On March 3, 2012, the New York Daily News reported the death this past September of a two-week-old baby boy, following an ultra-Orthodox Jewish circumcision ritual. The report came after the newspaper pressed Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn for information, evidently having heard about the death from other sources. The New York City Medical Examiner’s office is quoted as listing the cause of death as “disseminated herpes simplex virus Type 1, complicating ritual circumcision with oral suction.”
Because some of my readers may not be aware of the ritual, known as metzizah b’peh, I will describe it. Following the “usual” steps involved in a circumcision (i.e., stroking the baby’s penis to make it erect, stripping the foreskin from the head of the penis, and cutting the foreskin off), in metzizah b’peh the mohel (ritual circumciser) then “removes blood from the wound with his mouth” (this is the news media’s description; in other words, the mohel sucks the baby’s bloody penis). It was this final insult added to injury that caused the death of the poor baby boy in question.
“Orthodox Jews argue that prohibiting the circumcision of children would be a restriction on religious freedom. However, the state has regularly restricted religious freedom when it is felt that such practices would be deleterious to minors. The obvious example is the over-riding of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ ban on blood transfusions for their children. The issue with circumcision is not one of life and death*, but it does seem to me that the San Francisco referendum would not ipso facto be unconstitutional.
Despite having circumcised my two sons, the more I think about the issue, the more likely – were I a resident of San Francisco – I would support the referendum.”
*Note: Circumcision causes immediate damage to the penis, has resulted in numerous cases of botches which require surgery or additional medical treatment, and it has also been known to kill.
“Welcome to Beyond the Bris, the web-based multimedia project that’s putting real faces and voices to the current Jewish movement against circumcision. This dynamic site is being created by, for and about Jews who are united in our belief that cutting children’s genitals is wrong, regardless of their religion or gender. As our name implies, an increasing number of Jewish people are moving in a more ethical, more humanitarian and more Jewish direction: beyond the bris.”
Website here: http://www.beyondthebris.com/
“As predicted, the current bid to ban circumcision in San Francisco is causing commotion. And, as predicted, religious groups, particularly Jewish organizations, are working hard to condemn the measure as anti-Semitic. It seems circumcision advocates have found the perfect scapegoat, however, and they’re milking it for everything it’s worth.
The scapegoat in question is the latest issue of "Foreskin Man," a comic book that portrays a hero who saves defenseless babies from crazed maniacs intent on circumcising them. The villain in the latest issue happens to be a mohel, and the author’s portrayal of him isn’t exactly kosher. The imagery of the villain, or "Monster Mohel" as he is called, are very disturbing, because to some, it recalls Nazi German anti-Semitist propaganda.
Perhaps the creation of this comic wouldn’t have garnered so much attention, if it weren’t for the fact that the creator, Matthew Hess, also happens to be the president of MGM Bill, which is an organization working to enact legislation that would ban the circumcision of minors unless it is medically necessary. The comic book has become a lightning rod for criticism of not only the proposed ballot measure in San Francisco, but also for the entire intactivist movement as a whole. Opponents to the measure are waving it around as "proof" that intactivists are all anti-Semites, and now, instead of the issues, intactivists are fending off accusations of anti-Semitism.”
Full article here: http://joseph4gi.blogspot.com/2011/06/anti-semite-card-no-longer-washes.html
“Currently, circumcision is not universal among Jews either inside or outside the United States. The Circumcision Resource Center, a nonprofit educational organization, knows of hundreds of Jews in Europe, South America, and in the United States who either have not or would not circumcise a son. Even in Israel some Jews do not circumcise, and there is an organization that publicly opposes circumcision.3 The purpose of this article is to coherently explain a few of the contemporary reasons for the increasing doubts some Jews have about circumcision. Then I will apply Torah law and Jewish values to these reasons.”
Full essay here: http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/spectator.htm
“The practice of male genital mutilation is far older than recorded history. Certainly, it is far older than the Biblical account of Abraham (Genesis 17). It seems to have originated in eastern Africa long before this time.”
A timeline depicting the chronology of the foreskin in animals and humans – from 300 Million BCE to 2003 AD.
“Strictly speaking, it is not the opponents of routine male circumcision who need to make a case against the procedure, but its supporters who must prove its necessity: they need to explain why a natural part of the human body, and one common to all primates, is so dangerous that it must be amputated before a baby can talk, crawl or do anything much except scream.”
A humorous article written by a cut man. While very funny in places, it gets the point across by summarizing:
“In 100 years, I mused, will circumcision exist only in books that chronicle gruesome medical foibles? Will it be found in the chapter right after leeches?”