Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Monitoring the News

There are some crusades which are just a little too reminiscent of bad stages in Jewish history. (It is ironic that this story came out in the weeks prior to Hanukkah - see the third sentence here as well)

There is a man in San Francisco who is reportedly gathering signatures for a petition to make it illegal to circumcise minors - which of course translates to anyone under the age of 18. The petition will merely allow the issue to be put to a general vote in the near future, which can always lose at the ballot box. But in San Francisco, who knows what can happen?

I am not going to go into the legalities beyond suggesting that such a ban is unconstitutional simply because it would step on the toes of religious freedom (for those religions such as Judaism that require circumcision), and also puts the law into people's private lives in a way that seems to be illegal according to US law.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What I Learned in the Operating Room

I have had the privilege of observing pediatric surgeons, pediatric urologists, and adult urologists operate in the operating room. Sometimes it was at their invitation, sometimes at my request, and sometimes at the insistence of the parents.

With the adult urologists (I use the term to differentiate from pediatric urologists - all urologists are adults), I learned much about the anatomy of the penis, the foreskin, the mucosal membrane underneath the foreskin, the glans, and the delicacy and intrigue of the male organ from a medical standpoint.

With the pediatric urologists and surgeons, I was present when the circumcision to be done was extremely complicated,

The Wrong Attitude Is Not to Ask

Someone recently called our home from New York. She gave birth to a boy a few weeks ago, and the bris took place on time – the services of a local NY mohel were obtained.

In her conversation with my wife, she indicated she had a few concerns and questions about her son's bris, so I was given the phone to offer a mohel's perspective and to put her mind at ease.

After describing the way the mohel had instructed her to oversee her baby's healing process, and giving the best explanation she could of what things looked like, she kept asking, "Is this normal?"

From the information that was shared, and obviously without having seen the baby, I felt that while the prognosis was not standard, with time all would heal properly and look fine.

I had a few questions of my own: Did the mohel explain everything that you'd see? (No). Did he give you instructions how to care for the bris? (Yes) Did he walk you through the process in advance? (No) Was he nice to you? (Yes – everyone uses him) Just because everyone hires him does not mean everyone has a nice experience – overall, do you think you would call him again? (No). Why not? (Uhhhh)

Then came what, to my mind, was the most disturbing comment in the conversation. "Now that I've had this experience, if I ever have a son again I'll know what to ask in advance, and I'll do it right."

[INSERT BUZZER SOUND]

Wrong thing to say!

Don't Make Your Son Into Your Experiment

Let us remember that each child is precious. That we want the best for every child. And, as best as possible, we should do what is right the first time around.

This means that if you are a parent, you must ask all the questions BEFORE your son's bris, even and ESPECIALLY if it is your first son.

[I will grant that if you've had a positive experience with a mohel in the past and trust the man completely, then you need not go through everything again – that is your choice, and I feel it is justified. But the conversation should be had with any mohel you are employing for the first time for your family – even if you've had (a) son(s) before!]

Some Links about IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

A list of 21 questions,
Triple C - Ceremony, Care, Complications
An old post about this subject of doing research beforehand
The 4 Most Important Questions ("how much will it cost?" is not one of them!)