Monday, August 27, 2012

The Footnote

I recently received an email from a journalist who wrote "[I] am working on a story about the decline in circumcision rates in the U.S., pegged to a new study released today by researchers at Johns Hopkins. I’m curious to know whether or not you and other mohels have been affected by this “decline” and would love to include your input in the piece."

In addition to offering to speak and continue the conversation, I wrote back to her "Those declines are probably more in the hospital arena. Mohels typically service clientele who are circumcising their sons for religious reasons, as opposed to for medical reasons. The anti-circumcision movement (as well as medical opinion) has little to no influence on Jewish people. Jews who choose not to circumcise are a very small minority, and, in my opinion, are generally further from Jewish observance and Jewish life" (the last sentence might not be fair, but I am entitled to an opinion.)

To back what I said, an article came out this week which - following the leadership of several doctors - declared that benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks of the procedure.

I once articulated the Jewish perspective on this, concluding with a wonderful quote from Herman Wouk's "This is My God." Enjoy


Afterthought to anti-circumcision groups
            Jews who choose to have their sons circumcised do so either because they believe in the Biblical mandate of Genesis 17 or because they believe the bris to be an important ingredient for the continuity of the Jewish people. No matter how much anyone will argue of the needlessness or barbarism of this male “genital mutilation” the Jewish people as a whole will not be swayed and will continue to practice this rite.
[F]or Jews circumcision … is not a detail of hygiene, [but] the seal of the pledge between Abraham and his Creator… The Jews have followed the Mosaic law with a confidence which modern medicine progressively ratifies.  The medical endorsement is not, however, the glory of Judaism.  It is a footnote.
-         Herman Wouk, “This is My God”

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