pamphlet)


The difference between bris with a shield, and bris with a gomco, plastibell, or mogen


Circumcision and Mormonism (pamphlet)
Adobe PDF

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Circumcision

Stop Infant Circumcision
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Don’t want to circ, but partner does?

Here's a great overview article

A good article for insight into how DH may be feeling

This is a good article to print out and share with your DH, from Men's Health magazine.

Some mom's also have good luck with sharing a video with their DH:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

I've heard the suggestion made to have him put headphones on with the volume turned all the way up to get the '"full effect". :-(

Some moms have also had luck with showing their dh this photograph of a very horrific complicaiton of circumcision
(WARNING: Not for the faint of heart or stomach!)

Also, on another messageboard I recently read a mom's account of how she convinced her husband, and it was an approach I'd never even thought of before:

"When he arrived home from work I greeted him with excitement. "Come see what I found!" He came, and I pulled up the restoration website, and with exaggerated excitement I said, "Look! You can regrow your foreskin, and by the time a boy is old enough to notice any difference, you will be the same! And nobody has to have any surgery! Isn't that great?" At first he was interested, then bewildered, the after looking at the fimo bells and stuff pictured I never heard another word -- about regrowing, but more importantly, about circumcision."

One mother suggested this approach: "The thing is, intact is the default, the do-nothing option, the pain-free and reversible decision. If you both can't agree, then nothing gets done. Quite frankly, I would print him off a list of all the boys that have died from circumcision. I would present this to him and say, "These boys have all died from an unnecessary surgery. There is no way I am going to take the risk, no matter how small it is, that this could happen to our son when he is perfectly fine and healthy the way he is. Since we can't agree, we'll be doing nothing."

In response to the argument of her husband that he’s the one with the penis, so he should be the one to make the circumcision decision for their son, one woman responded to her husband, “Well, since I’m the only one who knows what it’s like to be intact, I should be the one to decide.”

Another mother quips, “Any man who wants his genitals to match his son’s should shave his pubic hair and wear ice in his shorts until the boy hits puberty.”


More links:

Like Father, Like Son by Mary G. Ray

Looking Like Dad a Reason to Amputate Foreskin?
Circumcision to Look Like Others

Aesthetic and cultural reasons for circumcision

A circumcised father (Wayne Hampton) explains why he left his son intact

Another circumcised father (Roy M. Payne, PhD.) shares his thoughts


Many parents will admit that there is no medical justification for routine infant circumcision, but for many fathers, "matching" and concerns about locker-room teasing weigh heavily during the decision making process.

Recently, in another forum, a fellow mother shared an analogy which I found a bit shocking, but facinating nonetheless. What she said was directed at a mother who didn't want to circumcise her son but didn't feel she had any other choice because her husband was happily circumcised, and essentially, "He's the one with the penis."

"Just to point out, you are the only one in the marriage with intact genitals. You may not have a penis, but your dh has no idea what being intact entails and what it's like to have a foreskin. Most intact men, if you ask them whether they'd like to be circed, would look at you in horror and cup their crotches protectively - the same reaction you'd get from intact women if you suggested they get circed.

I read a very interesting article in the Washington Post about a Deaf lesbian couple who had a baby through artificial insemination with sperm from a gay friend who is also Deaf. They were hoping that the baby would be deaf like them - in fact they were deliberately trying for a deaf baby and were overjoyed when the baby was born deaf too. They didn't see anything wrong with hoping for a baby with a major handicap such as deafness; they had both been deaf from birth and didn't know anything different. They saw no advantage to being hearing. For those of us who are hearing, it's very hard to understand that mindset - knowing what it is to hear other people's voices, listen to music, hear the birds, etc. I would be devastated if my child were born deaf.

In this situation, you are the hearing one and your dh is the deaf one. Except that instead of wishing for his baby to be born deaf like him, he wants to take active steps to remove from his baby the sexual potential he himself never got to realize, or make him deaf to the sensations the foreskin provides.

If my dh were deaf and I were hearing, I would never allow him to do something to make our baby deaf to be like him. He simply would not be in a position to decide what's best for our baby because he would not be acting with experience of the normal, only with experience of the handicap."

Now, a few people reading are probably rolling their eyes. Circumcision, a handicap? Yeah right, whatever. Well, not so fast...

When a newborn is circumcision, more is lost then just the foreskin.

More, on how circumcision actually affects the way the penis functions:

NOHARMM: Anatomy and functions of the male foreskin

CIRP: Anatomy of the Penis, Mechanics of Intercourse

CIRP: The Penis and Foreskin: Preputial Anatomy and Sexual Function

(Please keep in mind that while the above sights are purely educational, they do contain drawings and photographs.)

Someone else shared this explaination:

"A man who is circ'd will inevitably say that he is just fine, that he enjoys sex and that there is nothing wrong with him. He's not desensitised! He will swear up and down that this is the case.

He is like a person with no sense of taste. Sure you can still eat, and probably even enjoy the varying textures, smells and tempratures of the food. they might say "what do you mean food could be better? I love eating, its so satisfying. I couldnt imagine it ever being any better than this." But thats the problem, having never had a chance to experience taste, he woulnt be able to even imagine what he is missing.

Not only that, a person with no sense of taste can still EAT and CHEW as well as anyone, so obviously their mouth works just fine, right? They can blow bubbles with bubble gum, whistle, play a wind instrument... there is nothing WRONG with a mouth that can't taste.

A man having never experienced a foreskin would be unable to imagine that sex could be better. He would have nothing to compare it to. It just isnt possible. Its liek trying to describe colors to a blind person. they might get the vaguest idea of what it is, but they just don't know. Or sound to a deaf person. Or taste to a tasteless person. Its something outside of thier experience."

But, what about bonding?

One mother had this to say, “Your son will not bond with your husband because their penises look the same. Your son will bond with your husband because your husband will hold him, play with him, read books to him, bounce him to sleep, kiss his owies, give him a bath, play trains with him, feed him his dinner, kiss him goodnight, carry him around all day, etc. Their penises will have absolutely nothing to do with the bond they form.

The early years are when the bond is formed. Your son will have no clue that his father's penis is different from his for many years to come - long after he has bonded to his daddy.”

One mother was asked how she’d respond if her son asked why he didn’t look like his father. She responded, “ok, he'll probably be asking those *kind of questions when he's about three or four, right? if his penis looks ANYTHING like a grown man's at that point in time, we have bigger problems than whether or not he is intact."

I think it's hard for a lot of us to imagine, because for so long we've been told circumcision is just a "little snip" and the foreskin is "extra skin"...but it's not "extra", it comes standard...and circumcision removes 1/3-1/2 of the penile skin system, or what would become 15 square inches, including 3-4 feet of blood vessels, 240 feet of nerves, and 10,000-20,000 specialized nerve endings. I can't help but think what sex might be like if I'd had a similar amount of genital tissue removed from my most private parts, but went through puberty and grew into adulthood never knowing any differently.

So, what if ultimately you cannot reach an agreement?

One mother advises:


Do nothing by not trying to convince your spouse
Do nothing by not signing the consent forms
Do nothing by not scheduling an appointment
Doing nothing = no circumcision

If the two of you never agreed on circumcising, by doing nothing, the automatic result is an intact baby boy. Just tell the doctors and nurses that you don’t want circumcision, and it won’t happen."
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I think as parents, we have to make a choice to be part of the problem, or part of the solution. Even if teasing was a huge problem, the solution isn't to keep cutting our sons in order to help them fit in, the solution is to raise our sons with enough confidence and self respect that any teasing or bullying they might receive in this regard can be easily brushed off as ignorance or jealousy.

The truth is, unlike American males OUR age, most of whom are circumcised...babies are not being cut at the same high rate anymore. This year the rate will be about 50/50, making an intact penis as common a variation as hair or eye color. TIMES HAVE CHANGED. If there is any stigma remaining for our children surrounding circumcision status, there is still much more so, sadly, surrounding homosexuality. If someone makes a comment about my son's penis, all he needs to do is ask that bully "Why are you looking at my penis, dude?" and the whole situation is suddenly reversed.

We should all also think about the concept of permanently, physically, invasively---yes, surgically---altering our children's bodies in order for them to fit in, follow the crowd, and be cool. When you actually think about what that means...doesn't it seem not only extreme, but like a value or way of living that teaches him to change himself, rather than be himself? Do we really want our children to think the same, act the same, and be the same as other teens? Is it always safe or sane to do what everyone else is doing?

As parents, we have a responsibility to our children to keep them safe and to raise them to be intelligent, free-thinking, self-sustaining adults. I think cultural circumcision seriously undermines that. As responsible parents, we need to rise above the ignorance and immaturity of the bully we fear and provide our children with the values and mental/emotional resources to be proud of who they are.

When my son is faced with ignorance and prejudice, I want him to stand strong and educate and enlighten, not run away with his tail tucked between his legs, or worse...become like them.

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Better NOW than LATER?

According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, the chance of a boy actually needing a circumcision for medical reasons later in life is just 1%. Why guarentee him the pain and risk of surgery now, when he has a 99% chance of getting through life with a normal, healthy, whole penis? Especially when you consider the following ten reasons why adult circumcision-if it does become necessary-is better than routinely cutting all babies at birth.

Adult vs. Infant Circumcision: 10 Reasons

1.) Adults provide informed consent. Babies have NO choice.

2.) Babies are more-not less-sensitive to pain, and they *do* remember, at least on a subconscious level.

3.) A baby foreskin is fused to the glans, much like your fingernail is attached to your finger. One of the first (and most painful) steps of an infant circumcision involves forcibly separating the two structures-literally, tearing them apart. An adult's foreskin is usually able to retract easily and comfortably.

4.) Adults can have general anesthesia, thereby experiencing a truly "pain free" operation. At best, newborns get local worst, nothing at all.

5.) Adults can be provided medications to prevent erections during the healing process. Babies are not offered this.

6.) Adults can have "good" pain medications post-op. The most an infant gets is Tylenol.

7.) An adult can choose the exact 'style' of circumcision he prefers...loose, tight...high, low...frenulum/no frenulum...etc. Babies are circumcised by a random methods removing imprecise and highly variable amounts of skin.

8.) Adult penises are BIGGER. There is a lot more room for error with infant circumcision.

9.) Adults will not normally be healing in a 'diaper environment', exposing their surgical wound to urine and feces. This also means adults who are circumcised will likely have a far lower risk of Meatal Stenosis. The risk for babies is 9-10%.

10.) Adults normally have more developed and resistant immune systems and if an infection did occur it would be less dangerous to an adult then a newborn.
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Don't believe me? Watch one for yourself.

Intact Video

CIRP Video

CircumcisionQuotes Video

"I'm sobbing. The baby's screaming. The doctor's cutting. There's blood everywhere. And the doctor looked into my face and said, 'There's no medical reason for doing this." -Marilyn Milos, RN
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That's right, genital reduction surgery.

Circumcision removes a part of an infant's penis that would develop into a moveable, double-layered tubular sheath of protective skin about 15 square inches in size (picture a 3x5 index card) containing 3-4 feet of blood vessels, 240 feet of nerves, and tens of thousands of specialized nerve endings. The foreskin protects the sensitive glans throughout life, keeping it soft, supple, and sensitive...just as a woman's hood protects her clitoris. In fact, both the foreskin and the clitoral hood are medically known as the "prepuce". During infancy, the foreskin is fused to the glans in most babies, and protects the urinary opening (meatus) from fecal contamination and ulceration from excessive urine exposure, effectively preventing meatal stenosis-a condition 10% of circumcised boys will develop. Most circumcisions also remove-or at least significantly damage-the frenulum, referred to by many as the 'male g-spot'. The muscular ridged band at the opening of the foreskin is also lost.

Want to learn more?

Check out this video, put together for medical students by Doctors Opposing Circumcision entitled, "The Prepuce":

WMP, Streaming

WMP, Download-use “save link as”

Or, N.O.R.M.'s "Lost List" by Gary Harryman