A Jewish Penis Equals A Jewish Man

Out here on the Western edge of the United States, we encounter plenty of anti-circumcision bumper stickers, which we’ve chalked up to a political climate that rejects anything mainstream. According to an article in the Morgan Hill Times, circumcisions performed by pediatricians have dropped 25% between 1980 and 1999 in the Western United States, possibly due to the vocal activism by anti-circ groups.
We can understand the argument that non-Jewish baby boys don’t need to be subjected to an unnecessary medical procedure if their parents object, but the Jewish ritual version, brit milah, performed by a mohel to create a little prince’s covenant with G*d, doesn’t fall into the same category as having a non-Jewish doctor swipe a scalpel down there and call it a day. A clipped penis, for most of us, helps define a Jewish man, and framing this as “genetic mutilation” seems, well, whack. As one rabbi put it,
“extremist groups advocating against circumcision and seeking to change religious traditions to match their personal feelings often fail to recognize this important procedure in Jewish tradition has been performed successfully for over 3,500 years.”
Of course, Jews Against Circumcision have their own set of arguments, none of which are as compelling as Abraham’s sacrifice to the Almighty. The claims that the ritual that has been part of Jewish life since the very beginning is painful, dangerous, outdated and “stupid” doesn’t hold weight for those of us who have witnessed the powerful intensity of a brit milah where the baby is surrounded by loved ones on his eighth day, cries minimally, falls asleep as soon as he’s returned to his mother’s arms and heals within the week. We’re not saying we weren’t freaked by the recent controversy surrounding herpes and brit metzitzah (where the mohel puts his mouth on the wound), but by choosing not to circumcize a baby boy, isn’t a Jewish parent blatantly rejecting a mitzvah on his behalf?

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