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Jewish and not planning a bris.. anyone else?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi all..

I'm Jewish, and definitely not going to circumcise my baby if I have a boy- I'm due in February and waiting until the birth to find out the sex.

I've met with some resistance from my family, even though we are not very religious. I suspect that my mother is mostly upset because "what will people think," and not out of any feeling of spiritual obligation. She was really freaking out when I first told her, and tried every argument in the book to change my mind. I sent her some well-documented articles, and that got her off my back. I'm a little fearful that she'll bring it up again when the baby is born, if it's a boy, but at least I got the initial shock over with.

My husband is not Jewish, and he wanted to circ at first. I didn't have to argue too forcefully with him, once he realized that I had done all this research and was adamant he caved. He doesn't really have a strong opinion on this, I think he wanted to circ because he was circ'd.

Any others out there with similar experiences? How did your family react?
post #2 of 22
I think it's really great you are going to allow your son (if you have one) to remain intact!!!
post #3 of 22
Moving to Religious Studies.
post #4 of 22
My friend is Jewish and just had a baby boy, and I had many conversations about it with her and her DH. Her DH did not want to circ, and she did, strictly for social/religious reasons. It was a huge problem for them, and they explored the Brit Shalom ceremony as an alternative. Ultimately they decided to circ, but then the baby was born with hypospadias, so couldn't be circ'd anyway! So they just had a naming ceremony.

I know my friend's main concerns were:
a) pressure from her family, esp her mother and grandmother
b) lack of support from anyone in her community (she's a reform rabbincal student)
c) fear that it would impact her career as a rabbi
d) fear that it would negatively impact her son's Jewish identity

Obviously you don't have all the same factors at play, but I know she had a VERY hard time with the pressure from her mom and grandmother.

I don't know if this comment is helpful to you or not, but just wanted you to know there are others out there struggling with the same issue, and its not an easy decision. Sounds like for you, your mind is made up (which I commend you on!) and you are just dealing with the fallout. I am sure its not easy...
post #5 of 22
My son is now two, rather than having a bris our rabbi suggested a naming ceremony. He is actually against Bris's as an event, he thinks it's cruel. Instead we had a naming party when ds was four months old. No one knew if he was circumcised or not (he is not). Of course it is a very liberal Reform Temple.

As for our family my father was the only one who complained about our choice, he is not religious so his debate was about being like everyone else. Lisa Braver-Moss has written an article "The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Argument" If you are interested in a copy (the store I work at has copies) pm me.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well I thought I got my mom off my back for a while, and I sort of did, but she couldn't resist making a pointed comment when I saw her last weekend. We were with my cousin H and her baby, and my mom practically burst out with "well I just heard that H had a bris for her son!" She did this in her usually non-sequitor kind of way, and from her tone it was obvious that she was implying that I should have a bris because my cousin did. I think my mother is just very confused about where I am getting a lot of my ideas from. She tends to have certain role models who she idolizes and will do whatever they do, so she doesn't understand that I don't operate that way. I have learned a lot from my cousin, but just because she had a bris doesn't mean I will. What my mother didn't know was that my cousin actually regretted having her son circumcised. My cousin is not at all religious, so I was surprised that she did it, but she thought that was the only way to get her son a hebrew name. When I told her that I would have a Brit Shalom (after her baby's bris) she was sad that she hadn't known about that. And I'm sad that I didn't bring it up with her when I knew she was having a boy. Anyway my cousin did not respond enthusiastically when my mom mentioned the bris, so the subject was dropped like a lead weight. And she didn't bring it up again all weekend. Yay.
post #7 of 22
post #8 of 22
Dh is Jewish and if we ever have a boy we will not circumcise. We've *already* had a lot of flack from his side of the family when we were pg. with dd (we didn't know the sex). Dh was very relieved that we had a girl, but since then he actually attended a bris and is dead set against it for any future children.

It's hard to have a real discussion with people who are a) totally uneducated about the realities of circumcision (and most Jews in my experience fall into this category) and b) coming from an emotional/cultural place rather than having an opinion based on medical evidence. I think it's important to remember that the state of the penis has nothing to do with Jewishness--your son will be Jewish because you are. Another argument I like to use is that if he feels that being circ'd is important to his spiritual life, he can get it done as an adult with proper anesthesia and painkillers.

I don't understand why non-religious Jews are so attached to circing if they don't keep kosher and the Sabbath, etc. A GREAT book (for everyone to read) is "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective." Give it to your mother to read and then you can talk.

Good luck and keep us posted!
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaClaire View Post
I don't understand why non-religious Jews are so attached to circing if they don't keep kosher and the Sabbath, etc. A GREAT book (for everyone to read) is "Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective." Give it to your mother to read and then you can talk.
In fact, I think it is precisely because my Jewish DH was raised completely secular and has no knowledge of any Jewish festivals or traditions that he wants our son to be circumcised: It is the only aspect of Judaism that remains that he is able to transmit!
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by RomanGoddess View Post
In fact, I think it is precisely because my Jewish DH was raised completely secular and has no knowledge of any Jewish festivals or traditions that he wants our son to be circumcised: It is the only aspect of Judaism that remains that he is able to transmit!
But, if transmitting at least a part of the religious or cultural traditions of Judaism is important to him, why not take it upon himself to learn something of a more rich, broad range of those traditions? It is not as though the knowledge we gain in our own upbringing is the only knowledge available to us. (Heaven forbid it was, or I'd still think Bret Michaels is hawt. )

Personally I have no opposition to religious circumcision itself -- I do question anyone choosing that for their children as a result of it being the easiest route to tradition for the parent.
post #11 of 22
I also was going to suggest a baby naming ceremony in lieu of a bris.
I would imagine that a Reform Jewish Rabbi would do that - you might check around and see.
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
Personally I have no opposition to religious circumcision itself -- I do question anyone choosing that for their children as a result of it being the easiest route to tradition for the parent.
VERY well put! Friends of ours recently had a boy and this is exactly what they said ("it's just easier.") Not easier for the baby IMO! Parenting isn't easy, especially if you make unconventional choices, but geesh...I don't get that line of reasoning at all. So sad and cowardly, really.

I wanted to add that I really do get why observant Jews have their sons circ'd (don't like it, but it wouldn't make sense not to do it from a religious standpoint). For the majority of Jews in the US, however, circ is just a kneejerk and that makes me
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
I also was going to suggest a baby naming ceremony in lieu of a bris.
I would imagine that a Reform Jewish Rabbi would do that - you might check around and see.
IME, even mentioning not circing is like saying the holocaust never happened. I'm sure they're out there, but even Reform Rabbis that would be willing to do a naming in lieu of a bris would be far and few between.

I will say that my dh talked to a Reconstructionist Rabbi before dd was born and he said that he would encourage a bris, but that we would be welcome in his shul no matter what we did. He also said that the real reason Jews circumcise is because they always have. Not good enough reason for us!
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaClaire View Post
IME, even mentioning not circing is like saying the holocaust never happened.






wow.
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
I also was going to suggest a baby naming ceremony in lieu of a bris.
I would imagine that a Reform Jewish Rabbi would do that - you might check around and see.
You would be surprised at how many reform rabbis would NOT encourage a naming without a bris.

I was hesitant when my DS (now 6 mo) was born, but we decided to do have the bris. As a family, we're much more traditional than reform or secular Jews, and DO believe that halacha (Jewish law) is binding, though, so it sounds like we're in a different place religiously than you.

I just wanted to give . You've got to do what's best for your baby, no matter what the flak.
post #16 of 22
Feliciagayle, I'm right with you.







Maclaire, there's no need to get drastic about it, especially since (I assume) you're not Jewish (as you mentioned that your DH is Jewish). In which case there is not a single Orthodox, Conservative, or even Reform or Reconstructionist rabbi in the entire world that would say that you *have* to have a bris for your child. Every single rabbi of every single denomination is entirely in agreement. You do not need for any reason to have a "bris" for your child.

So you don't have to stress about it. Or make insensitive comments about it, either.
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaClaire View Post
7I wanted to add that I really do get why observant Jews have their sons circ'd (don't like it, but it wouldn't make sense not to do it from a religious standpoint). For the majority of Jews in the US, however, circ is just a kneejerk
Gee, how do you know that?

Never underestimate the power of tradition or the way a soul chooses to cling to the spiritual beliefs of his/her forefathers. It's not up to others to decide whether a Jew is "observant enough" to do a mitzvah. Every mitzvah counts.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk View Post
Feliciagayle, I'm right with you.







Maclaire, there's no need to get drastic about it, especially since (I assume) you're not Jewish (as you mentioned that your DH is Jewish). In which case there is not a single Orthodox, Conservative, or even Reform or Reconstructionist rabbi in the entire world that would say that you *have* to have a bris for your child. Every single rabbi of every single denomination is entirely in agreement. You do not need for any reason to have a "bris" for your child.

So you don't have to stress about it. Or make insensitive comments about it, either.
I'm so sorry about using an analogy that many found offensive. I'd edit it out, but it's already been quoted.

I was trying to convey my experience wrt to talking to Jews about the option of not circ'ing. I'm not Jewish and no children I have will be either, but that doesn't stop my MIL and SIL from having hissy fits over the subject. My Dh has had some really hurtful words flung his way already and we don't even have a son yet! So, yes, it's a sore point with me to put it mildly.

I was being overly dramatic and I appologize.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickarolaberry View Post
Gee, how do you know that?

Never underestimate the power of tradition or the way a soul chooses to cling to the spiritual beliefs of his/her forefathers. It's not up to others to decide whether a Jew is "observant enough" to do a mitzvah. Every mitzvah counts.
I was making a generalization (not good) but IME most of the (non-observant) Jews I know have their boys circ'd in the hospital which doesn't fulfill the mitzvah afaik and makes me think that there is very little thought wrt the decision to do it in the first place.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaClaire View Post
I'm so sorry about using an analogy that many found offensive. I'd edit it out, but it's already been quoted.

I was trying to convey my experience wrt to talking to Jews about the option of not circ'ing. I'm not Jewish and no children I have will be either, but that doesn't stop my MIL and SIL from having hissy fits over the subject. My Dh has had some really hurtful words flung his way already and we don't even have a son yet! So, yes, it's a sore point with me to put it mildly.

I was being overly dramatic and I appologize.
Thanks
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