No Sharp Objects, Please: American Jewish Group Fights for Non-Circumcision

© AFP 2023 / DAVID EBENER / DPARabbi presenting his surgical instruments for circumcision (File)
Rabbi presenting his surgical instruments for circumcision (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.10.2021
While the ritual remains one of the most conventional Jewish traditions, and a popular procedure among non-Jewish Americans too, some people believe it should not be forced on those who want to join the Jewish religious community.
A new Jewish group launching in the US this week is seeking help from synagogues to protect the rights of those Jews who are not circumcised. The organisation, called Bruchim ("blessed"), includes people from various non-Orthodox Jewish movements and seeks to normalise non-circumcision. Currently, non-circumcised boys may be denied their bar mitzvah (coming of age ritual) in some synagogues in accordance with a 1981 decision by the Conservative movement's Jewish law authority.

"Families who are making this decision shouldn't feel marginalised and they shouldn’t feel like they have to be secret about it", Lisa Braver Moss, Bruchim's co-founder and president, stated.

© SputnikPolice put the main Caracas synagogue under close surveillance
Police put the main Caracas synagogue under close surveillance - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.10.2021
Police put the main Caracas synagogue under close surveillance
The group's social media strategist, Elana Johnson, who faced this problem due to her decision not to circumcise her three sons, said that she had to join a Reform synagogue instead of a Conservative congregation.

"I want to be more observant and in a more observant community", she said. "But I also just want my kids to be happy and welcome and feel as little judgment as possible no matter where we go".

Bruchim believes that synagogues should actively indicate they welcome non-circumcising families. However, this position is not popular among American Jewry: head of the Union for Reform Judaism Rabbi Rick Jacobs previously stressed that the movement "will always advocate" for the ritual.

"As one of the oldest rituals in the Jewish faith, we will always advocate and educate our community about the beauty and meaning of brit milah", Jacobs said. But he added, "Connecting oneself to the Jewish community may take many forms, and we understand that some families and individuals are making the choice to not circumcise as part of the brit ceremony. There will always be a place for everyone in the Reform community, regardless of how they or their family choose to express their faith".

In his turn, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the leading bioethicist of the Conservative movement, noted there is no basis in Jewish law for denying an uncircumcised man access to the religious community. However, the rabbi stressed that he wouldn't publicly endorse openness to non-circumcising families.
The issue itself remains sensitive in the US, since the vast majority of American males (91% white, 76% black, and 44% Hispanic) are circumcised, according to a 2014 study. Some scholars also suggest that circumcised men are more likely to be emotionally unstable and exhibit borderline sexual behaviour.
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