Cutting Arguments

By | Nov 16, 2010
Culture, Latest, Religion

By Steven Philp

It looks like Bay Area Jews may one day have to leave the city to perform brit milah for their male children; a new measure gathering signatures for the November 2011 ballot would make it a misdemeanor to circumcise men under the age of 18. In an interview with CBS San Francisco, Lloyd Schofield–the author of the proposed ban–argues that circumcision is equivalent to genital mutilation. “It’s a personal decision,” he states, arguing that a man’s body does not belong to his culture, country, or religion. Although a number of the people interviewed in conjunction with Schofield disagree with his campaign to make circumcision illegal, they failed to provide a cohesive counterargument beyond parental choice. In fact–in the face of growing evidence that circumcision may not provide traditionally ascribed health benefits–the number of circumcised infants has been decreasing; a recent study published by the New York Times shows that fewer than half of male children born between 2006 and 2009 were circumcised, down from the two-thirds who underwent the procedure in the 80’s and 90’s.

Although Schofield needs to gather over 7,100 signatures before the measure is put on the ballot, his campaign calls attention to a growing debate concerning the right to circumcision. The necessity of the procedure has been called in to question, with organizations like the Centers for Disease Control still studying whether circumcisions provide any significant health benefits. According to CBS medical reporter Dr. Kim Mulvihill, “Most medical groups have not come out with strong opinions regarding pro or con circumcisions. Most are saying leave it up to the families, let them decide what’s right for their son.” A quick search on the Internet reveals few reliable sources; a large number of sites devoted to the topic are politically charged, providing rhetoric rather than evidence.

Drawing from commandments given in Genesis 17:10-14 and Leviticus 12:3, the Jewish community has been performing the covenant of circumcision – or brit milah – for millennia. Conventionally the removal of the foreskin is done eight days after a boy is born, accompanied by a series of blessings and the declaration of the child’s Hebrew name. By replicating the circumcision of Abraham, it is thought that the boy becomes an active witness to the covenant established between G-d and the Jewish people. On the other hand, the failure to be circumcised is thought to preclude the boy’s inclusion in the Jewish community. In fact this ceremony has become so integral to Jewish identity, even converts are required to undergo a similar ritual (or – if they have already been circumcised – a drawing of blood called hatafat dam brit).

Yet with the  measure to ban circumcision gaining momentum in San Francisco, Jews will be faced with tough questions. For example, is circumcision equivalent to genital mutilation? According to the World Health Organization, female circumcision–which has performed on an estimated 100 to 140 million women worldwide–is a highly invasive procedure that can cause serious health problems, and lacks explicit religious prescription. Male circumcision, on the other hand, is not associated with health problems, but can lead to a reduction in sensitivity, according an article published in the Journal of Urology.

In that regard, is the relative difference in sexual satisfaction between a circumcised and uncircumcised male worth the compromise of a several thousand year-old tradition derived from an explicit commandment given in the Torah? On one hand, the Jewish community values the careful preservation of our rituals and institutions; our particular – if not peculiar – approach to life is what has defined us as a people for thousands of years. On the other hand, many Jews find pride in our adaptable nature; we develop our traditions to accommodate social progress – take the ordination of female rabbis or the celebration of same-sex marriages, for example. As the debate concerning circumcision continues, the Jewish community will have to consider whether this particular case calls for preservation or adaptation.

123 thoughts on “Cutting Arguments

  1. Benjamin G. says:

    Very interesting debate… I appreciate how you eloquently told both sides of the story.

  2. Kehilla says:

    I just want to make a small point of clarification- not all Jews change with the times. There are some people who live in modern society (go to college, watch TVs, have corporate jobs, etc), and keep all the commandments. They would never ordain a female rabbi or condone same-sex marriage. I think these peoples’ strict religious observance in the modern world contributes to meaningful discussions about how much and whether or not Jews should modify their customs, laws and traditions to accommodate the dominant culture.

  3. drschiffman says:

    To outlaw Brit Milah is to violate our rights of freedom of religion. The city of San Francisco is overstepping its authority by interfering with religious practices that are protected by the constitution.

    1. Rock says:

      I am Jewish. Don’t speak for me, Schiffman. Circumcision is sexual mutilation. Period. Drop the knife and back away from the infant…

    2. Paul says:

      Curiously, advocates of circumcision never make mention of the practice of of Brit Periah which was prevalent throughout the ’50s and ’60’s in the US. and Canada.

      Nasty, brutish in the extreme.

  4. DK says:

    For example, is circumcision equivalent to genital mutilation?

    This isn’t really a fair question. And the fact that it isn’t as severe a form of mutilation as the more severe forms of FGM doesn’t make it a question.

    The question is, are you taking something away from a person’s sexual experience (and perhaps his partner) by cutting off healthy parts of his genitalia.

    The answer is clearly yes.

  5. Steven P. says:

    Re: Kehilla, thank you for your clarification. The intent was to express the position of “many” Liberal Jews, and not the entire Jewish community. I agree with your point that more observant communities provide us with rich examples on how tradition can and can not pair with modern living.

    Re: DK, I provided the question as an example of the existing rhetoric (in this case, the connection between male and female circumcision was made in the report from CBS San Francisco). Yet you raise a good point: is the comparison between male and female circumcision productive?

  6. Susan Mullen says:

    I’d like to mention the brit shalom, which has been accepted by at least some observant Jewish families. It’s a welcoming ceremony for a baby boy and it does not involve circumcision.

    I am a woman who was genitally mutilated as a newborn. I do see a valid comparison of male circumcision to female circumcision.

  7. rad says:

    Medical evidence in fact does indicate benefit in reduction of penile cancer. In Africa in particular, lack of circumcision has been shown to significantly increase the vulnerability to HIV infection when exposed.
    This is not an easy issue on so many levels. The prohibition of circumcision singles out the Jews for whom it affects most significantly. I have huge issues with the government singling out my ethnic group and stepping in to tell me how to practice my religion and raise my kids. It isn’t easy because of course there are times that the state needs to do both (abuse of kids, and abusive religious practices… so it is a judgement if people want to put this in that category. I would hope not because for many Jews, this it isn’t an option not to circumcise. If I lived in San Fran, the “For Sale” sign would be going up.

    By the way, Lloyd Schofield sounds like a Jewish name. Why do Jews seem to cause so much trouble for our people?

    1. Ron Low says:

      NOT ONE national medical association on earth (NOT even Israel’s) endorses routine circumcision.

      Wawer/Gray showed in 2009 that circumcising Ugandan men made them 50% MORE likely to transmit HIV to a partner.

      Most of the US men who have died AIDS were circumcised at birth.

      ^^ Why do Jews seem to cause so much trouble for our people? ^^

      I don’t know. I was curious so I surveyed at many anti-circumcision events in the US and UK, and Jews were about 15% – 20% of our number, even though at most 2% of the general population is Jewish.

  8. Rita M. says:

    Any purported similarity (no less equality) between male circumcision and female clitoridectomy is specious. “Female genital mutilation”, which generally refers to removal of the clitoris (clitoridectomy), removes the ENTIRE pleasure center of the individual. The analogous procedure in a male would be the removal of the entire penis! I’m sorry, but there is NO evidence that circumcision of the penile foreskin prevents orgasm; there is abundant evidence that clitoridectomy does so in the female.

    Circumcise your boy babies, or don’t. I’m all for freedom of choice in the matter, and in fact I’m accepting of the alternative of “Brit Shalom” as a vaild expression of Jewish faith for those who are moved by such an idea. But don’t try to tell me that my father, brothers, and sons have been “mutilated” or are sexually impaired. And by the way, for verification of comparative sexual sensation, why not interview men who have been circumcised as adults, subsequent to sexual experience, and find out what the TRUE experts have to say about the difference in sensation.

    1. Ron Low says:

      In April the AAP proclaimed that minor FGM should perhaps be made legal in the US, citing that male circumcision is much worse than the most common forms of FGM which affect the hood only.

      Then a month later they bowed to political pressure and re-affirmed that FGM was unacceptable in all cases, even a pin-poke to draw one ceremonial drop of blood.

      But if male circumcision is MUCH WORSE, why then should IT be LEGAL?

    2. Rock says:

      Someone needs to circumcize you…
      Congradulations on sexually mutilating your children..

  9. rad says:

    excuse me… but the foreskin shields the penile head and therefore reduces sensation. Circumscision therefore would result in increased sensation. If the body reacts as it does with most other things, it compensates likely resulting in no significant change. If there were a real problem with altered sensation, there would be plenty of people having a foreskin replaced (there is such a procedure… it isn’t popular.)

    1. Ron Low says:

      Rad, you’re just completely misinformed. The foreskin includes over half the specialized pleasure recpetive nerve endings a male has. It is a primary erogenous body part, not just some cover. The glans has 8000 nerve endings, the foreskin has over 20,000.

      1. Rad says:

        Comparison of the sensitivity of my foreskin to the glans indicates you are flatly wrong.

    2. Ron Low says:

      Hundreds of thousands of men are non-surgically restoring their foreskins. It can only undo some of the damage of circumcision.

      Not one national medical association on earth (not even Israel’s) endorses routine circumcision. HIS body, HIS decision.

      1. Cut says:

        Where do you get such statistics. They simply don’t exist. There is no circumcision reversal registry. Claptrap

      2. Ron Low says:

        There certainly is no central registry of men non-surgically restoring their foreskins.

        The low-ball estimate of “hundreds of thousands” of foreskin restorers comes from evidence like sales of the book “The Joy of Uncircumcising” which has over 100,000 English copies in circulation. Combine that with surveys of English-speaking foreskin restorers, some of which show that only 1 in 4 restorers ever bought that book.

        Another piece of evidence is sales of foreskin restoration devices. One brand sold online to the English-speaking world serves over 3000 new foreskin restorers per year. Combine that with surveys of English-speaking active foreskin restorers, some of which show that only 1 in 5 ever bought that brand of device. So you could estimate at least 15,000 English speaking men start restoring per year. Restoring methods have been widely available since the early 90’s, but lets just say that in the last 10 years perhaps 150,000 English-speaking men have begun undertaking restoration. But 70% of circumcisions on earth occur in the Muslim world, largely unserved by commercial devices marketed on the internet. Such men if they restore most likely use the basic tape or manual methods with no commercial device. The true number of restorers is large but hard to estimate.

  10. Al says:

    If you mutilated an animal the same way that children are circumcised you would be prosecuted. There is something seriously wrong. Don’t do this to children, let them choose when they have can make there own decisions. Us adults owe them that .

    1. rad says:

      excuse me Al, we regularly castrate our animals and otherwise remove their fertility. Not going to jail for that. You clearly do not understand the deep meaning of circumscision to Jewish people. We have done this for over 2000 years and we don’t seem to be the worse off for it, actually quite the opposite. There are SO many important and clearly delineated causes out there, why don’t you focus on those. Worry about hunger, poverty, crime, cancer, etc, etc. Leave this meaningful practice up to the parents.
      I wonder if you are pro abortion? It seems like destroying fetuses is a complex enough issue to keep you satisfied. In a town as liberal as San Francisco, I’d love to know how many people are comfortable with destroying a fetus but not a foreskin.

      1. Rock says:

        Hey Rad,
        Stop speaking for jews. I was born Jewish and I consider circumcision mutilation. It is barbaric and it’s time to end this stone age practice. Stop supporting the sexual mutilation of children…

  11. drschiffman says:

    Circumcision is not mutilation. It prevents penile cancer. Perhaps San Francisco should change it’s symbol to an uncircumcised penis.

    1. Ron Low says:

      Circumcised men do get penile cancer. A study that concluded circumcision did not prevent penile cancer was done by Wallerstein in February 1985, in which he reported that the risk of penile cancer in Japan, Norway, and Sweden (countries with a very low rate of circumcision) is about the same (1 in 100,000 per year) as in the US. Circumcision is neither neccessary nor sufficient to prevent penile cancer. The main risk factors are smoking and exposure to HPV, but there is now a vaccine for HPV for males and females.

      Infant circumcision is 27 times deadlier per patient than even the worst estimates for the HPV vaccine.

    2. Alex says:

      Yeah, dr schiffmann, circumcision does prevent penile cancer. so does removal of the whole penis! penile cancer is so rare that it barely deserves discussion so i don’t see how prevention of penile cancer even rates in this argument.
      I agree with rock. these stone age practices need to be outlawed. I am not jewish, but was cut and mutilated and i think it’s time to stop the trauma.

  12. Jerrod Soldier says:

    Reduced sensitivity is only one effect. Baby boys have died from infections due to circumcision, and others have had their penises amputated after a botched circumcision, leading to their being raised as girls. Circumcision must end. See this report on a recent death

  13. rad says:

    The fact that Dr. Money was unethical and had a boy raised as a girl is a horrible, but irrelevant fact. A horrible and fascinating story. It doesn’t stop me from circumscising my kids… and you should find another cause to worry about. There are more important ones out there Mr. Soldier.

  14. As a dentist, I see the normal penis as similar to a mouth with no teeth. Circumcision removes the lips and cheeks of the penis and allows the remaining sensory mucosa to dry out and become insensitive. Look online for men who have reversed their circumcision and you will find general agreement that the reversal does indeed result in a dramatic increase in sensation. Circumcision is a blood ritual from the stone age, and also a form of forced conversion. Widespread circumcision has not helped cancer rates or HIV rates here in the USA, despite their claims about Africa. Let’s move beyond this ancient barbarism, and leave the choice to the owner of the penis.
    Sincerely, Dr. Devin Savage,

    1. Rad says:

      An evocative but specious argument. The mouth with it’s parotid, lingual and submandibular glands is a wet environment. The penis is not. The skin of the circ penis is not cracked or dry in any way. Worry about your own kids.

  15. Ron Low says:

    Jews will do just fine after the ban. They’ve managed to give up other biblically prescribed savagry like stoning adulterers, stoning disobedient children, forcing raped virgins to marry their attackers, completely avoiding women during menstrual cycles, and (ironically) keeping males with mutilated genitals out of the temple.

    When circumcision was illegal in Russia, Jews waited and had themselves cut when they were able to travel. Before they were cut they were still good Jews. I’m sure many were quite relieved to have an excuse to not impose the mutilating tradition on their children.

    Even in Israel 3% of good Jews don’t circumcise. Forced foreskin amputation at birth takes away his right to choose to be that kind of good Jew.

    Having a religious exception in the ban would violate the 14th ammendment’s requirement for equal protection, because it would expose babies to harm based solely on their parents’ religion.

    1. Pat says:

      I don’t know, here in California I constantly hear about people getting stoned.

    2. Rita M. says:

      You are correct that many Jewish men from the Soviet Union got circumcised as adults after leaving. And guess what? – they still had orgasms and enjoyed sex!!

      Look, it should be a simple matter for all you anti-circ hysterics to interview a statistically significant number of men who were circumcised as adults and can testify from PERSONAL EXPERIENCE as to whether circumcision ruins sexual sensation or makes it impossible or even difficult to reach orgasm. Until you have the evidence (which you won’t find), stop making your ludicrous declarations.

      The evidence DOES exist that female genital mutilation prevents orgasm; in fact, that is one of the primary reasons it’s done (to keep the girl from enjoying sex “too much”, so she won’t be “wanton” in her sex life).

      1. Ron Low says:

        Hey Rita,
        You’re mis-informed. Hundreds of thousands of men are non-surgically restoring their foreskins, including men cut as adults. Whatever your view of cosmetic penis reduction surgery, one thing is absolutely clear; it changes the function of the penis. Whether that’s a good or bad change is only for the penis owner to decide. Only about 2 in 1000 intact men choose circumcision.

        You’re also wrong about FGM. Research shows that 75% of victims of even the rare most-appalling form of FGM report orgams during intercourse. But most FGM affects the hood only. It’s the exact homologue to male circumcision.

        The Hebrew sage Maimonides knew in the 12th century that circumcision diminished men’s pleasure. He wrote about it in Guide of the Perplexed. “The bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes the pleasure is indubitable.” He also wrote that he was afraid a woman who bedded an intact man would never settle for a circumcised man again.

      2. Cut says:

        Ron… “research shows” is BS. There is no such research. And I would venture to guess that less than 75% of intact woman reach climax during intercourse. Certainly women without the clitorus are not reaching climax. Claptrap.

      3. Ron Low says:

        “The Sexual Experience and Marital Adjustment of Genitally Circumcised and Infibulated Females in The Sudan”

        The Journal of Sex Research Vol.26. No.3, pp.375-392 August, 1989


        Sorry, the actual number of women whose labia were sewn up reporting satisfying sex lives was 90%. My mistake. Maybe I was looking at a different assessment from a different region when I saw 75%.

  16. Nathan says:

    I support this ban because religious rights of a person like all other rights end where another person’s body and/or property begins which means that it is the child’s right when they are older and able to make informed decisions to decide if they want to have this done or not but also this means that it does not violate any part of the U.S. federal constitution.

  17. BR says:

    As Joan Rivers comically chides, “Oh, grow UP!”
    There are so many heinous behaviors (also sanctioned in the Torah/Old Testament) that “good Jews” have long given up.
    Beyond mob executions, what about slavery, child-brides, forced marriage, etc?
    It’s understandable that to “let infant boys decide years later” is a tough paradigm shift for many. But it should really be less socially significant than these previous shifts they finally found good reason to make.

    Is this religion and its peoples not better off for having evolved beyond these?
    So, time is well overdue to add “forced circumcision” to the list.
    Only AFTER boys become adult men, only then let them choose if they want to follow this ritual … on their OWN body.

  18. drschiffman says:

    Just because you are Jewish doesn’t mean you speak for any other Jew but yourself. the Anti-circumcision lobby talks about “forced” circumcision, but what they advocate is a “forced” Uncircumcision. I have spoken to many people who were not circumcised as infants, but had it done later in life and they were angry their parents didn’t have it done for them when they were infants.

    Those that oppose circumcision should not be imposing their fetishes on other people.

  19. Nathan says:

    drschiffman just because people are opposed to amputating foreskins doesn’t make their opposition a fetish it makes it a belief nothing more nothing less. Now as to your notion that anti-cirucmcision individuals are advocating harm of men’s psychological well being, how can you deny that circumcising those who are not yet able to give informed consent robs them of making that choice later and does harm some men because they were physically harmed in a way that cannot be undone leaving them in their minds disfigured, and mutilated?

  20. drschiffman says:

    Nathan, call it what you will. but it is a fetish, but that is not really the issue at hand. It is a question of whether the city of S.F. can overrule a4000 year old religious tradition they have no right to stick their nose into. Separation of church and state cuts two ways. The state doesn’t have the right to forbid any circumcision performed on religious grounds. As to non religious circumcision, that is a different issue, but ultimately, none of the state’s business.

    1. Ron Low says:

      ^^ call it what you will. but it is a fetish ^^

      That’s a very odd use of the word fetish. It’s usually used to describe sexualizing something that is not normally part of sex.

      The foreskin is quite normal. 95% of the world’s non-Muslims don’t circumcise.

    2. Rood Andersson says:

      Male Genital Mutilation was instituted by Jewish Priests during the Babylonian Captivity, purely as a means of helping distinguish Jewish men from the larger, more sophisticated society into which they were in danger of being assimilated. As such MGM was always a political ploy couched in religious garb. MGM is political theatre, not religious. You are showing a striking ignorance of your own religious tradition.

      The very same Priests made up the story of Abram’s conversion to Male Genital Mutilation … even to the point of placing his origin at Ur. located just a few miles downstream from Babylon. The original “covenant” between Abram and his “God” is found in Genesis 15. Nowhere is Male Genital Mutilation mentioned until placed in the Biblical narrative as Genesis 17 by these self-same Priests.

      If they could change tradition, what’s to stop you?

  21. bobbie truth says:

    When these issues of circumcision are brought up, the circumcisers of America appoint one of their members to write their lies on a particular list.
    This list has “Rad”.
    what he says about the foreskin is only applicable for apes where the erogenous nerve endings are in the glans.
    Humans have theirs in the foreskin, it is the ridge of the glans rubbing back and forward past the ridged band of the foreskin that gives the height of erotic pleasure to the intact male.(the glans itself is one of the least sensitive parts of the entire body)

    1. Rad says:

      A conspiracy of the COA….. Laughable. Like there is a we.. and “we” organize and have meetings. Are you nuts? This isn’t even an issue or concern for me….until I read this article and see you are threatening my freedom. Yes there are limits to all freedoms but pick your battles. I don’t see a raft of lawsuits of Jewish kids during their parents. Go help the hungry, the poor, and the otherwise aggrieved….the unborn fetuses being killed… Leave mr alone. If your glans is one of the most insensitive areas of your body, I pity you. And it rubs just fine against the ridges of a partner. Dont need to rub it against myself, thank you.

  22. bobbie truth says:

    By the late fifth century B.C. at the time of the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, the priesthood tried to confirm their status as the dominant political force amongst the Israelites.
    They did this by instituting a temple-centred sacrificial cult into which newborn males were initiated by circumcision.

    They created the Abraham circumcision myth and inserted it into the most important part of Geneses, pretending that it had been there all along.

    Biblical scholars have known that the passage about Abraham’s covenant with god was never original to the bible.
    It was added after one thousand years after the time of Abraham.
    The original version of genesis which dates from 950B.C. is “It was that day Yahweh cut a covenant with Abram: “I gave this land to your seed, from the river of Egypt to the great rive, Euphrates -of the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, the Kadmonite; of the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim; of the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Girgashite, the Jusbisite.”
    Chapter 17 (Abrahams circumcision covenant with God) is suspiciously missing.

  23. bobbie truth says:

    need to sort out the clap trap written by drschiffman:
    Fleiss writes :Circumcision is hardly a logical way to prevent penile cancer
    It would make just as much sense to amputate the breast from all young
    girls to prevent breast cancer..The myth that foreskins causes penile
    cancer was largely invented by by L.Wolbarst a millitant promoter of mass
    circumcision in 1932…There are many scientific flaws with the penile
    cancer myth. First of all,normal body parts cannot cause cancer in other
    body parts. …The normal,intact penis no more gives itself cancer than
    breasts give themselves breast cancer…penile cancer is one of the rarest male cancers. This is probably because the intact penis has such a magnificent blood supply and highly envolved immune defences.
    Penile cancer is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer if caught in the early stages of its long development.
    Did you know that penile cancer is so rare that the govement feels it is
    unnecessary to keep statistics on it. Did you know that more American men
    contract and die of breast cancer than penile cancer.
    The best estimates is that the united States, where the majority of adult
    males have been subjected to neonatal circumcision, has a rate of penile
    cancer of 1 or 2 in 100,000. This is two to three times higher than the rate
    of penile cancer in non circumcising,first world countries such as Denmark,
    Finland, and Japan.
    Clearly the myth that circumcision prevents penile cancer is false.
    Who gets penile cancer? Scientific studies have proven that penile cancer is
    almost exclusive limited to elderly, poverty-stricken,uneducated men-usually minorities-with a history of poor hygiene,chronic smoking, alcoholism,repeated venereal infections and promiscuity. Objective studies prove that smoking is the single largest contributing factor in the production of penile cancer.With a lifestyle as unhealthy as this ,penile cancer is usually the least these men’s problems.


  24. drschiffman says:

    Bobbie.. with all voodoo science quoted by the anti-circumcision lobby on here, you can find opposing views to any view. As I stated earlier, medical reasons are not primary to me. Freedom of religion is. The city or state have overstepped their authority and their position when challenged in court will be found to be unconstitutional.

  25. Nathan says:

    drschiffman if being intact is a fetish then about 85% of the men in the world have the fetish which means not cutting isn’t a fetish. Now as to your assertion that the ban would be unconstitutional because of the religious element , it wouldn’t be because if the ban is unconstitutional then it would also mean the federal ban forbidding even pricking a girls genitals once is unconstitutional as it infringes upon religious rights of the parents. To put it another way we all have religious rights however those rights are not all powerful they have one great limitation they end where another person’s body and/or property begins if this did not occur no law of mankind could be used to punish someone as they could just say that they did it as part of their religion and the law’s hands would be tied and justice would be denied.

  26. drschiffman says:

    Not so Nathan. Circumcision is a primary issue in Judaism, practiced worldwide for thousands of years, not just some localized idea by some fly by night religious group. If separation of church and state is a reality, then the state can not tell religion how to practice said religion.

    BTW.. I did not say having foreskin is a fetish, but making such a big deal out of it is born from a fetish.

  27. Nathan says:

    To the law it does not matter how old a religion is nor does it care about how important one religious practice is compared to others it only cares about the balance between religious rights of individuals and the other rights of other individuals. If the law worked the way you suggest it does then the government couldn’t force parents to provide proper medical treatment for their children because they had religious reasons not to seek treatment, nor could the government force parents to give their children an education even though the parents religion didn’t support providing an education to their children for whatever religious reason, nor could the government punish parents who were forced their children to fast against their will to the point it posed a threat to their health all because religious rights have no restrictions on them.

  28. Cut says:

    Shades of gray.. Deal with it. Yes. Govt has rights. They have to choose when to use those rights. This isn’t such an issue. Worry about your own. Circumcised Jews have done just fine in America without your protection. Enough of us have achieved high enough influence to try to legislate against circumcision if it really were an issue to us. Haven’t seen that happen.

  29. BR says:

    Hmmmm … does no reaction against my post imply agreement with it …?

    Well, to be sure, let me put it another way:
    It seems that there were many centuries of biblically sanctioned ” …mob executions, what about slavery, child-brides, forced marriage”.
    But somewhere along the line, these “freedoms of religion” became outlawed even by this religion, itself.
    So, why is it such a big deal to consider the continued expansion of the individual rights and freedoms (of your own [grand]children), clearly established by MANY such precedents?
    Don’t worry … when you grow up, you will still be able to volunteer for this “covenant” of cosmetic surgery yourself … just like you can still volunteer to do work without pay [versus the previously time-honored institutions of slavery of and by Jews].

  30. BR says:

    Cut wrote: “Enough of us have achieved high enough influence to try to legislate against circumcision if it really were an issue to us.”

    I think this might be a good time recall a great but little-known quote of Harriet Tubman (escaped slave and a leader of the Underground Railroad) in the mid 1800’s.

    “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves.”

  31. cut says:

    Abortion Abortion Abortion

    I want someone who is against circumcision to say they are also working against abortion. I am not commenting on the validity of abortion but I suspect someone liberal enough to hate circumcision is in the pro abortion camp. I want you to look at your hyocracy. Lets see a comment here by someone. I noticed everyone is ignoring the issue.

    We will fight to protect someone’s foreskin but not a growing human organism…

  32. BR says:

    “Hmmmm”, indeed.

    But that is not how it works here in such a civil forum.
    If you have nothing meaningful to further relevant to the discussion at hand, then you say as much. (Alternative: feel free to start a different topic thread to which we can reply.)
    But trying to deflect simple questions or challenges posted, a sophomoric ruse to “change the subject” appears as a virtual concession that you have nothing worthwhile to contribute.

    1. cut says:

      Instead of tearing me down, answer the question. It isn’t a ruse. It is directly relevant. You are saying we shouldn’t destroy the foresking before the child can decide themselves. I am asking how you stand on killing the fetus before it can decide its own fate. Seems like a very apt parallel and brings out the hypocracy of those on the left who are making such a big deal out of circumcision.

  33. The ban on female mutilation took effect in 1997. Cut a girl, go to prison.
    Last time I looked, our constitution guaranteed equal protection of the law, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sex and so on. Therefore, anybody who performs genital mutilation on anyone under 18 is on shaky ground legally. Ethically- performing genital mutilation on children at the request of a parent or anyone else is wrong. There are no ethics police out there for physicians, however they daily hospital scene of forcing a controversial surgery on a healthy baby even if the parents request or demand this surgery exposes the need for laws that protect infant boys while they are unable to protect themselves. We have laws that allow the elderly to prevent unwanted resusitations or other interventions while they are incapacitated, yet we have no such laws that specifically protect boys from the same.

    There are many people who send their daughters back to Africa to have their clitorises severed. While I do not condone this, the elephant in the room nobody is talking about is this: Jews are 2% of the population. This tiny, disproportionally influential minority wants the rest of us to give them and their religion a pass so that they are free to perform their ancient blood ritual. However, I would say that those of us who lobby for infant protection by law do not care what they do to their sons in their own homes. We just want to protect our now and future sons and grandsons from smooth-talking and unethical doctors and hospital staff. However religiously sanctioned circumcision presents a stumbling block: how does one prevent unwanted, unnecessary AND non-religious circumcisions? I say send the poor infant back to Israel to have it done. Let the rest of us protect our sons from YOUR ritual.

    1. Proud of my Heritage says:

      This and other posts are typical examples of singling out the Jews and demonizing what they do. Look at what the Jews are doing to our whole society?!? our world…
      There are so many problems in the world, why such a focus on a sacred tradition of the Jews? Let us be. If others do circumcision too, it isn’t our fault! They must find some benefit in it… We are a strange people with strange customs that have been phenomenally successful in surviving these past millenia. We have flourished (and each time we have done that, we have been torn asunder. Our culture must be guiding us in the right direction for us to have this history.. Circumcision is part of that. We and our customs are always torn down. It is envy, discomfort with different customs and xenophobia. Grow up, get over it, and find another cause to work on. Leave us ALONE!

  34. bobbie truth says:

    Dr who circumcise baby girls and boys are paedophiles of the worst kind.
    There is something obviously very sick in the minds and heart of doctors wanting to chop tens of thousands of sensory receptors off of millions of other males’ perfectly normal perfectly healthy penises. What drives this obsessive, psychopathic, pathogenic, evil sexual mutilating? Envy, revenge?
    John Erickson was right. We don’t need to study circumcision any more.
    We need to study the mutilators of normal sex organs, after they are housed safely in jail, away from children.
    Michael B. Music S.Q. recently said:
    Not to “scare” at all, but I would comment calmly that the day will come (and sooner than we expect) when victims of involuntary, non therapeutic circumcision will be filing lawsuits against physicians and medical institutions and even their own parents just as often and just as effectively as the victims of sexually predatory priests have taken actions (and won judgements $$$) against the Roman Catholic Church.
    I find it so ridiculous that laws can be passed to protect females from genital mutilation, and yet the same people duck and weave in trying to avoid bringing in the same laws into action to protect males from the same abuse.
    Is it because that the doctors know that they are likely to have legal litigation brought against them because of their medical misdeeds?
    Any excuse (medical or health reasons) come up with by people trying to make money out of circumcision of baby boys is false. The same logic could be applied to reintroduce female circumcision and start genitally mutilating girls again. We are not going down that line again.

    1. Proud of my Heritage says:

      OK. This outs you as a total nutcase. Since most obgyns have or currently do circumcisions, you are calling all of them pedophiles… of the worst kind no less (I guess there are gradations). Their actions are obsessive, psychopathic, pathogenic, evil sexual mutilating.
      OK. you are a nutcase. Thank you.

  35. bobbie truth says:

    Most intelligent people don’t circumcise their children.
    The most obgyns who currently do circumcisions only do it for money. They have no consideration of the childs’ rights or wants.
    As there is no medical reason for circumcision it belies belief that a dill like you could step forward and defend their genital mutilating practices.
    I personally have saved many a child from people like you.

  36. Cut says:

    Most most most.
    You are a nutcase

  37. BR says:

    Well, then, I can only assume that the key is indeed to simply remind all
    how previous, “sacred traditions” have ultimately been outlawed.
    (public stoning, pederasty, forced marriage, slavery, etc.)

    Such new laws are now even embraced by the successors of the previous authorities who had defended and supported such policies (in spite of the vain, humbug resistance of their predecessors).

  38. BR says:

    As for the tangential comparison of “circumcision to abortion” (by “Cut”) … let’s cut to the chase:

    Would you propose to give up those so-called, parental rights to circumcise infants … if abortions were similarly outlawed?

  39. drschiffman says:

    Where do these guys get their alleged facts? Hundreds of Thousands of guys are restoring their foreskin? how do they know? you would think more people would have heard of this. I seriously doubt hundreds of thousands of circumcised men are restoring their foreskins. All the figures given by the anti-circumcision bloggers has been highly exaggerated. I am curious about one thing: This may seem politically incorrect, but I really don’t care. What percentage of the anti-circumcision people on here are gay men? It seems to me that most straight men don’t care if another guy is circumcised or not. The only people who would be pushing an end to circumcision would be people who like to play with uncircumcised men; and in a city like San Francisco, which has such a high percentage of gay men, it is logical that anti-circumcision legislation would come from there. If you are not gay, why would you care if another guy is circumcised or not? BTW, I don’t care if someone is gay or not, I’m just curious.

    1. Ron Low says:

      ^^ What percentage of the anti-circumcision people on here are gay men? ^^

      I can’t imagine how one’s sexual orientation impacts his human rights activism, but since you brought it up, a recent survey of foreskin restorers showed that 2/3 were straight. I’m a straight man.

      On a related note, a recent survey of anti-circumcision activists (at an international symposium held in Berkeley in July) found that just over 20% were Jewish. That’s about 10 times the proportion of Jews in the general population in the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia where most of the attendees hailed from.

  40. Paul says:

    Circumcision, like bloodletting and trepanation properly belongs on the scrap heap of sham medical interventions.

  41. BR says:

    FYI …. “Trepanation”

    Trepanning, also known as trephination, trephining or making a burr hole, is a medical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater in order to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. It may also refer to any “burr” hole created through other body surfaces, including nail beds. It is often used to relieve pressure beneath a surface. A trephine is an instrument used for cutting out a round piece of skull bone.

    Evidence of trepanation has been found in prehistoric human remains from Neolithic times onward. Cave paintings indicate that people believed the practice would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders.

  42. I got involved after a family member was circumcised against the family’s wishes. I want it (RIC) out of the hospitals and doctor’s offices. I don’t care if you invite a busload of Mojels to your house and have a cutting party. Baby boys are at risk in the hospital as long as non-therapeutic genital mutilation of boys is legal.
    Most men probably have no idea they are missing anything, however that does not make what was done to them OK. Dr. Schiffman, I am surprised that you cannot see that performing an unnecessary controversial genital surgery on a baby who cannot refuse is bad practice. It doesn’t matter what benefits there are or are not, it wouldn’t matter if a pot of gold falls from the sky for each foreskin cut. The facts remain: It is a controversial practice, it is becoming less common, and the patient (an infant) cannot consent or influence his treatment in any way or even understand what is being done to him. It is FORCED on him. Once he turns 18 he will be free to sue the pants off of the doctor that did that to him. This genital cutting craze done outside of religion will eventually go away and it will be the lawsuits that do it in.

  43. drschiffman says:

    Once again Ron, the same question: Where do you get your facts? You throw out huge percentages of men getting their foreskins restored, and know off the top of your head how many are straight and how many are Jewish, and not one shred of documentation. This is why they have scholarly standards. Items presented as facts are footnoted and results of actual studies are presented. Everything you mentioned is mere hearsay, and fantasy facts. It leaves your statements with ZERO credibility. You just sound like a bunch of gay men trying to feed your foreskin fetish.

    1. Ron Low says:

      So you’re hung up on two numbers: the number of men restoring and demographic make-up of the anti-circumcision community? Why aren’t you troubled by the number of boys still having body parts hacked off?

      As there is no professional journal of foreskin restoration, the only place this research about the numbers of restoring men has been published is in my own address to the 11th International Symposium on Genital Integrity and Human Rights (the proceedings of which are not in print yet, although the program is online). You say these are “fantasy” numbers, but I stated my assumptions. YOU can go to Amazon and verify that The Joy of Uncircumcising has gone through multiple printings if you’re such a skeptic. Or tell me YOUR estimating scheme if you think mine is unreasonable. Men have been restoring since biblical times – read I Maccabees Chapter 15. You just stick your head in the sand and say “no, it can’t be.” I’m one of the few people in this discussion who IS giving citations, in case you hadn’t noticed.

      I’m not the one trying to justify the outrageous assumption that 65 million years of evolution has somehow produced a birth defect in exactly one gender of one mammal. If you want to leave the foreskin on every other mammal on earth and slice it off of male humans YOU should know these numbers beforehand, not be waiting for some anonymous guy on the internet to make a claim which is ultimately irrelevant to the matter of human rights.

      The percent of restorers who are straight and the percent of intactivists who are Jews also comes from my own research. Since I attend these symposia and give speaches it’s easy enough for me to ask for a show of hands while I have the floor. I don’t care but people like you ask about it, so I survey. The last time I asked there were just over 100 people in the room and 20 were Jews. You don’t have to believe me, just go to the library and look at the books about circumcision. Most are against the practice and most are by Jews. It’s often right there in the bio. Films: same thing – “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision” is directed by an orthopdox Jew. The sexual orientation question was covered in a survey I emailed to 1000 clients (I help men restore for a living) but seriously, these are stupid things to be hung up about.

      You were asking WHO are these people against the practice, and I knew something so I told you. So what? You’re just deflecting because you can’t justify why in the time you’ve been reading this entry another couple human beings have had a healthy normal sexually valuable body part haphazardly amputated without their consent.

      And FYI, there is no such thing as a foreskin fetish. The penis is a normal part of sex, and the slinky slack skin tube is a normal part of the penis. “Foreskin” is just a label given to the part of the continuous penile skin system that’s easiest to chop off.

  44. bobbie truth says:

    lets look at what circumcision does:
    *1. The foreskin, which comprises up to 50% (sometimes more) of the mobile skin system of the penis. If unfolded and spread out flat, the average adult foreskin would measure about 15 square inches (the size of a 3 x 5-inch index card). This highly specialized tissue normally covers the glans and protects it from abrasion, drying, callusing (keratinization), and contaminants of all kinds. The effect of glans keratinization on human sexuality has never been studied.
    *2. The frenar band of soft ridges — the primary erogenous zone of the male body. Loss of this delicate belt of densely innervated, sexually responsive tissue reduces the fullness and intensity of sexual response.
    *3. The foreskin’s “gliding action”– the hallmark mechanical feature of the normal, natural, intact penis. This non-abrasive gliding of the penis in and out of itself within the vagina facilitates smooth, comfortable, pleasurable intercourse for both partners. Without this gliding action, the corona of the circumcised penis can function as a one-way valve, scraping vaginal lubricants out into the drying air and making artificial lubricants essential for pleasurable intercourse.
    *4. Thousands of coiled fine-touch mechanoreceptors called Meissner’s corpuscles, the most important sensory component of the foreskin, encapsulated Vater-Pacinian cells, Merkel’s cells, nociceptors, and branches of the dorsal nerve and perineal nerve. Altogether, between 10,000 and 20,000 specialized erotogenic nerve endings of several types, which can feel slight motion and stretch, subtle changes in temperature, and fine gradations in texture are lost.
    *5. The frenulum, the highly erogenous V-shaped web-like tethering structure on the underside of the glans; frequently amputated along with the foreskin, or severed, either of which destroys its function and potential for pleasure.
    6. Approximately half of the temperature-sensitive smooth muscle sheath called the dartos fascia.
    7. The immunological defense system of the soft mucosa. This produces both plasma cells that secrete immunoglobulin antibodies and antibacterial and antiviral proteins such as the pathogen-killing enzyme lysozyme.
    8. Lymphatic vessels, the loss of which reduces the lymph flow within that part of the body’s immune system.
    9. Estrogen receptors – the purpose of which is not yet fully understood and needs further study.

    *10. The apocrine glands of the inner foreskin, which produce pheromones – nature’s powerful, silent, invisible behavioral signals to potential sexual partners. The effect of their absence on human sexuality has never been studied.
    *11. Sebaceous glands, which lubricate and moisturize the foreskin and glans, normally a protected internal organ – like the tongue or vagina.
    12. Specialized epithelial Langerhans cells, a first line component of the body’s immune system in a whole penis.
    13. The pink to red to dark purple natural coloration of the glans. The connective tissue which protectively fuses the foreskin and glans together while the penis develops is ripped apart during circumcision, wounding the glans and the foreskin remnant, leaving them raw and subject to infection, scarring, pitting, shrinkage, and eventual discoloration.
    *14. Some of the penis length and penis circumference because its double-layered wrapping of loose and usually overhanging foreskin is now missing, making the circumcised penis truncated and thinner than a full-sized intact penis.
    *15. Several feet of blood vessels, including the frenular artery and branches of the dorsal artery. The loss of this rich vascularity interrupts normal blood flow to the shaft and glans of the penis, damaging the natural function of the penis and altering its development.
    16. Every year boys lose their entire penises from circumcision accidents and infections. They are then “sexually reassigned” by castration and “transgender surgery,” and expected to live their lives as “females.”
    17. Every year many boys lose their lives from the complications of circumcision, a fact the billion-dollar-a-year circumcision industry in the U.S. obscures and ignores.
    18. By encoding violence on the brain the infant’s bonding with its mother is disrupted, with indications that the innate sense of trust in intimate physical contact is inhibited or lost, and in its place a sense of betrayal is instilled in the infant.
    (*19. Although never studied scientifically, contemporary evidence suggests that a penis without its foreskin lacks the capacity for the subtle neurological “cross-communication” that occurs only during contact between mucous membranes and which contributes to the experience of sexual pleasure. Amputating an infant boy’s multi-functional foreskin is a “low-grade neurological castration” [Immerman], which diminishes the intensity of the entire sexual experience for both the circumcised male and his partner.)

    *Loss of each of these items reduces sexual pleasure, gratification, and fulfillment.

  45. done here says:

    This is just so tiresome. You guys are penis/foreskin fanatics. My circumcised penis is just fine. It isn’t truncated, and has no scarring, pitting, shrinkage, and discoloration. I am sorry you have to spend your life worrying about such things… This page is tiresome… Enjoy your noncircumcised penis and leave the rest of us alone.

  46. drschiffman says:

    alex.. its rare, as are complications from circumcision. They don’t belong in the argument. I don’t care if you are circumcised or not. I never advocated or your circumcision. If you were Jewish, it would be a different matter. If you consider yourself mutilated, then you are, but not because of circumcision. The vast majority of circumcised men don’t consider themselves traumatized, mutilated, or harmed in any way. A practice doesn’t need to be outlawed because you have issues. The problem isn’t the practice, but your attitude towards it. Get over it.

    1. alex says:

      So my ATTITUDE is the problem here? OK Dr… Theoretically speaking, if you were a female, and I removed your clitoral hood, I would be guilty of at least a misemeanour, ie sexual battery. Now you quite happily remove male prepuces, which are analgous to the clitoral hood, and it is perfectly acceptable. Anyone else see the problem here? It’s not Jewishness that is the problem. It’s the fact that you have no problem removing perfectly healthy parts of the anatomy. Now if you are a medical doctor, you would have taken the Hippoctratic oath, right? “First, do no harm”… Sound familiar? I would think that circumcision for the sake of it, or on religious grounds, would be quite harmful. But hey, it’s all good. You keep mutilating kids, and think that it’s ok because it’s not doing any harm. You keep believing in your deluded reason for the unneccessary removal of healthy tissue, and you keep doing harm. I will leave it at that.
      Best wishes,

  47. BR says:

    Dr. S says:
    “The vast majority of circumcised men don’t consider themselves traumatized, mutilated, or harmed in any way.”

    Such anecdotal pronouncements is little more than inadvertant testimony to the effectiveness of mainstream brain-washing by authorities and their selective media/information control (for untoled centuries).

    Consider, for example, it took more than decades for countless, newly emancipated slaves to realize they had even been enslaved.

  48. Robert says:

    This survey indicated there are 52 million men in the US that are dissatisfied with their circumcision. This number almost exactly duplicates a study in Journeyman in 1992. It must be fairly accurate.

    192 respondents (average age 44 years,85% circumcised

    circumcised intact
    Satisfied 38% 78%
    Dissatisfied 20% 3%
    Ambivalent 41% 17%

  49. Jerry Norton says:

    Honestly folks, I just want the penis I was born with. Is that really too much for an adult male to ask? (I’m sure some of you will say “yes.”) So why? When and how did the abnormal become normal?

  50. Shuggy says:

    I want to update the cartoon to have the baby say “You touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.”
    @Dr Schiffman: Complications go all the way to death. (A baby can afford to lose only two tablespoons of blood, modern diapers can easily conceal that much, and there is an arteriole in the frenulum that is readily nicked. ) How many circumcision deaths are acceptable to you? Are you willing to stand in front of the bereft parents and tell them that number?
    @DoneHere: If your penis is circumcised without scarring, you are the subject of a miracle, and perhaps you ought to START a religion.
    @cut: Abortion is a different issue and Intactivists are as divided about it as everyone else, but the Born Alive Infant Protection Act 2002, signed by George W Bush and supported by the pro-life movement, grants all born babies full human rights, which include the 4th Amendment “right of the people to be secure in their persons … against unreasonable … seizures” and the 14th Amendment right to equal protection.
    @Proud of my Heritage: We could end 97% of circumcision by having a religious exemption, but that would also let off the Vancouver man who circumcised his 4 year old with a razor blade, or the North Carolina man who circumcised both his newborns with a box cutter. Both fathers are Christian. Babies do not have a religion.
    @Rita M: “I’m all for freedom of choice in the matter” How about freedom of choice for the person most directly concerned, the man on the other end?

  51. bobbie truth says:

    Stop referring to drschiffman as a doctor, no doctor would be that ignorant on medical facts. dr stands for david richard
    The foreskin(prepuce) of an intact penis has a ridged band just inside and encircling the preputial opening that contains Meissner’s corpucles (like nerve recepters in the finger tips) This exquisitely sensitive band glides back and forth across the corona of the glans (head of the penis), with its concentration of neurovascular end organs. The glans and the prepuce stimulate each other. This is probably why men who are circumcised as adults say the difference is like seeing in black and white rather than seeing in colour. An intact penis is stimulated by both the vagina and the prepuce.
    The movements an intact man needs for stimulation are small. Circumcised men, however must stimulate whatever is left of the frenulum (the most sensitive part of the circumcised penis) to reach orgasm. The long strokes necessary to stimulate the frenulum remnant takes the male’s body away from the woman’s mons pubis, so her clitorus isn’t stimulated. The movement necessary for a circumcised man to reach orgasm is not compatible with the movement a woman needs to reach orgasm. So the joke that goes, “Why do women fake orgasm?” with a punchline that says, “Because men fake foreplay,” has the wrong answer. Women fake orgasm because men are circumcised. They fake orgasm so they won’t be considered fridgid or so they won’t hurt a man’s feelings. The man, already insecure about his masculinity/sexuality, may know something’s wrong, but he’s relieved to hear her say “yes honey, I had an orgasm.” No one talks about this potential cause for deep tension in relationships. It helps to understand that sexual mechanics are disturbed when genitals have been cut and movements during sexual relations must be adjusted to compensate for genital alterations, Laumann: Found that circumcised men had different sexual practices from genitally intact men. Circumcised men were more likely to masturbate, to engage in heterosexual anal and oral sex, and to engage in homosexual anal sex. The fundamental biological sex act becomes, for the circumcised male, simply satisfaction of an urge and not the refined sensory experience that it was meant to be.”

  52. Ron Low says:

    ^^ adult-circumcision-my-experience-2-years-on ^^

    That’s fascinating, but whether or not one guy is happy to be rid of a healthy normal body part or not (and that IS a psych. disorder called Bodily Integrity Identity Disorder) it has no more bearing on how we treat infants than does evidence that thousands of adults are thrilled with their tongue piercings or breast reductions.

    HIS body, HIS decision.

  53. Jerry Norton says:

    ^^ He’s not happy Ron. Sold a bill of goods. Feels duped like so many of us RICed do.

  54. bobbie truth says:

    Most doctors who discuss circumcision with parents rely on outdated, incomplete, or disproved material. The sad thing is that most doctors form their opinions about circumcision from uninformed and misguided medical school professors as well as from the same source as most parents: from newspaper headlines, magazines articles, and radio talk show hosts of questionable reliability and dubious credentials. The opinions about circumcision that doctors and other health care writers have may also be strongly influenced by more insidious forces, such as personal bias, misdirected religious zealotry, prejudice, identity anxieties, sexual insecurities, male rivalry, and fear.
    The sad truth is that doctors can be poor sources of information as well! Most doctors today know very little about circumcision. They know even less about the anatomy and function of the foreskin. How can doctors give parents accurate advice on circumcision if they are ignorant on the facts about the body part that is being cut off?
    Routine circumcision is unheard of among the civilisations of continental Europe, Great Britain, South America, and non Muslim Asia. Most Europeans-including European doctors-are shocked to learn that routine circumcision goes on in America. Most refuse to believe that such a thing is possible in a civilised, Western Country.
    “The prepuce is a common anatomical structure of the male and female external genitalia of all human and non-human primates; it has been present in primates for at least 65 million years, and is likely to be over 100 million years old, based upon its commonality as an anatomical feature of mammals.” (Christopher J. Cold and John R. Taylor)
    Fleiss: The fact that there are tens of thousands of sensory nerves in the normal foreskin explains why foreskin amputation is so excruciatingly painful and why modern medicine has repeatedly failed to develop a technique of local anaesthesia that is completely safe and effective.
    The message should be very clear: Any procedure that causes that amount of pain to an innocent newborn babe is clearly a mistake. A baby’s agonising and frenzied screams of pain are the only way he has to tell us to leave his penis alone and that he needs his foreskin to enjoy life as a complete male.
    The principles of medical ethics require that we protect our babies from pain and trauma. If it is illegal to subject laboratory animals to painful experiences, what does it say about society that would provide greater legal protection to lab rats than to its own children?

  55. BR says:

    (To Bobbie Truth, Rood Anderson, et al)
    The best response to claims of so-called “freedom of religion/religious tradition” might well be corrected, “historical facts” (like some already offered by forum contributors here).
    But a few such remarkable claims are confusing and lack of supporting documentation. But with just a little careful support, this could be THE slam-dunk argument, once and for all. (Otherwise, both sides could re-write history to suit their personal beliefs.)
    Please, stop this cycle: take a moment and back up your claims somehow (even if absolute precision is not available). For example, consider a relevant chronology/time line … (feel free to amend/correct as needed):

    +/- 1800 BC – est. time of Abraham/”covenant” ?
    +/- 1450 BCE – est. time when Moses himself wrote down Genesis*?
    +/- 605 B.C. to 537 B.C – time of Babylonian captivity

    So, you post: “Nowhere … mentioned until placed in the Biblical narrative as Genesis 17 by these self-same Priests.”
    1) HOW can we know (how much?) of “Gen. 17” was inserted +/- 500 years later (i.e. missing from the original Genesis, *only a part of a supposedly unbroken scroll)?
    2) WHO were these “Jewish Priests”? who “made up the story” to institute circumcision during the Babylonian Captivity …?
    3) How can we know/assume their motivations for such an extreme practice …? (i.e. “political ploy”, “confirm their status as the dominant political force”, etc.)


  56. drschiffman says:

    TO BR, Bobbie Truth, Rood Anderson, et al, you have no slam dunk. No biblical scholarship backs up your contention that circumcision was added during the Babylonian period. The biblical record does not support your fantasy revisions. Show one primary source to back up your contention. You can try to make up history as you go along, but then you are no different than holocaust deniers and other liars. If you have proof, then show it. If not, you better base your contentions on something other than biblical history.

    1. Ron Low says:

      Here’s a Wiki that lists many primary sources for Genesis 17 not being as old as Genesis 15, and circumcision being added by the P authors under the Wellhausen documentary hypothesis:

      See also Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America by Leonard B. Glick

  57. Paul says:

    As I suspected, someone would inevitably play the tattered and worn “Anti-Semite” card. The usual refuge of anyone who has no legitimate argument.

    IMHO the very act of circumcision is anti-semetic. Curiously if I had my newborn son’s prepuce tattooed with the star of david I’d be accused of child abuse, yet requesting it to be permanently removed is OK?

    If nothing else, Bris periah should be an indictable criminal offense.

    1. Jerry Norton says:

      One of the things I find extremely odd is how infant, child, toddler, pre-school and prepubertal circumcision unites all Semites ~ Jew and Moslem.
      I was on a discussion board one time and the Jews were saying this is how we get homicidal bombers, because they are old enough to know what was done to them. While the holy do it at eight days old.
      Pot. Kettle. Black.

  58. drschiffman says:

    TO Ron Low…

    Oh Please! you quote Wikipedia as a primary source????? The documentary hypothesis has been discredited over 40 years ago. No competent bible scholar accepts it as credible today. Why don’t you affirm the flat earth as well. It just goes to show that when you have already decided what you want the truth to be, you can always find something on the internet to back up your view. I’m willing to have serious dialogue with people who use serious scholarship. If this is the best you can do, please don’t waste my time.

    1. Ron Low says:

      You have your fingers in your ears, “doc,” because I didn’t quote a thing from Wikipedia. I pointed you to a well-footnoted Wikipedia article so you could see that all of the citations ARE the works of biblical scholars who accept the documentary hypothesis. I think when you say nobody believes it, what you mean is nobody who accepts the scriptures as divine is willing to discuss it. I also pointed you to a relevant specific primary source not mentioned in the Wiki. But since you’re the one claiming that a dusty 3000 year-old fairy tale gives you the right to harm someone today, you are the one who needs to conjure up some evidence to support that outrageous assertion.

  59. drschiffman says:

    Ron Low.. apparently you don’t know the meaning of a primary source. Calling a 4000 year old belief a dusty old fairy tale is itself an outrageous assertion. Making up your facts as you go along is the real fairy tale.

    1. Robert says:

      check in the “religion sections”.

      Refute it if you can.

  60. Nathan says:

    While Ron was indeed out of line with part of his last comment you are also out of line, however he was not making facts up so you owe him an apology.

  61. BR says:

    drschiffman: Here is your chance to follow your own advice: “If you have proof, then show it.” Where is the “serious scholarship” you demand of others?
    So, where is YOUR “one primary source to back up your contention” that the Wellhausen “documentary hypothesis has been discredited over 40 years ago” ….?

    While you are at it … why did YOU not come forward to correct fellow forum members who mistakenly (understandably) referred to you as a “doctor” … instead of leaving it to others to correct?

  62. drschiffman says:

    BR – first, I have a PHD, so the title is legit. I never claimed to be an MD, and people were busy denigrating me as it was. I didn’t want to stoop to that level.

    Second, check out the book by G. Meier, “The End Of The Historical-Critical Method,” – a small but scholarly study. Check it out.

    1. Jerry Norton says:

      See Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America – Paperback (Dec. 7, 2006) by Leonard B. Glick

  63. Robert says:

    What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Circumcision
    Untold Facts on America’s Most Widely Performed-and Most Unneccessary – Surgery
    Paul Fleiss, M.D. and Frederick M. Hodges, D.Phil
    Warner books 2002

    “Most people assume that circumcision has always been a part of Jewish Life. In Genesis 17, we read that the Lord appeared to Abraham when he was ninety-nine years old and made a covenant with him, agreeing that he would be the God of the Jews and the Jews would worship no other god but him. To seal the bargain, Jehovah is reported to have said to Abraham:

    For your part, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you: circumcise yourselves, every male among you. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between us. Every male among you in every generation shall be circumcised on the eighth day, both those born in you house and any foreigner, not of your blood but bought by your money. Circumcise both those born in your house and those bought with your money.(Genesis 17:9-13)

    Biblical scholars, however, have known for a long time that this passage was never original to the Bible. It was added about 500 B.C., over 1,000 years after the time of Abraham. Scholars David Rosenberg and Harold Bloom have published a full translation of the original verse, which dates from about 950 B.C. Here, Chapter 17 is conspicuously absent. All we read is that:

    It was that day Yahweh cut a covenant with Abraham: “I gave this land to your seed, from the river of Egypt to the great river, Euphrates-of the Kenite, and Kenizzite, the Kadmonite; of the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Rephaim; of the Amorite, the Canannite, the Jubisite.”

    As you can see, there is no mention of circumcision as a sign of this bargain. Along with biblical scholars, the only conclusion is that circumcision was never originally part of Judaism. Why, then, was circumcision incorporated into priestly Judaism?

    Rabbi and Historian Lawrence A. Hoffman explains that by the late fifth century B.C., at the time of the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, the priesthood tried to confirm their status as the dominant political force among the Israelites. They did this by instituting a temple centered sacrificial cult into which newborn males were initiated by circumcision. They created the Abrahamic circumcision myth and inserted it into the most important part of Genesis, pretending that it had been there all along…”

  64. drschiffman says:

    Robert, the problem with saying the circumcision passages were NOT original to the Bible is that no one has an original copy, or anything close to it. The oldest whole manuscripts would be the dead sea scroll materials and they date from about 100 BCE, NOT 950 BCE. The burden of proof that they were not original lies with those who say it is not original to the Bible, and that kind of proof does not exist without original manuscripts. All the oldest known manuscripts contain the passages you dispute. You can find scholars who affirm the texts of scripture and those who don’t. In the long run, they cancel each other out. Either you affirm the biblical record or not. It doesn’t matter to me what you do, but recognize one person’s view doesn’t have the right to regulate another’s. People are free to choose to circumcise their sons or not. They can quote their scriptures or their doctors, and make their own choices for themselves and their children.

    1. Robert says:

      “People are free to choose to circumcise their sons or not. ”

      The paramount question is WHY someone is allowed to mutilate their children; due to superstitious beliefs, or because they think children are property? WHY?

      I will await a RATIONAL reason.

  65. Ron Low says:

    ^^ Ron was indeed out of line ^^

    Nonsense. One can’t demand evidence and in the same breath credibly pretend that an ancient scripture that includes gems like:

    – Man being created BOTH before and the animals
    – Plants created before sunlight
    – Angels and humans interbreeding to create giants
    – A guy narrating his own death and its aftermath
    – A mass-murdering god who floods the world resulting in an ark full of the animals being perfectly distribruted throughout the globe into millions of habitats they were seemingly perfectly evolved to occupy
    – Condoning slavery
    – 12 tribes of Israel described three ways with varying mix/match combinations of 13 discreet tribes
    – Stoning disbelievers
    – Edicts to both make no graven images and also to make graven images
    – 10 generations (or perhaps 4) of offspring punished for sins of parents
    – Eating unleavened bread during Passover for both exactly 6 and exactly 7 days
    – Proclamations that there is one god and also that this god has punished the OTHER gods

    …is part of that body of evidence. If you’re down with these things just say so. Would anyone beyond a 3-year-old’s level of intellect assert that this body of work is divinely inspired or that it belongs in a discussion of human rights today?

    1. cut says:

      you doth protest too much. I feel sorry for someone who spends so much time on something he doesn’t believe in. Get a life.

  66. drschiffman says:

    The main problem here is that you guys can’t discuss an issue with out denigrating one another. Your attitudes are unkind, and that makes for a very bad discussion. I can’t respect your views when you treat everyone who disagrees with you so badly. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but there is no excuse for bad behavior. No doubt, you will take pot shots at me as I leave this discussion, but it only proves my point.

    be well all.

    1. Robert says:

      “I can’t respect your views when you treat everyone who disagrees with you so badly.”

      Let’s discuss “RESPECT”.. how can any rational person respect someone who has so little respect for their children that they mutilate their genitals?

      How much respect devolves to a person who uses some bronze-age superstitious belief to try to justify mutilating their own children?

      “there is no excuse for bad behavior”

      EXACTLY– and mutilating your children’s genitals is about as bad a behavior as I can think of.

  67. drschiffman says:


    Thank you for proving my point, and that you are not worthy of further comment. The only thing mutilated is your mind.

    1. Robert says:

      So, this is your final point–respect is a one-way street–and always going towards you and not away from you?

      The only point proven here is that you demand respect from others, but do not give it to your victims?

  68. cut says:

    has anyone figured out that this is a fanatical obsession that the anti-circumcisers have. You will not change their minds. You can’t reason. I would divert your attention to other pursuits. Hopefully they will not infringe on our religious freedom.

    1. Robert says:

      Let’s talk about obsession; what is obsessive in trying to get human rights for infants?

      And the obverse, an irrational obsession TO violate them based on some bronze-age superstitious belief?

      WHERE is the true obsession? ANY rational person knows where it is.

      Religious freedom? Is that to be free to impose the scars of YOUR religious beliefs on an infant that has none? Where is freedom FROM religion for your victims?

      Where is any rational thought in this claimed “right”?

    2. Jerry Norton says:

      Much of the stuff in the OT is now illegal. What is shocking is how the one we are referring to has endured.

  69. Paul says:

    Religious /cultural freedom is the argument promulgated by those who blatantly or surreptitiously practice FGM .

    If anyone can define the difference between religion and culture please do so.
    IMO they’re essentially the same thing, though I’d say that culture is religion gone awry. Or vice-versa?

  70. drschiffman says:


    You received respect all along until you showed you were unworthy of it. Don’t play that game, I don’;t have the interest in it. You don’t know how to carry on a dialogue, so I won’t waste my time with you.

    1. Robert says:

      And again, I ask WHERE is your respect for your children?

      Don’t use the “respect” card, unless you display it.

    2. Robert says:

      The bottom line when it comes to respect, is that YOU do not respect human rights–and not the most basic one of one’s owning their own body.

      And you believe that your bronze-age belief system trumps this most basic human right.

      All I can say is that I am so grateful to have as personal friends some Jews who are more enlightened than yourself-otherwise reading posts like yours would make it easy to stereotype all Jews as unenlightened barbarians trapped by their superstitious beliefs.

    3. Alex says:

      Yeah, got to love it. He plays the “I won’t waste my time with you”, “don’t waste my time” blah blah blah card all the time.
      People add a genuine comment or opinion for the good doc to respond to, and all he wants them to do now is go away… Guess it’s getting a little too hot for the doc, hey?
      Oh well. Maybe he’d better take his own advice then…

  71. Robert says:

    Just because the popular media demands we all act politically correct, does not mean that the internet must ignore the obvious. Does infant circumcision violate their basic human right of bodily integrity or not? Do religious beliefs trump that right?

    I didn’t know this was a Jewish site, but thought it a site for people to comment on the banning of infant circumcision.

    As far as religion goes, I have no concerns with the practices therein, except when one deliberately harms others and violates their basic human rights in the name of religion.

  72. Nathan says:

    Don’t you have something more intelligent to say? As your response is like that of a child who has exhausted all of their intellectual responses and only has weak, and flimsy emotional based arguments left.

  73. bobbie truth says:

    When Britain reviewed circumcision in the late 40’s it realised the damage it was doing to their children and virtually overnight circumcision dropped to less than 1% .
    Over circumcising countries New Zealand and Australia slowly came to realise that same thing and their figures in circumcision crashed also.
    Why then is there such a collusion of drongos in America still mooting to retain this child abuse in their society.
    Money is one thing , circumcisers would have very little income if it was not for circumcision, as most are failed medicos and could not compete in the real world of medical services.
    Then we have the circumcised male who will go to his grave trying to justify that having only half a penis there is nothing wrong with him sexually, that
    by continuing the child abuse justifies the mutilation done to him.
    Surely an intelligent person would make the judgement that it his not his right to to mutilate defenceless children and let the child make his own decision when he is of age.
    Circumcised males have been robbed of a normal body part. They have been robbed of a normal level of sexual sensation. Just as a person whose lips were amputated could never really appreciate the sensations that lips can convey, so a circumcised male can never understand what his genitally intact friends experience.
    This helps to explain why some circumcised males defend circumcision so vehemently. They have no idea what was taken from them and are psychologically unprepared to deal with their losss.

  74. Robert says:


    Save me from having to face what others think of me and my obsession, and from accurate words that I don’t like.

    Mutilation is perfection!

  75. BR says:

    D.R. Schiffman, Ph D, et al

    Thank you for responding to my request for supporting documentation.
    But, I believe that “scholarly standards” call for more than merely quoting a book title as testimony. One needs to cite the very passages within said book(s) which might support your very position(s) in question.

    So, I respectfully further request you (or anyone), please cite any such words in G. Meier’s, “The End Of The Historical-Critical Method,” which serve to indicate why the “Wellhausen documentary hypothesis has been discredited over 40 years ago” [plus date and page number(s)] .

    Just to be professional.

    For instance, at least “Robert” (Nov 29) cited the text, Chapter AND verse to back up his argument:
    “… Circumcise both those and those bought with your money.(Genesis 17:9-13)”
    Since no one has yet challenged this text, so I am assuming the quoted text is an accurate copy of what you DO believe.
    (For the moment, let’s disregard whether these words, or chapter, are original or a later insertion.)
    As such, it appears to clearly relay two things (within the very same verse): You are to circumcise both any (males) ” … born in your house …” as well as any [slaves] “… bought with your money”.

    Therefore, if you champion this “biblical record”, how can any true believer selectively embrace part of scripture and disregard the other: the Old Testament’s tacit approval of slavery?!
    But … if you CAN chose to honor one authorization AND reject the other (for whatever reason), then why can’t you consider that the time is past for circumcision, just as the time has long-past for slavery?

  76. drschiffman says:

    BR … Several points:

    First, the entire book is dedicated to the point I was making, so its not a matter of quoting one sentence or paragraph. The entire book makes the point.

    Second, you raise the question of slavery. The text does not command slavery, it simply acknowledges the existence of slavery, considers slaves as part of a person’s household, and therefore says they should be circumcised as well. It does not give approval of slavery. I do not consider slavery and circumcision the same, in that slavery was a human institution that should have and did pass, and was not then or ever commanded. Circumcision was commanded and therefore not something that should pass away. It is a covenant sign between God and the people of Israel. If others wish to be circumcised thats one thing, but only for Jews is it commanded, and I limit my concern to them. The JPED theory is classical liberal protestantism, and really doesn’t constitute an issue for me, since I am not a protestant. I don’t sit in judgement of other people’s religious traditions, and I don’t want anyone sitting in judgment on mine. This is a Jewish blog. If you don’t like circumcision, why not blog on an anti-circumcision blog. You aren’t going to convince us to change our practices.

  77. BR says:

    Thank you for your response. Only now might any readers here know that the ENTIRE book is what you were offering in support.
    G. Meier’s, “The End Of The Historical-Critical Method”
    Nevertheless, it would be appropriate and normal to select sample text from that book which represents key points of the author’s position/rationale, etc. Such quotation might serve as incentive for others to delve into that book more thoroughly. (With no such sample text, it is more likely to be not taken as a credible citation.)
    It is a blatant error to conclude the bible “does not give approval of slavery” simply if does not command it in every reference to it. That biblical text is just one of MANY quotes in the bible that provided multiple guidelines for slavery, which collectively serve as tacit approval of slavery in scripture in the very least.
    Nevertheless, I suppose I should have to also research the variety of other “biblical commands” that Jewish people quietly ignore (e.g. Were the “chosen people” not commanded when a sinner is to be stoned to death?)

    Please define what you mean by “the JPED theory” (since I don’t find it mentioned anywhere at all in this entire discussion)?

    Finally, it might be better to say “You aren’t going to convince ME to change MY practices.” Consider your own counsel to others:
    “Just because you are Jewish doesn’t mean you speak for any other Jew but yourself.”

  78. Robert says:

    Some secular Biblical scholars who analyze the Bible from a historical/literary POV have developed the “J/E/D/P” theory, which basically states that the Five Books of Moses are derived from 4 basic sources, nicknamed J, E, D and P (for Jahwist, Elohist, Deuteronimist and Priests). Passages are classified according to terminology, style, and the particular points of emphasis. Of course, secular historical analysis proceeds on the assumption that Divine intervention is not responsible for either the Biblical texts or for the events described in the Bible. As well, while there certainly are Jews among these scholars, it would not be accurate to state that this theory represents the “Jewish” POV.

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