Jewish Male Circumcision

Male circumcision is the removal of the foreskin from the penis. It is widely practised in Judaism, Islam and in some Christian churches in Africa. It is estimated that 30% of males are circumcised globally, usually during adolescence or during infancy.
The practice was adopted in Western civilization around the beginning of the 20th century as a form of preventive medicine against syphilis, phimosis, paraphimosis and balanitis. Reports estimate the prevalence of circumcision among US born males was 91% for males born in the 1970s but the numbers have since been going down. In 1949, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service removed infant circumcision from its list of covered services and the proportion of newborns circumcised in England and Wales has fallen to less than one percent.
In Judaism a Mohel conducts the traditional circumcision ceremony called Brit Milah – “covenant of circumcision”. It is performed on the eighth day after birth. According to the Torah (Genesis, chapter 17 verses 9-14), God commanded Abraham to circumcise himself, his offspring and his slaves as part of an everlasting covenant. Also practised, although more controversial, is metzitzah b’peh, or oral suction, where the mohel sucks blood from the infant’s wounded penis immediately after the circumcision. The traditional reason for this procedure is believed to be promotion of healing. Research has recently suggested that oral suction has been the cause for several cases of herpes infection to infants, in some cases causing brain damage and even death. Some rabbinical authorities have ruled that a glass tube must be used between the mohel’s mouth and the wound to prevent any type of infection of the infant.

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6 responses to “Jewish Male Circumcision

  1. ml66uk

    Not all Jewish people believe in circumcision. Brit Shalom is an alternative naming ceremony to celebrate the birth of baby boys to Jewish families. These sites are all run by Jewish people opposed to circumcision:

    http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/
    http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
    http://www.circumcision.org/

  2. Lawn Griffiths

    For all Jews’ historic quest for justice and compassion, it remains astounding that they continue to embrace such a needless, cruel, arcane practice. Thankfully progressive Jews recognize that it is unnecessary and brutal. Anyone who looks at the history of the bris and circumcision among Jews finds that it has been very controversial and lacking in any solidarity of support.

  3. * There is a movement of Jews who are questioning circumcision, and working to end this abuse of children. The movement ranges from the Orthodox to the secular, and includes mothers, fathers, scholars, historians, medical professionals, activists, and intellectuals.

    * Jews Against Circumcision http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
    * The Current Judaic Movement to End Circumcision: Part 1
    http://intactnews.org/node/105/1311886372/jewish-voices-current-judaic-movement-end-circumcision-part-1

    The Kindest Un-Cut Feminism, Judaism, and My Son’s Foreskin by Professor Michael S. Kimmel
    http://www.cirp.org/pages/cultural/kimmel1/

    Jewish Intactivist Miriam Pollack has some great commentary on Foreskin Man in this recent interview.
    http://www.beyondthebris.com/2011/07/defying-convention-interview-with_27.html

    Jews Speak Out in Favor of Banning Circumcision on Minors
    http://intactnews.org/node/103/1311885181/jews-speak-out-favor-banning-circumcision-minors
    *

  4. Some Jews feel the time has come for a symbolic bris without surgery.

    Jewish Groups for Genital Integrity
    * Jews for the Rights of the Child http://www.jewsfortherightsofthechild.org/
    * Brit Shalom Celebrants by Mark D. Reiss, M.D. http://www.circumstitions.com/Jewish-shalom.html
    * Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective by Ron Goldman, Ph.D. http://www.jewishcircumcision.org
    * Beyond the Bris: Jewish Parenting Blog http://www.beyondthebris.com
    * Israeli Association Against Genital Mutilation ( http://www.britmila.org.il )

    • Throughout Jewish history we Jews have always had Jews rejecting Judaism and Jewish practices, especially circumcision. During the Maccabean time the Jews embraced Hellenism and so were liberal. Western culture is once again influencing Jews to turn away from the covenant of HaShem. That’s all. Most Jews living in Western societies are liberal and go to the Reform movement or they do not go to a synagogue at all.

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