The Haredi PR Problem: Bad For (All) The Jews

by Ezer Smith There has been some outrage recently over an Orthodox custom known as metzitzah b’peh, and justifiably so: The custom, during which the mohel sucks blood out of the circumcision wound with his mouth, has caused 11 cases of genital herpes in newborn boys since 2005. Two have died, and according to the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, some “became seriously ill” and others “developed brain damage.” This has prompted reactions from all areas of the journalistic and intellectual spectrum: Publications such as The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast have carried articles; Cantor Philip L. Sherman (a mohel) has included a short F.A.Q. about it on his website; Christopher Hitchens condemned it with his usual brand of anti-religion vitriol; and Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in...

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Cutting Arguments

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...

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This Week's Links: Is it Summer yet? Edition

By Benjamin Schuman-Stoler SPAM is back! A nice summary of the basic problems and solutions related to bringing kids to synagogue. "AJC extended today congratulations to Cem Özdemir, the newly elected co-leader of the Green Party in Germany. Özdemir has been a longstanding participant in the Turkish-Jewish Roundatble, sponsored by AJC's Berlin Office." Anti-Semitic graffiti was found on a cafe in Northwest London. With election hoopla finally dying down, Jewish news has mellowed out. One Jewish blogger is reallllllly bored. The result? A list of 22 useful travel tips for you and me. And this week's award for most ridiculous news story goes to the Danish. Oh they take it home, and easily, for trying to ban circumcision under the age of 15. Not only would that effectively ban Jews from one of our historical homes,...

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Ouch!

Brace yourselves. The BBC reports on a circumcision gone awry. Terribly, terribly awry: A sixteen-year-old Kenyan boy is being treated in hospital after losing part of his penis in a circumcision ritual... Medical officers at the Bungoma District hospital told the BBC that the tip of the boy's penis was chopped off by mistake when the knife wielded by the circumciser slipped. He has been undergoing surgery on Friday to prevent further bleeding. Maybe if a moyle had been there—instead of the far less impressively named "circumciser"—this wouldn't have happened. At the very least, we hope the boy got a fair serving of wine. He certainly could've used a drink. For the great masses whose circumcisions had far happier endings, the medical benefits of the procedure include the decreased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. As PRI reports, the Ugandan government is...

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